Top 10 most and least recalled late-model vehicles

BOSTON - 

The analyst team at iSeeCars.com combed through the federal database and compiled lists about recalled late-model vehicles that could be especially handy for your used-car manager, particularly if your store likes to shy away from inventory with open recalls.

Analysts collected the number of distinct vehicle recall campaigns from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall database as of May 1 for vehicles from model years 2013 through 2017. The site then calculated an average recall rate based on the number of recall campaigns a year per 100,000 new units sold.

Finally, iSeeCars.com compared these recall rates to Used Car Reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.

“A recall means hours of lost time on top of potential safety issues,” iSeeCars.com chief executive officer Phong Ly said in the site’s report. “At the very least, it involves an appointment, a trip to the dealership, and waiting around while the repairs are being made or dealing with a loaner car if the dealership is even prepared to make the fix.

“Owners of cars with repeated recalls are faced with this hassle many times over,” Ly continued.

A majority of the vehicles with the highest recall rates (6 out of 10) come from domestic automakers, with a mix of four passenger cars, two trucks, and four SUVs. Most of the vehicles with the lowest recall rates (6 out of 10) come from Japanese brands, and the list includes a mix of passenger cars and SUVs.

Top 10 Cars with the Highest Recall Rates

Model Avg Recall Rate (Campaigns/Year Per 100k Units Sold) Compared to Overall Average Avg Reliability, Consumer Reports (out of 5)*
 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 5.77 7.3x 3.0
GMC Sierra 3.25 4.1x 2.4
BMW 3/4 Series 2.95 3.7x 3.6
Dodge Durango 2.71 3.4x 2.0
Nissan Pathfinder 2.00 2.5x 2.4
Ram Pickup 1.99 2.5x 2.2
Toyota 4Runner 1.98 2.5x 5.0
Dodge Charger 1.74 2.2x N/A
Chrysler 300 1.71 2.2x N/A
Chevrolet Tahoe 1.52 1.9x 2.4
Avg Top 10 Highest 2.73 3.5x 3.0
Overall Average (across all vehicles) 0.79 -- 3.4

* Average Consumer Reports Reliability Ratings only included for models with ratings available in all five model years, 2013-2017. Source: iSeeCars.com

Top 10 Cars with the Lowest Recall Rates

Model Avg Recall Rate (Campaigns/Year Per 100k Units Sold) Compared to Overall Average Avg Reliability, Consumer Reports (out of 5)*
Hyundai Accent 0.10 0.1x N/A
Chevrolet Equinox 0.11 0.1x 4.2
Toyota Corolla 0.12 0.1x 4.8
Honda Civic 0.14 0.2x 4.2
Honda CR-V 0.14 0.2x 4.6
Honda Accord 0.16 0.2x 5.0
Subaru Crosstrek 0.18 0.2x 4.0
Toyota Camry 0.23 0.3x 5.0
Hyundai Elantra 0.23 0.3x 4.2
GMC Terrain 0.26 0.3x 4.2
Avg Top 10 Lowest 0.16 0.2x 4.5
Overall Average (across all vehicles) 0.79 -- 3.4
* Average Consumer Reports Reliability Ratings only included for models with ratings available in all five model years, 2013-2017. Source: iSeeCars.com

More analysis of lists

The team at iSeeCars.com explained the recall rate can allow consumers to compare vehicles based on their history of recalls. For example, comparing two SUVs between the two lists — the Chevrolet Equinox and the Dodge Durango — the Durango has a history of more frequent recalls than the Equinox.

“Durango owners have to go through the rigamarole of recall-related repairs more often than Equinox owners, in order to replace airbag control modules, brake calipers, alternators, or even radios that could allow third party hackers access to the car’s control systems,” Ly said.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the car with the highest recall rate. It has been recalled for a host of safety issues, from several different recall campaigns involving airbags to multiple campaigns involving failure in the steering column.

“Among the list of recalls is a campaign to fix the sunroof because it could have been improperly bonded to the car frame and stands the risk of falling on passengers,” Ly said.

“Luxury cars such as the Mercedes C-Class or the BMW 3-Series and 4-Series, which are third on the list, are packed with features, and each additional feature can be another point of failure. This could explain why C-Class owners have to contend with so many recall-related headaches,” he continued.

The GMC Sierra, second on the list after the C-Class, also has many more recall campaigns per year relative to the number of units sold.

Site analysts pointed out the Sierra was recalled for faulty seat belts, loss of power in steering, brake pedals becoming inoperative, and fuel tanks overfilling, among other issues.

“Given that only about a quarter of all recalls are actually addressed, consumers who buy a used GMC Sierra may have to bring their truck to the dealership to deal with open recalls many more times than those who buy a Hyundai Accent or Chevrolet Equinox, which have the lowest recall rates,” Ly said.

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