CARS.COM — How many recalls were there in 2016? The answer may surprise you, but that it's a record probably won't. The Department of Transportation said today that automakers initiated 927 separate recalls in 2016 affecting 53.2 million vehicles. That's an all-time high and the third year in a row that recalls reached a new high.
If you've read past recall totals, 53.2 million may sound like a curiously small number. After all, the New York Times estimated in early 2015 that the industry recalled 62 million cars in 2014 — a larger total than 2016. What gives? Simply put, counting recalls is subject to revisions. Recall notices issued is one number; recalled cars are another.
Some cars are recalled multiple times for different problems or even the same problem; other recalls are phased in by geographic region or even particular groups within a given model year. The numbers fluctuate — nowhere more apparent than with Takata's expanding airbag-inflator recalls. Early totals had Takata's recall affecting as many as 1 in 4 cars on U.S. roads. As of early 2017, the (growing) total stands at about 1 in 9.