The number of auto recalls by manufacturers and the government broke records in 2014 by affecting more than 61 million vehicles. This isn’t exactly a comforting trend.
Many people have asked how we got to the point where one in five cars will have a safety defect that needs to be fixed under a recall. Is it because we have a better system in place, one that is able to catch problems more quickly? Or are manufacturers simply cutting corners?
Some reasons behind increases in car recalls
Recently, the Department of Justice brought criminal fraud charges against manufacturers who have been slow or misleading in their response to safety hazards found in their vehicles. The example set by the $1.2 billion settlement Toyota paid in 2014 has motivated manufacturers to act quickly. Couple this with increased media scrutiny, and you have two strong reasons why more recalls are occurring.
It’s also important to remember that a recent recall doesn’t apply only to late-model cars. Oftentimes a safety defect is found in older models and then subject to a recall. For example, the 2014 recall of 7 million GM vehicles affected models manufactured between 1997 and 2014, almost a 20-year time frame.
In the end, an increase in recalls doesn’t mean cars are being manufactured with less care. Rather, the increase in recalls is an indication of a strong regulatory system doing what it was designed to do: keep drivers safe. Frequent recalls also mean that manufacturers have strong financial motivation to take extra precautions and ensure their products are performing as intended. After all, recalls are costly.
In the final post, learn what you should do if your car is subject to an auto recall.