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 76,046 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 2,771 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
2771
  2017 vehicles
6755
  2016 vehicles
11582
  2015 vehicles
19323
  2014 vehicles
27056
  2013 vehicles
37557
  2012 vehicles
39446
  2011 vehicles
46614
  2010 vehicles
48472
  2009 vehicles
43055
  2008 vehicles
66740
  2007 vehicles
73895
  2006 vehicles
76046
  2005 vehicles
75618
  2004 vehicles
65805
  2003 vehicles
59885
  2002 vehicles
59641
  2001 vehicles
53131
  2000 vehicles
58638
  1999 vehicles
53338
  1998 vehicles
44635
  1997 vehicles
39832
  1996 vehicles
38549

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
2462
  2017 vehicles
3340
  2016 vehicles
4448
  2015 vehicles
5780
  2014 vehicles
6520
  2013 vehicles
6211
  2012 vehicles
4057
  2011 vehicles
4271
  2010 vehicles
5430
  2009 vehicles
3116
  2008 vehicles
3713
  2007 vehicles
5131
  2006 vehicles
4656
  2005 vehicles
5098
  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 122,950 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 120,752 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
122950
  Electrical System
120752
  Power Train
105183
  Air Bag
104287
  Service Brakes
88286
  Steering
72176
  Equipment
53563
  Structure
49529
  Suspension
46764
  Vehicle Speed Control
46645
  Visibility
35886
  Other Fuel System
32804
  Exterior Lighting
32678
  Gasoline Fuel System
28167
  Tire
23035
  Seat Belt
16007
  Seats
14535
  Electronic Stability Control
13375
  Wheel
11944
  Latches/locks/linkage
11076
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2568
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1353
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
132
  Forward Collision Avoidance
78
  Back Over Prevention
33
  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