Automakers With The Lowest (And Highest) Recall Rates

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Safety-related recalls are certainly the red-hot-button issue in the auto business these days, particularly with General Motors facing possible legal problems regarding 1.62 million models from 2005-2007 with faulty ignition switches and Toyota agreeing to a $1.2 billion penalty to settle a criminal probe over claims of unintended acceleration that led to a recall of over 10 million vehicles.

Raging headlines over duplicitous mismanagement at the root of worst-scenario cases like these not withstanding, recalls have become common to the point where most are rendered virtually meaningless to an automaker’s image. How common? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year the auto industry recalled close to a third more vehicles in the U.S. (22 million) than it sold (just over 15 million). Recalls were up by a whopping 25 percent during 2013, which is industry’s highest rate since 2004 when 30.8 million vehicles were involved in such campaigns. Even exotic makes like Lamborghini and Lotus aren’t immune to the occasional recall.

Toyota/Lexus/Scion led the pack for the second year in a row with nearly 5.3 million cars and trucks recalled, followed by the Chrysler Group at around 4.7 million and Honda/Acura with nearly 2.8 million models recalled. While these would seem to be staggering numbers, as NHTSA points out they’re not weighed against sales, and as such aren’t necessarily a predictor of a given model line’s inherent safety or its long-term reliability.

To that end, the statisticians at the car-search website iSeeCars.com dug deep into both recall histories and sales records from the last three decades to determine which automakers have the best – and worst – track records for recalls relative to their volume. Specifically, they looked at sales records dating back to 1980, and recalls registered since 1985, based on the assumption that most such actions occur after a given model has spent some time out on the road.

While it may come as no shock that luxury-car maker Mercedes-Benz came out atop the list of least-recalled brands, with an average 0.41 units recalled per vehicle sold, General Motors, with nearly 100 million vehicles recalled since 1985, actually placed third-best, with 0.65 cars and trucks recalled per unit sold.

Of the 15 major automakers surveyed, Hyundai Motor Company can lay claim to having the worst ratio, with 1.15 vehicles recalled for every model sold since it introduced the Excel to U.S. buyers in 1986. Other brands found to have recalled more cars than they sold in the U.S. over the last 30 years (needless to say this represents a number of cars for which multiple campaigns were initiated) include Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Volvo; Chrysler broke even, so to speak, with a one-to-one sales-to-recall ratio. (Scroll down for the full results.)

What can car shoppers headed to dealers’ showrooms in 2014 glean from these findings? Not much, we’re afraid. As is the case with stocks and bonds, past performance is not necessarily an indication of how well or poorly a given model will fare in the future.  Read the original article on Forbes

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