More isn’t always better, and that is certainly the case when it comes to auto recalls. Last year, carmakers set an all-time high for recalls, edging out the 2014 record of just under 51 million vehicles through 803 recalls. Whether due to shoddy workmanship, defective design, regulators’ cracking down on safety defects, automakers’ becoming more proactive about reporting problems or some other explanation, 2015 saw almost 900 separate recalls issued for over 51 million vehicles.
Many of 2014’s recalls were the result of Takata air bags and their propensity to explode suddenly, spraying metal shards at motorists and passengers. In fact, the 2014 total was initially estimated to be 64 million and had to be adjusted downward due to double counting and recording the wrong year. The Takata problems were by far the biggest contributor to the new record, affecting a dozen car makers and 19 million vehicles. At last count, about 34 million total vehicles were affected, and the Taketa recall continues to expand with no end in sight — even newer model cars may be susceptible. So, what are some of the other big automotive recalls of all time?
- Ford – 21 million vehicles over ten model years were affected by failed safety catches, which allowed the automobiles to spontaneously slip from “Park” to “Reverse” without warning.
- Ford – 14.9 million vehicles were recalled in separate campaigns over a 13-year period due to cruise control deactivation switches prone to spontaneous combustion.
- Toyota – 9 million units were recalled for unintended acceleration due to floor mat issues and sticking gas pedals.
- Ford – 8.7 million units had ignition switches that were prone to short circuit, leading to overheating, smoking and occasionally full-blown fires within the steering column.
- GM – 6.7 million units were affected by failing engine mounts that could lead to unexpected acceleration.
- GM – 5.8 million cars were recalled for defective ignition switches that could inadvertently turn to accessory mode during driving.
- GM – 5.8 million cars had defective control arms that could detach, causing loss of control.
Recent Car Recalls from Ford and TakataAt least three major automakers set all-time records last year for the most vehicles recalled in a single year in the United States. More than 63.5 million vehicles were recalled in 800 separate campaigns, making for more than twice the previous record set back in 2004. So far this year, the headlines have been dominated by multiple recalls of defective Takata airbags, which can explode suddenly and send metal fragments flying into the passenger compartment. Several deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to these airbags. To date, the recall has been expanded to a staggering 33.8 million vehicles.
In April, the faulty door latch issue reared its ugly head again and caused 390,000 more units to be recalled. Fusions and MKZs from model years 2013 and 2014, as well as Fiestas from model years 2012 to 2014, could have “broken pawl spring tabs” that can keep doors from latching shut or cause shut doors to open without warning. April also saw Ford recall over 591,000 vehicles worldwide in four separate campaigns. More than 487,000 Fusion and MKZ sedans from model years 2013-2015 and 2015 Edge crossovers in the U.S. have steering gear motor attachment bolts that could fracture due to corrosion cracking. Another 45,505 vehicles from five recent models have nickel plating issues that could cause the fuel pump to seize and the engine to stall. Ford also recalled 21,435 U.S. units of the MKZ because when the headlights are on, the parking lamps are brighter than they are allowed to be, which could affect the vision of other drivers. Finally, 73 F-150 pickup trucks from 2015 were recalled for potential underbody heat shield issues that increase the risk of a fire.
Wonder about your car? You can use this online tool to directly access the recalls database of major vehicle manufacturers. If you have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), you can also see whether a specific vehicle has been included in a safety recall in the last 15 years but was not repaired.
More Recalls of Takata Airbags, Now Showing up in Used CarsThe Takata airbag recall continues to grow. In early January, the bankrupt auto safety device manufacturer added another 3.3 million faulty air bag inflators to the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
The devices cover front air bags in certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Daimler (Mercedes) vans and Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Tesla vehicles. The automakers provided specific models in paperwork filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and notices of these expanded recalls have been posted on the NHTSA’s website.
This is the latest bad news for Takata, coming on the heels of news surrounding another death attributed to its airbags — this one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the summer of 2017.
Ordered in 2001 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Takata airbag recall has grown to more than 70 million inflators in more than 45 million vehicles from as many as 19 automakers.
In an accident, Takata’s defective inflators can blast shrapnel through the airbags into the passenger compartment, threatening the lives of driver and passengers. Tragically, the inflators have been linked to at least 20 deaths worldwide, 11 of which happened in the U.S. Over 200 Americans have been seriously injured. The worst part is that, in many of these instances, the airbags were deployed after minor collisions in which those injured by the airbags would normally have been able to walk away, relatively unharmed.
Many automakers have been slow to replace the potentially deadly inflators. A report by an independent monitor of the recall revealed that as of Sept. 15, 2017, 43.1 million inflators have been recalled. Of that number, only 18.5 million (43 percent) ended up being replaced during the 16+ year recall.
And to make matters worse, a recent USA Today article revealed that dangerous Takata air bags are being recycled from salvage yards and installed as “refurbished” safety equipment into used cars, according to a lawsuit filed in August 2017 in Nevada. It casts a spotlight on the often suspect world of auto parts recycling and how dangerous recalled parts end up in used cars which are then sold to unsuspecting buyers.
Selling a recalled auto part is illegal under a 2000 federal law, and NHTSA is investigating the situation. “The agency has the authority to enforce civil penalties on businesses that do not comply,” an agency spokeswoman said in a statement.
The victim in the case claims that she was driving home after work when her Accord was hit by another car; when the air bags inflated, she was injured by the shrapnel. She spent several days in a trauma center. Her voice has changed; she has a scar; and she faces more surgeries, according to one of her attorneys.
Owners of all cars subject to the Takata Airbag Recall can check to see if their cars have been recalled by going to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering in their 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN).
At the Johnson Law Firm, we have successfully represented victims throughout Kentucky who have been seriously hurt by defective products. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones to defective cars and trucks. For over 15 years, we have been helping injured consumers put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call 606-437-4488 or submit our online form.