Vehicle recalls can occur when a vehicle’s performance, equipment or construction are deemed unsafe. If the defective component could lead to a safety risk, then either the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may issue a recall. While navigating a recall may seem like a scary or intimidating process, most recalls result in the repair or replacement of a vehicle part at no cost to the consumer, and on rare occasions, a refund for the vehicle. Whatever the end result, recalls are important for a car owner to stay informed on to ensure the safest driving conditions possible.

Fortunately, finding out if your vehicle has been included in a recent recall is simple. If you confirm action is needed on your part, there are steps in place to make the recall process as smooth as possible and help avoid delay in resolving the issue.

Car recall statistics

  • Over 13 million vehicles were recalled globally in 2020 alone due to safety concerns.
  • The NHTSA issued over 1,000 safety recalls involving over 35 million vehicles and other equipment in 2021.
  • 5% of all vehicles in the U.S. were under a new recall notice in 2021.
  • In 2021, the NHTSA enforced 259 campaigns for recalls, which impacted over 21 million vehicles in the U.S. in some manner.
  • 2021 saw a wide range of safety recalls, including air bags, software and electronics, latches, steering and suspension, tires, restraints and numerous other components.
  • A recent larger safety recall includes nearly 3 million Ford vehicles, which affects five different models by the Ford Motor Company. The safety concern involves bushing material, which causes issues for the vehicles to switch gears.
  • Over 310,000 Ford trucks were impacted by recalls filed in 2022 due to air bags not deploying properly.
  • In 2022 YTD, Ford leads vehicle manufacturers with the highest number of recalls, followed by Daimler Trucks of North America and Mercedes-Benz USA, according to the NHTSA.

Car recall 101

Regularly checking if your vehicle is involved in a recall is wise so that you can ensure you have the latest information about your vehicle’s safety and take necessary precaution. Keeping your vehicle up to date with the latest safety improvements plays an important role in ensuring both yours and other people’s safety while on the road. You can also download the NHTSA safety recall app for either iOS or Android to receive alerts when a recall is placed against your vehicle type. The NHTSA provides a clear set of steps for recall information, which includes:

  1. Report a problem. Multiple reports filed for the same vehicle issues could indicate a safety defect. When you make a report for a vehicle issue that you notice, the complaint is entered into the NHTSA database and may launch further investigation if others make similar reports.
  2. Remember to only report safety-related issues to the NHTSA, such as a component that malfunctions and hinders driving. This may include problems with your vehicle’s seats, tires or other equipment.
  3. Check the VIN. Enter your 17-character VIN into the NHTSA database to check for recalls. You can find your VIN either on your insurance cards or on your lower left windshield.
  4. Enter the VIN in the database, which will pull up any recalls within the last 15 years affecting your make and model.
  5. Sign up for alerts on recalls issued for your vehicle or equipment, based on the information you enter, via either email or the NHTSA SaferCar app. This step is optional, but could make staying up to date on recalls related to your vehicle easier.

Keep in mind that car safety recalls are issued by vehicle manufacturers and not from your car insurance provider. If your vehicle is under recall notice, it shouldn’t impact your rates. However, if the recalled component leads to an at-fault accident, you should make your insurer aware of the recall when filing a claim. Additionally, if you get the recalled part repaired or replaced, it may be worth providing your insurance company with documentation showing that the necessary repairs have been made. You can speak with your insurance agent to verify what information they may need from you in the event of a recall notice.

Car companies with the most recalls in 2022

Half of the recalls issued in 2022 (January 1 through July 14) occurred between only four car companies. The top four companies for recalls this year include Ford Motor Company, Daimler Trucks North America, Mercedes-Benz USA and Forest River. During this period, a wide variety of safety-related recalls were issued by the NHTSA.

  • Ford: In addition to the air bag and bushing recalls mentioned above, a safety recall was issued in March 2022 due to engine oil leaking. This impacted an estimated 345,000 Ford vehicles, including certain 2020-2022 Escape and 2021-2022 Bronco Sport models equipped with 1.5 L engines. On the same date, another recall was issued for faulty brakes resulting from a software error. This affected an estimated 391,000 Ford vehicles and includes certain F-150, 2022 Maverick, Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 models.
  • Mercedes-Benz: The most significant recall impacting Mercedes vehicles occurred in March 2022. The NHTSA issued a recall due to potential brake booster corrosion. Over 292,000 Mercedes vehicles were figured to be affected, mainly involving certain 2006-2012 ML-Class, GL-Class, and R-Class vehicles.
  • Daimler Trucks: Several recalls impacted Daimler Truck vehicles in 2022, including a fractured steering gear that could cause drivers to lose control. This recall affected almost 7,000 Daimler Trucks vehicles, including certain 2021-2022 Freightliner (FCCC) MT45, 2022-2023 Western Star 4900 and Freightliner Cascadia vehicles.
  • Forest River: A recall for several Forest River models was issued in April 2022 due to a gas leak and fire-risk concern. Over 99,000 Forest River vehicles were estimated to be impacted by the issue, involving more than 30 models.

Car companies with the most recalls over time

It may be helpful to view the car companies with the most recalls over time, instead of simply looking at a smaller snapshot of just those issued in 2022. By looking at the car companies with the most recalls over time, it may help you make a decision regarding ownership or a potential purchase.

  • General Motors: From January 2000 through July 2022, General Motors (GM) has the highest number of recalls issued. NHTSA shows 671 recalls during this time frame. Several recalls involve more than a million vehicles, but the most significant recall occurred in March 2014. The safety issue involved the ignition turning off and impacted over 5 million GM vehicles. Numerous models were recalled, including Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, Chevrolet Malibu, Oldsmobile Alero, Oldsmobile Intrigue, Pontiac Grand Am and Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles.
  • Ford Motor Company: Since 2000, Ford has received 635 recalls, with September 2005 leading to a significant number of vehicles impacted — over 4.5 million. This safety recall involved a potential fire starting from the speed control deactivation switch. The recall notice was sent to drivers of certain pickup trucks and SUVs equipped with speed control.
  • Chrysler: In May 2018, Chrysler issued a recall potentially impacting nearly 5 million of its vehicles. This issue stemmed from the cruise control failing to disengage, resulting in a need for a software update. This impacted several models, including Dodge Ram, Dodge Journey, Dodge Charger and Durance, and Jeep Cherokee, to name a few.

Most common causes of factory recalled cars

Although the NHTSA only issues recalls for vehicles due to safety reasons, recall notices can have numerous causes. Many recalls involve a simple part replacement, but some may require more advanced repairs. Whatever the cause, if you receive a notice in the mail from the manufacturer, it is vital to address the recall according to instructions as soon as possible to avoid safety risks. According to the NHTSA database, the most common causes of factory recalls in 2022 so far are due to:

Cause of recall Percentage of recalls in 2022
Equipment 29%
Electrical system 20%
Power train 8%
Steering 7%
Structure 6%
Brakes, hydraulic 5%
Air bags 5%
Tires 4%
Exterior lighting 4%
Seats 4%

*NHTSA data for recalls reported between January 1, 2022 and July 14, 2022.

The bottom line

The NHTSA is the governing body responsible for gathering information and working with manufacturers regarding necessary safety recalls. Since 2000, there have been over 12,000 recalls issued, with the most vehicles impacted by recalls being from GM, Ford and Chrysler. You can easily enter your VIN into the NHTSA database to see if you own a vehicle included in a recall within the last 15 years. You can also sign up to receive the latest safety recall alerts either through a mobile app or email.