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 76,588 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 3,854 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
3854
  2017 vehicles
7732
  2016 vehicles
12437
  2015 vehicles
20571
  2014 vehicles
28325
  2013 vehicles
38928
  2012 vehicles
40678
  2011 vehicles
47714
  2010 vehicles
49534
  2009 vehicles
43756
  2008 vehicles
67610
  2007 vehicles
74676
  2006 vehicles
76588
  2005 vehicles
75985
  2004 vehicles
66075
  2003 vehicles
60074
  2002 vehicles
59770
  2001 vehicles
53226
  2000 vehicles
58727
  1999 vehicles
53371
  1998 vehicles
44666
  1997 vehicles
39848
  1996 vehicles
38567

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
3541
  2017 vehicles
3413
  2016 vehicles
4480
  2015 vehicles
5805
  2014 vehicles
6532
  2013 vehicles
6215
  2012 vehicles
4061
  2011 vehicles
4273
  2010 vehicles
5438
  2009 vehicles
3119
  2008 vehicles
3717
  2007 vehicles
5134
  2006 vehicles
4663
  2005 vehicles
5103
  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 124,919 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 122,161 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
124919
  Electrical System
122161
  Power Train
106377
  Air Bag
106192
  Service Brakes
89271
  Steering
73575
  Equipment
54910
  Structure
50189
  Suspension
47202
  Vehicle Speed Control
47043
  Visibility
36229
  Other Fuel System
33603
  Exterior Lighting
33256
  Gasoline Fuel System
28178
  Tire
23061
  Seat Belt
16181
  Seats
14679
  Electronic Stability Control
13807
  Wheel
12153
  Latches/locks/linkage
11094
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2572
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1361
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
812
  Hybrid Propulsion System
137
  Forward Collision Avoidance
80
  Back Over Prevention
36
  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