Vehicle Recalls: What’s Really Happening?

by Ladyblogger on September 21, 2012

(U.S. personal injury law and generally)  Recalls have featured prominently in news articles in recent years. Automobile manufacturers have recalled tens of millions of vehicles within the last few years. With this recent plague of recalls, some individuals have begun to operate under the impression that vehicle quality is deteriorating sharply.

Time to Panic?

From 2008 to 2009, Ford recalled 14.1 million vehicles in the largest automobile recall in history. The company had been selling a wide variety of coupes, sedans, pickup trucks, vans, sports-utility vehicles, and even motor homes for decades with defective cruise control stalks. These defective stocks were capable of catching fire, causing damage to the vehicle and surrounding structures. It made headlines when released, and it brought negative attention to the company.

At around the same time, a deadly high-speed automobile accident brought negative attention to Toyota. The media, government, and eventually consumers attributed the accident to a defect with the automobile. At first, the defect was allegedly with the accelerator pedal. Then, the alleged defect was with engine control unit. Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles for modifications to the gas pedal and the floor mats. As with the Ford recall, the Toyota recall briefly dominated headlines. Eventually, it was determined that these complaints of unintended acceleration had nothing to do with the automobile itself, but the recall had already been completed. With two well-publicized recalls ordered at the same time, some people began to wonder if automobile quality was in decline.

A History Lesson

Massive automobile recalls are nothing new. In 2004, GM recalled 3.6 million pickup trucks for corroding tailgate cables. In 1996, Ford recalled 7.9 million vehicles for defective ignition systems. In 1995, Honda and Acura recalled 3.7 million cars for defective seat belts.

The preceding decades were no better. In 1981, GM recalled 5.8 million cars for poorly tightened suspension bolts that could cause the driver to lose control. In 1973, GM recalled 3.7 million cars for an unshielded steering assembly that could come loose and cause a loss of control. In 1972, Ford recalled 4.1 million vehicles for defective seat belt harnesses. In 1972, Volkswagen recalled 3.7 million Beetles for spontaneously detachable windshield wipers. In 1971, GM recalled 6.7 million cars for defective engine mounts.

Quality Control Problems

In short, recalls for quality control issues are nothing new. When manufacturing objects as complex and nuanced as automobiles are, it is entirely feasible that a supplier will use an improper treatment on a single part or that a random part will show accelerated wear when exposed to the rigors of driving.

What does this mean for consumers? When buying a vehicle, simply check to see either that the vehicle has a full warranty or that any recall work was already completed. According to, residents of Florida alone sold over 100,000 used vehicles last year with open recall notices.

Of course, this does not mean that modern vehicles are perfect or that automobile manufacturers do not poorly engineer or manufacture automobiles. As an example, Ford recently recalled 2013 Ford Escapes and GM recently recalled recent-production Cruze models. Both were recalled for engine bay fires. It simply means that millions of cars were recalled in the last few years, millions of cars in the years before that, and millions will probably be recalled in the future.

Anthony Joseph is a freelance author, and a contributing writer for After you’ve been injured in an accident, they’re the all-in-one information site to help guide you in the right direction when trying to find a lawyer.

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