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 79,136 problems reported, while cars produced in 2019 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 4,991 problems reported.

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

Model Year Number of Problems
  2019 vehicles
4991
  2018 vehicles
11166
  2017 vehicles
15549
  2016 vehicles
20450
  2015 vehicles
29896
  2014 vehicles
37755
  2013 vehicles
49426
  2012 vehicles
48555
  2011 vehicles
54004
  2010 vehicles
53988
  2009 vehicles
47043
  2008 vehicles
71538
  2007 vehicles
78158
  2006 vehicles
79136
  2005 vehicles
77883
  2004 vehicles
67594
  2003 vehicles
61191
  2002 vehicles
60473
  2001 vehicles
53708
  2000 vehicles
59038
  1999 vehicles
53552
  1998 vehicles
44739
  1997 vehicles
39838
  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
4425
  2018 vehicles
5197
  2017 vehicles
3917
  2016 vehicles
4652
  2015 vehicles
5935
  2014 vehicles
6635
  2013 vehicles
6307
  2012 vehicles
4104
  2011 vehicles
4297
  2010 vehicles
5465
  2009 vehicles
3131
  2008 vehicles
3736
  2007 vehicles
5151
  2006 vehicles
4662
  2005 vehicles
5113
  2004 vehicles
6462
  2003 vehicles
5691
  2002 vehicles
5155
  2001 vehicles
5049
  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 138,916 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 132,821 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
138916
  Electrical System
132821
  Power Train
116730
  Air Bag
113859
  Service Brakes
95424
  Steering
82247
  Equipment
64601
  Structure
54133
  Suspension
50325
  Vehicle Speed Control
50013
  Visibility
38608
  Other Fuel System
38521
  Exterior Lighting
36655
  Gasoline Fuel System
28248
  Tire
23200
  Seat Belt
17314
  Electronic Stability Control
17061
  Seats
15757
  Wheel
13547
  Latches/locks/linkage
11241
  Unknown Or Other
10918
  Parking Brake
2591
  Air Brake
2222
  Traction Control System
1415
  Diesel Fuel System
1389
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
819
  Hybrid Propulsion System
156
  Forward Collision Avoidance
138
  Back Over Prevention
64
  Lane Departure
38
  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