(iSeeCars) — Nobody wants to receive a recall notice, but in 2022 there were over 400 automotive recalls issued, impacting more than 25 million vehicles.
The 2021 numbers were even higher: over 1,000 recalls involving over 35 million vehicles. Cars, like any mass-produced item, are subject to variables related to component and build quality, meaning every vehicle has a chance of being recalled for a safety issue at some point.
- Tesla is the most-recalled brand, with the Y, 3, X, and S occupying 4 of the top 5 slots
- Mercedes-Benz leads the least-recalled list, followed closely by Toyota and Lexus
- 33 Models are projected to experience 1 or fewer recalls over their lifespan
- 25 Models are projected to experience at least 10 recalls over their lifespan
- The Tesla Model Y is projected to have 62 recalls over its lifespan
But, as iSeeCars’ latest study reveals, the potential for a recall varies – quite dramatically – between models. iSeeCars analyzed vehicle recall campaign data provided by the National Highway Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for models from the last 10 model years to calculate the number of projected recalls over an expected 30-year lifespan.
The overall average for lifetime projected recalls across all makes and models is 4.0. The least-recalled cars average one projected recall or less; conversely, the most recalled car, Tesla’s Model Y, is projected to have more than 62 recalls. As a brand, Mercedes-Benz has nine models making the list of least recalled cars, while Porsche and Tesla each have four of the most recalled models. But note that Tesla’s entire model line occupies four of the top five most recalled vehicles.
“Recall rates can vary between makes and models,” said iSeeCars’ Executive Analyst Karl Brauer, “but the extreme variation in the number of recalls a car is projected to receive over its lifetime is something we didn’t expect. For consumers who don’t want to deal with a recall, the top models offer a substantially lower risk than even average models, such as the Chevrolet Equinox or Honda Ridgeline, with four predicted lifetime recalls. Avoiding a recall by owning a highly rated model, like the Hyundai Elantra GT or Mercedes CLA, means less time spent scheduling a dealer visit, taking the vehicle in, and waiting for repairs to be made.”
The 33 Least Recalled Cars
The 33 cars to make the least recalled list are projected to experience 1 or fewer recalls over the course of their lifespan. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and Toyota are the most prominent brands, but a wide spectrum of models from Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lincoln, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Nissan, also make an appearance, with the top spot going to the Mini Convertible. Buyers seeking a model with a low recall rate have plenty of choices, while brands like Mercedes and Toyota have strong reputations for quality, and this list backs up their brand image.
|Models with the Fewest Safety Recalls – iSeeCars Study|
|Rank||Model||Expected 30-yr Lifetime Recalls||Compared to Overall Average|
|2||Lexus NX 300h||0.3||0.08x|
|3||Lincoln MKZ Hybrid||0.5||0.13x|
|5||Lexus RX 450h||0.5||0.13x|
|7||Hyundai Elantra GT||0.6||0.15x|
|10||Lexus IS 300||0.7||0.18x|
|12||Ford Fusion Energi||0.7||0.18x|
|13||Mercedes-Benz AMG GT||0.7||0.18x|
|15||Lexus ES 300h||0.8||0.20x|
|16||Kia Rio 5-Door||0.8||0.20x|
|17||Lexus RC 350||0.8||0.20x|
|22||Ford Fusion Hybrid||0.9||0.23x|
|24||Nissan Titan XD||0.9||0.23x|
|25||Lexus IS 350||1.0||0.25x|
|27||Mitsubishi Mirage G4||1.0||0.25x|
|28||Toyota Prius Prime||1.0||0.25x|
|29||Toyota Corolla Hatchback||1.0||0.25x|
|31||Toyota Camry Hybrid||1.0||0.25x|
The 25 Most Recalled Cars
The 25 most recalled cars are projected to have at least 10 recalls over a 30-year lifespan, with Tesla and Porsche models appearing on the list four times each. Thankfully, Tesla’s ability to enact over-the-air (OTA) updates suggests at least some portion of its recalls won’t involve service center visits. BMW and Jeep make the list three times, while Ford, Lincoln, Ram, and Volkswagen show up twice. Chevrolet and Kia each have one model on the list.
|Models with the Most Safety Recalls – iSeeCars Study|
|Rank||Model||Expected 30-yr Lifetime Recalls||Compared to Overall Average|
|1||Tesla Model Y||62.4||15.60x|
|3||Tesla Model 3||56.8||14.2x|
|4||Tesla Model X||27.3||6.83x|
|5||Tesla Model S||26.4||6.60x|
|7||Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport||22.4||5.60x|
|10||Ram 1500 Classic||20.5||5.13x|
|19||BMW 3 Series||11.7||2.93x|
|20||BMW 5 Series||10.7||2.68x|
|21||Jeep Grand Cherokee||10.4||2.60x|
|22||Jeep Grand Cherokee L||10.4||2.60x|
|23||Chevrolet Silverado 1500||10.2||2.55x|
What About Over-the-Air Updates and Safety Recalls?
Are OTA (over-the-air) recalls really recalls if they don’t require a dealership or service center visit? How serious could an OTA issue really be?
Even though safety recalls that have OTA fixes are more convenient to repair, it should be noted that all safety recalls are issued for the same reason: The NHTSA’s analysis of the vehicle issue identified a safety-related defect that violates its vehicle safety standards and needs to be addressed.
The following data shows the top 25 rankings for projected lifetime safety recalls, excluding recalls repaired with OTA updates, to give owners and shoppers a sense of which models require the most dealership visits to address recalls:
|Models with the Most Safety Recalls, Excluding Over-the-Air (OTA) Repairs – iSeeCars Study|
|Rank||Model||Expected 30-yr Lifetime Recalls, Excluding OTA Recalls||Compared to Overall Average|
|3||Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport||22.7||5.97x|
|5||Ram 1500 Classic||20.9||5.5x|
|7||Tesla Model Y||19.3||5.08x|
|11||Tesla Model 3||15.2||4.00x|
|16||BMW 3 Series||12.2||3.21x|
|19||BMW 5 Series||10.8||2.84x|
|20||Jeep Grand Cherokee L||10.5||2.76x|
|22||Jeep Grand Cherokee||10.4||2.74x|
|23||Jeep Wrangler Unlimited||10.3||2.71x|
|24||Chevrolet Silverado 1500||10.2||2.68x|
|Overall Non-OTA Average||3.8||–|
For more information on NHTSA recalls, and to check any open recalls on a specific model, visit their website. Recall repairs are free for car owners (other than the time they take to resolve), and should be addressed to ensure a vehicle is operating safely. Sadly, only about a quarter of vehicles involved in a recall are ever repaired due to low consumer action on this issue.
More from iSeeCars.com
iSeeCars analyzed vehicle safety recall campaigns as of April 7, 2023 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for cars from model years 2014-2023. The number of campaigns for each model was aggregated and projected for an expected 30-year lifespan, taking into account the overall behavior of the automaker and when each recall campaign was issued in the car’s lifetime. The resulting estimates were then used to rank models with the fewest and most expected safety recalls. Heavy-duty vehicles, low-volume models, and models discontinued prior to the 2020 model year were excluded from further analysis.
iSeeCars.com is a data-driven car search and research company that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, including the iSeeCars VIN Check report and Best Cars Rankings. iSeeCars.com has saved users over $382 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.
This article, Tesla Has the Most Projected Lifetime Recalls, Mercedes and Toyota the Least, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com