All Cars - 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 2017. Cars made in year 2005 have the most problems with 71,949 problems reported and cars produced in 2016 (current year is excluded) have the least problems with 5,778 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2017

Model Year Number of Problems
  1996 vehicles
38437
  1997 vehicles
39686
  1998 vehicles
44354
  1999 vehicles
52908
  2000 vehicles
57998
  2001 vehicles
52233
  2002 vehicles
58288
  2003 vehicles
58041
  2004 vehicles
63267
  2005 vehicles
71949
  2006 vehicles
71207
  2007 vehicles
66265
  2008 vehicles
58252
  2009 vehicles
36869
  2010 vehicles
40867
  2011 vehicles
37352
  2012 vehicles
29789
  2013 vehicles
27239
  2014 vehicles
18623
  2015 vehicles
11902
  2016 vehicles
5778
  2017 vehicles
1078

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From the above chart, one may conclude that the quality of cars in general has improved greatly. This is actually misleading. The fact is that the year 2005 model cars have been on the road for 10 years while the year 2016 model cars are still fresh from the factory. Table 2 gives a better picture of car quality over these years. It shows the problems reported during the first year when the cars were in 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 world wide economy slowed down, causing new car sales to plummet; thus few problems were reported.

Table 2. Number of problems reported during the vehicle's first year in service

Model Year Number of Problems
  2017 vehicles
716
  2016 vehicles
3962
  2015 vehicles
5487
  2014 vehicles
6351
  2013 vehicles
6123
  2012 vehicles
3987
  2011 vehicles
4200
  2010 vehicles
5365
  2009 vehicles
3087
  2008 vehicles
3649
  2007 vehicles
5075
  2006 vehicles
4625
  2005 vehicles
5076
  2004 vehicles
6446
  2003 vehicles
5680
  2002 vehicles
5149
  2001 vehicles
5047
  2000 vehicles
6192
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5267
  1997 vehicles
3002
  1996 vehicles
4683

You may wonder which part of the car breaks down often. 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 is associated with the vehicle's engine and engine cooling with 110,445 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem with 109,501 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
110445
  Electrical System
109501
  Power Train
96621
  Air Bag
84281
  Service Brakes
82205
  Steering
64229
  Structure
44763
  Suspension
44209
  Vehicle Speed Control
43504
  Equipment
43088
  Visibility
33752
  Exterior Lighting
29556
  Gasoline Fuel System
28092
  Other Fuel System
27265
  Tire
22776
  Seat Belt
14342
  Seats
13380
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Latches/locks/linkage
10838
  Wheel
10544
  Electronic Stability Control
10178
  Parking Brake
2528
  Air Brake
2222
  Diesel Fuel System
1401
  Traction Control System
1280
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
810
  Hybrid Propulsion System
128
  Forward Collision Avoidance
57
  Back Over Prevention
21
  Lane Departure
12
  Air Bag
1

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