10+ Useful Car Recall Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the government agency in charge of keeping track of and reporting all vehicle recalls to customers in the United States. This government agency records all recalls on all kinds of cars to help keep consumers safe. 

If you own a vehicle, you’ve likely had to deal with a recall at least once. Whether you have or haven’t, there have been a lot of statistics about vehicle recalls since recalls became a thing. We gathered ten useful automobile recall statistics if you’re curious or brushing up on your recall knowledge.

Top Automobile Recall Statistics

Before we dive deep into the most useful automobile recall statistics, here’s a quick glance at the top ten: 

  • Over 13 million cars were recalled in 2020
  • Ford has the most recalls 
  • Almost 400 million vehicles have been recalled since 1966
  • German cars are recalled the most in Europe
  • South Korea sued Volkswagen for a recall 
  • More than half of all recalled cars in the USA have more than one safety issue 
  • The NHTSA recalled 64 million vehicles in the USA in 2014
  • The industry average for cars recalled for dangerous problems is more than 80%
  • Tataka airbags were the largest recall in history 
  • GM had the most expensive recall ever in 2014 

Overall Automobile Recall Statistics

Without further ado, take a look at some of the top automobile recall statistics that will blow your mind. 

More Than 13 Million Cars Were Recalled in the First Half of 2020

There are millions of vehicles recalled annually. In 2020, despite the world shutting down and there being far less driving, the NHTSA recalled more than 13 million vehicles between January 1, 2020, and July 1, 2020. 

The vehicles ranged from cars to trucks to minivans. All had different issues like ignition plugs, brakes, airbags, etc. Toyota had the most of all the car manufacturers that had recalls at the beginning of 2020, with roughly 3.95 million. 

Ford Issues the Most Car Recalls Annually

No car manufacturer is immune to recalls, but Ford has statistically been the company that has the most recalls annually. They’ve ranked highest for vehicle recalls for several years, including 2022, with a whopping 8.6 million cars recalled in total. 

Ford tied with GM for the most recalls in 2021, but Ford is the one who continues to hold the number one place for vehicle recalls. Having the most recalls doesn’t mean Ford is a lousy car manufacturer, but those who drive Ford vehicles need to be vigilant when driving and pay attention to recalls. 

Over 390 Million Cars Have Been Recalled For Safety Issues Since 1966

Car recalls started in the early 1900s, but records aren’t always accurate over 100 years ago. Since 1966, roughly 390 million cars have been recalled due to safety concerns. That’s approximately 6.8 million cars on average per year since 1966. 

While reporting recalls is beneficial for getting people to take their unsafe cars in, seeing the numbers laid out like this puts vehicle safety into perspective. 

German Car Manufacturers Account For Roughly 28% of All Car Recalls in Europe

In Europe, German car manufacturers make up 28% of all car recalls. While 28% might not sound like a large number, it’s not ideal for several car companies, all from the same country, to account for this many recalls on an entire continent. 

For those living in Europe, paying extra attention to recalls for cars made by German manufacturers is necessary. While not all of these recalls are safety concerns, many make driving recalled cars dangerous for those behind the wheel and other drivers on the road. 

South Korea Fined Volkswagen For Delaying a Recall

In 2015, South Korea decided to fine the car manufacturer Volkswagen because they delayed informing consumers about a recall of the emission control devices. The country fined the German car brand $12.3 million to make an example to other car companies about ensuring they take car recalls seriously. 

They found that not only did they delay the recall, but they also cheated the software on the emission control devices. South Korea fining a car company is one of the first of its kind regarding recalls, but it made an impression because the country hasn’t fined a car company since. 

63% of All Recalled Vehicles in the USA Have More Than One Safety Issue

A statistic that might surprise most people is that 63% of all recalled vehicles have an issue with the recalled part and at least one other safety issue. Many of these safety issues go unreported because people aren’t aware that they exist. 

Owners often don’t realize other safety issues until they bring their car to the dealership for the recall. The safety issues discovered tend to be less severe because they go unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. Paying attention to recalls and performing regular maintenance on your car is vital.

There Were More than 64 Million Vehicles Recalled in the USA in 2014

2014 was a busy year for vehicle recalls. In that year alone, there were roughly 64 million vehicles recalled. It was the most vehicles recalled in one year to date. The recall spanned various car manufacturers. 

The recalls ranged from brake issues to ignition issues, but the two most common recalls were for Takata airbag inflators and faulty ignition in GM vehicles. Almost half of the 800+ recalls reported were discovered by automakers legally required to report issues. 

The Industry Average For Vehicles Recalled For Potential Consequences Including Fire, Death, Injury, and Crash is 88.1%

According to a study by iSeeCars, 88.1% of all vehicle recalls have the potential to have consequences that could result in significant injury. This includes implications that result in fire, injuries, a car crash, and even death. 

This is the industry average showing consumers how dangerous recalls can be. While not all recalls on vehicles have the potential to result in these types of situations, and why it’s essential to stay up to date on recalls and take your car into the dealership as soon as possible if the NHTSA issues one. 

Takata Airbag Inflators Were the Cause of the Largest Recall in USA Automobile History

Usually, when there’s a recall, it’s about one part from a specific car manufacturer. In 2014, the NHTSA recalled vehicles with Takata airbag inflators, affecting ten car manufacturers. Across the ten manufacturers that were required to recall vehicles, 42 million cars were involved, making it the largest recall in the United States. 

The statistics about the Takata airbag inflators highlight how important it is to address recalls. Millions of people could have been in danger had this recall not been caught when it did. The sheer number of people affected is a reminder in itself to keep up to date on recalls. 

GM’s 2014 Recall of Faulty Ignition Switches Was the Most Expensive Recall in History

Back in 2014, GM had the most expensive recall in history. The car manufacturer recalled millions of cars due to a faulty ignition switch. The recall started with less than 700,000 cars recalled, and then they went on to recall trucks, minivans, and sedans of all sorts of car models. 

The recall ended up being the most expensive ever. Besides paying for all the fixes, there was $2.5 billion in settlements and penalties. That includes a $900 million settlement from the US Department of Justice criminal case. This same recall caused over $120 million in lawsuits well into 2017.

Wrapping Up

There are millions of vehicles recalled annually worldwide. Most are caught before major accidents and life-threatening situations occur, but brushing up on your recall statistics can help you be more mindful to check and make sure there are no recalls out on your vehicle. 

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