Recall Recap: The 5 Biggest Recalls in October 2019

Recall Recap October 2019 PD jpg 2016 Toyota 4Runner | illustration by Paul Dolan

Nobody likes when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to, especially when it’s the two-ton hunk of car parts sitting in your driveway. That’s why, when a problem becomes a complaint becomes an investigation becomes a recall, automakers try their hardest to get your attention so you can get it fixed. It’s not just junk mail — it’s a letter that could potentially save your life.

Related: Is Your Car in One of the 5 Biggest Recalls of 2018?

Thing is, recalls happen all the time. Some are relatively minor; some are, well, the Takata airbag inflator crisis. Each one is important no matter the month, but it can be hard to keep up with knowing if your vehicle is involved.

Fearful of missing anything? Read on. Below are the biggest recalls we covered from October, in terms of volume of vehicles affected. For more coverage, check out our Recalls page, and for a comprehensive list of recalls that include all things road-going, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s page here.

1. 928,000 Toyota, Scion and Lexus Cars, Minivans, SUVs and Pickup Trucks

October may have been flush with recalls, but as to the question of which was largest, for all others, the answer was: Stand aside for Toyota. The Japanese marque (plus its luxury Lexus and erstwhile Scion brands) tied up some loose ends by recalling nearly a million cars for replacement airbag inflators that were intended as short-term solutions for the dangerous originals involved in the Takata airbag crisis. Featuring the same (obviously flawed) design as the Takata airbags, there remains a risk of explosion given enough exposure to high humidity or significant temperature cycling. Depending on which of the 15 models you might own, dealers will replace either the driver or front passenger airbag inflator or the airbag assembly using an alternate inflator. With this one especially, a swift repair comes highly recommended.

2. 638,000 Chevrolet and GMC SUVs and Pickup Trucks

In some potentially scary Halloween news the very last day of the month, second place on our list was filled by this recall for some 638,000 Chevrolet and GMC SUVs and pickup trucks — including assorted model years of the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and Silverado 1500, and GMC Yukon and Sierra 1500 — all equipped with 5.3-liter V-8 engines, a 3.08-ratio rear axle and four-wheel drive. This one is a long sequence of problems that originates with a wheel-speed sensor failure, which could lead to the electronic brake control module software activating the driveline protection system … which could cause unintended braking on the wheel on the opposite side of the failed sensor … which could pull the vehicle to one side unexpectedly … which could increase the risk of a crash. Avoid the “serenely narrow path to eventual and total derangement” by getting your dealer to reprogram the electronic brake control module posthaste.

3. 466,200 2017-19 Subaru Crosstreks and Imprezas

Subaru isn’t a frequent visitor to these monthly recall roundups, but the appearances it does make don’t go unnoticed. In April, it recalled some 1.3 million vehicles, the largest recall by volume for all of 2019 up until September. And while October’s No. 3 and No. 4 are bad looks as it is, what may make you wince a little is that they were both issued on the same day, Oct. 24. For the larger of the two, the engine control module may continue to power the ignition coil after the engine is shut off, which could result in a short circuit and blown fuse. That could lead to a stall and all kinds of ensuing problems. Dealers will have to do some legwork to update the ECM software and investigate the status of the ignition coil, but as with the rest of these recalls, that work is free for you.

4. 366,200 2015-18 Subaru Foresters

They say that things wear out and you lose them in a thousand ways, preposterous and unconnected. More than 300,000 Subaru Forester owners will come to know that very well if they don’t take heed of this recall, which involves a loosened electrical connection in the front passenger seat for the occupant detection system. Long story short, the passenger-side airbag may deactivate even when there’s someone sitting there — and for those of you who aren’t automotive safety experts, it’s not good to have no airbag when you need one. The critical thing here is that, while parts weren’t immediately available, owners will get a notice beginning in November and a second notice once a remedy becomes available. Keep a look out.

5. 336,500 2019 Honda CR-Vs

Honda rounds out the list with a big recall from early in the month. This one comes down to a most unfortunate fact-checking error on somebody’s part in which the owner’s manual incorrectly describes how the CR-V’s “Passenger Airbag Off” light works. That’s the bad news. The good? The automaker will provide a sticker with the correct info to throw in the owner’s manual, so you don’t even need to see a dealer for this one. An easy thing to miss, Honda has ensured this will be an easy thing to fix, too.

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Patrick Masterson is Chief Copy Editor at He joined the automotive industry in 2016 as a lifelong car enthusiast and has achieved the rare feat of applying his journalism and media arts degrees as a writer, fact-checker, proofreader and editor his entire professional career. He lives by an in-house version of the AP stylebook and knows where semicolons can go. Email Patrick Masterson

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