Forget handling, there’s a pebble in my tread…

We’ve found a forwarding address for Mr. and Mrs. Fussy: According to the results of the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 Japan Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Index (OE-TSI), vehicle owners in Japan expect the tyres that come with their new vehicle to be “perfect”. J.D. Power shares that “even a single problem with their factory-equipped tyres has a significant impact on their satisfaction.”

The J.D. Power study measured satisfaction amongst original equipment tyre owners in Japan based upon four factors – traction/handling, ride, wearability and appearance. Satisfaction was rated using a 1 to 1,000 point scale; the study found overall satisfaction to be a mediocre 561 points. Midsize vehicle owners were happier with their tyres than most, with an average score of 590, while finicky mini-car owners delivered an average satisfaction score of 529.

Motorists who experienced any sort of problem with their tyres rated them 54 points lower on average than other respondents. And what were the largest problems – blowouts? Poor wet braking? Nothing of the sort – the two most frequently experienced problems were pebbles caught in the tyre tread and road and vibration noise.

“Vehicles are becoming increasingly quiet, especially hybrid and electric vehicles, which makes owners even more sensitive to abnormal noise caused by stones stuck in the tyre treads,” said Taku Kimoto, executive director of J.D. Power Asia Pacific’s automotive division. “Owners are acutely attuned to noise and vibrations caused by their tyres, a problem more prevalent than traction and handling issues.”

Bridgestone tyres were presumably the best at repelling pebbles as they ranked the highest in both the mini-car and midsize segments, scoring 548 and 613 points respectively. Dunlop ranked highest in the minivan segment, with 574 points. The study was based upon the responses of 5,756 new vehicle owners during the first five to 16 months of ownership.

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