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.