Car Safety

A vehicle might have an occasional mechanical defect over the course of ownership, but if a model consistently falls victim to recalls, it could be indicative of a larger problem. Identifying the models with the most recalls — and considering why those recalls are so common — is an important factor for car buyers.

An authority on cars and car brands, AxleGeeks used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to calculate the total amount of recalls for a vehicle over its lifetime. We ranked the list based on the models with the most recalls, ordering them from least to most lifetime recalls reported.

Note: The lifetime of each model refers to production in North America.

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#15. Volkswagen Jetta

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 165
Years in Production: 1979 – present

A defective brake light switch led Volkswagen to recall more than 1 million of its Jetta models from 2001 to 2005, making it the largest recall in its history.

#14. Chevrolet Malibu

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 173
Years in Production: 1964 – 1981, 1997 – present

In 2014, General Motors issued recalls for its Chevrolet Malibu models from 1999 to 2005 due to a problem with the ignition switch. It affected more than 5 million vehicles, making it Malibu’s largest recall. Despite being out of production for over a decade in the ’80s and ’90s, the model managed to rank No. 14 on this list.

#13. Ford Ranger

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 174
Years in Production: 1982 – 2011

The Ford Ranger’s biggest recall, which affected more than 14 million trucks, resulted from the malfunction of Bridgestone Firestone’s tires. Because of the defect, high speeds, low inflation and hot temperatures caused tread separation.

#12. Dodge Ram

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 176
Years in Production: 1981 – present

In 2015, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) reported recalls on 4 million Dodge Ram models from 2004 to 2010 due to a defect that caused the airbag inflator module on the driver’s side to rupture when exposed to moisture intrusion.

#11. Ford Explorer

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 178
Years in Production: 1990 – present

Similar to the Ford Ranger, the Explorer’s two biggest recalls concerned Bridgestone Firestone’s tires malfunctioning due to tread separation, which affected more than 27 million models.

#10. Pontiac Grand Prix

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 178
Years in Production: 1962 – 2008

Though the Pontiac Grand Prix is no longer in production, the largest recall of the Pontiac Grand Prix resulted from an ignition defect, which affected more than 5 million models from 2004 to 2008. In 1981, GM reported the Grand Prix’s second-largest recall, which affected more than 3 million models due to a faulty rear axle assembly.

#9. Buick Regal

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 184
Years in Production: 1973 – 2004, 2011 – present

General Motors has issued many recalls on the Buick Regal over the years, but the most significant was in 1981, when the manufacturer discovered the bolts that attached the lower rear control arm to the frame were prone to fracture, resulting in more than 5 million models impacted by the recall.

#8. Chrysler Town and Country

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 184
Years in Production: 1989 – 2016

A defect to the clockspring assembly in the front airbags led Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to recall more than 1.5 million Town and Country models from 1996 to 1998 — the most vehicles affected by a recall in the history of this Chrysler model.

#7. Dodge Caravan

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 212
Years in Production: 1983 – present

Chrysler also issued recalls on its Dodge Caravan models made from 1996 to 1998 due to the potentially defective clockspring assembly, impacting more than 1 million vans.

#6. Jeep Cherokee

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 212
Years in Production: 1974 – present

The radios installed in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee possessed software vulnerabilities, making them susceptible to remote tampering. This recall affected more than 1 million models, making it the largest recall of the Jeep Cherokee to date.

#5. Jeep Grand Cherokee

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 224
Years in Production: 1993 – present

The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s biggest recall stemmed from a defective floor shifter in its models from 1993 to 1998, affecting more than 1.5 million vehicles.

#4. Ford Mustang

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 235
Years in Production: 1964 – present

The Ford Mustang’s most notable recall was the short circuit on the ignition switch, which could result in overheating to the steering column; this recall impacted more than 7 million Mustangs produced between 1988 and 1993.

#3. Ford F-150

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 248
Years in Production: 1948 – present

America’s best-selling truck for more than three decades also suffered from many recalls. Its largest recall resulted from possibly defective tires from Bridgestone Firestone, affecting up to 27 million total models.

#2. Honda Accord

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 292
Years in Production: 1976 – present

Honda issued a recall for Accords produced between 2001 and 2005 due to a defective airbag inflator module, which could rupture due to moisture intrusion. The recall is the largest to date for the Accord, impacting more than 6 million models.

#1. Honda Civic

Number of Lifetime Recalls: 303
Years in Production: 1972 – present

The Honda Civic also shared the same defective inflator module the Accord did. Additionally, its second-largest recall, which affected 3 million models, concerned a faulty release button on the front safety belts prone to breaking.

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