Car Recalls: 30 Years Of Recall Stats Reveal Carmakers With The Best, Worst Records

Nov 07, 2016 08:47 AM EST | Matthew Cruz

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Of the 18 most prominent carmakers, Volkswagen has the highest recall rate over a three-decade period, according to data compiled by research firm iSeeCars. The numbers, involving millions of recalls, were recorded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) between January 1985 and September 2016.

The firm calculated a manufacturer's recall rate by giving its number of recalled cars by the amount of new cars sold within the same timeframe, reported Boston.com. iSeeCars found the average recall rate in the industry at 1,115 cars recalled for every 1,000 cars sold, which is possible because the same vehicles can be recalled for different reasons.

Volkswagen fared the worst at 1,805 recalled for every 1,000 sold. Six other car brands also had recall rates higher than the industry average.

Interestingly, it was Volkswagen's luxury brand Porsche with the lowest recall rates at 531 recalled for every 1,000 sold. Autoguide reported this may be attributed to its identity as a low-volume producer that rarely gives its models major overhauls.

The CEO of iSeeCars, Phong Ly, issued a statement about the data where he noted that country of origin, the size of the automaker and a brand's longevity of sales in the United States had no direct correlation to the recall rates.

iSeeCars also looked into the nature of the recalls, finding that Tesla had the biggest number of "severe" recalls at 100 percent. Severe pertained to recalls initiated by fears that a car's issues could result in death, injury, fire, collisions or accidents. 

Tesla fared better in other areas of the firm's research, achieving perfect marks in both recall timeliness and initiative (meaning it was the manufacturer, rather than the NHTSA, that urged the recall.)

Below is the full list of recall rates per 1,000 cars, from highest to lowest:

  1. Volkswagen Group: 1,805
  2. Chrysler: 1,422
  3. Honda: 1,307
  4. Hyundai: 1,266
  5. BMW: 1,196
  6. Volvo: 1,156
  7. Ford: 1,139
  8. Mitsubishi: 1,089
  9. Jaguar Land Rover: 1,067
  10. Nissan: 1,038
  11. Toyota: 1,028
  12. Subaru: 985
  13. General Motors: 958
  14. Mazda: 955
  15. Tesla: 936
  16. Kia: 788
  17. Mercedes-Benz: 624
  18. Porsche: 531

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