America has always been a car-crazy nation. But the past seven years have taken that love affair to entirely new heights.
The country has been on an automotive spending spree since 2010, with a run of record-setting annual sales that eventually topped 17.5 million units in 2016. That’s the most vehicles ever sold in a single year.
While 2017 represented the end of that streak—with 17.2 million vehicles sold—the year still turned up some noteworthy figures: nearly two times more autos were recalled than sold.
All told, more than 800 recalls were issued last year. That affected more than 30 million cars, trucks, and buses in the United States alone.
Aside from the ongoing issues surrounding faulty Takata airbags—estimated to impact more than 65 million vehicles from 17 different automakers—last year also saw some hefty corrective efforts from Ford (1.1 million F-150s recalled); Honda (1.1 million Accords and nearly 900,000 Odysseys recalled); and Hyundai (about 1.5 million Sonatas and Santa Fes recalled).
Still, there are a few brands that historically struggle with recalls much more—or less—than others.
Below are some of the biggest names to watch out for, based on recall efforts made between 2013 and 2017 for models with annual sales of 50,000 or more.
(Note: Rankings are based on the total number of recalled units, not the severity of the issue in question.)
These were the most-recalled vehicles from 2013-2017:
- Mercedes may be known for their luxury brands. But between 2013 and 2017, the German automaker was responsible for the most-recalled models of all: those belonging in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The vehicles averaged a recall rate of 5.77 units for every 100,000 sold—more than 7 times higher than the industry-wide average of 0.79.
- The top-shelf producer was joined by fellow German company BMW. The automaker’s 3- and 4-Series models accounted for 2.95 recalls for every 100,000 on the road between 2013 and 2017, or just under 4 times higher than the industry average.
- Several Asian brands also made the list, including Toyota, whose 4Runner clocked in at 1.98 units recalled for every 100,000 sold, and Nissan, which earned an average recall rate of 2 on its Pathfinder between 2013 and 2017—or 2.5 times the industry-wide average.
- GMC’s Sierra—produced by a division of General Motors—had the second-highest recall rate of all, at 3.25 units for every 100,000 sold, or just over 4 times more than the industry average.
- The Chevrolet division’s Ram pickup notched 1.99 units recalled for every 100,000 sold, while the Chevy Tahoe rounded out the top 10, with an average recall rate of 1.5, or just shy of 2 times higher than the industry average.
- Fiat-Chrysler’s Chrysler 300 also made the top 10, with an average recall rate of 1.71 per every 100,000 units sold.
- Dodge, a Fiat-Chrysler subsidiary, had two entries included on the list. The Durango secured the fourth spot with its average recall rate of 2.71, and the Charger placed with a recall rate of 1.74—or 2.2 times higher than the industry average.
Part of the problem may not be that the cars are unreliable, but that the vehicles—especially the luxury models—have too much to offer. The more features included in the auto, the higher the probability one of them will trigger a recall.
But it’s not all gloom and doom. Some automakers have exceptional track records when it comes to issuing corrective measures.
These were the least-recalled vehicles from 2013-2017:
- A few American models made the least-recalled list. That includes GM’s Chevrolet Equinox, which recorded the second-fewest recalled units between 2013 and 2017 at a rate of 0.11 for every 100,000 sold.
- GMC also made another appearance, with the Terrain rounding out the top 10 least-recalled cars, at a rate of 0.26.
- Honda had three separate models make the countdown, including the Accord, with an average recall rate of 0.16; the CR-V, which saw 0.14 units recalled for every 100,000 sold; and the Civic, which also clocked in an average recall rate of 0.14.
- Toyota made two appearances on the list, including for its Corolla, the third-least-recalled car between 2013 and 2017, with an average rate of 0.12, and for the Camry, which cultivated an average recall rate of 0.23.
- Still, South Korean Hyundai was the big winner for recalls, with the Accent recording the fewest take-backs of all, at an average rate of 0.10 for every 100,000 units sold—less than 0.1 times the industry average. The automaker’s Elantra also made the cut, placing 9th overall with 0.23 units recalled for every 100,000 sold.
Future issues can be tracked through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall website, but for now, history may be the best tool for anyone considering a new or used auto.