All Cars - 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 2014. Cars made in year 2000 have the most problems with 52,615 problems reported and cars produced in 2013 (current year is excluded) have the least problems with 6,901 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2014

Model Year Number of Problems
  1996 vehicles
35898
  1997 vehicles
36512
  1998 vehicles
39704
  1999 vehicles
48331
  2000 vehicles
52615
  2001 vehicles
46414
  2002 vehicles
49809
  2003 vehicles
46567
  2004 vehicles
49469
  2005 vehicles
52265
  2006 vehicles
48865
  2007 vehicles
40972
  2008 vehicles
29770
  2009 vehicles
17876
  2010 vehicles
21191
  2011 vehicles
13520
  2012 vehicles
9079
  2013 vehicles
6901
  2014 vehicles
2774

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From the above chart, one may conclude that the quality of cars in general has improved greatly. This is actually misleading. The fact is that the year 2000 model cars have been on the road for 10 years while the year 2013 model cars are still fresh from the factory. Table 2 gives a better picture of car quality over these years. It shows the problems reported during the first year when the cars were in 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 world wide economy slowed down, causing new car sales to plummet; thus few problems were reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  1996 vehicles
4395
  1997 vehicles
2824
  1998 vehicles
4743
  1999 vehicles
5206
  2000 vehicles
5856
  2001 vehicles
4944
  2002 vehicles
4958
  2003 vehicles
5347
  2004 vehicles
6210
  2005 vehicles
4778
  2006 vehicles
4319
  2007 vehicles
4740
  2008 vehicles
3371
  2009 vehicles
2888
  2010 vehicles
5120
  2011 vehicles
3342
  2012 vehicles
2794
  2013 vehicles
3907
  2014 vehicles
2126

You may wonder which part of the car breaks down often. 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 is associated with the vehicle's engine and engine cooling with 78,567 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the power train problem with 71,976 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
78567
  Power Train
71976
  Electrical System
67722
  Service Brakes
63698
  Steering
43687
  Air Bag
39385
  Suspension
34845
  Vehicle Speed Control
33804
  Structure
29820
  Visibility
27200
  Gasoline Fuel System
26414
  Tire
20817
  Exterior Lighting
19916
  Equipment
18016
  Other Fuel System
13392
  Unknown Or Other
10949
  Seats
10193
  Seat Belt
10167
  Latches/locks/linkage
9212
  Wheel
6871
  Electronic Stability Control
4156
  Parking Brake
2388
  Air Brake
2136
  Diesel Fuel System
1309
  Interior Lighting
1184
  Traction Control System
972
  Child Seat
694
  Hybrid Propulsion System
89
  Back Over Prevention
2
  Air Bag
1

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