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 2020. Cars made in the year 2006 have the most problems, with 79,388 problems reported, while cars produced in 2020 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 263 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2020

Model Year Number of Problems
  2020 vehicles
263
  2019 vehicles
5939
  2018 vehicles
11913
  2017 vehicles
16544
  2016 vehicles
21239
  2015 vehicles
30815
  2014 vehicles
38679
  2013 vehicles
50227
  2012 vehicles
49239
  2011 vehicles
54612
  2010 vehicles
54342
  2009 vehicles
47338
  2008 vehicles
71884
  2007 vehicles
78466
  2006 vehicles
79388
  2005 vehicles
78050
  2004 vehicles
67716
  2003 vehicles
61298
  2002 vehicles
60547
  2001 vehicles
53759
  2000 vehicles
59067
  1999 vehicles
53589
  1998 vehicles
44751
  1997 vehicles
39845
  1996 vehicles
38519

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 2020 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
  2020 vehicles
36
  2019 vehicles
5159
  2018 vehicles
5254
  2017 vehicles
3957
  2016 vehicles
4662
  2015 vehicles
5951
  2014 vehicles
6645
  2013 vehicles
6310
  2012 vehicles
4104
  2011 vehicles
4298
  2010 vehicles
5467
  2009 vehicles
3132
  2008 vehicles
3736
  2007 vehicles
5151
  2006 vehicles
4665
  2005 vehicles
5113
  2004 vehicles
6462
  2003 vehicles
5691
  2002 vehicles
5155
  2001 vehicles
5049
  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 140,204 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 133,880 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
140204
  Electrical System
133880
  Power Train
117674
  Air Bag
114467
  Service Brakes
96064
  Steering
83293
  Equipment
65520
  Structure
54553
  Suspension
50754
  Vehicle Speed Control
50347
  Other Fuel System
39057
  Visibility
38927
  Exterior Lighting
37068
  Gasoline Fuel System
28252
  Tire
23210
  Seat Belt
17418
  Electronic Stability Control
17417
  Seats
15861
  Wheel
13708
  Latches/locks/linkage
11253
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2594
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1418
  Diesel Fuel System
1389
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
819
  Hybrid Propulsion System
157
  Forward Collision Avoidance
142
  Back Over Prevention
65
  Lane Departure
40
  Communication
15


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