Top 5 Recalls From Big Car Manufacturers

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If you own or lease an automobile, you’ve probably seen a number of recall notices from your local dealership, even if you didn’t purchase the car from a dealer.

Recall notices may seem unimportant but, in many cases, the big truck and car manufacturers learn about a critical safety issue many months – or even years – after releasing a particular model.

Service on recall notices is generally free and potentially saves the driver a load of problems down the road. There’s really no good reason to decline recall service, as these services only serve to increase the longevity and safety of your vehicle.

Below are some of the top recent recalls from big car manufacturers, based on the volume of recalls and the number of incidents attached to a particular safety issue. Read on to learn more.

Additional Details On Safety Recalls

Car Manufacturers

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Car manufacturers are continually refining their products, particularly those with enduring popularity. Models such as the Honda Civic and the Ford Mustang see continuous evolution, as car manufacturers seek to make their models better and safer in the interest of adding value.

Moreover, third-party groups such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also monitor road vehicles to ensure that the American landscape is as safe a place to drive as possible.

Drivers can check the recall status of their vehicle at any time on the NHTSA website, as well as get the latest information on certain models of tires and car seats thanks to the NHTSA.

Despite their diligence, the NHSTA cannot reasonably be expected to catch every defect within every vehicle on the road, and thus it becomes incumbent upon the car manufacturers to review their own vehicle and alert drivers to potential problems.

If a vehicle does not comply with a federal safety standard, the maker of the vehicle needs to alert the current owner by mail with a recall letter.

This letter should include the following information:

  • A detailed description of the defect or problem
  • The hazard or risk the safety defect can potentially cause
  • Warning signs or signals alerting the driver to the potential problem
  • Information on how the car manufacturer plans to address the problem
  • An estimated repair time and availability of service
  • Instructions on how immediately the driver should address the problem
  • Information on where to take the vehicle

This is the standard approach, but the process will vary between the different car manufacturers.

Many car manufacturers send a sealed envelope with detailed instructions as well as postcards reminding the vehicle owner to address the safety defect in a timely manner.

Why Delay A Safety Recall?

With the exception of a schedule conflict, there’s no legitimate reason to delay having your car serviced for a safety recall.

Safety recall issues could include problems such as passenger airbag deployment, which could be extremely dangerous if not fatal.

Given that most car manufacturers service safety defects for free – and likely give your car a visual safety inspection – it’s a no-brainer to contact the closest dealership and address a service recall as soon as you can.

The 5 Car And Trucks Brands With The Highest Recall Rates

Recalls are a double-edged sword for car manufacturers, for while some would view frequent recalls as manufacturers being proactive in maintaining driver safety, others will believe frequent recalls mean that there are fundamental problems in design and engineering from certain car companies.

Regardless of the reason, below are the five car and truck brands with the highest recall rates in the recent past (1985-2016):


VW has led the way in recalls for the past two decades, on average almost two recalls per unit sold (1,805 per 1000 units sold).

The German company recently recalled 281,000 cars due to faulty fuel pumps.

This massive recall comes on the heels of an incident known as “Dieselgate”, in which VW knowingly had their engineers manipulate the programming on a number of their diesel models in order to pass emissions testing.

Dieselgate was a huge deal internationally and especially in Europe, and ultimately led to the recall of 11 million VW units.

European automakers met at a “Diesel Summit” in Berlin to try to address some of the engineers and software problems in their vehicles and restore consumer faith.

European automakers met at a “Diesel Summit” in Berlin to try to address some of the engineers and software problems in their vehicles and restore consumer faith.


Chrysler comes in second with 1,422 recalls per 1000 units sold. The company has a very mixed reputation within the American automotive community, as many consumers view the company as a distant third (or worse) behind American industry giants Ford and Chevrolet.

The recalls on Chrysler cars seem to stem from ambition, as the company attempts to innovate and reinvent their brand in an attempt to keep pace with Chevy and Ford.

In May 2018, Fiat Chrysler issued a recall for 4.8 million vehicles, warning drivers to stop using their cruise control function. Thankfully, no fatalities were reported in conjunction with this issue.

While the company noted that a software update was all that was needed to fix the issue, this latest widespread recall further lowered Fiat Chrysler’s opinion in the public eye. Chrysler stock immediately fell another 2.5% in the wake of the recall.


Though typically reliable, Honda has unfortunately had a major recent recall problem due to its use of Takata airbags.

While 19 different car manufacturers use Takata bags, Honda was their biggest client, and thus had the largest number of recalls related to the issue.

The NHTSA even called the incident “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history”.

Regrettably, this safety issue has produced at least 20 reported deaths and 180 reported injuries. The Honda Odyssey was the model most commonly associated with the issue.

Drivers operating a car from 2000 or later should check to see if there is currently an active recall involving their airbag, as Honda is far from the only manufacturer to use Takata airbags.


Hyundai has had significant problems with recalls since its inception, piling up an average of 1,266 recalls per 1000 units sold. The company has sold about 11 million vehicles since 1985.

In March 2018, Hyundai recalled almost 44,000 vehicles due to a “steering wheel detachment risk”. This is surely a chilling thought for Hyundai drivers. The Hyundai Santa Fe was the model in question.

Like Honda, Hyundai has placed Takata airbags in many of its vehicles. Engineering issues combined with the Takata issue have not helped Hyundai’s placement with the market.

Honda moves significantly more volume than Hyundai, and Honda’s recall rate is somewhat inflated (no pun intended) due to the Takata airbag issue.


Closing out the list of most recalled brands is BMW, which like VW has taken a hit recently based on emissions speculation.

BMW cars are known for being incredibly well-constructed, and as noted earlier in the article, the highly technical nature of a BMW is prone to producing more bugs and glitches.

However, BMW cars are not perfect. In March 2018, the company issued a recall of over 300,000 vehicles, as cars would spontaneously stop running due to a power supply issue. Combined with BMW’s earlier recall of more than 36,000 vehicles for a similar electrical problem, the company placed fifth for recent recalls as of 2018.

The Top Recall Rates for Individual Models ​

Per the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), these were the five most recalled cars and trucks heading into 2018:

  • The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been the automotive industry’s most recalled vehicle from 2013 to 2017, averaging a recall rate of 5.77 units for every 100,000 sold. This figure is seven times higher than the average rate of 0.79 recalls per 100,000.
  • The GMC Sierra line was second from 2013-2017 with an average of 3.25 recalls for every 100,00 units sold.
  • The BMW 3 and 4 series finished third on the DMV’s list, averaging a recall rate of 2.95 per 100,000 units.
  • The Toyota 4Runner had 1.98 recalls per 100,000 during this four-year period.
  • The Nissan Pathfinder hit two recalls per 100,000.

It’s important to remember that every safety recall does not mean imminent doom. Luxury vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 and 4 series have a number of exotic features and are more apt to trigger standard recalls than less-intricate vehicles. Given that, buyers and drivers should do their due diligence on a particular model prior to purchase.

While recall notices per se shouldn’t be the main factor in determining which vehicle to purchase, driver safety is certainly a concern, and the incidence of repeated recalls is something most buyers wouldn’t consider choosing a certain car or truck.

Remember To Check For Recalls

No buyer or driver can reasonably anticipate most safety recalls prior to investing in a vehicle.

Car Manufacturers

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However, consumers can use the tools linked above to continuously monitor their vehicles and to keep tabs on outstanding recalls and notifications from the NHTSA.

As car manufacturers continue to make their products as safe as possible, it’s also the responsibility of consumers and drivers to monitor their own vehicles for critical recall notices and safety alerts.

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