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In recent years, recalls have become a common occurrence across most car manufacturers. Not only are there more features and technological advances used in cars that can cause potential problems, but car manufacturers are under greater scrutiny both internally and externally to find and repair safety concerns.
While it’s safe to say that a recall can be expected on most vehicles at least once in their lifetime, some car brands are smack-dab in the spotlight. In many situations, it’s an unfortunate partnership with a company that discovers a flaw in its product. Other times, serious accidents and fatalities may expose a deficiency that makes headlines.
Here are the 10 most recalled car brands, ranked in volume of cumulative recalls issued since 2004.
Ford vehicles have been the most recalled since 2004. Most of their recalls have stayed out of the limelight, but because of their massive sales volume and expansive vehicle lineup, it stands to reason that their vehicles will experience more recalls.
Recently, Ford F-Series trucks including the best-selling Ford F-150 have been recalled for transmission issues related to an output speed sensor, affecting 202,000 trucks. Other recalls such as the driver’s air bag module recall on Ford Flex and related vehicles affected only 200 vehicles.
Chevrolet has a few widespread recalls that have tainted their name and reputation. Of them, the ignition recall affecting several years of the Cobalt, Malibu, and other models, along with some early 2014 Silverados with nearly a dozen recalls, and electric power steering recalls on Chevy Malibu, Malibu Maxx, and Cobalt have been plaguing Chevrolet for years.
In the spirit of fairness, Chevrolet sells millions of vehicles per year and the instances of accidents or fatalities is extremely low considering the volume of cars.
In a bit of a shocker, BMW has cracked the top three of most recalled car brands. It’s largely due to the BMW X5 sport utility vehicle that has seen recalls issued on braking concerns, Takata air bag inflators, engine stalling issues, and a host of other problems.
BMW has a reputation of being one of the most reliable vehicles on the market despite the problems exhibited by their long-running X5. BMW has gone above and beyond with their recalls, issuing recall notices when few concerns have been noted and even going to the extent of stretching out warranty periods to cover potential issues.
Another vehicle manufacturer that has been in the spotlight for recalls is Toyota. There’s been the unintended acceleration recall for Prius, Corolla, and Matrix, floor mat recalls for a similar bunch of cars, faulty accelerator pedals for more than 2 million vehicles, engine control modules for Corolla and Matrix, and quite a few more.
While there have been numerous recalls that have affected millions and millions of vehicles, Toyota slips into fourth spot simply because there were fewer recalls actually issued than the top three. If numbers were available for total number of vehicles affected overall, expect to see Toyota higher on the list.
Spanning a wide range of vehicle models and segments, Dodge has an extensive lineup and sells millions of vehicles each year. They’ve managed to achieve fifth spot with a large number of recalls issued in the past decade including steering problems on the popular Ram pickup. Some like the steering issue affected over a million trucks while others like a transmission failure only affected a mere 159 vehicles.
Still, according to the number of recalls issued overall by manufacturer, Dodge takes 5th place, just barely edging out 6th.
Honda isn’t typically known to produce unreliable automobiles. They take great pride in the number of vehicles still on the road after 20 years. Unfortunately, their air bag supplier has greatly affected their standing by supplying Honda with air bag inflators that could propel shrapnel into occupants in the event of a collision. In one recall alone, over 2 million Hondas were recalled to have their driver’s side air bag replaced. That’s just one of many such recalls.
Surprisingly, the most recalled Honda is the Odyssey. More than two dozen recalls have been issued for the Honda Odyssey alone in the past 10 years. Those recalls include brake-shift interlock problems on more than 200,000 vehicles where the transmission could shift out of park without pressing the brake.
In similar recalls as Chevrolet, GMC has achieved a lower profile on recalls simply based on its smaller vehicle lineup. With lower sales volume and fewer models for the brand, the same high-visibility recalls on Silverado are less obvious on the Sierra.
GMC Savana vans are among the worst offenders for recalls in the past decade including dash pad recalls and steering gear issues from pitman arm failures.
Massive recalls have come out from Nissan as of late, affecting millions of vehicles worldwide. More than 3 million vehicles have been recalled for air bag sensor problems and 620,000 more Sentras for seat belt restraint issues. Nissan is smaller in North America than it is in the rest of the world and these numbers are just for the U.S. aside from these recent recalls, there have been smaller recalls including the Leaf electric car for brake issues, Altima lighting recalls, and many more.
If Nissan USA sold the same volume of vehicles as the Top Three, it would likely top the list of most recalled car brands.
Volvo’s inclusion in this list may come as a surprise to some. A car manufacturer with such an emphasis on safety broke the top 10 list of most recalled car brands. The culprits for most Volvo recalls are the Volvo S60 and S80, and unfortunately it’s mainly due to low-volume recalls. For example, an undercoating recall on the S60 affected less than 3,000 vehicles and a fuel line issue affected only 448 vehicles.
A more prominent recall from Volvo is a software glitch requiring reprogramming that affected 59,000 vehicles worldwide. Compared to some of the other manufacturers listed here, that’s a relatively small number.
Rounding out the top-10 most recalled car brands is Mercedes-Benz. They’ve also been affected by the Takata air bag recall just like Toyota, but to a lesser extent. A fire risk recalled 147,000 Mercedes vehicles a few years ago yet largely Mercedes-Benz recalls are small in numbers. Most affect less than 10,000 vehicles, and some are as few as 69, like a child seat anchor recall in GL-Class SUVs.
If your vehicle has been affected by a recall, contact your dealer to arrange a repair. While recalls can be minor in nature, recalls typically involve passenger safety and should be completed in a timely manner.
Not sure if your vehicle has an outstanding recall? Check SaferCars.Gov with your VIN number to see if there are any that apply to your vehicle.
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