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 77,510 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,084 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
1084
  2018 vehicles
6750
  2017 vehicles
10414
  2016 vehicles
14808
  2015 vehicles
23579
  2014 vehicles
31488
  2013 vehicles
42720
  2012 vehicles
43590
  2011 vehicles
50189
  2010 vehicles
51286
  2009 vehicles
44995
  2008 vehicles
69126
  2007 vehicles
76016
  2006 vehicles
77510
  2005 vehicles
76727
  2004 vehicles
66683
  2003 vehicles
60485
  2002 vehicles
59976
  2001 vehicles
53360
  2000 vehicles
58815
  1999 vehicles
53410
  1998 vehicles
44662
  1997 vehicles
39789
  1996 vehicles
38477

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
632
  2018 vehicles
4725
  2017 vehicles
3712
  2016 vehicles
4556
  2015 vehicles
5852
  2014 vehicles
6555
  2013 vehicles
6242
  2012 vehicles
4078
  2011 vehicles
4282
  2010 vehicles
5447
  2009 vehicles
3120
  2008 vehicles
3727
  2007 vehicles
5136
  2006 vehicles
4660
  2005 vehicles
5106
  2004 vehicles
6461
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5154
  2001 vehicles
5044
  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 129,965 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 125,794 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
129965
  Electrical System
125794
  Power Train
109458
  Air Bag
109070
  Service Brakes
91275
  Steering
76746
  Equipment
58143
  Structure
51576
  Suspension
48219
  Vehicle Speed Control
48101
  Visibility
37055
  Other Fuel System
35435
  Exterior Lighting
34529
  Gasoline Fuel System
28204
  Tire
23073
  Seat Belt
16574
  Seats
15031
  Electronic Stability Control
14939
  Wheel
12609
  Latches/locks/linkage
11163
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2578
  Air Brake
2222
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Traction Control System
1385
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
149
  Forward Collision Avoidance
98
  Back Over Prevention
43
  Lane Departure
25


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