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 2019. Cars made in the year 2006 have the most problems, with 78,450 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 2,850 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2019

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
2850
  2018 vehicles
8990
  2017 vehicles
12982
  2016 vehicles
17948
  2015 vehicles
27271
  2014 vehicles
35127
  2013 vehicles
46554
  2012 vehicles
46426
  2011 vehicles
52393
  2010 vehicles
52788
  2009 vehicles
46161
  2008 vehicles
70503
  2007 vehicles
77256
  2006 vehicles
78450
  2005 vehicles
77379
  2004 vehicles
67207
  2003 vehicles
60893
  2002 vehicles
60251
  2001 vehicles
53578
  2000 vehicles
58939
  1999 vehicles
53486
  1998 vehicles
44707
  1997 vehicles
39807
  1996 vehicles
38501

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 2019 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
  2019 vehicles
2326
  2018 vehicles
5019
  2017 vehicles
3840
  2016 vehicles
4621
  2015 vehicles
5912
  2014 vehicles
6617
  2013 vehicles
6288
  2012 vehicles
4094
  2011 vehicles
4293
  2010 vehicles
5451
  2009 vehicles
3131
  2008 vehicles
3733
  2007 vehicles
5146
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5113
  2004 vehicles
6462
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5154
  2001 vehicles
5048
  2000 vehicles
6195
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5258
  1997 vehicles
2992
  1996 vehicles
4663

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 135,090 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 129,707 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
135090
  Electrical System
129707
  Power Train
113562
  Air Bag
111717
  Service Brakes
93608
  Steering
79469
  Equipment
61869
  Structure
53085
  Suspension
49260
  Vehicle Speed Control
49215
  Visibility
37840
  Other Fuel System
37104
  Exterior Lighting
35679
  Gasoline Fuel System
28236
  Tire
23144
  Seat Belt
16996
  Electronic Stability Control
16104
  Seats
15389
  Wheel
13109
  Latches/locks/linkage
11221
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2590
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1405
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
818
  Hybrid Propulsion System
156
  Forward Collision Avoidance
125
  Back Over Prevention
56
  Lane Departure
33
  Communication
12


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