All Cars - 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 2005 have the most problems, with 73,921 problems reported, while cars produced in 2017 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 3,698 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  1996 vehicles
38494
  1997 vehicles
39755
  1998 vehicles
44507
  1999 vehicles
53164
  2000 vehicles
58348
  2001 vehicles
52751
  2002 vehicles
59069
  2003 vehicles
59111
  2004 vehicles
64627
  2005 vehicles
73921
  2006 vehicles
73905
  2007 vehicles
70820
  2008 vehicles
63287
  2009 vehicles
40456
  2010 vehicles
45129
  2011 vehicles
42506
  2012 vehicles
35088
  2013 vehicles
32277
  2014 vehicles
22606
  2015 vehicles
15274
  2016 vehicles
8469
  2017 vehicles
3698
  2018 vehicles
371

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      

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 2005 model cars have been on the road for 11 years while the 2017 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.

Table 2. Number of problems reported during the vehicle's first year in service

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
158
  2017 vehicles
2902
  2016 vehicles
4302
  2015 vehicles
5684
  2014 vehicles
6462
  2013 vehicles
6185
  2012 vehicles
4028
  2011 vehicles
4251
  2010 vehicles
5404
  2009 vehicles
3108
  2008 vehicles
3685
  2007 vehicles
5120
  2006 vehicles
4647
  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 116,338 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 115,049 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
116338
  Electrical System
115049
  Power Train
100519
  Air Bag
97715
  Service Brakes
85116
  Steering
68026
  Equipment
48513
  Structure
47179
  Suspension
45426
  Vehicle Speed Control
44965
  Visibility
34829
  Exterior Lighting
30991
  Other Fuel System
29992
  Gasoline Fuel System
28122
  Tire
22916
  Seat Belt
15254
  Seats
13920
  Electronic Stability Control
11713
  Wheel
11210
  Latches/locks/linkage
10985
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2557
  Air Brake
2223
  Diesel Fuel System
1401
  Traction Control System
1319
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
62
  Back Over Prevention
29
  Lane Departure
13
  Air Bag
1

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