What brand car has the most recalls?
It’s not what you think.
While manufacturer recalls are performed at no cost to the buyer (and vehicle recalls are lower than they’ve been in years), it still can be frustrating to take time out of your day to bring the car in for issues that arguably should have been caught before it left the factory.
It’s of little surprise that recall completely rates are always lower than they should be.
Here is iSeeCars’ data on which cars are recalled the most and which cars have very few issues. Just about everyone on staff expected to see a Fiat Chrysler product at the top spot, but were were wrong.
The methodology behind this data looks ok:
iSeeCars gathered recall data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA)/Office of Defect Investigation’s (ODI) databases as of May 1, 2018. Recall rates were calculated as the number of vehicle recall campaigns for each model in the database from model years 2013-2017 divided by the age of the model and the model’s new unit sales. Only models with at least 50,000 sales in each year from 2013-2017 were included in the analysis. Note that some models’ data were summed together due to sales figures availability only at an aggregated level, such as the GMC Sierra combining sales figures across the Sierra 1500, Sierra 2500, and Sierra 3500. This resulted in a set of 69 models with an overall average recall rate of 0.79 recalls/year per 100,000 new unit sales. The models’ recall rates were ranked and compared with the overall average.
Because recalls are one measure of overall vehicle quality, iSeeCars.com aligned these recall frequencies to the average reliability scores from Consumer Reports citing the fact that often there is a correlation between the number of recalls issued for a certain model and lower reliability scores from CR. Unsurprisingly, the vehicles that most folks associated with high quality and reliability are the ones that are on the list of cars that are recalled the least.
It also should be noted that not all recalls have the same level of severity. In the case of the Toyota 4Runner that is known for its durability, the recalls were for minor issues like loose roof racks or incorrect labels. By contrast, the Mercedes C-Class that occupies the top spot on the most recalled list had problems with the steering column and a sunroof that was improperly bonded to the frame. Issues like these could pose major safety concerns.