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 76,574 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 3,803 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
3803
  2017 vehicles
7683
  2016 vehicles
12405
  2015 vehicles
20537
  2014 vehicles
28278
  2013 vehicles
38869
  2012 vehicles
40635
  2011 vehicles
47683
  2010 vehicles
49493
  2009 vehicles
43731
  2008 vehicles
67597
  2007 vehicles
74651
  2006 vehicles
76574
  2005 vehicles
75980
  2004 vehicles
66065
  2003 vehicles
60065
  2002 vehicles
59766
  2001 vehicles
53221
  2000 vehicles
58726
  1999 vehicles
53369
  1998 vehicles
44663
  1997 vehicles
39847
  1996 vehicles
38565

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
3490
  2017 vehicles
3410
  2016 vehicles
4479
  2015 vehicles
5802
  2014 vehicles
6531
  2013 vehicles
6215
  2012 vehicles
4061
  2011 vehicles
4273
  2010 vehicles
5438
  2009 vehicles
3119
  2008 vehicles
3717
  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 124,840 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 122,114 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
124840
  Electrical System
122114
  Power Train
106330
  Air Bag
106153
  Service Brakes
89238
  Steering
73520
  Equipment
54854
  Structure
50167
  Suspension
47186
  Vehicle Speed Control
47028
  Visibility
36214
  Other Fuel System
33573
  Exterior Lighting
33235
  Gasoline Fuel System
28178
  Tire
23059
  Seat Belt
16176
  Seats
14675
  Electronic Stability Control
13790
  Wheel
12144
  Latches/locks/linkage
11094
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2571
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1360
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
812
  Hybrid Propulsion System
137
  Forward Collision Avoidance
80
  Back Over Prevention
36
  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