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 77,308 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 837 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
837
  2018 vehicles
6297
  2017 vehicles
9902
  2016 vehicles
14362
  2015 vehicles
22943
  2014 vehicles
30882
  2013 vehicles
42030
  2012 vehicles
43031
  2011 vehicles
49722
  2010 vehicles
50959
  2009 vehicles
44796
  2008 vehicles
68862
  2007 vehicles
75778
  2006 vehicles
77308
  2005 vehicles
76589
  2004 vehicles
66581
  2003 vehicles
60410
  2002 vehicles
59933
  2001 vehicles
53352
  2000 vehicles
58785
  1999 vehicles
53405
  1998 vehicles
44654
  1997 vehicles
39811
  1996 vehicles
38514

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
401
  2018 vehicles
4634
  2017 vehicles
3696
  2016 vehicles
4542
  2015 vehicles
5847
  2014 vehicles
6548
  2013 vehicles
6242
  2012 vehicles
4078
  2011 vehicles
4282
  2010 vehicles
5444
  2009 vehicles
3119
  2008 vehicles
3725
  2007 vehicles
5135
  2006 vehicles
4658
  2005 vehicles
5104
  2004 vehicles
6460
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5156
  2001 vehicles
5049
  2000 vehicles
6196
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5261
  1997 vehicles
2995
  1996 vehicles
4672

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 128,973 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 125,096 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
128973
  Electrical System
125096
  Power Train
108861
  Air Bag
108587
  Service Brakes
90876
  Steering
76159
  Equipment
57521
  Structure
51312
  Suspension
48020
  Vehicle Speed Control
47915
  Visibility
36928
  Other Fuel System
35088
  Exterior Lighting
34316
  Gasoline Fuel System
28210
  Tire
23081
  Seat Belt
16507
  Seats
14967
  Electronic Stability Control
14700
  Wheel
12513
  Latches/locks/linkage
11159
  Unknown Or Other
10919
  Parking Brake
2574
  Air Brake
2222
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Traction Control System
1383
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
149
  Forward Collision Avoidance
94
  Back Over Prevention
42
  Lane Departure
25


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