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 74,481 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 678 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
678
  2017 vehicles
4420
  2016 vehicles
9098
  2015 vehicles
16164
  2014 vehicles
23573
  2013 vehicles
33419
  2012 vehicles
36084
  2011 vehicles
43506
  2010 vehicles
45996
  2009 vehicles
41158
  2008 vehicles
64183
  2007 vehicles
71610
  2006 vehicles
74481
  2005 vehicles
74373
  2004 vehicles
64921
  2003 vehicles
59305
  2002 vehicles
59232
  2001 vehicles
52834
  2000 vehicles
58418
  1999 vehicles
53196
  1998 vehicles
44548
  1997 vehicles
39777
  1996 vehicles
38507

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
443
  2017 vehicles
3054
  2016 vehicles
4340
  2015 vehicles
5704
  2014 vehicles
6475
  2013 vehicles
6198
  2012 vehicles
4034
  2011 vehicles
4261
  2010 vehicles
5412
  2009 vehicles
3110
  2008 vehicles
3691
  2007 vehicles
5124
  2006 vehicles
4651
  2005 vehicles
5092
  2004 vehicles
6454
  2003 vehicles
5689
  2002 vehicles
5155
  2001 vehicles
5051
  2000 vehicles
6202
  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 117,771 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 116,355 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
117771
  Electrical System
116355
  Power Train
101547
  Air Bag
99423
  Service Brakes
85791
  Steering
69083
  Equipment
49682
  Structure
47692
  Suspension
45724
  Vehicle Speed Control
45324
  Visibility
35083
  Exterior Lighting
31364
  Other Fuel System
30705
  Gasoline Fuel System
28136
  Tire
22944
  Seat Belt
15430
  Seats
14048
  Electronic Stability Control
12095
  Wheel
11382
  Latches/locks/linkage
11028
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2565
  Air Brake
2223
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1333
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
66
  Back Over Prevention
31
  Lane Departure
14


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