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 78,851 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 3,957 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
3957
  2018 vehicles
10088
  2017 vehicles
14381
  2016 vehicles
19389
  2015 vehicles
28807
  2014 vehicles
36654
  2013 vehicles
48258
  2012 vehicles
47673
  2011 vehicles
53348
  2010 vehicles
53473
  2009 vehicles
46670
  2008 vehicles
71087
  2007 vehicles
77778
  2006 vehicles
78851
  2005 vehicles
77673
  2004 vehicles
67414
  2003 vehicles
61048
  2002 vehicles
60384
  2001 vehicles
53662
  2000 vehicles
59000
  1999 vehicles
53526
  1998 vehicles
44728
  1997 vehicles
39820
  1996 vehicles
38512

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
3403
  2018 vehicles
5104
  2017 vehicles
3880
  2016 vehicles
4634
  2015 vehicles
5926
  2014 vehicles
6628
  2013 vehicles
6301
  2012 vehicles
4101
  2011 vehicles
4296
  2010 vehicles
5463
  2009 vehicles
3131
  2008 vehicles
3735
  2007 vehicles
5150
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5113
  2004 vehicles
6462
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5154
  2001 vehicles
5048
  2000 vehicles
6195
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5258
  1997 vehicles
2992
  1996 vehicles
4663

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 137,258 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 131,478 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
137258
  Electrical System
131478
  Power Train
115478
  Air Bag
113037
  Service Brakes
94672
  Steering
80963
  Equipment
63411
  Structure
53718
  Suspension
49788
  Vehicle Speed Control
49665
  Visibility
38166
  Other Fuel System
37892
  Exterior Lighting
36246
  Gasoline Fuel System
28241
  Tire
23175
  Seat Belt
17167
  Electronic Stability Control
16638
  Seats
15604
  Wheel
13332
  Latches/locks/linkage
11227
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2590
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1409
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
819
  Hybrid Propulsion System
156
  Forward Collision Avoidance
131
  Back Over Prevention
61
  Lane Departure
33
  Communication
15


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