While car sales are off to a great start in 2015, the numbers from 2014 are in, and the year holds the dubious distinction of having the most vehicles recalled of any year on record.
Scores of millions of cars were involved in the recalls, which amounted to the greatest amount of cars sent back in history, and it wasn’t even close.
In fact, in 2014 auto companies recalled almost four times as many vehicles as they sold, with a grand total of 63.5 million cars and trucks being recalled in 350 separate campaigns. The staggering numbers were a result of defects across many brands, models, and components.
The worst year on record before 2014 was 1981, when approximately 30 million vehicles were recalled, but obviously, that number was dwarfed – and more than doubled – in 2014. Yikes.
The 2014 recalls came from pretty much every corner of the auto industry, but some companies were worse culprits than others. GM was the worst of all, recalling an insane 26.8 million vehicles, a lot of which came in the wake of GM’s deadly ignition switch lawsuit.
Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, and Ford were also amongst the companies that recalled more than 5 million vehicles, while companies such as Lotus and Porsche had almost no recalls at all.
The main reasons cited for recalls in 2014 were airbags (approximately 21 million recalls), ignition switches (approximately 16 million recalls), and electronics (approximately 5 million recalls). Other issues included power trains, steering, and fuel injection systems.
A lot of these recalls were likely due to the recent scandals with GM and Honda covering up issues with their vehicles, which resulted in class-action lawsuits and tons of bad publicity. It seems that these cases caused other manufacturers to “find” defects that they may have already known about, since nobody else wants to end up shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for lying about known problems.
In any case, hopefully the record number of recalls in 2014 prompt auto makers to be more careful and attentive going forward. We can hope that’s the case, but we will just have to wait and see.