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 74,979 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,101 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
1101
  2017 vehicles
5109
  2016 vehicles
9704
  2015 vehicles
17074
  2014 vehicles
24515
  2013 vehicles
34588
  2012 vehicles
37048
  2011 vehicles
44474
  2010 vehicles
46787
  2009 vehicles
41782
  2008 vehicles
64971
  2007 vehicles
72344
  2006 vehicles
74979
  2005 vehicles
74777
  2004 vehicles
65189
  2003 vehicles
59484
  2002 vehicles
59388
  2001 vehicles
52935
  2000 vehicles
58485
  1999 vehicles
53239
  1998 vehicles
44581
  1997 vehicles
39793
  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 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
844
  2017 vehicles
3151
  2016 vehicles
4368
  2015 vehicles
5736
  2014 vehicles
6487
  2013 vehicles
6199
  2012 vehicles
4042
  2011 vehicles
4264
  2010 vehicles
5421
  2009 vehicles
3112
  2008 vehicles
3695
  2007 vehicles
5126
  2006 vehicles
4651
  2005 vehicles
5094
  2004 vehicles
6455
  2003 vehicles
5689
  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 119,238 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 117,622 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
119238
  Electrical System
117622
  Power Train
102482
  Air Bag
101135
  Service Brakes
86474
  Steering
69966
  Equipment
50806
  Structure
48199
  Suspension
46023
  Vehicle Speed Control
45708
  Visibility
35283
  Exterior Lighting
31703
  Other Fuel System
31355
  Gasoline Fuel System
28149
  Tire
22975
  Seat Belt
15594
  Seats
14193
  Electronic Stability Control
12485
  Wheel
11578
  Latches/locks/linkage
11037
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2567
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1340
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
67
  Back Over Prevention
31
  Lane Departure
16


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