Report Reveals that
Recalls Aren’t Going Away
Anytime Soon

NHTSA-mandated and OEM Voluntary recalls increased in 2018 from 2017 data, adding to the enormity of the recall crisis


Laguna Hills, CA, February 19, 2019 — In its third “State of Recalls” report, Recall Masters, the automotive industry’s leading provider of recall solutions, revealed that more than 32.7 million affected vehicles were accounted for in recalls mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in calendar year 2018. Another estimated 159 “voluntary manufacturer notice” campaigns affected a minimum of 14.5 million vehicles. While many vehicles have more than one defect present, the 2018 total of 47.2 million affected vehicle recalls translates to more than one in four vehicles on US roads with at least one open recall. With an estimated 276.1 million registered vehicles in the country, the threat to drivers and passengers is greater than ever.

Automotive recalls drew concern from consumer groups and legislators in recent years after dangerous Takata airbags caused several deaths and injuries. The Takata airbag problem lingers menacingly for 2018, as 74 airbag recall reports affecting almost 10 million total vehicle recalls keeps close pace with the 97 reported campaigns and 15.8 million vehicles cited in 2017. The rise in recalls for 2018 from 2017 came predominantly from software/electronics recalls, which overcame airbag recalls for the first time. As vehicles become more like computers than machines, recalls in the software/electronics category may be the next recall crisis on the horizon. For 2018, software/electronics recalls accounted for estimated 102 total campaigns affecting almost 18 million vehicles, a staggering jump from the estimated 2.5 million vehicles affected in 2017. The State of Recalls 2018 report provides additional analysis like risk to consumers, vehicle system defect source, and vehicles counts for each defect category.

“This report takes a much deeper look at vehicle defects that include NHTSA-mandated recalls and a variety of other factory notices,” explains Sean Reyes, Chief Marketing Officer for Recall Masters. “While this is the most comprehensive report of its kind, we acknowledge the gaps in data that come from how factory notices and collected, tabulated and scored. The automotive industry, consumer safety groups, legislators and consumers look to Recall Masters to provide them with a better understanding of vehicle defects and how to solve the recall crisis, which means more data than what the government currently provides. These ’voluntary manufacturer notices‘ are not regulated and can range from typographical errors in the owner’s manual to defects that are on their way to becoming NHTSA-mandated recalls. We would all benefit from centralizing that data so that reporting can be more accurate. It’s going to take a collective effort, but we’ll get there in time.”

To date, the State of Recalls is the only annual report to publish voluntary manufacturer notices. Many in the automotive industry and consumer safety groups incorrectly assume these notices do not pose risk to consumers, like those recalls mandated by NHTSA. However, the gaps in time between reporting a defect and the investigations that follow, can leave vehicle owners vulnerable. Recall Masters tracks a vast number of these notices, providing risk scoring for the industry and consumers, along with other data points that can help dealerships appraise off-brand vehicles they might acquire at trade-in or at auction.

This summary is based on the available data collected by Recall Masters and is not a thorough accounting of all affected vehicles for 2018. Data is not authenticated by an independent firm.

“We believe the consumer needs to know.…and dealerships need to know,” notes Reyes. “One of the leading reasons recalled vehicles go unrepaired is because owners don’t know about the recall. We’re changing that, not only with data and solutions for consumers, dealerships and the auto industry, but with the concept that we’re all in this together. This report is part of the process – complete transparency.”

Vehicle recalls were featured prominently in the media a few years ago when the Takata airbag recalls were first announced. Since then, at least 15 drivers and passengers in the U.S. (23 total worldwide) have died, with more than 250 people injured because of the airbag inflators. Worldwide, 23 individuals have been killed by exploding airbags. These faulty Takata airbags use ammonium nitrate to inflate the device in the event of a crash. However, after extensive testing, it was discovered that the ammonium nitrate can become unstable over time, leading to inflators exploding with violent force. According to the results of the ensuing NHTSA investigation, if the defective airbag ruptures, it can spray sharp metal fragments directly at the driver and passengers, increasing the risk of death or injury.

“Recall Masters’ recall knowledge base is more comprehensive than any other recall discovery tool available, including NHTSA’s,” according to Chris Miller, Recall Masters CEO. “Consumers need to know about and understand the risks associated with their vehicles’ safety recalls and have the best information possible at their fingertips.  Our industry in very committed to safer cars.  Having access to data and technology are essential parts to making that possible.  We’re pleased to be making a difference.”

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About Recall Masters: Recall Masters is the leading provider of automotive recall news, data, training, and communications. The company is dedicated to helping automakers and their dealers expedite the repair of recalled vehicles and make the roadways safer for everyone. Greater recall awareness and proactive recall management helps automakers protect their brand and build trusting relationships between automotive dealers, rental car agencies, auto auctions and consumers alike. Recall Masters is a privately-held company based in Laguna Hills, CA. For more information, please visit


Media Inquiries

Sean Reyes
Chief Marketing Officer
Office: 888.651.4480, ext. 37

For the purposes of this document, the term “recall” includes NHTSA-mandated recalls and an unaudited list of TSBs, defects and any other voluntary manufacturer notices that are issued by the manufacturer as part of an effort to inform consumers, dealerships and other entities that may own the affected vehicle. The use of the word “recall” should not be interpreted as a formal notice of a recall, either from the manufacturer or NHTSA. This summary is based on the available data collected by Recall Masters and is not a thorough accounting of all affected vehicles for 2018. Data is not authenticated by an independent firm.

To Obtain the State of Recalls 2018 Report in its Entirety

Sean Reyes
888.651.4480 ext. 37

Sean Reyes is the Chief Marketing Officer for Recall Masters.  If you would like to receive “The State of Recalls 2018” report in its entirety, please complete and submit the contact form on this page.  Media inquiries can also be submitted using the form.  Please share with us how you plan to use the information so that we may provide you with supporting images, quotes or data.  Thank you for your inquiry.

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