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 75,274 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,437 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
1437
  2017 vehicles
5503
  2016 vehicles
10130
  2015 vehicles
17605
  2014 vehicles
25168
  2013 vehicles
35337
  2012 vehicles
37628
  2011 vehicles
45010
  2010 vehicles
47236
  2009 vehicles
42071
  2008 vehicles
65434
  2007 vehicles
72753
  2006 vehicles
75274
  2005 vehicles
74982
  2004 vehicles
65338
  2003 vehicles
59572
  2002 vehicles
59460
  2001 vehicles
52989
  2000 vehicles
58534
  1999 vehicles
53272
  1998 vehicles
44594
  1997 vehicles
39795
  1996 vehicles
38525

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
1164
  2017 vehicles
3204
  2016 vehicles
4387
  2015 vehicles
5742
  2014 vehicles
6496
  2013 vehicles
6201
  2012 vehicles
4053
  2011 vehicles
4265
  2010 vehicles
5424
  2009 vehicles
3112
  2008 vehicles
3703
  2007 vehicles
5126
  2006 vehicles
4654
  2005 vehicles
5095
  2004 vehicles
6455
  2003 vehicles
5690
  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 120,134 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 118,377 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
120134
  Electrical System
118377
  Power Train
103089
  Air Bag
101962
  Service Brakes
86946
  Steering
70505
  Equipment
51512
  Structure
48527
  Suspension
46193
  Vehicle Speed Control
45941
  Visibility
35423
  Exterior Lighting
31940
  Other Fuel System
31715
  Gasoline Fuel System
28151
  Tire
22997
  Seat Belt
15694
  Seats
14273
  Electronic Stability Control
12696
  Wheel
11676
  Latches/locks/linkage
11039
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2568
  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