Car Problems, Statistics, and Analysis

Each year, American car owners file thousands of complaints about their car problems to the U.S. Department of Transportation [1]. Table 1 shows the number of problems reported for vehicles manufactured from 1996 to 2018. Cars made in the year 2006 have the most problems, with 75,011 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,137 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2018

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
1137
  2017 vehicles
5166
  2016 vehicles
9759
  2015 vehicles
17133
  2014 vehicles
24615
  2013 vehicles
34667
  2012 vehicles
37122
  2011 vehicles
44548
  2010 vehicles
46837
  2009 vehicles
41823
  2008 vehicles
65013
  2007 vehicles
72402
  2006 vehicles
75011
  2005 vehicles
74801
  2004 vehicles
65202
  2003 vehicles
59490
  2002 vehicles
59399
  2001 vehicles
52943
  2000 vehicles
58488
  1999 vehicles
53248
  1998 vehicles
44582
  1997 vehicles
39793
  1996 vehicles
38519

From the above chart, one might conclude that the quality of cars in general has improved greatly since 1996. This is actually misleading. The fact is that the 2006 model cars have been on the road for 11 years while the 2018 model cars are still fresh from the factory. Table 2 gives a better picture of car quality. It shows the problems reported in a car's first year of service. One can see that the quality of cars has been fairly constant over the years. The exceptions are years 2008 and 2009, when the global economy slowed down, causing new car sales to plummet, so few problems were reported.

Select a brand:

Table 2. Number of problems reported during the vehicle's first year in service

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
879
  2017 vehicles
3158
  2016 vehicles
4372
  2015 vehicles
5738
  2014 vehicles
6487
  2013 vehicles
6199
  2012 vehicles
4042
  2011 vehicles
4264
  2010 vehicles
5421
  2009 vehicles
3112
  2008 vehicles
3695
  2007 vehicles
5126
  2006 vehicles
4651
  2005 vehicles
5094
  2004 vehicles
6455
  2003 vehicles
5689
  2002 vehicles
5158
  2001 vehicles
5051
  2000 vehicles
6203
  1999 vehicles
5634
  1998 vehicles
5268
  1997 vehicles
3003
  1996 vehicles
4687

The following chart illustrates the most common problems reported for all car makes and models in our database since 1996. The most common car problem involves the vehicle's engine and engine cooling with 119,342 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 117,724 problems reported.

Table 3. Common car problems (all car make & models)

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
119342
  Electrical System
117724
  Power Train
102543
  Air Bag
101240
  Service Brakes
86544
  Steering
70032
  Equipment
50885
  Structure
48240
  Suspension
46045
  Vehicle Speed Control
45738
  Visibility
35302
  Exterior Lighting
31728
  Other Fuel System
31396
  Gasoline Fuel System
28149
  Tire
22977
  Seat Belt
15606
  Seats
14207
  Electronic Stability Control
12509
  Wheel
11593
  Latches/locks/linkage
11037
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2567
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1340
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
67
  Back Over Prevention
31
  Lane Departure
16


Table 4. Browse car problems by brand:

Acura       Audi       BMW       Buick       Cadillac       Chevrolet       Chrysler       Dodge       Ferrari       Ford       GEO       GMC       Honda       Hyundai       Infiniti       International       Jaguar       Jeep       Kia Motor       Land Rover       Lexus       Lincoln       Lotus       Mazda       Mercedes Benz       Mercury       Mini       Mitsubishi       Nissan       Oldsmobile       Plymouth       Porsche       SAAB       Saturn       Smart       Subaru       Suzuki       Toyota       Volkswagen       Volvo