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Five of the Largest Vehicle Recalls in History

Steve Wagner

History of 5 Major Car Recalls

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified safety defects by recalling more than 299 million cars, trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds, as well as 43 million tires and 84 million pieces of motor vehicle equipment, including child seats, since 1966. Here is a review back at five of the most damaging and biggest car recalls in history.

Toyota’s Out-of-Control Gas Pedals, 2009 & 2010

Size of Recall: 9 million vehicles

Models Affected: 2004-2010 Toyota Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Highlander, Prius, RAV4, Tundra, Tacoma and various Lexus models.

Ford’s Failure-to-Park Recall, 1980

Size of Recall: 21 million vehicles

Models Affected: All Ford vehicles manufactured between 1976 and 1980.

The Takata Seatbelt Scandal, 1995

Size of Recall: 8.3 million vehicles

Models Affected: Numerous models made by Honda, Nissan, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, GM, Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru and Isuzu between 1986 and 1995.

Fire Strikes Ford Vehicles, 1996

Size of Recall: 14 million vehicles

Models Affected: Numerous Ford models, including the Explorer, Bronco, F-Series Trucks and Lincoln Town Car.

Ford Ignition Problem, 1996

Size of Recall: 8.7 million vehicles

Models Affected: 1988-1993 models of Ford Aerostar, Bronco, Crown Victoria, Mustang, Escort, Tempo and F-Series Trucks; Mercury Cougar, Grand Marquis and Topaz and Lincoln Town Car.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (1966) gives the NHTSA the authority to issue vehicle safety standards and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles with safety-related defects or that do not meet safety standards. The NHTSA provides an easy to use website for updates on vehicle and vehicle-related recalls. All you need to know is your vehicle identification number (VIN) to use it.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Every vehicle has a unique VIN. Once you locate your 17-character VIN on the lower left of your car’s windshield, you can learn if a specific vehicle needs to be repaired as part of a recall. Your VIN is also located on your car’s registration card, and it may be shown on your insurance card. The NHTSA has provided these FAQs to learn more about the recall online portal.

What is included in an online VIN search?

  • Vehicle safety recalls that are incomplete
  • Vehicle safety recalls conducted over the past 15 calendar years
  • Vehicle safety recalls conducted by major light auto automakers, including motorcycle manufacturers

What is NOT included in an online VIN search?

  • Completed safety recall information
  • Manufacturer customer service or other non-safety recall campaign
  • International vehicles
  • Very recently announced safety recalls for which not all VINs have been identified
  • Safety recalls that are more than 15 years old (except where a manufacturer offers more coverage)
  • Safety recalls conducted by small vehicle manufacturers, including some ultra-luxury brands and specialty applications

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Vehicle recalls and defects are not only an inconvenience but can also lead to serious accidents and injuries. If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, or harmed as the result of a faulty vehicle or related products, you have rights as a consumer. Contact Wagner Reese at (888) 204-8440 to schedule an appointment in our Indianapolis or Carmel offices, or use our convenient, confidential contact form.


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