Automotive Safety Recalls

The top 15 largest recalls in the U.S.

You can check for open recalls at Carfax. You will need to supply the entire VIN number.

You can also check with your dealer for recalls.

Sign up for email alerts for new recalls on your car at NHTSA.

VIN Location
The VIN is located driver's side dashboard and the door post on most cars.

It is estimated that one in three recalled cars go unfixed. Many of those cars are unsafe and have been sold or are being sold to unsuspecting buyers.

When a recall is issued on a car, a notice is sent to the original buyer by the manufacture, but if the buyer's address has changed or the car has been sold the car owner doesn't usually know about them.

Many used car lots don't check for recalls or want to take the time to have them addressed. There is no law that says a dealer must disclose any recalls.

"There are literally millions of vehicles on the road today with open recalls and one of the most alarming things is the number of these recalls that don't actually get fixed," said Larry Gamache, communications director of

So it's buyer beware. Before a consumer buys a car they need to ask about any recalls. Also, they should get a vehicle history report making sure that it includes recalls.

For free, both and the auto manufacturer websites will let you know about open recalls if you have the VIN for the car. Usually your local dealer can check also.

The good news is that safety recalls will be fixed at no cost to the owner by the manufacture.

If you get a letter for a Safety Recall, don't put off taking your vehicle in once you receive an official notice. Some safety defects are minor, while others can be for a major safety problem in the future.


It seems that every time you turn around these days there is another recall being announced. It's happening on a weekly basis. Why so many?
There were 172 different models of cars sold in the U.S. market in 2012, and 151 different models of trucks, crossovers and vans. 323 total. If each of those vehicles only has a recall once every 7 years, that translates into one recall almost every single week.

Plus, you'll see recalls these days that almost seem silly. The Dodge Durango had a recall because the label on the door jam did not properly state how many passengers the vehicle can hold.

There was a recall on Honda minivans because the owner's manual had a misprint. Instead of an 800 phone number to call the company for any service action, it was a 900 number that took you to a phone sex line.

Another Honda recall in 2013 was for the emblem being installed on the wrong side of the tailgate on the Odyssey!

In 2015 an airbag related recall from Rolls-Royce affected just one car, not one model -- just one single vehicle.


Top 15 recalls in the U.S. for a single item, along with the oldest known recall.

#1 2015
The largest recall involved multiple car makers when about 36 million vehicles worldwide were recalled for Takata's Defective Airbags which were known for exploding shrapnel.

#2 2014
General Motors has the top spot for one car maker when they recalled over 10 million vehicles for failing ignition switches.

#3 - 2012
Toyota is second on the list when they recalled 7.43 million vehicles globally, including 2.47 million cars and light trucks sold in the U.S., due to a potential fire hazard involving power-window switches that could overheat and the door itself could catch fire.

#4 - 1996
Ford held the record until 2012 when it recalled 7.9 million vehicles made in 1993-1998 because of a faulty ignition switch that would spark and start fires in the steering column.

#5 - 1971
General Motors held the top spot until 1996 when they recalled 6.7 million 1965-1969 vehicles because of the engine mount, which would separate itself from the frame and fall back onto the throttle causing unintended acceleration. The Camaro, Caprice, and Impala being just a few of the vehicles recalled.

#6 - 1981
General Motors recalls 5.8 million 1965-1969 vehicles due to loose bolts in the suspension which rendered the driver useless in steering the vehicle.

#7 - 2010
Toyota recalled 5.3 million vehicles for reports of the driver side floor mats becoming wedged beneath the gas pedal causing the vehicles to accelerate uncontrollably. This followed a recall in October 2009 for a possible sticky accelerator-pedal mechanism for the same issue.

#8 - 2005
Ford recalls 4.5 million vehicles for the cruise control safety switch causing fires. Ultimately this led to another recall in 2009 for the same problem. If you add the two together it is actually the largest recall for the same problem.

#9 - 2009
Ford recalls another 4.5 million vehicles for the cruise control safety switch causing fires on cars not previously recalled.

#10 - 1972
Ford recalled 4 million vehicles for the seat belts becoming frayed and eventually would detach themselves from the vehicle frame.

#11 - 1973
General Motors recalls 3.7 million vehicles from 1949-1969 to install engine shields to prevent stones being kicked up and disabling the steering.

#12 - 1972
Volkswagen recalled 3.7 million 1949-1969 Beetles for the windshield wiper blades coming loose and falling off.

#13 - 1995
Honda recalls 3.7 million vehicles 1986-1991 for passengers becoming trapped in their vehicles due to cracked and broken seat belt release buttons.

#14 - 1987
Ford recalls 3.6 million pickups and cars for fuel line connectors coming loose and posing a serious fire hazard.

#15 - 2004
General Motors recalls 3.6 million SUVs for tailgate cables fracturing and causing the tailgate to fall on the bumper causing injuries.

And the oldest recorded recall in the US was in the early 1900's by Ford. Henry Ford stuffed the seats of his first Model T's with Spanish moss, which prompted the first automotive recall when little bugs called red bugs or chiggers started crawling out and biting drivers on the rear ends.