The top 8 vehicle problem trends as reported by owners.

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The Top Problem Trends for 2012
The top 8 vehicle problem trends as reported by owners.

— Each year, tracks complaint trends based off the stories of owners like you. When a problem trend emerges for a specific vehicle, it's typically something that gets addressed by the government or the automaker.

That's why your complaints are so important. They lead to government-mandated recalls, investigations, lawsuits and even changes in the way automakers manufacture their cars.

For 2012 we've scanned out database to find the top 8 problem trends reported over the last year. Why only 8? Well, 10 was just too depressing.

If you see your vehicle listed, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the same problems (lucky you). It does mean, however, there are many owners of the same vehicle who have not been as fortunate as you. So without further ado, here are the top 8 problem trends for 2012 as reported by you, the owners:

#8: Dodge Journey Brakes (2009-2010)

The 2009 Dodge Journey has been recalled seven times for issues ranging from electrical problems to faulty air bags, but curiously never for brake problems.

Owners of these model years have reported hundreds of problems related to premature brake wear, bad rotors, and the ability to let people know they are coming from a mile away because the brakes are grinding like mad.

Drivers have tried everything to stop their brakes from going bad early, but so far the only answer has been to replace the brakes and rotors on a regular basis. In fact, many owners say their brakes have been replaced five times in less than two years.

Read more about premature brake and rotor wear in the 2009 Dodge Journey and even more complaints about failing brakes in the 2010 Dodge Journey.

#7: Honda Accord Seat (2010-2012)

A driver might be able to avoid certain areas of their car, but the driver seat isn’t one of them. Complaints about the seat of the Honda Accord pour into on a regular basis, so much so that we looked into the matter in June, 2012.

Owners say the seat is so uncomfortable that in some cases, all that can be done is return the car, sometimes at a loss of thousands of dollars. Yep, it's that bad. While every vehicle can face its share of complaints about seats, the Accord is unusual because the number of complaints that keep rolling in. In addition, complaints come from every size driver imaginable.

For their part, Honda regrets the situation but can’t do much about it. Read up on driver complaints about the seat problems in the 2010 Honda Accord, 2011 Accord, and the 2012 Honda Accord. You won't believe some of their stories.

#6: Honda Accord Brakes (2009-2010)

Brakes are a popular complaint for many consumers because how long the brakes last is influenced by how much they are used, and how aggressively. However, the complaints about premature brake failure on the 2009-2010 Honda Accord stand out because of a clear pattern of early failure.

Accord owners repeatedly allege their brakes must be replaced before 20,000 miles, with many consumers yelling their brakes started squeaking and grinding much earlier.

A class action lawsuit was filed against Honda for this problem covering the 2008-2009 model years, but the premature brake wear complaints continue to pour in from 2008-2010 Accord owners even well after the lawsuit was settled.

Read about premature brake wear and brakes the squeal like crazy for the 2009 Honda Accord and the 2010 Accord.

#5: Chrysler 200 Engine (2011)

In May of this year, reported how the engine of the 2011 Chrysler 200 would stall without warning. After our report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the issue and found a problem with the powertrain control module (PCM).

According to Chrysler, the engine stalls when the “PCM initiates a purge monitor check while the engine is at idle which can result in an overly rich vapor condition and cause the engine to stall while stopped.”

To address the problem, Chrysler created a software fix and began a campaign to reprogram the PCM on all affected vehicles. The bulletin was sent to dealers on September 28, 2012 and owner notification began on October 5, 2012.

Read complaints about stalling engines in the Chrysler 200 from the poor souls who drive them.

#4: Honda Civic Brakes (2009-2010)

More Hondas, more brake problems. Stop me if you've heard this one before. While the 2009-2010 Accord brake problems are bad, the 2009-2010 Honda Civic has gained a reputation with owners having to replace their brakes as early as 15,000 miles.

Civic owners claim that Honda dealers blame the problem on aggressive driving, but owners say the problem is with the brakes themselves and the numbers seem to back them up. The typical cost is about $250 unless the vehicle is under warranty.

Read complaints about premature brake wear, squealing rotors and all sorts of other brake headaches for the 2009 Honda Civic and 2010 Civic.

#3: Chevy Cruze Cooling System (2011)

Your vehicle needs antifreeze, but to inhale the chemical smell while driving has some 2011 Chevy Cruze owners steaming like a overheating radiator.

Owners say it’s no fun to drive with the windows down in the winter just to avoid the dangerous smell. Visits to the dealer haven’t helped either, because the dealers can’t figure out what the problem is.

Drivers say the smell is so strong when the heater is running that it’s a distraction while driving and the longer they drive, the worse it gets. A few owners had no choice but to sell the vehicle just to save their nostrils.

Read complaints about the antifreeze smell in the 2011 Chevy Cruze.

#2: Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra and Frontier Transmission (2005-2007)

Anyone who has experienced problems with their transmission knows the extreme cost associated with replacing or rebuilding the component.  Owners of the 2005-2007 Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra, and Frontier have faced an incredible problem and disturbing trend where coolant leaks into the transmission and destroys it.

What's even more troubling is owners hoping to avoid this problem by having their transmission "repaired" by an authorized Nissan dealer are still reporting catastrophic failure. Through no fault of their own, Nissan owners who are out of warranty are left to pickup the hefty repair tab.

Nissan did extend the power train warranty on these vehicles from 60k miles to 80k miles. Unfortunately for owners, that's still below the average mileage at which the problem occurs. The outrage is so bad that the NHTSA received a petition for an official investigation from owners, but as of now nothing has been done.

As one Pathfinder owner said: "If your whole truck vibrates when downshifting on the highway, you have a $7000 problem in your hands."

Read some horror stories about antifreeze leaking into the transmission of the 2005 Pathfinder; 2006 Pathfinder; 2007 Pathfinder; 2005 Xterra; 2006 Xterra; 2007 Xterra; 2005 Frontier; 2006 Frontier; and 2007 Frontier. It's hard to believe how widespread this problem is without an official response from Nissan.

#1: Honda Accord Oil Consumption (2008)

Coming in at the number one complaint trend for 2012 is oil consumption woes in the 2008 Accord. For years owners of the 2008 Honda Accord have complained how their engines drink oil like it was going out of style. While owners tell tales about the cost of pouring oil into their car on a regular basis, Honda dealers have had a habit of saying that the oil consumption was normal. That is until Honda finally released a technical service bulletin (TSB) to dealers acknowledging the problem.

The TSB says the most likely cause of the problem is the variable cylinder management (VCM) and it should be fixed by visiting the dealer for a software update. If that doesn't work, they can always go back to blaming you and your driving style.

Read complaints about the disappearing oil in the 2008 Honda Accord.

2012 Honorable Mentions

There are always vehicles which don't exactly make the cut, but come darn close to it.  Here's our "honorable mentions" for the top problem trends of 2012.

  • Dodge Ram Cracked Dashboard (2002-2003)  Read the horror stories about cracked dashboards in the 2002 Dodge Ram and 2003 Ram.
  • Ford Explorer Cracked Panel (2004-2005)  Read how owners are dealing with the headache of a cracked panel under the rear window in the 2004 Ford Explorer and 2005 Explorer.


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