In 2013, automakers celebrated pre-recession sales volumes while they continued to be haunted by mistakes of the past. Tightening controls in China as well as a more aggressive policy from U.S. safety regulators forced car companies into recalls of epic proportions. The following nine vehicles were part of the largest, most embarrassing auto industry recalls of 2013. Each one involved more than 750,000 vehicles, while a staggering five covered defective automobiles numbering into the millions.
Honda (NYSE:HMC) has received numerous safety accolades for its Odyssey minivan, but 2013 began with a large-scale recall of the Odyssey and Pilot. Some 777,000 vehicles manufactured in the U.S. and Canada had defective airbags that may not deploy in the event of a crash. The recall affected Odyssey vans from model years 2011 through 2013. The 2014 model is a Top Safety Pick Plus.
2. Chrysler Town & Country
Fiat (FIATY.PK) subsidiary The Chrysler Group had a rough 2013 with respect to recalls. The second-most damaging instance involved 840,000 vehicles, including the Chrysler Town & Country minivan, due to defective air bags and head rests. The issue was linked to parts shortages that occurred following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
3. Toyota Camry
The title of worst recall offender went to Toyota (NYSE:TM) in 2013. In one of the biggest, the automaker recalled some 885,000 vehicles across the globe due to airbag control modules that were failing because spiders’ webs were clogging automobile condenser systems. It was a strange reason for a recall, but Toyota found itself forced to fix huge numbers of the best-selling Camry because of it. Most vehicles were from model year 2012 and 2o13.
4,. Infiniti M35
Nissan (NSANY.PK) hit a major snag with its vehicles in September, when the automaker recalled about 909,000 vehicles worldwide due to faulty accelerator sensors that were causing cars to stall. In the U.S., the affected cars were mainly Infiniti sedans such as the M35 and M37 from model years 2006 through 2010.
5. Toyota Corolla
Toyota’s second huge recall of 2013 involved 1.3 million vehicles, most of which were the company’s flagship Corolla. The Corolla had problems with airbag modules that were causing bags to deploy by accident. The recall also included about 400,00 Lexus IS models that had windshield wiper problems.
6. Buick Excelle
General Motors (NYSE:GM) didn’t have the best news out of China at the end of the year, but a galling recall of some 1.5 million vehicles had already set the tone. Most of the cars were the Buick Excelle, the overseas version of the Verano that has been a big hit for GM and its Chinese partner in the world’s top auto market. The issue involved a defective fuel pump bracket in the Buick and some models of the Chevy Sail.
7. Hyundai Sonata
Hyundai (HYMLF.PK) and sister company Kia (KIMTF.PK) had one of the year’s largest recalls when the two brought in 1.7 million vehicles to deal with a brake light problem. The Hyundai Sonata, Genesis, and Azera joined the Kia Optima, Sorrento, and other models bearing model year 2007 through 2011. Failing brake lights create obvious dangers when drivers are unaware the vehicle ahead is stopping.
8. Volkswagen Tiguan
Volkswagen (VLKAY.PK) was one of two automakers to cross the mark of 2 million vehicles in a single recall in 2013. The German car company had to bring back 2.6 million vehicles from around the world in order to correct defects that could cause exterior lighting and transmission problems. In the U.S., the Tiguan SUV from model years 2009 through 2011 had lighting issues Volkswagen had to fix.
The big kahuna of all 2013 recalls belonged to Chrysler, though it began as a dispute between parent company Fiat and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After some pressure from the NHTSA, Chrysler agreed to recall 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokee (model years 1993 to 2004) and Jeep Liberty vehicles (model years 2002 to 2007) that had major fire hazards relating to lack of protection in the fuel tank. Chrysler eventually agreed to install a factory hitch in some of the vehicles.