A total of 16.2 million vehicles were recalled last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Thursday. Interestingly, more than half of the recalled vehicles were manufactured by Toyota and Honda. Toyota had 12 recalls covering 5.3 million vehicles, more than all of the U.S. automakers combined. Honda and its Acura luxury brand came in second place with 16 recalls affecting almost 3.4 million vehicles. General Motors was third with 17 recalls and 1.5 million vehicles; Ford was fourth with 24 recalls involving 1.4 million vehicles, and Chrysler was fifth with 13 recalls affecting 1.3 million vehicles. In 2011, Honda led the pack with Toyota coming in second. In 2012, they switched positions. While the agency stated these numbers “should not be interpreted as an indication of what NHTSA thinks of any particular manufacturer or its products,” the numbers speak for themselves.
According to NHTSA, in 2012, the 16.2 million vehicles were brought back to dealerships in 586 recalls. Contrast this amount with 15.5 million vehicles in 596 recalls in 2011. Almost 9.4 million of the 16.2 million recalled vehicles in 2012 resulted from NHTSA initiating an investigation, often on the heels of complaints filed by consumers and vehicle owners. In the other cases, the automakers reported the problem and initiated the recall. The data clearly shows that the majority of the recalls were initiated not by the automakers, but by the NHTSA. This is not a shocking statistic.
While some automakers describe their recalls as voluntary, under federal regulations once a manufacturer is aware of a safety defect it must inform the agency, within five business days, of its plan for a recall or face civil penalties. The sheer number of recalls last year for safety concerns is astonishing, but consumers should be thankful that the NHTSA is out there investigating safety hazards and forcing recalls on the auto giants.