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Automakers Set U.S. Record for Recalls in 2016

Industry's set new high-water mark for third consecutive year.

by on Mar.13, 2017

Takata's faulty airbag inflators led the way to a third consecutive record year for recalls in the U.S.

For each of the past three years, automakers have set a new industry record in the U.S. and it’s not the positive mark that immediately rushes to mind.

The U.S. Department of Transportation revealed automakers recalled a record high 53.2 million vehicles in 2016 in the United States. The largest portion coming as a result of the expansion of the Takata airbag inflator recall.

Beyond the Headlines!

Under the Obama administration, automakers issued a record-setting 927 recall campaigns, up 7% over the previous high set in 2015. Last year’s recall of 53.2 million total vehicles topped the previous all-time high of 51.1 million set in 2015, the department said.

While U.S. auto sales have hit record highs for the past two years, recalls, kicked off by General Motors’ massive recall of vehicles affected by its faulty ignition switch, have set records in each of the past three years.

(Takata pleads guilty, setting up victims fund. Click Here for the story.)

This new record tally is due in part to changes implemented by NHTSA and DOT in the wake of the aforementioned GM scandal that cost more than 120 people their lives and resulted in the recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles.

In the wake of those changes, automakers have been forced to be more transparent about potential problems with vehicles.

Though GM’s ignition switch problem set the stage with more than 2.6 million vehicles recalled in 2014, but pale in comparison with Takata’s airbag ignitor recall. It surpassed those numbers in 2016, ultimately resulting in the recall of more than 40 million vehicles in the U.S.

(Another Takata recall impacts 13 automakers. Click Here for the latest.)

The recall of these vehicles will continue for years as the supplier is playing catch up when it comes to producing new inflator kits to replace the recalled versions that are in cars, in many cases, more than a decade old and in the hands of second, third and even fourth owners in some instances.

Last month, Takata pleaded guilty to a felony charge as part of a $1 billion deal with the U.S. Justice Department. The fine included compensation for automakers and victims of its faulty airbag inflators. Ruptures of Takata air bag inflators are linked to at least 11 deaths in the U.S. and 16 globally.

After Takata, GM and Ford have the biggest recall actions in 2016. GM has more than 3.6 million vehicles subject to an action last year. In the affected vehicles, certain driving conditions may cause the air bag sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) software to activate a diagnostic test. During this test, deployment of the frontal air bags and the seat belt pretensioners would not occur in the event of a crash.

(To see more about Honda recalling 650,000 minivans, Click Here.)

In the case of Ford, it recalled more than 2 million vehicles due to a component within the door latches may break, preventing the doors from latching and/or leading the driver or a passenger to believe a door is securely closed when, in fact, it is not.

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