2014 record year for vehicle recalls

By Kalea Hall and Burton Speakman



It’s only July, yet vehicle manufacturers already have recalled more vehicles in 2014 than any other year in history.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there have been recalls for 37.5 million cars this year in the U.S. The previous record was 30.8 million in 2004, according to the NHTSA.

Though faulty ignition switches at General Motors Co. have received the majority of the attention, Ford, Subaru, Nissan, Chrysler, Hyundai, Mazda, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Lexus and Kia have all had recalls in the last month on some model or part, according to the NHTSA.

GM vehicles make up about two-thirds of the vehicles that have been recalled with more than 25 million recalls in the U.S.

“There is more awareness of GM in this area because it’s human nature for people to focus on local impact,” said Steve Chos, executive vice president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Eastern Ohio.

It seems other automakers are being proactive scheduling recalls now while they know they won’t get as much attention because of GM, said Akshay Anand, analyst for Kelly Blue Book.

In addition, recalls are more likely now in the auto industry over even minor problems, he said.

“If there is something that causes one injury they are more likely to call for a recall,” Anand said.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for AutoTrader.com, said the number of recalls this year, so far, have not come by surprise. Manufacturers watched as GM has been called before Congress and gone through an investigation by a former U.S. attorney over its faulty ignition switch recall. The question is why the automaker took more than a decade to announce the recall of more than 2 million vehicles.

“Every automaker is fearful that they could be accused of dragging its feet,” Krebs said.

The same situation occurred when Toyota Motor Corp. went before Congress for the 2010 recall of approximately 7 million vehicles because of floor mats that could trap accelerator pedals and cause unintended acceleration. The NHTSA reported about 20.3 million recalled vehicles in 2010, which, at the time, was the highest number reported since 2004.

Manufacturers also are sending recall notices because cars are more complex.

“A lot more can happen,” Krebs said.

Another factor is people are keeping cars longer and there are more electronic components, Anand said.

“There are a lot of cars that sold in 2006 so its not surprising that a lot of vehicles might have recalls now,” he said.

Additionally, other large recalls have occurred because manufacturers use the same suppliers and those supplies were recalled. For example, in June 2014 BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota were all required by the U.S. government to recall vehicles because their air bag inflators could rupture, which could lead them to not work properly in a crash and for shards of the ruptured material to cause injury.

In all cases, the air bags were made by the Japanese supplier Takata. An estimated 1.1 million vehicles in the U.S. could be affected by the recall.

Despite the number of recalls this year, car sales for June were strong, Krebs said.

“Recalls are just a part of the business,” Krebs said. “If a company has an issue with sales it is not about recalls.”

The issue of recalls hasn’t seem to hurt vehicle sales in the area, Chos said.

Sales are up in the area by nearly 11 percent, he said.

The recalls bring a lot of people to area dealerships, said David Cole, partner at Cole Valley Auto Group. The Warren dealership had a record service month in June.

Most consumers aren’t upset with the recall, but they do want to get the repairs done, he said.

“We’re taking this as an opportunity to talk to all our customers,” Cole said. “The dealerships have softened the blow for GM big time.”

“Dealers are always going to the front lines in any situation like this,” Chos said. “The manufacturer may call for a the recall, but people aren’t going to take their vehicle to wherever the vehicle is made.”

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