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 74,730 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 903 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
903
  2017 vehicles
4798
  2016 vehicles
9448
  2015 vehicles
16614
  2014 vehicles
24092
  2013 vehicles
34065
  2012 vehicles
36625
  2011 vehicles
44036
  2010 vehicles
46410
  2009 vehicles
41538
  2008 vehicles
64612
  2007 vehicles
72009
  2006 vehicles
74730
  2005 vehicles
74608
  2004 vehicles
65077
  2003 vehicles
59406
  2002 vehicles
59331
  2001 vehicles
52897
  2000 vehicles
58447
  1999 vehicles
53211
  1998 vehicles
44575
  1997 vehicles
39782
  1996 vehicles
38515

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
658
  2017 vehicles
3101
  2016 vehicles
4352
  2015 vehicles
5727
  2014 vehicles
6481
  2013 vehicles
6199
  2012 vehicles
4039
  2011 vehicles
4263
  2010 vehicles
5417
  2009 vehicles
3110
  2008 vehicles
3692
  2007 vehicles
5124
  2006 vehicles
4651
  2005 vehicles
5094
  2004 vehicles
6454
  2003 vehicles
5689
  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 118,571 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 117,061 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
118571
  Electrical System
117061
  Power Train
102057
  Air Bag
100348
  Service Brakes
86164
  Steering
69607
  Equipment
50297
  Structure
47967
  Suspension
45898
  Vehicle Speed Control
45514
  Visibility
35193
  Exterior Lighting
31539
  Other Fuel System
31067
  Gasoline Fuel System
28142
  Tire
22959
  Seat Belt
15511
  Seats
14130
  Electronic Stability Control
12313
  Wheel
11490
  Latches/locks/linkage
11035
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2567
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1338
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
66
  Back Over Prevention
31
  Lane Departure
16


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