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Survey: Recalls make Americans less satisfied with cars

(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File). FILE - In this Thursday, June 25, 2015, file photo, Japanese seat belt and air-bag maker Takata Corp. Chairman and CEO Shigehisa Takada gestures during a news conference regarding the expanding recall of his company's a... (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File). FILE - In this Thursday, June 25, 2015, file photo, Japanese seat belt and air-bag maker Takata Corp. Chairman and CEO Shigehisa Takada gestures during a news conference regarding the expanding recall of his company's a...

By TOM KRISHER
AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) - Americans are less happy with their cars and trucks than at any time in more than a decade, and it's largely because they're getting sick of dealing with recalls.

The 2015 American Consumer Satisfaction Index, an annual survey that involved 4,300 consumers, found that satisfaction with automobiles dropped for the third straight year to the lowest level since 2004. High new-car prices also were a factor.

"While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems," said Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the survey.

Last year automakers recalled a record 64 million vehicles for problems such as exploding air bags and ignition switches that can unexpectedly cause engines to stall. The problems can be deadly. So far General Motors has agreed to compensate families of 124 people who died in crashes caused by the faulty switches. Eight more people have died worldwide after being cut by shrapnel from exploding Takata air bag inflators.

Rising prices also contributed to the consumer frustration. Car prices are up 11 percent since 2010 and hit records all year, rising to an average $32,932 in July, according to the Edmunds.com auto website.

The index's automobile satisfaction score this year dropped nearly 4 percent to 79 out of 100. In 2004, the last time the score was that low, the industry set the previous annual record for recalled vehicles at 30.8 million.

Of the 27 brands tracked in the index, 15 saw their satisfaction scores decline, while only Acura and BMW improved.

Foreign-based brands led the survey, with Toyota's Lexus luxury brand on top at 84, followed by Acura, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz, tied at 83. BMW, Subaru, Toyota, Hyundai, Buick and Cadillac rounded out the top 10. Fiat Chrysler's Fiat brand had the lowest satisfaction score at 73.

Here's how the brands ranked in this year's survey and the percent change compared with last year:

Brand20142015Percent Change
Auto industry average8279-4
Lexus84840
Acura7783+8
LincolnNM83NA
Mercedes-Benz8683-3
BMW8082+3
Subaru8582-4
Toyota8382-1
Hyundai81810
Buick8380-4
Cadillac80800
Honda8380-4
Mazda80800
Volkswagen8480-5
Chevrolet8279-4
Ford8179-2
VolvoNM79NA
Audi7978-1
GMC8278-5
Kia8278-5
InfinitiNM77NA
MitsubishiNM77NA
Nissan8177-5
Dodge7876-3
MiniNM76NA
All other brands8175-7
Jeep7975-5
Chrysler8174-9
FiatNM73NA

NM=Not Measured

NA=Not Available

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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