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 76,782 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 341 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
341
  2018 vehicles
4320
  2017 vehicles
8121
  2016 vehicles
12860
  2015 vehicles
21105
  2014 vehicles
28806
  2013 vehicles
39566
  2012 vehicles
41224
  2011 vehicles
48195
  2010 vehicles
49931
  2009 vehicles
44006
  2008 vehicles
67912
  2007 vehicles
74951
  2006 vehicles
76782
  2005 vehicles
76137
  2004 vehicles
66189
  2003 vehicles
60161
  2002 vehicles
59811
  2001 vehicles
53250
  2000 vehicles
58744
  1999 vehicles
53386
  1998 vehicles
44677
  1997 vehicles
39852
  1996 vehicles
38577

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
15
  2018 vehicles
3917
  2017 vehicles
3431
  2016 vehicles
4493
  2015 vehicles
5811
  2014 vehicles
6536
  2013 vehicles
6219
  2012 vehicles
4068
  2011 vehicles
4274
  2010 vehicles
5440
  2009 vehicles
3119
  2008 vehicles
3718
  2007 vehicles
5134
  2006 vehicles
4663
  2005 vehicles
5103
  2004 vehicles
6460
  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 125,762 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 122,770 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
125762
  Electrical System
122770
  Power Train
106938
  Air Bag
106729
  Service Brakes
89665
  Steering
74138
  Equipment
55433
  Structure
50465
  Suspension
47377
  Vehicle Speed Control
47239
  Visibility
36393
  Other Fuel System
33954
  Exterior Lighting
33515
  Gasoline Fuel System
28188
  Tire
23069
  Seat Belt
16255
  Seats
14743
  Electronic Stability Control
13995
  Wheel
12252
  Latches/locks/linkage
11110
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2574
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1366
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
812
  Hybrid Propulsion System
141
  Forward Collision Avoidance
84
  Back Over Prevention
38
  Lane Departure
19


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