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 76,966 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 520 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
520
  2018 vehicles
5423
  2017 vehicles
9156
  2016 vehicles
13615
  2015 vehicles
22000
  2014 vehicles
29895
  2013 vehicles
40864
  2012 vehicles
42059
  2011 vehicles
48969
  2010 vehicles
50456
  2009 vehicles
44386
  2008 vehicles
68371
  2007 vehicles
75356
  2006 vehicles
76966
  2005 vehicles
76360
  2004 vehicles
66354
  2003 vehicles
60273
  2002 vehicles
59857
  2001 vehicles
53280
  2000 vehicles
58748
  1999 vehicles
53369
  1998 vehicles
44643
  1997 vehicles
39805
  1996 vehicles
38512

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
146
  2018 vehicles
4430
  2017 vehicles
3671
  2016 vehicles
4518
  2015 vehicles
5837
  2014 vehicles
6544
  2013 vehicles
6229
  2012 vehicles
4076
  2011 vehicles
4281
  2010 vehicles
5443
  2009 vehicles
3119
  2008 vehicles
3721
  2007 vehicles
5129
  2006 vehicles
4658
  2005 vehicles
5104
  2004 vehicles
6458
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5156
  2001 vehicles
5049
  2000 vehicles
6196
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5261
  1997 vehicles
2995
  1996 vehicles
4672

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 127,372 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 123,920 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
127372
  Electrical System
123920
  Power Train
107868
  Air Bag
107616
  Service Brakes
90230
  Steering
75151
  Equipment
56474
  Structure
50917
  Suspension
47677
  Vehicle Speed Control
47593
  Visibility
36675
  Other Fuel System
34544
  Exterior Lighting
33888
  Gasoline Fuel System
28191
  Tire
23067
  Seat Belt
16379
  Seats
14858
  Electronic Stability Control
14341
  Wheel
12395
  Latches/locks/linkage
11143
  Unknown Or Other
10919
  Parking Brake
2570
  Air Brake
2222
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Traction Control System
1375
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
146
  Forward Collision Avoidance
91
  Back Over Prevention
42
  Lane Departure
20


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