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 78,183 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 2,180 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
2180
  2018 vehicles
8279
  2017 vehicles
12170
  2016 vehicles
16888
  2015 vehicles
26105
  2014 vehicles
33765
  2013 vehicles
45316
  2012 vehicles
45494
  2011 vehicles
51651
  2010 vehicles
52341
  2009 vehicles
45809
  2008 vehicles
70054
  2007 vehicles
76828
  2006 vehicles
78183
  2005 vehicles
77186
  2004 vehicles
67059
  2003 vehicles
60784
  2002 vehicles
60160
  2001 vehicles
53520
  2000 vehicles
58900
  1999 vehicles
53462
  1998 vehicles
44696
  1997 vehicles
39797
  1996 vehicles
38488

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
1679
  2018 vehicles
4935
  2017 vehicles
3800
  2016 vehicles
4596
  2015 vehicles
5892
  2014 vehicles
6572
  2013 vehicles
6262
  2012 vehicles
4089
  2011 vehicles
4284
  2010 vehicles
5450
  2009 vehicles
3130
  2008 vehicles
3732
  2007 vehicles
5143
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5109
  2004 vehicles
6462
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5154
  2001 vehicles
5045
  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 133,479 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 128,444 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
133479
  Electrical System
128444
  Power Train
111903
  Air Bag
110797
  Service Brakes
92895
  Steering
78622
  Equipment
60686
  Structure
52607
  Suspension
48927
  Vehicle Speed Control
48843
  Visibility
37593
  Other Fuel System
36569
  Exterior Lighting
35330
  Gasoline Fuel System
28222
  Tire
23122
  Seat Belt
16878
  Electronic Stability Control
15753
  Seats
15277
  Wheel
12956
  Latches/locks/linkage
11203
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2584
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1398
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
817
  Hybrid Propulsion System
152
  Forward Collision Avoidance
114
  Back Over Prevention
52
  Lane Departure
30


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