Lately, it seems like you can't go a day or two without hearing about yet another vehicle safety recall. Indeed, it seems like such recalls are more widespread than ever. You're not imagining things. In 2014, a record number of recalls were issued. What gives? Aren't cars supposed to be safer and more well-designed than ever? Modern vehicles are incredibly safe, to be sure, and traffic fatalities have plummeted as a result. Cars are loaded with more high-tech safety features than ever, but safety recalls also have a lot to do with the overall increase in vehicle safety. Read on to learn more about vehicle safety recalls.


Recalls By the Numbers


Since federal vehicle safety standards and regulations were enacted in the mid-1960s, more than 390 million vehicles, 46 million tires, 42 million child safety seats and 66 million vehicle components have been recalled. In 2014, more than 62 million cars were recalled -- a record number that is equivalent to roughly a quarter of all cars that are currently on the road or about four years' worth of car sales. So it's not your imagination: Recalls are on a major uptick, and the trend isn't likely to subside anytime soon.


Why So Many Recalls?


The main reason for the increase in vehicle safety recalls is that modern cars contain more high-tech components than ever. Although they are useful and generally enhance safety, features like collision avoidance systems and cruise radar require intricate technologies that are sometimes more susceptible to failure. Also, within the last few years, federal regulators have made finding vehicle defects more of a top priority, so they are hunting them down and responding to them more quickly and effectively. Basically, it's not that vehicles have suddenly become less safe; it's more that defects that once flew under the radar are being reported and addressed more often.


How Long Have Vehicle Safety Recalls Been a Thing?


The backbone for today's vehicle safety recall system, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, was enacted in 1966. It gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the authority to issue vehicle safety standards, and it stipulates that automobile manufacturers are required by law to recall vehicles with safety-related defects or those that do not meet federal safety standards. In the early days, tracking and detecting defects and other issues was cumbersome. Thanks to modern technology, including vast, nationwide databases, the system is more streamlined than ever.


Examples of Vehicle Safety Recalls


Examples of issues that may prompt a vehicle safety recall include:



  • air bags that deploy without warning and when they are not supposed to
  • wiring system issues that cause a loss of lighting or fires
  • steering components that break suddenly, causing a partial or complete loss of control
  • wheels that break or crack, causing a loss of control



As you can see, recalls are strictly issued for problems that directly affect the safe operation of a vehicle or the protection of its occupants. They are not issues for things like non-functioning radios or air conditioning systems; excessive oil consumption; or paint or rust problems.


When and How are Vehicle Safety Recalls Issued?


Although the NHTSA has the authority to force manufacturers to issue and conduct recalls, including repairing the defect free of charge, the vast majority of recalls are initiated by manufacturers themselves. They are sometimes influenced by NHTSA investigations or ordered in court by the NHTSA. The decision to issue a recall is based on patterns in reports of various issues. There is no set number at which a recall is issued, however. Once it is decided that a recall must be made, the manufacturer must devise a solution and send a notice regarding the defect and the solution through various outlets. Whenever possible, manufacturers attempt to reach car owners via first-class mail.


How to Handle Vehicle Safety Recalls


Any time you notice a potential safety defect on a vehicle, you should report it to the NHTSA. All that you need is the 17-digit VIN. You can call the Vehicle Safety Hotline at 800-424-9393; report a defect online at; or report one through the agency's SaferCar app, which is available for Android and iOS.


If you receive a notice regarding a vehicle safety recall, take it seriously. Unfortunately, people often neglect to have recall work performed. In addition to exposing themselves to potential hazards while behind the wheel, they miss out on having free work performed.


A 2012 study that was partly sponsored by the NHTSA revealed that 21 to 25 percent of vehicle recalls issued between 2006 and 2010 were ignored. According to Carfax, approximately 36 million vehicles are on the roads with uncompleted recall repairs. For your safety and the safety of others, always respond promptly to such notices.


Have Vehicle Safety Recall Repairs Performed at Young Honda


The next time that you receive a notice about a vehicle safety recall, bring your vehicle to Young Honda. Our team is trained to effectively respond to manufacturer vehicle safety recalls, and they will get the job done quickly and correctly -- and at no cost to you. Better still, we will throw in a free Multi-Point Inspection as a part of our vehicle recall service, so you can drive away secure in the knowledge that your car is up to speed with all current federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Categories: Service