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 52,094 problems reported and cars produced in 2013 (current year is excluded) have the least problems with 5,358 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  1996 vehicles
35811
  1997 vehicles
36377
  1998 vehicles
39528
  1999 vehicles
48022
  2000 vehicles
52094
  2001 vehicles
45683
  2002 vehicles
48710
  2003 vehicles
44993
  2004 vehicles
47632
  2005 vehicles
49662
  2006 vehicles
45795
  2007 vehicles
37889
  2008 vehicles
26804
  2009 vehicles
15845
  2010 vehicles
19084
  2011 vehicles
11343
  2012 vehicles
7250
  2013 vehicles
5358
  2014 vehicles
1331

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
4392
  1997 vehicles
2824
  1998 vehicles
4743
  1999 vehicles
5206
  2000 vehicles
5853
  2001 vehicles
4941
  2002 vehicles
4953
  2003 vehicles
5335
  2004 vehicles
6203
  2005 vehicles
4765
  2006 vehicles
4293
  2007 vehicles
4697
  2008 vehicles
3332
  2009 vehicles
2849
  2010 vehicles
5072
  2011 vehicles
3247
  2012 vehicles
2640
  2013 vehicles
3510
  2014 vehicles
807

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 75,439 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the power train problem with 69,694 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
75439
  Power Train
69694
  Electrical System
63637
  Service Brakes
61008
  Steering
40751
  Air Bag
37092
  Suspension
33869
  Vehicle Speed Control
32697
  Structure
28527
  Visibility
26678
  Gasoline Fuel System
26108
  Tire
20629
  Exterior Lighting
19083
  Equipment
14473
  Other Fuel System
11895
  Unknown Or Other
10949
  Seats
9859
  Seat Belt
9768
  Latches/locks/linkage
9127
  Wheel
6472
  Electronic Stability Control
3568
  Parking Brake
2374
  Air Brake
2132
  Diesel Fuel System
1306
  Interior Lighting
1184
  Traction Control System
956
  Child Seat
692
  Hybrid Propulsion System
86
  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