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 78,037 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,859 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
1859
  2018 vehicles
8015
  2017 vehicles
11782
  2016 vehicles
16397
  2015 vehicles
25568
  2014 vehicles
33224
  2013 vehicles
44724
  2012 vehicles
45037
  2011 vehicles
51336
  2010 vehicles
52126
  2009 vehicles
45623
  2008 vehicles
69847
  2007 vehicles
76638
  2006 vehicles
78037
  2005 vehicles
77066
  2004 vehicles
66984
  2003 vehicles
60715
  2002 vehicles
60121
  2001 vehicles
53490
  2000 vehicles
58881
  1999 vehicles
53451
  1998 vehicles
44693
  1997 vehicles
39797
  1996 vehicles
38484

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
1366
  2018 vehicles
4913
  2017 vehicles
3786
  2016 vehicles
4590
  2015 vehicles
5887
  2014 vehicles
6562
  2013 vehicles
6258
  2012 vehicles
4085
  2011 vehicles
4283
  2010 vehicles
5449
  2009 vehicles
3128
  2008 vehicles
3730
  2007 vehicles
5142
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5108
  2004 vehicles
6461
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5154
  2001 vehicles
5045
  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 132,751 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 127,859 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
132751
  Electrical System
127859
  Power Train
111274
  Air Bag
110457
  Service Brakes
92532
  Steering
78211
  Equipment
60065
  Structure
52368
  Suspension
48765
  Vehicle Speed Control
48663
  Visibility
37482
  Other Fuel System
36294
  Exterior Lighting
35145
  Gasoline Fuel System
28219
  Tire
23103
  Seat Belt
16828
  Electronic Stability Control
15574
  Seats
15226
  Wheel
12888
  Latches/locks/linkage
11190
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2582
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1395
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
152
  Forward Collision Avoidance
110
  Back Over Prevention
52
  Lane Departure
29


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