Check Your Vehicle Recall History
Car recalls are a fact of life. Even the biggest manufacturers have to issue recalls to effect repairs. The owners don’t always get the message, though, and up to 57 million cars on the road have unresolved recall issues that pose a threat to us all. This shocking figure comes from a recent Carfax study. So what were the biggest car recalls in history?
1. Toyota Airbag Recall
Number of vehicles: 70 Million
Toyota and its sister company Lexus still haven't woken up from their airbag recall nightmare when they recently recalled another 1.3 million cars in North America. That takes the total to more than 42 million cars that were manufactured between 2009-2015.
Third-party supplier Takata supplied the airbag inflators that could degrade over time and send lethal shrapnel flying through the car when the airbag deploys. Fifteen deaths in the U.S. and 23 worldwide have been linked with the Takata airbag inflators so far, and 250 people have been injured on American roads.
It’s the largest car recall in history by a long shot and 65,000 cars have been recalled twice for the same issue. Toyota bore the brunt of the PR damage, even though 19 manufacturers in total have been forced into car recalls by VIN to replace the same part.
The NHTSA predicts that 70 million vehicles will be recalled by the end of this year and claims that 17 million of the affected vehicles have not been repaired. Is your car one of these? It's certainly worth finding out!
2. Ford Cruise Control Recall
Number of vehicles: 14.9 Million
Ford has recalled almost 15 million cars due to a fault in the Cruise Control Deactivation Switch that could cause a fire when the car is parked with the engine off. The switches ran continuously and could overheat. The close proximity of the switch to flammable hydraulic fluid turned a minor issue into a potential crisis.
In 1999, Ford started to recall Lincoln Town Cars dating back to 1991 and Ford Crown Victorias built from 1992. Despite 100 separate complaints and an NHTSA investigation, Ford continued to fit the switches, until 2004, on everything.
This hubris contributed to one of the biggest automotive recalls of all time. In 2004, the NHTSA concluded that the faulty switch caused 65 engine fires. Two of the cars were parked in a garage at the time, and burnt the entire house down.
If you own a pre-2004 Ford, you might want to leave it parked outside until you check the vehicle recalls by VIN details.
3. Toyota Power Window Switch Recall
Number of vehicles: 14 Million
It’s a bitter pill for Toyota to feature so often on this list, as it has one of the best reliability records in the industry. It is also the world’s largest car manufacturer and has been for some time, so it’s perhaps an inevitable consequence that it’s the star here as well.
In 2015, it was forced to recall 6.5 million cars as the power window switches could potentially cause a fire. Inconsistent lubrication could lead to debris building up, short-circuiting, and in rare cases, a spark could turn into a blaze. The 2015 recall was the last one of four and that took the total number of cars affected up to the 14 million mark.
The affected models included the Corolla, Camry, Yaris, Matrix, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, Sequoia, and Scion xB models that rolled off the production line between January 2005 and December 2010.
4. Toyota Gas Pedal Recall
Number of vehicles: 9 Million
This Toyota recall was a horror story, as the gas pedal simply stuck to the floor and the affected cars accelerated until they hit something. A family of four died when their car veered off the road at high speed in an accident that made the national news.
Toyota initially blamed heavy-duty rubber floor mats for trapping the gas pedal. That wasn’t the end of the story though, as the problem persisted even after Toyota replaced the floor mats. The problem was traced to the throttle itself and Toyota was forced to redesign the system so that pressing the brakes also cut the power.
5. GM Engine Mount Recall
Number of vehicles: 6.7 Million
Back in 1971, GM shocked the world with the biggest vehicle recall of the time. Fragile left engine mounts occasionally broke, lifting the right side of the engine and opening the accelerator linkage. It also pulled the brake boosting hose loose.
The car could accelerate rapidly at the exact time that the brakes stopped working. That’s about as bad as combinations get.
172 separate reports, 63 confirmed accidents and 18 injuries were blamed on the engine mounts. GM President Edward Cole tried to deflect criticism by likening the effects to a flat tire. The industry still laughs at the statement to this day.
How to Check if Your Car Has Been Recalled
Not all recalls are this dramatic and you would likely be surprised how common they are. In 2017, 30.7 million vehicles were recalled in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. That was a four-year low. So, if you don’t keep in regular contact with your dealer, you should check to see if there are any recalls listed for your car.
Head to the NHTSA’s website and use the Recall Lookup Tool. If you find your car, print out the report and take it to your dealer. Vehicle recalls are dealt with free of charge, so don’t worry if you don’t have the money for a major repair - this one is on the manufacturer!
Protect Beyond a Car Recall Notice
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