It's safe to say that a car manufacturer probably doesn't want to land on a list of the least dependable car brands. J.D. Power and Associates, an organization targeting car consumers, recently compiled a list of the least dependable car brands for 2012. The rankings are based on a survey conducted in the fall of 2011 of more than 31,000 owners of 2009-model cars and trucks to document their concerns regarding vehicle quality. Here are ten vehicles that have the dubious distinction of being the least dependable car brands for 2012.

1. Chrysler/Dodge

Chrysler, once known for quality, actually ranks just behind Dodge when actual scores are compared. Both vehicles share the same transmissions, engines and platforms. It's only the skins that differ. To be fair, these are the 2009 models produced during the height of possible bankruptcy issues. This may have had a negative impact on quality that could have been corrected - or at least improved upon - in later models. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal report suggests that the car maker is working to boost quality for its 2013 models, starting with the Dodge Dart.

2. Jeep

While still not showing an impressive quality ranking, the Jeep brand has improved over its previous ranking. The company made some internal changes in 2009, including tweaking the engine and boosting fuel-economy. Otherwise, no new or redesigned models were introduced. Common quality issues on the 2009 models included poor electrics, leaky transfer cases and transmission issues. Surprisingly, Jeep owners seem willing to embrace these like quirks as part of the experience of being a Jeep owner. Yes, it's a Jeep thing.

3. Ram

In 2009, this was known as the Dodge Truck. Today, it exists under the Ram banner. The 2009 model was described has having a 'bolder styling" and a stronger Hemi V8. Leaf springs were replaced by a new coil suspension. Despite these improvements, the Dodge Truck continued to suffer from transmission issues and drive-line vibrations. The cargo version of the Grand Caravan also falls under the Ram brand, but doesn't do the brand any favors. Common issues include air conditioning and electrical issues. Price discounts are likely responsible for impressive sales figures.

4. Jaguar

This is one brand making a noticeable drop in quality from the previous ranking. Just a decade ago, the Jaguar led the industry in terms of quality. Since then, numerous electrical issues in previous generation models have quickly changed that status. Even just a few years prior to 2009, the Jaguar had maintained relatively high rankings. In 2009, the car maker retired the entry-level X-Type and the S-Type due to poor sales and replaced them with the XF sedan. Unfortunately, the expensive new brand has some of the classic faults of the Jaguar brand. This includes transmission issues and problems with some of the high-tech features on the vehicle.

5. Infiniti

Nissan's luxury brand didn't exactly have a stellar start in the '90s, but the 2003 G35 sedan fared much better. Infiniti actually earned a rep for performance with its VQ35DE V6 engine and other standout features. Infiniti customers haven't really voiced too many complaints, at least when compared to other brands online. So why the reason for the slip? It appears to issues with upgrades and other design touches that caused the brand to drop in quality ratings.

6. Volkswagen

The German automaker hasn't really earned a rep as far as dependability goes. It looks like that could be changing. While VW still ranks among the least dependable brands, it actually improves over previous rankings. German engineering may not be set to truly dominate anytime soon, but the car maker is making an effort. The 2009 Rabbit earned praise because of its 2.5 L inline five cylinder engine and the 2.0 L TDI turbo-diesel four. Unfortunately, the 200-hp 2.0 L turbo gasoline four is double-edged sword. It has features drivers tend to enjoy, but its glitches can be downright frustrating. Add to that low battery life and it's clear to see that there's still work to do.

7. Kia

Only one new model was introduced in 2009, otherwise the automaker rolled over its previous models. This may account for some low dependability scores for a brand that usually ranks pretty well. The problem here seems to be a lack of updates from the previous model year. Old designs aren't subjected to new assembly techniques. The result is a drop in performance by default. Word is that upgrades are planned for future models. This may kick Kia off this list eventually. Time will tell.

8. Suzuki

The Japanese brand has had a hard time earning major brand recognition and consumer loyalty. However, owners of Suzuki cars don't really have a lot of major complaints. In fact, Grand Vitara and SX4 compact owners are usually pretty happy with their vehicles. The automaker is working to expand its model range, which could take it off this list in the future as long as the quality holds up. It appears to be more of an image problem than actual mechanical or performance issues that placed this brand on the list.

9. Mazda

Mazda, on the other hand, doesn't have much of an image problem. Plenty of people have heard of Mazda. So what's the issue then? The B2000 truck and Mazda 323 continue to earn praise. Even the "zoom zoom" advertising slogan is a hit. Mazda owners have complained about issues with automatic transmissions, air conditioning and electrical issues. Premature rust is another common complaint. Poor suspension has been an on-going problem with the Mazda 5 mini-minivan. This leads to issues with the tires and shocks. The Japanese automaker only added one completely new model in 2009, the Mazda 6 sedan. On the plus side, it is this one new model that has earned praise for its style and reliability.

10. Mini Cooper

Styling and handling remain desirable traits of this brand. Owners love the retro interior and other design selections. Worn clutches, oil leaks, problems with air conditioning, electrical glitches, issues with timing belts and carbon build-up and other engine problems really take away from any positive points. Great styling can't mask performance issues. The motor has parts crafted by French automaker Peugeot and German automaker BMW. Maybe that's part of the problem.

The results are found in the 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study. The news, overall, is good for the car industry. When compared to results from the previous study, 25 of 32 car brands improved their scores, with only six slipping. A big issue spanning most brands on this list appears to be lack of updates from the previous model year. With many of these same brands planning major upgrades with future models, this list is likely to reflect that trend.

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