Cars are often one of our largest expenses. When you’re spending thousands – or tens of thousands – of dollars you want to know that you and your passengers are safe. Unfortunately we are living in a time of auto recalls, which makes it hard to trust car manufacturers when it comes to the quality of their vehicles and parts. That is, unless the staggering number of car recalls is less about serious defects and more about brand image.

30 Million Recalled Vehicles

In 2013, 30.8 million vehicles were recalled. This is the single highest number of recalled vehicles in the industry’s history, but recalls certainly haven’t stopped since then. Vehicles are recalled for one reason or another almost every day.

Companies recall their automobiles when they acknowledge that their product has a safety related feature. The problem is then resolved on the company’s dime so that customers can be assured that they are driving a safe vehicle from a company that cares about its customers’ safety.

In 2009 Ford recalled 14 million vehicles. By 2010, Toyota had recalled 10 million Toyotas and Lexus vehicles. By 2014 more than 50 million vehicles had been affected by recalls, making it unusual to own a vehicle that was not recalled.

But is it about true safety concerns or the company’s image?

The Power Behind Recalls

In some cases vehicle recalls are primarily about safety. The ten million cars recalled by Toyota in 2010, for example, also led to a $1.5 billion fine to the Department of Justice. In other cases, the massive number of recalls are considered by many industry experts to be more about showing customers how safe companies are trying to be.

Are there defective parts? It would seem so. But when a car is recalled after more than a decade on the road, it does make drivers wonder why the company chose to recall the issue now – not 8 or 10 years ago if the problem has existed for that long. In fact, many believe recalls will continue in high numbers simply because so many parts are being shared between manufacturers. One bad part leads to recalls by many.

The Results of Auto Recalls

When millions of vehicles are recalled, the companies who sold and distributed these vehicles are in for a significant undertaking. Customers must make appointments to bring in their affected cars. In some cases loaners might be issued. The replacement parts must be ordered and stocked in bulk and then repairs made as quickly as possible to make room for the next customer. And the next. And the next.

As you might imagine not all of these repairs go as smoothly as the company or the customers might like. It’s a challenge to keep the replacement parts in stock. Customers get frustrated trying to make appointments for part replacement. In some cases, customers and dealers disagree about how severe issue might be.

One customer insisted on a loaner vehicle while he waited for a part, but the dealership wasn’t in agreement as they said the vehicle was still safe to drive while they waited. That incident left the customer rather upset.

In other cases, customers had other companies resolve issues and then wait for reimbursement from the company, only to be denied for what appear to be evasive reasons.

Ultimately the best choice for car owners is to register their vehicles to stay on top of any recalls, have any recall work done in a timely manner to ensure safety and to keep their vehicles – from wipers to wheels – in excellent condition.


Car Recalls on Pissed Consumer: