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 77,741 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,421 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
1421
  2018 vehicles
7342
  2017 vehicles
11010
  2016 vehicles
15476
  2015 vehicles
24477
  2014 vehicles
32278
  2013 vehicles
43572
  2012 vehicles
44259
  2011 vehicles
50703
  2010 vehicles
51651
  2009 vehicles
45268
  2008 vehicles
69449
  2007 vehicles
76268
  2006 vehicles
77741
  2005 vehicles
76879
  2004 vehicles
66819
  2003 vehicles
60618
  2002 vehicles
60048
  2001 vehicles
53418
  2000 vehicles
58850
  1999 vehicles
53430
  1998 vehicles
44672
  1997 vehicles
39792
  1996 vehicles
38482

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
946
  2018 vehicles
4818
  2017 vehicles
3744
  2016 vehicles
4572
  2015 vehicles
5866
  2014 vehicles
6560
  2013 vehicles
6249
  2012 vehicles
4082
  2011 vehicles
4282
  2010 vehicles
5447
  2009 vehicles
3123
  2008 vehicles
3727
  2007 vehicles
5136
  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 131,184 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 126,703 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
131184
  Electrical System
126703
  Power Train
110241
  Air Bag
109730
  Service Brakes
91843
  Steering
77420
  Equipment
58950
  Structure
51961
  Suspension
48452
  Vehicle Speed Control
48352
  Visibility
37250
  Other Fuel System
35817
  Exterior Lighting
34827
  Gasoline Fuel System
28208
  Tire
23085
  Seat Belt
16682
  Electronic Stability Control
15222
  Seats
15095
  Wheel
12738
  Latches/locks/linkage
11170
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2579
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1389
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
151
  Forward Collision Avoidance
103
  Back Over Prevention
47
  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