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Unhinged: One Out Of Every Five Vehicles Sold Has Been Recalled This Year.

Unhinged: One Out Of Every Five Vehicles Sold Has Been Recalled This Year.

At time of writing, there have been 544 recalls that have affected 52 million vehicles for model year 2014. Think about that: One-fifth of the vehicles sold this year shouldn’t have been sold at all. General Motors has been a punching bag. The Takata airbag inflator recall reached broadly over many different manufacturers. Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, FCA, Mitsubishi, Ford, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Yamaha, Audi…hell, I could go on, that wasn’t even all of the first page off of NHTSA. From minor fixes like head restraints to fuel leaks and the “ignition switch from hell”, in the best journalistic hyperbole aimed at GM, the amount of recalls has been staggering.

I don’t care if you’re a big name like GM or Honda, or you’re one of those “built in a shed” specialty British tuner firms: with all of the money being dumped into research and development, these recalls should not be this numerous. A minor recall, one that makes sense and in reality, shouldn’t have been dangerous, was the recall of all Chevrolet Caprice PPV’s and some certain Pontiac G8’s that were shipped to the U.S. without the transmission that required a foot on the brake to allow the car to shift from Park. An oversight? Yes. But you can at least understand how that happened. Having new Impalas and Cadillac XTS’s with brake pads that can remain engaged and start fires? That’s poor engineering and testing (and stupidity on whoever drove a car around with a stuck brake to the point of fire, but I digress.) Wiring that can melt from heat in Chrysler 200s? How about Coachmen motor homes that can drop the propane tank due to an improper weld? That’s a frightening though as you’re rolling down the road, isn’t it?

Not everyone can justify owning an older car, but it does make a compelling argument for restoration/restification. It’s easier to reverse engineer the problems out of a car that has already been real-world tested for years than it is to bring a totally new product to market with the hope that you’ve tested the vehicle enough that there are very few issues that return to your doorstep with angry customer and/or lawsuit attached. I consider myself lucky: out of the myriad of cars I’ve owned, I only had two problems that weren’t related to the car being an outright beater at purchase: I had a 2001 Regal GS that fell under a GM recall for leaking o-rings on the engine that was blamed for several garage fires, and I had a 1999 Blazer three-door that had so many electrical failures (and a couple of very interesting mechanical ones too) that I’m convinced it should have been crushed before it was ever sold.


With the cost of a new car going up more and more, wouldn’t it make financial sense to just build an older car as well? The cheapest 2014 car is the Nissan Versa 1.6 S sedan, at $12,800 base price. Just a quick look on my local Craigslist, using a price range between $11,000 and $13,000 turned up a restored 1965 Impala, a 2008 GMC Yukon that was loaded for bear, and a Volvo semi tractor. Depending on where you live you could do a ton better than that! So I have to ask, why would anyone buy a brand-new car anymore, especially the first year of a brand-new body style, other than to say they had it first?

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6 thoughts on “Unhinged: One Out Of Every Five Vehicles Sold Has Been Recalled This Year.

  1. Sumgai

    There are ways to stack the deck in your favor when buying a new or late model vehicle. Get a proven vehicle that has been in production for several years or even fresh sheet metal on an older chassis. Less power options and doodads… you may like power everything, but it adds weight and more things to break down. My “new” car is a late model Mustang and I bought it with maintenance in mind; there is not much electronic to go wrong, the chassis and powertrain are well proven, and it is easy to work on. Like a truck it is built to take abuse, so with my gentle treatment it should last for decades. I haven’t had a thing fail on it yet, nor any recalls – just a few TSBs that were taken care of by previous owners.

  2. TheSilverBuick

    Certainly more things and more mandated things in each vehicle today than 25+ years that all lead to more potential problem points.

    I’d be curious to see the numbers as far as percentages of cars with recalls sold through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s that had recalls. We are at 20% today, and I wouldn’t actually be surprised if it were near 20% 30+ years ago with a fraction of the complexity. I think a lot of it is a combination of media hype and the fact that 20% of cars today is a far larger number than 20% of cars manufactured 30 years ago. Or I could be flat wrong and the recall number was way lower back then….

  3. crazy canuck

    It seems like there are lots of recalls based on cya now I’ve had three recalls on the wifes ricer for piddley non issue things but those are probablly part of the stats

  4. Nick D.

    Absolutely agree here. All the junk that people demand that their car be equipped with is a lot of the problem. The amount of recalls/bulletins for the Cadillac CUE system is nonsense. And there is a recall for reprogramming the BCM on Malibus not alerting the driver that they have a turn signal bulb (just finished one up in fact). Good lord, how did people know about having turn signals out before this technological savior was invented? How did we live our lives without such a thing?

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