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 74,446 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 658 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
658
  2017 vehicles
4373
  2016 vehicles
9061
  2015 vehicles
16104
  2014 vehicles
23526
  2013 vehicles
33374
  2012 vehicles
36020
  2011 vehicles
43449
  2010 vehicles
45938
  2009 vehicles
41125
  2008 vehicles
64145
  2007 vehicles
71564
  2006 vehicles
74446
  2005 vehicles
74347
  2004 vehicles
64911
  2003 vehicles
59293
  2002 vehicles
59227
  2001 vehicles
52825
  2000 vehicles
58415
  1999 vehicles
53196
  1998 vehicles
44546
  1997 vehicles
39774
  1996 vehicles
38505

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
423
  2017 vehicles
3044
  2016 vehicles
4340
  2015 vehicles
5704
  2014 vehicles
6474
  2013 vehicles
6198
  2012 vehicles
4033
  2011 vehicles
4260
  2010 vehicles
5412
  2009 vehicles
3110
  2008 vehicles
3690
  2007 vehicles
5124
  2006 vehicles
4651
  2005 vehicles
5092
  2004 vehicles
6454
  2003 vehicles
5689
  2002 vehicles
5155
  2001 vehicles
5051
  2000 vehicles
6202
  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 117,692 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 116,276 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
117692
  Electrical System
116276
  Power Train
101494
  Air Bag
99321
  Service Brakes
85742
  Steering
69032
  Equipment
49622
  Structure
47660
  Suspension
45713
  Vehicle Speed Control
45307
  Visibility
35071
  Exterior Lighting
31348
  Other Fuel System
30669
  Gasoline Fuel System
28134
  Tire
22943
  Seat Belt
15421
  Seats
14037
  Electronic Stability Control
12067
  Wheel
11375
  Latches/locks/linkage
11027
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2565
  Air Brake
2223
  Diesel Fuel System
1401
  Traction Control System
1332
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
66
  Back Over Prevention
30
  Lane Departure
13


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