In 2014, the auto industry suffered a record year for auto recalls. More than 60 million cars, trucks and SUVs on U.S. roads and highways were recalled due to some type of safety-related defect. That astonishing figure translates to one out of every four cars on the road.
When it comes to this year’s recalls, none of the major car manufacturers were spared. This year the eight largest automakers were hit with more recalls since 1966 on U.S. vehicles, and many of those recalls involved older models–five years or older–than ever before. While the auto industry is cleaning up years of defects that went undetected on older models, improved technology in newer models has made driving safer. However, a wide range of parts used in older models were carried over to newer models, so defects still exist and continue to drive up the number of recalls.
General Motors has been plagued with defects in decade-old ignition-switches where simply bumping the keys with your knee could shut down the ignition. This is quite a dangerous scenario, especially if you’re on a major freeway doing 65 mph with no place to pull over. These GM ignition switch defects that affect various models between 2003 and 2011 have been linked to at least 42 deaths across the country.
Takata, a major airbag manufacturer in the auto industry, has recalled a record number of 10 million cars equipped with defective airbags over the last six years. During a crash, these defective airbags explode and spray drivers and passengers with shrapnel, causing numerous injuries. According to Reuters, these airbag defects are thought to be responsible for six deaths and 139 injuries. Although the problem has affected mostly Honda, the massive number of recalls has launched a U.S. Senate investigation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concerning air bag safety.
Toyota faced a federal investigation for the accidental or unintentional acceleration on some of their vehicles that led to a $1.2 billion fine. The fine was ordered to settle a criminal probe that led to a recall of more than 10 million vehicles.
Facts and Figures
Auto industry recall statistics show that Toyota/Lexus/Scion has led the number of recalls for the last two years with 5.3 million cars and trucks recalled. Following that lead, the Chrysler Group came in with around 4.7 million recalls, and Honda/Acura with nearly 2.8 million. As no surprise to luxury car enthusiasts, Mercedes-Benz was at the top of the list for the least recalls with an average of only 0.41 recalls for each vehicle sold. While a lower recall rate may imply that one automaker does a better job of manufacturing and quality control than another, it may also mean that some manufacturers simply issue recalls at a more frequent rate for proactive caution.
What does all of this news on recalls mean for the auto industry and consumers? Although 2014 recalls present staggering numbers, these figures are not a clear indicator of overall long-term safety or reliability in certain models. Figures also don’t reflect a clear picture of current sales. U.S. sales for cars and trucks is predicted to reach 16.5 million this year, making it the best year for the auto industry since 2006. So, will consumers stop buying certain models? Probably not. Will manufacturers stop producing them? Probably not. However, the auto industry must pay close attention to 2015 auto trends and strive to manufacture safe, sound vehicles for consumers.