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 77,769 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,471 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
1471
  2018 vehicles
7424
  2017 vehicles
11092
  2016 vehicles
15589
  2015 vehicles
24585
  2014 vehicles
32378
  2013 vehicles
43722
  2012 vehicles
44360
  2011 vehicles
50788
  2010 vehicles
51699
  2009 vehicles
45303
  2008 vehicles
69506
  2007 vehicles
76312
  2006 vehicles
77769
  2005 vehicles
76904
  2004 vehicles
66843
  2003 vehicles
60624
  2002 vehicles
60060
  2001 vehicles
53429
  2000 vehicles
58851
  1999 vehicles
53431
  1998 vehicles
44672
  1997 vehicles
39795
  1996 vehicles
38483

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
993
  2018 vehicles
4829
  2017 vehicles
3745
  2016 vehicles
4574
  2015 vehicles
5869
  2014 vehicles
6560
  2013 vehicles
6253
  2012 vehicles
4082
  2011 vehicles
4282
  2010 vehicles
5447
  2009 vehicles
3123
  2008 vehicles
3730
  2007 vehicles
5137
  2006 vehicles
4661
  2005 vehicles
5107
  2004 vehicles
6461
  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 131,372 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 126,837 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
131372
  Electrical System
126837
  Power Train
110353
  Air Bag
109832
  Service Brakes
91917
  Steering
77521
  Equipment
59063
  Structure
51996
  Suspension
48483
  Vehicle Speed Control
48380
  Visibility
37274
  Other Fuel System
35878
  Exterior Lighting
34877
  Gasoline Fuel System
28208
  Tire
23086
  Seat Belt
16714
  Electronic Stability Control
15266
  Seats
15113
  Wheel
12754
  Latches/locks/linkage
11172
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2580
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1389
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
151
  Forward Collision Avoidance
104
  Back Over Prevention
48
  Lane Departure
28


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