2014 Breaks Auto Recall Records Halfway through the Year

By the beginning of July of 2014, the country has already broken records to have more automobile recalls than any other year in history. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists 37.5 million cars recalled so far this year in the most recent preliminary data available on the agency’s website. This tops the previous 30.8 million car recall record set in 2004.

While the number of cars recalled so far this year is already staggering, it is likely to grow over the course of the rest of the year. Faulty airbags made by the Takata Corporation have already sparked several recalls this year. As soon as Japan’s three largest carmakers finish an evaluation of their models, more recalls are likely.

The official recall numbers for 2014 from the NHTSA will not be available until 2015, but it is clear that the total number of recalled vehicles is going to far exceed traditional averages. According to the NHTSA database, recalls historically range from 10 to 20 million cars in the United States each year. In 2013, just fewer than 22 million vehicles were recalled and in 2012, 16.4 million vehicles were recalled. Besides the previous record-setting year in 2004, the total number of recalls passed 30 million only in one other year, which was 1981.

The Biggest Auto Recalls in 2014

General Motors vehicles account for about two-thirds of the total number of vehicles recalled so far in 2014. This year’s record-breaking auto recall started when GM recalled 2.59 million cars in February to fix a faulty ignition switch. This design problem has already been linked to at least 13 deaths in car crashes.

As it was revealed that the company had known about problems with the ignition switch for over ten years, congressional investigations into GM’s actions began. The company has since been issued a $35 million civil fine, and the Department of Justice has even begun a criminal investigation into the actions of executives.

This controversy and the fallout that followed led GM to investigate the safety of all of its models. GM ended up recalling 25.7 million vehicles for issues ranging from faulty ignition switches to ineffective door wiring to dangerous seatbelt retractors. This massive number of recalls constitutes 40% of the company’s models currently on the roads in the United States.

The other issue that has led to recalls is related to Takata airbags. While this is not nearly on the same scale as the GM recalls, it will continue to add numbers to this year’s total. What is clear, however, is that after all of the recalls this year, people will be actively looking out for any car defects in the future.