By on June 14, 2022

The latest data from Carfax has indicated that roughly 50 million U.S. vehicles presumed to still be in operation still have outstanding recalls that have yet to be addressed. Though the good news is that this represents a 6 percent decline from 2021 and a meaningful 19 percent drop against 2017.

Still, the metrics may not be wholly down to better communication on the part of the manufacturer and people taking recall notices more seriously. Between 2013 and 2015, the average number of U.S. vehicles and equipment subjected to recalls per year went from 26.3 million to 83.6 million. While the annual averages have come back down since, recalls have remained substantially higher than in decades past. 

This is often attributed to vehicles becoming more complicated and boasting additional features and new types of powertrains their predecessors lacked, raising the statistical likelihood that something might go wrong. There were also several truly massive global recalls that took place within the timeframe — most notably the Takata airbag scandal that resulted in over a dozen fatalities and hundreds of injuries. However, the surging figures similarly coincide with new regulatory efforts focusing on vehicle emissions. There’s hardly enough to account for the increase in its entirety, though more than enough to have helped influence the final figures.

Meanwhile, Carfax is preoccupied with how to get the word out and encourage customers to act on necessary vehicle repairs.

“The goal is to get the information out there. But why aren’t people coming in? That’s probably the hardest question to answer,” Faisal Hasan, general manager of data and public policy at Carfax, told Automotive News.

From AN:

Takata airbags and “do not drive” recalls are the most common open recalls today, Hasan said. About 67 million Takata airbag inflators have been under recall in the U.S. for several years because of a potentially lethal defect linked to at least 19 deaths and 400 injuries.

“There’s no question that the Takata airbag continues to be an issue. That continues to be really key, and folks need to pay attention to that, and they need to check their VINs,” Hasan said. “You also get a lot of ‘do not drives,’ and those are usually small sets of VINs. Those have been constant in the past couple of years.

Dealers are attempting several solutions to bring more people into the service department to get issues fixed, said Hasan.

“Consumers today are inundated with all types of emails and stuff coming to your house. We have a tendency to throw that stuff away, to delete an email,” he said.

That feels like a sound argument. If you’ve had an email account for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly noticed it filling up with spam over the last few years. It’s getting harder to parse through the garbage to find something that may actually be relevant. Considering the increase in robocalls and text scams, the same is becoming true of phones.

One possible solution to this, according to Carfax, is to better integrate with government actors. Hasan suggested that people will be less likely to throw away mail if they “believe it is from a professional entity” (just watch me) and that the company has partnered with numerous state DMVs to help contact the affected parties.

“When you get a note, an email, anything from the DMV related to your car, your insurance company, maybe through financing the car from your bank, you’re probably going to immediately open that to see what’s going on,” Hasan said. “The more touch points we can create, good ones like those, that’s how we get people to come in and close their recalls.”

[Image: Alexander Kirch/Shutterstock]

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21 Comments on “Report: 50 Million U.S. Cars Still Subject to Recalls...”

  • avatar

    The Honda’s Takata bloodshed continues…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Lots of mfrs used Takata airbags. For its part, Honda has been desperately trying to find every last one, without success.

      • 0 avatar

        “…Takata executives are focused on finding short-term solutions to their troubles. That may not be easy. Honda Motors, which has now turned to Takata’s competitors for inflator units, accounted for almost 40% of the company’s revenues last year.

    • 0 avatar

      And here’s Norman. Continuing with his sad, lonely bantering. Does your mother know you sit in her basement and use her internet to bash non Buick vehicles? So sad. So desperate.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I already mentioned on these august pages how senseless the recalls have become. Like the recall for Jeep Wrangler, where the known good original skidplate is removed, and a trash “skid bar” is installed in its place, because “material can get behind the plate”. Well if you let that happen, then you Sir are not a jeeper, and you deserve your Jeep burn down. Buy a Ford! I sold that Wrangler with the recall outstanding, because it’s better that way.

    And that “skid bar” recall is not the only time the recalls were designed to make the car worse. My Bimmer has already seen a “recall” for the rear camera washing out in sunlight. The nature of the recall is to put a limit how low the sensitivity can go. Fine. But in the course of the “repair” they reflashed the whole software and destroyed the digital speed readout on the dashboard. Thanks, BMW! So caring!

    Sometimes recalls are for serious issues, but mostly not. And there are downsides for owners that comply.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeep recalled the alternator in my wife’s Grand Cherokee after 3 years. When the repair was done by our local dealer, the technician did not install a bracket that prevented the charging wire from sitting on the exhaust manifold. The resulting short circuit destroyed the new alternator and the very expensive AGM battery.

      The recall process designed to keep our car from bursting into flames – almost caused our vehicle to burst into flames.

      I suspect many leased vehicles go their entire lives never having a single recall repair performed.

    • 0 avatar

      Did BMW ever figure out how to get that display back?

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        Nope. The new software version removed it on purpose, although they could not explain exactly why. What’s funny if one turns cruise control, it reappears for a second or two. Perhaps it was an artifact of the cruise module and someone fixed a “bug”.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    According to the B&B:

    1. Recalls are for sissies and lawyers – not people who truly understand and maintain their cars.

    2. Recalls are just a trick to take my money while I stand around at the dealer.

    3. If the mfr really cared, they’d pick up my car and give me an upgrade as a loaner.

    4. My (insert favorite brand here) brand doesn’t have recalls, due to its superior (American, Japanese, German, Korean, Swedish, Chinese) engineering.

    5. Dealer mechanics are stupid and will damage my car.

    6. I know better; I’ve done my research.

    • 0 avatar

      #2, 5 and 6 apply to me. However I do agree with the article that its hard to tell if a recall notice is real or just more spam. A DMV notice makes sense: they know my vehicle’s year, make, model and VIN – and they send me a renewal sticker once a year already so just drop the notice in that envelope too.

      The recalls I’ve gotten have been for things that aren’t really broken. For example my 350Z had a recall for a fuel filler neck leak. I never had such leaks so no sense visiting a dealer.

      Another big problem: my parents had a recall for their Escape and was told by the dealer don’t bother coming in, we are understaffed and don’t have the time nor the parts to fix this anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “we are understaffed and don’t have the time nor the parts to fix this anyway.”

        That is a huge issue these days. Used to be a recall meant you could take it in right away. Now, recalls are issued when the mfr doesn’t have parts, time, or even a solution to the problem.

  • avatar

    “Just watch me”. I think you just answered your question of why many go unrepaired. .

  • avatar

    Well. My iphone is 2 updates behind.
    Should I be worried?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay


    • 0 avatar

      Not for lack of trying! Even if you have the Automatic Updates off completely, when Apple decides your device is ready to receive an update, a red badge still appears over the “Settings” icon with no way to clear it! So you have to start downloading the goofy thing, then go into the “iPhone Storage” area of the “About” Setting, then delete the file as it’s downloading. You don’t want to be the first guinea pig, especially with a major iOS upgrade!

      I’ve been bitten many times in my career because of software that thinks it’s smarter than the user, so it’ll update itself without permission! With the downside being that it breaks something that either depends or is dependent on that software because of unanticipated side effects! Especially Web browsers! Which now, of course, are a constantly-moving target! (Especially with Internet Explorer 11, the last browser which you could reliably rein in, officially becoming unsupported by Micro$oft as of today!)

  • avatar

    My ex’s daughter had an Accord that was subject to the Takata recall. She never went, simply because she could not afford to take unpaid time off from her job.

    If they really want people to get these recalls, they need to do it with “concierge-level” service. They send someone to your location with a loaner, take your car and do the recall, and then bring your car back to your location. Otherwise, people can’t be arsed to get it done.

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