Apple MacBooks, even the “pro” ones, have always been designed with form over function approach. During the years, durability, ease of service, proper cooling – with stagnating performance-per-watt in Intel cpus – have been sacrified to slim and sleek design language.
This is the root cause for most of the issues described here, as their push led to some very bad engineering solutions that resulted in extensive recall and repair programs.
In this page we will only list issues that have been officially recognized by apple after lawsuits in the USA forced them to provide extended warranty.
There are many more issues (like RAM slots solder failures, less common GPUs failures, generic overheating, trackpad and HD cable selfdestruction, VRM instability and many others) that have flown under the radar and not subject of any class action – http://knownappleissues.com/ is a good resource
We will only talk about “usable” machines here – from 2011 onwards
2011 AMD GPU Issues – all Macs built in 2011 with AMD gpus – https://www.macrumors.com/2017/05/20/apple-ends-2011-macbook-pro-repair-program/ – https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7748687
2013 – 2015 “Staingate” – issues with the anti-reflective coating on retina screens
2015 Battery exploding issues, still active
The 2016 and 2017 models are the worst offenders. The cpus mantained the same core count as the previous 2015 generation, thus keeping the same performance, but standard ports have been replaced with USB C / Thunderbolt 3 only, chassis was slimmed (increasing thermal issues) and the SSD have been soldered down in all but the non-touchbar models.
Being the first iteration of the new design, they also suffer from the biggest number of factory issues .
– keyboard is prone to jamming caused by dust particles even in standard enviroments – https://support.apple.com/keyboard-service-program-for-mac-notebooks
– display cable is prone to very fast wear out, affecting 2016 and 2017 13 and 15 inch models but covered by warranty only on 2016 13″ models – https://support.apple.com/13-inch-macbook-pro-display-backlight-service
– battery charging issues – https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212163
– SSD issues – https://support.apple.com/13-inch-macbook-pro-solid-state-drive-service