Toyota Set to Be #1 in Recalls for Fourth Time in Five Years

by J.Emerson
toyota set to be 1 in recalls for fourth time in five years

Barring a last minute campaign from another manufacturer, Toyota will be number one in recalls on the American market for 2013. This will be the second year in a row that Toyota has topped the recall rankings. Since the 2009 sudden unintended acceleration controversy, Toyota has led the nation in recalls every year except 2011.

A recent overview published in the International Business Times highlights the recall problems of major OEMs globally, with a focus on the United States. Official NHTSA statistics for 2013 won’t be available until next month, but a rough count of major recalls places Toyota in the lead. In 2012, Toyota recalled 5.3 million cars for a variety of maladies. Honda was number two, with 3.3 million cars recalled. Lowlights in the recall race include Toyota’s 870,000 units with randomly deploying airbags due to spiders, Chrysler’s 280,000 units with potentially faulty rear axles and 2.7 million Jeeps for potential fire hazard, BMW’s 569,000 units that could randomly shed battery cables leading to stalling, and Honda’s 777,000 units with missing rivets leading to airbag malfunctions.

None of Toyota’s major recall campaigns in the United States in 2013 were related to unintended acceleration. Instead, airbags and seatbelts top the list of problematic component s. Besides the aforementioned airbag issues in Camrys and Avalons, Toyota recalled over 750,000 Corollas and Matrixes for problems with electronic circuitry that could lead to random deployment of airbags or seatbelt pretensioners. 209,000 FJ Cruisers and 342,000 Tacomas were also recalled for seat-belt issues, as were 170,000 other units for faulty airbag inflators. In addition, 615,000 Sienna minivans were recalled for transmissions that can slip out of park without prior application of the brakes. Although no cars in the U.S. were recalled for SUA-related issues in 2013, Toyota just announced a recall of 400,000 units in Saudi Arabia to install brake override systems. That recall is meant to address concerns about possible unintended acceleration.

Toyota’s problems with airbags can be traced at least partially to the widespread reliance of multiple manufacturers on large suppliers. As the IBT article explains, Toyota’s recall for faulty air bag inflators is part of a widespread problem that has also affected Honda, Nissan, and Mazda. All of these companies used air bags manufactured by the Takata Corporation at its Mexican facility from 2000-2002. All of these companies have announced recalls to address the same problem. This illustrates the way in which component defects at the supplier level can spread widely throughout the industry. If headaches like this continue for OEM’s, one has to wonder if they might insource more production of critical safety systems. At the very least, it is likely that suppliers of these components will face tighter scrutiny in an effort to avoid costly recalls.

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 31, 2013

    I just received a card from a law firm involved in a class action suite against Toyota. They didn't ask if I had any problems with unintended acceleration just whether or not my vehicle was on a list of affected cars. It is pathetic to see lawyers fishing for work.

    • Fred Fred on Jan 01, 2014

      How long did it take Audi to settle their unintended acceleration?

  • Psychoboy Psychoboy on Jan 02, 2014

    I work for a Honda dealer, and as a parts guy and part time warranty guy, I get to see the most recalls and service bulletins that come within our reach. Honda will issue a recall or TSB for all sorts of random stuff, most of which are not really safety related. Recalls for Fit window switches that can burn out if you pour a soda into them. Dome/Map light bulbs. Broken sun visors in the 8th gen Civic. CRV door handles. nearly every car from the 90s that can have the key removed while the car is running. We have so many outstanding issues that our service advisers pull an inquiry on every car that comes thru, because the odds are good that some thing the customer doesn't notice isn't bad needs to be replaced. And that's just the parts-needing recalls and TSBs, I'd bet half of the Hondas on the road right now 'need' a software update of some sort. This is not to suggest that real safety issues and real mechanical problems don't exist. A local girl was killed when the inflator for her airbag grenaded and shrapnel cut her throat. We started replacing inflators within a week (was already an open recall, it went from passive to active) and we've been replacing them since, sometimes twice. We keep a 8th gen Civic short block in stock because they are prone to coolant leaks. I'm sure every other large scale manufacturer has these same stories. Stats like the ones expressed in this article need to be parsed better for actual informational purposes. How many recalls are for actual, likely, probable safety issues? (random airbag deployments, loss of brakes or steering, random fire events) How many of the situations actually occurred, pre- and post-recall? (three cars failed, so we recalled 700,000 and found two more with that concern) This can be followed up with how quickly did the manufacturer respond? ("three cars failed, so we investigated the entire batch within a month", vs "we were sued by 80 people because our trucks burned their houses down, and after we lost one, we started trying to figure out what the problem was") How many recalls are for niggling details that would not affect a ordinary driver in ordinary situations, or would only be caused by operator error? (the soda-hating window switch, the broken interior trunk release) I see just over 100 service bulletins issued by Honda this year. I can't say how many of them are get-the-customer-in-right-now-and-give-him-a-loaner recalls for safety issues as compared to fix-it-when-we-see-it-again TSBs, but the ratio has to be pretty low based on the parts I hand out.

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    • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Jan 02, 2014

      @Pch101 If Toyota is number one in recalls then why isn't GM number in recalls based on similar sales? They share the same suppliers so the recalls should be similar? So why is Honda number two in recalls?

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  • BEPLA "Quality is Job........well, it's someone's job, but it's not our job.Neither is building vehicles that people actually want or need.We only build what's most profitable. If only someone would buy our 97 day supply of SuperDutys."