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 2018. Cars made in the year 2006 have the most problems, with 75,528 problems reported, while cars produced in 2018 (the current year is excluded) have the least problems, with 1,774 problems reported.

Table 1. Number of problems reported for all vehicles made from 1996 to 2018

Model Year Number of Problems
  2018 vehicles
1774
  2017 vehicles
5872
  2016 vehicles
10611
  2015 vehicles
18174
  2014 vehicles
25796
  2013 vehicles
36088
  2012 vehicles
38216
  2011 vehicles
45548
  2010 vehicles
47617
  2009 vehicles
42379
  2008 vehicles
65867
  2007 vehicles
73189
  2006 vehicles
75528
  2005 vehicles
75178
  2004 vehicles
65500
  2003 vehicles
59670
  2002 vehicles
59514
  2001 vehicles
53029
  2000 vehicles
58564
  1999 vehicles
53289
  1998 vehicles
44609
  1997 vehicles
39806
  1996 vehicles
38531

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 2018 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
  2018 vehicles
1494
  2017 vehicles
3237
  2016 vehicles
4407
  2015 vehicles
5760
  2014 vehicles
6504
  2013 vehicles
6209
  2012 vehicles
4055
  2011 vehicles
4271
  2010 vehicles
5427
  2009 vehicles
3113
  2008 vehicles
3705
  2007 vehicles
5127
  2006 vehicles
4654
  2005 vehicles
5096
  2004 vehicles
6455
  2003 vehicles
5690
  2002 vehicles
5158
  2001 vehicles
5051
  2000 vehicles
6203
  1999 vehicles
5634
  1998 vehicles
5268
  1997 vehicles
3003
  1996 vehicles
4687

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 121,018 problems reported. The second most common car problem is the electrical system problem, with 119,152 problems reported.

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

Problem Category Number of Problems
  Engine And Engine Cooling
121018
  Electrical System
119152
  Power Train
103790
  Air Bag
102671
  Service Brakes
87386
  Steering
71025
  Equipment
52208
  Structure
48856
  Suspension
46380
  Vehicle Speed Control
46167
  Visibility
35560
  Exterior Lighting
32170
  Other Fuel System
32070
  Gasoline Fuel System
28156
  Tire
23009
  Seat Belt
15796
  Seats
14345
  Electronic Stability Control
12936
  Wheel
11761
  Latches/locks/linkage
11046
  Unknown Or Other
10920
  Parking Brake
2568
  Air Brake
2224
  Diesel Fuel System
1402
  Traction Control System
1341
  Interior Lighting
1180
  Child Seat
811
  Hybrid Propulsion System
130
  Forward Collision Avoidance
69
  Back Over Prevention
32
  Lane Departure
17


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