2010 Likely Busiest Year for Auto Recalls in Seven Years


A massive number of safety recalls by Toyota Motor (TM), combined with those from other automakers, have made 2010 the busiest year for post-production repairs by the industry in more than half a decade, based on preliminary data.

The U.S.'s six largest suppliers of automobiles have recalled more than 19 million vehicles in about 600 recall campaigns this year, the most since 2004, according to analysis by The Detroit News.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, topped the list, recalling about 7 million vehicles in 18 campaigns this year, according to the News tally.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is due to release final 2010 figures next month, has recorded 417 recalls involving 14.8 million vehicles as of Oct. 25, the most recent date available, the agency said Tuesday.

Toyota tops NHTSA's preliminary list, too, with a total of 14 recall campaigns, involving about 5.9 million vehicles. Prior to 2010, Toyota's worst year for recalls was 2009, when the company recalled 4.8 million vehicles in nine campaigns, the News noted.

Toyota: Put the Recalls in Perspective

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons told the newspaper that the automaker is "moving more quickly" in addressing safety defects and issuing recalls, when necessary. But Lyons said the recall numbers need to be put in context, noting that "Toyota has had the lowest number of recalls of any major manufacturer over the past 10 years."

Following Toyota, General Motors (GM) had the second-largest number of total vehicles recalled with 4 million, involving 21 campaigns, the News reported. Those include an announcement in March to fix 1.3 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars to repair faulty electric power-steering systems.

Earlier this month, NHTSA said it has begun an investigation into similar power-steering problems in 2004-07 Saturn Ions. The investigation, which may or may not lead to a recall, involves 384,000 coupes and sedans, NHTSA said at its website.

More recently, GM has recalled about 200,000 vehicles in the past two weeks to fix airbags, rear axles and seat belts in a variety of passenger cars.

Fewer Ford Recalls, More From Chrysler

Ford Motor (F) saw its number of recalls drop significantly from 2009, even after expanding a previously announced recall earlier this year to repair cracked rear axles in aging Ford Windstar minivans. That recall now involves about 500,000 Windstars in the U.S. from the 1998 to 2003 model years.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based company is likely to recall fewer vehicles than it did last year, when it called back 4.5 million vehicles to fix faulty cruise control switches, including 1.7 million 1995-2003 Windstars.

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Chrysler Group has recalled 1.5 million passenger vehicles in 13 campaigns this year, according to the News' analysis. Last year, the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker called back 589,000 vehicles in 15 actions.

In its most recent recall, Chrysler informed NHTSA last month that it was calling back nearly 370,000 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans from the 2008 model year to fix airbags that may deploy unexpectedly.

NHTSA's record of the number of recalls goes back to 1966, in the wake of newly mandated federal automotive safety standards. In that time, the industry has called back more than 470 million vehicles. In the past decade, 2000 and 2004 stand out as years with the highest number of cars and trucks recalled -- with more than 24.6 million and 30.8 million vehicles, respectively.

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