You complained, the automakers listened. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, manufacturers filed more than 650 safety recalls in 2012, affecting more than 17.8 million vehicles, vehicle equipment and child-safety seats.
The federal safety organization, which reviews defect information and oversees the recall process, reports that most of last year's recalls were initiated by consumer complaints, and those numbers are falling. NHTSA reports that it received 41,912 safety complaints in 2012, up from 49,417 in 2011 and 65,765 in 2010. Along with consumer feedback, the agency looks at early warning reporting data, technical service bulletins, auto-fan websites, trade publications and automotive magazines to identify potential defects.
"The role of the consumer in influencing auto recalls cannot be underestimated. Consumers are the lifeblood of the recall process and recalls are often the direct result of a government investigation into consumer complaints." NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement.
Although the number of complaints is falling, the number of vehicles affected by recalls is up. Data from NHTSA shows that around 15.5 million were recalled in 2011. Since the agency started policing and investigating vehicle-related defects in 1966, it has issued 17,000 recalls involving over 500 million vehicles and more than 84 million items of equipment.
NHTSA urges consumers to visit www.safercar.gov to report a defect or investigate a recall.