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 2017. Cars made in year 2005 have the most problems with 71,744 problems reported and cars produced in 2016 (current year is excluded) have the least problems with 5,474 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2017

Model Year Number of Problems
  1996 vehicles
38433
  1997 vehicles
39677
  1998 vehicles
44334
  1999 vehicles
52889
  2000 vehicles
57955
  2001 vehicles
52185
  2002 vehicles
58210
  2003 vehicles
57938
  2004 vehicles
63113
  2005 vehicles
71744
  2006 vehicles
70916
  2007 vehicles
65890
  2008 vehicles
57867
  2009 vehicles
36582
  2010 vehicles
40459
  2011 vehicles
36854
  2012 vehicles
29243
  2013 vehicles
26677
  2014 vehicles
18187
  2015 vehicles
11563
  2016 vehicles
5474
  2017 vehicles
934

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From the above chart, one may conclude that the quality of cars in general has improved greatly. This is actually misleading. The fact is that the year 2005 model cars have been on the road for 10 years while the year 2016 model cars are still fresh from the factory. Table 2 gives a better picture of car quality over these years. It shows the problems reported during the first year when the cars were in 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 world wide economy slowed down, causing new car sales to plummet; thus few problems were reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2017 vehicles
573
  2016 vehicles
3907
  2015 vehicles
5468
  2014 vehicles
6342
  2013 vehicles
6119
  2012 vehicles
3987
  2011 vehicles
4194
  2010 vehicles
5364
  2009 vehicles
3086
  2008 vehicles
3643
  2007 vehicles
5075
  2006 vehicles
4625
  2005 vehicles
5075
  2004 vehicles
6444
  2003 vehicles
5679
  2002 vehicles
5149
  2001 vehicles
5047
  2000 vehicles
6192
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5267
  1997 vehicles
3002
  1996 vehicles
4683

You may wonder which part of the car breaks down often. 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 is associated with the vehicle's engine and engine cooling with 109,794 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem with 108,904 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
109794
  Electrical System
108904
  Power Train
96195
  Air Bag
83330
  Service Brakes
81933
  Steering
63873
  Structure
44482
  Suspension
44066
  Vehicle Speed Control
43324
  Equipment
42555
  Visibility
33631
  Exterior Lighting
29424
  Gasoline Fuel System
28091
  Other Fuel System
27045
  Tire
22754
  Seat Belt
14225
  Seats
13322
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Latches/locks/linkage
10812
  Wheel
10482
  Electronic Stability Control
10068
  Parking Brake
2528
  Air Brake
2222
  Diesel Fuel System
1401
  Traction Control System
1275
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
810
  Hybrid Propulsion System
127
  Forward Collision Avoidance
57
  Back Over Prevention
19
  Lane Departure
12
  Air Bag
1

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