As consumers, we trust that the new and gently used vehicles we purchase have been tested thoroughly to ensure they meet safety standards. However, no assembly line is one hundred percent perfect every time, meaning that some makes and models may contain defective, warped, or malfunctioning parts. When customers report these issues, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will investigate the matter and work with the manufacturer or automaker to determine whether the issue warrants a safety recall. If so, the manufacturer must notify affected customers by mail, informing them of the recall and encouraging them to schedule a visit to their local dealership to obtain the necessary replacement parts at no cost to the consumer. While most automakers were impacted by at least one safety recall last year, Ford Motor Company recalled the highest number of vehicles in 2022. Let’s take a closer look at what factors influenced the high volume of recalls for Ford last year.
Understanding the Recall Process
According to the most recent estimates, the average car in America is over 12 years old. As vehicles age, they may experience parts that age prematurely or contribute to potential safety risks. There are several safety-related issues that could prompt a recall, including engine fire risk, software programs that create visibility problems, defective steering systems, brakes that fail to engage correctly, and many more concerns. Under federal law, automakers must provide free repairs for safety-related recalls. Drivers who are concerned about a persistent issue may report these problems to the NHTSA or the manufacturer. Once an investigation finds that there is a consistent defect or malfunction, the automaker must notify affected customers about the issue and urge them to obtain the free replacement part at their local dealership. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act compels automakers to provide free recall repairs for fifteen years from the date of sale, but many manufacturers will honor recalls on older vehicles as well.
The Automakers With the Most Recalls in 2022
Ford led the nation in the total number of recalls and the number of affected vehicles. In 2022 alone, Ford issued 67 safety recalls, many of which were affected by serious issues, like sudden power loss or fire risks. A total of 8,636,265 Ford drivers received a recall notice informing them of a safety issue and urging them to seek the necessary repair at the dealership. Of course, several other automakers had to issue a large volume of recalls in 2022 as well, including the following (in descending order):
- Volkswagen Group issued 46 safety recalls, impacting 1,078,443 vehicles
- Fiat-Chrysler/Stellantis issued 38 safety recalls, affecting 3,041,431 vehicles
- Mercedes-Benz issued 32 safety recalls, impacting 969,993 vehicles
- General Motors issued 32 safety recalls, affecting 3,371,302 vehicles
- Kia issued 24 safety recalls, impacting 1,458,962 vehicles
- Hyundai issued 22 safety recalls, affecting 1,452,101 vehicles
Tesla, BMW, and Nissan also issued over 15 safety recalls each over the course of 2022.
Ford’s Most Notable Safety Recalls in 2022
In November, Ford recalled over 633,000 Bronco Sport and Escape crossovers for potential fire risks. Earlier last year, the automaker issued recalls for 50,000 Mustang Mach-E crossover vehicles due to the increased risk of power loss. Drivers of the 2021 Bronco SUV also received recall notices pertaining to catastrophic engine failures identified by federal investigators. Ford responded to this high volume of recalls by stating, “We’re improving our launch and initial quality, but our overall quality isn’t as good as it should and can be. That’s why we’re deploying a comprehensive end-to-end process to raise quality and keep it high—in design, production, delivery and after-sale service and support.” The company also clarified that Ford is a very large manufacturer, so this high volume of vehicle production compared to other automakers automatically increases the number of potential manufacturing issues. According to Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power, “If you have a lot of new models out on the market, it’s more likely that you’re going to see quality issues surface in the first year and then those will smooth out over the subsequent years.”
Steps to Take if You Receive an Auto Safety Recall Notice
As soon as you receive a recall notice in the mail, you should check to see if the replacement part is available at your local dealership. If so, make an appointment and take your vehicle in to obtain the recommended repair. In some cases, the part may not be available for several weeks, so you will have to determine whether the safety risk is severe enough to stop using the affected vehicle until it is repaired. If you encounter any issues, like being compelled to pay for the replacement part, contact an experienced lemon law attorney right away to discuss your legal options.
Reach out to Lemon Law Partners today at (510) 944-0336 to schedule a free case evaluation with a skilled and friendly Berkeley attorney.