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 77,001 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 545 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
545
  2018 vehicles
5520
  2017 vehicles
9244
  2016 vehicles
13675
  2015 vehicles
22104
  2014 vehicles
29985
  2013 vehicles
40966
  2012 vehicles
42151
  2011 vehicles
49057
  2010 vehicles
50510
  2009 vehicles
44427
  2008 vehicles
68434
  2007 vehicles
75416
  2006 vehicles
77001
  2005 vehicles
76382
  2004 vehicles
66373
  2003 vehicles
60282
  2002 vehicles
59873
  2001 vehicles
53282
  2000 vehicles
58751
  1999 vehicles
53369
  1998 vehicles
44645
  1997 vehicles
39805
  1996 vehicles
38512

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
167
  2018 vehicles
4468
  2017 vehicles
3674
  2016 vehicles
4520
  2015 vehicles
5837
  2014 vehicles
6546
  2013 vehicles
6229
  2012 vehicles
4076
  2011 vehicles
4282
  2010 vehicles
5443
  2009 vehicles
3119
  2008 vehicles
3721
  2007 vehicles
5132
  2006 vehicles
4658
  2005 vehicles
5104
  2004 vehicles
6458
  2003 vehicles
5687
  2002 vehicles
5156
  2001 vehicles
5049
  2000 vehicles
6196
  1999 vehicles
5632
  1998 vehicles
5261
  1997 vehicles
2995
  1996 vehicles
4672

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 127,543 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 124,034 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
127543
  Electrical System
124034
  Power Train
107974
  Air Bag
107694
  Service Brakes
90299
  Steering
75242
  Equipment
56581
  Structure
50957
  Suspension
47712
  Vehicle Speed Control
47638
  Visibility
36708
  Other Fuel System
34603
  Exterior Lighting
33934
  Gasoline Fuel System
28192
  Tire
23069
  Seat Belt
16390
  Seats
14865
  Electronic Stability Control
14384
  Wheel
12408
  Latches/locks/linkage
11143
  Unknown Or Other
10919
  Parking Brake
2570
  Air Brake
2222
  Diesel Fuel System
1388
  Traction Control System
1375
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
816
  Hybrid Propulsion System
147
  Forward Collision Avoidance
91
  Back Over Prevention
42
  Lane Departure
20


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