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 76,347 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 3,278 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
3278
  2017 vehicles
7272
  2016 vehicles
12062
  2015 vehicles
19977
  2014 vehicles
27746
  2013 vehicles
38320
  2012 vehicles
40129
  2011 vehicles
47243
  2010 vehicles
49064
  2009 vehicles
43472
  2008 vehicles
67266
  2007 vehicles
74363
  2006 vehicles
76347
  2005 vehicles
75801
  2004 vehicles
65939
  2003 vehicles
59997
  2002 vehicles
59711
  2001 vehicles
53186
  2000 vehicles
58689
  1999 vehicles
53349
  1998 vehicles
44642
  1997 vehicles
39839
  1996 vehicles
38555

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
2968
  2017 vehicles
3371
  2016 vehicles
4468
  2015 vehicles
5792
  2014 vehicles
6527
  2013 vehicles
6211
  2012 vehicles
4061
  2011 vehicles
4271
  2010 vehicles
5434
  2009 vehicles
3118
  2008 vehicles
3714
  2007 vehicles
5133
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5101
  2004 vehicles
6460
  2003 vehicles
5690
  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 124,042 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 121,510 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
124042
  Electrical System
121510
  Power Train
105811
  Air Bag
105581
  Service Brakes
88732
  Steering
72877
  Equipment
54282
  Structure
49894
  Suspension
46979
  Vehicle Speed Control
46884
  Visibility
36063
  Other Fuel System
33250
  Exterior Lighting
32977
  Gasoline Fuel System
28175
  Tire
23048
  Seat Belt
16108
  Seats
14612
  Electronic Stability Control
13601
  Wheel
12056
  Latches/locks/linkage
11081
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2568
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1356
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
135
  Forward Collision Avoidance
78
  Back Over Prevention
35
  Lane Departure
19


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