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 78,953 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 4,337 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
4337
  2018 vehicles
10525
  2017 vehicles
14773
  2016 vehicles
19803
  2015 vehicles
29204
  2014 vehicles
37063
  2013 vehicles
48705
  2012 vehicles
48001
  2011 vehicles
53602
  2010 vehicles
53688
  2009 vehicles
46795
  2008 vehicles
71248
  2007 vehicles
77944
  2006 vehicles
78953
  2005 vehicles
77759
  2004 vehicles
67483
  2003 vehicles
61103
  2002 vehicles
60436
  2001 vehicles
53677
  2000 vehicles
59019
  1999 vehicles
53530
  1998 vehicles
44730
  1997 vehicles
39825
  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 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
3777
  2018 vehicles
5146
  2017 vehicles
3894
  2016 vehicles
4650
  2015 vehicles
5933
  2014 vehicles
6630
  2013 vehicles
6303
  2012 vehicles
4101
  2011 vehicles
4296
  2010 vehicles
5464
  2009 vehicles
3131
  2008 vehicles
3736
  2007 vehicles
5150
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5113
  2004 vehicles
6462
  2003 vehicles
5691
  2002 vehicles
5155
  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 137,903 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 132,003 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
137903
  Electrical System
132003
  Power Train
115953
  Air Bag
113374
  Service Brakes
94926
  Steering
81411
  Equipment
63861
  Structure
53889
  Suspension
49949
  Vehicle Speed Control
49791
  Visibility
38394
  Other Fuel System
38125
  Exterior Lighting
36388
  Gasoline Fuel System
28244
  Tire
23182
  Seat Belt
17222
  Electronic Stability Control
16795
  Seats
15659
  Wheel
13408
  Latches/locks/linkage
11228
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2591
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1410
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
819
  Hybrid Propulsion System
156
  Forward Collision Avoidance
136
  Back Over Prevention
62
  Lane Departure
34
  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