How common are safety recalls?
In the past week I’ve read announcements for six different automakers who are recalling significant numbers of vehicles for one problem or another. The list includes Toyota, Hyundai, Chrysler, Mazda, Saab and GM and the reasons for these recalls range from braking systems (Chrysler) to power steering issues (GM).
All this recall news got me a little worried: are recalls always this prevalent? Is this surge a result of the ongoing Toyota media coverage, or is something going terribly wrong across the auto industry?
After combing through data from NHTSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I found that safety recalls are more common than I expected. Despite clever computer-aided design tools and modern manufacturing techniques, the total number of automobiles being recalled has been on the rise for the past several decades.
Part of the reason for this rise is because so many components are shared across multiple vehicles these days. If one of those components has a problem; the recall is likely to affect all of the other vehicles that shared that part.
The good news is that automakers have created robust quality checks in their engineering and manufacturing processes and that modern automobiles have advanced diagnostic systems that can record problems in detail. These combined efforts make it much easier for automakers to track, isolate, and react to problems quickly.
CNN Money reports that the Chrysler recall mentioned above affects some of the 2009 and/or 2010 Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Nitro, Dodge Ram, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Jeep Commander. The problem could result in a sudden failure of the braking system but it was fortunately caught early by two Chrysler employees. As a result, only 24,000 vehicles are affected by the recall and Chrysler claims not to be aware of any related injuries or accidents. (Kudos to Chrysler for taking such swift action!)
Safety recalls are inevitable and it is important to be aware that recalls can happen at any time, no matter how young or old the car is. The best defense is to know whether or not your vehicle has been recalled. You can do this by checking with the manufacturer, your local dealership, or at SaferCar.gov. Additionally, we recommend calling the manufacturer of your vehicle and making sure that your contact information is up to date so that they are able to send you notification in the event of a recall.
Be safe out there!