Ford had the most recalls in 2022, with nearly 9 million potentially affected vehicles.
Car recalls occur when a manufacturer, consumers, or the federal government finds a defect in a car that causes it not to meet federal safety standards. As a result, manufacturers must notify consumers of the defect and either repair, replace, or refund the affected vehicle part — or even the entire vehicle.
In 2022, almost 26 million vehicles in the U.S. were recalled due to more than 400 separate issues that posed safety risks. But which car companies had the most recalls, and how did they respond? We dived into the most recent national data to find out.
A car recall is when either a vehicle manufacturer or the federal government, via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), determines that a vehicle doesn’t meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This federal legislation mandates minimum performance requirements for parts of vehicles that affect safety, such as lighting, brakes, and tires.1
If a recall is issued, car manufacturers need to either fix the defect or, in the most extreme cases, repurchase the vehicles so they aren’t on the roads.
Car recalls happen due to clearly identified safety problems. (Emissions issues, in contrast, are handled by the Environmental Protection Agency, not by the NHTSA.) Safety recalls could include issues with the following vehicle parts:
Delayed backup cameras, fire-causing leaking fuel systems, or broken accelerators could cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle, leading to injuries, property damage, or, in the worst cases, traffic fatalities.
Vehicle manufacturers are responsible for issuing recall notices to consumers.
The manufacturer must issue the recall notice within 60 days of the date it notified the NHTSA of the issue.
The manufacturer should pay for the repairs. If you already paid, however, you can request a reimbursement. Just show a receipt or any documentation of the repair to your manufacturer within 10 days of the original receipt of the recall notice.
So long as the vehicle is less than 16 model years old, the manufacturer will pay for the repairs, including parts and labor, and there is no deadline you have to meet.3 Note, though, that the manufacturer will not pay for a rental car while yours is in the shop — that will depend on your car dealer and your insurance coverage, namely whether it includes rental car reimbursement.4
Unsure if your car is under a recall? You can check on the NHTSA website (https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls) by entering your vehicle identification number (VIN).
To be even more proactive, sign up for recall notification emails at https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/subscriptions.
The government has federal standards on safety for vehicles. However, it’s not the sole entity that can report safety problems to the NHTSA. Car manufacturers should report them, of course, and consumers can as well. If the NHTSA receives enough complaints about the same issue, the agency will investigate the problem and determine whether the issue violates federal safety standards.
From there, the NHTSA will order the manufacturer to fix the issue, which the company can challenge in federal district court. But if the court rules on the side of the NHTSA, the manufacturer must issue recall notices. Of course, if it’s a problem the manufacturer found itself, it still must report it to the NHTSA and correct the issue, notifying consumers in a timely manner.
Once recall notices are sent, a manufacturer has three possible solutions it can execute:
Ford had the most recalls in 2022, with 68 recalls potentially affecting more than 8.7 million vehicles. That’s nearly one-fifth of all the recalls that year. Volkswagen came in second, with 12 percent of the year’s recalls and over 1 million vehicles potentially affected, according to data from the NHTSA.5
|Car manufacturer||Number of recalls in 2022||Percent of total recalls in 2022||Number of vehicles potentially affected|
On average, there were 34 recalls per manufacturer in 2022, affecting about 2 million cars each.
While the number of recalled vehicles and equipment increased overall from 2009 to 2019, it’s not a straight line. Recalls peaked in 2015, declined until 2018, and then shot back up in 2019. On average during this time period, there were over 41 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. per year, with an average year-over-year increase of 21 percent.
This information is the latest available from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which analyzes NHTSA data.6 (Data for 2020-2022 is not available.)
Recall completion refers to how many vehicles were fixed and are not still on the road with the defect. If a company completes a vehicle recall, it means it either replaced the car, repaired the car, or refunded the consumer to fix the issue.
Based on data from 2010 to 2014, the most recent figures available from the CRS, Tesla has the highest recall completion rates, with an average of 96 percent. Volkswagen and General Motors follow.
|Car manufacturer||Completion rate, 2010||Completion rate, 2011||Completion rate, 2012||Completion rate, 2013||Completion rate, 2014|
|Volkswagen Group of America||79%||95%||93%||89%||80%|
|Nissan North America||53%||55%||84%||85%||84%|
|Hyundai Motor America||95%||60%||70%||63%||70%|
|Subaru of America||91%||76%||72%||58%||55%|
|Honda (American Honda Motor) Co.)||69%||78%||59%||73%||72%|
|Kia Motors America||88%||61%||59%||67%||75%|
|Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing||78%||74%||68%||56%||67%|
|BMW of North America||82%||54%||77%||79%||42%|
|Chrysler (FCA US)||76%||77%||51%||54%||69%|
|Ford Motor Co.||45%||45%||56%||73%||70%|
Despite having high recall rates, Ford had the lowest completion rates during this time period, with a four-year average of only 58 percent. That’s much lower than the average across all manufacturers, which was 73 percent.
If you get a recall notice, don’t ignore it; it could mean there’s an issue that could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Staying on top of recalls is critical for any car owner. While no one wants to be involved in a car recall, at least you won’t have to spend a dime on the repairs.
We analyzed data from the following third parties:
In 2022, Ford had the most vehicle recalls, with nearly 8.76 million vehicles potentially affected. The manufacturer’s most common recall was due to a powertrain issue in some of the following models:
In total, this Ford powertrain-related recall potentially affected nearly 3 million vehicles in 2022, according to data from the NHTSA.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a list of the safest cars of 2022 by type and size. Winners include the 2023 Acura Integra four-door sedan, the 2022 and 2023 Kia K5 four-door sedan, and the Kia Stinger four-door hatchback. See the complete list at https://www.iihs.org/ratings/top-safety-picks?tspPlusOnly#award-winners.
PART 571 – FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS. National Archives Code of Federal Regulations. (2004, Apr 9).
Car Recall Guide: Your Questions Answered. Consumer Reports. (2023, Feb 2).
Can a Ford recall expire? Ford. (2023).
Recalls 101: What You Need To Know To Stay Safe. Kelley Blue Book. (2022, Dec 14).
NHTSA Recalls by Manufacturer. U.S. Department of Transportation. (2023).
Motor Vehicle Safety: Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service. (2021, Jan 26).