Update: Honda snuck in just before the end of the year with the biggest recall of 2023. 2.6 million vehicles were recalled for fuel pump issues. That pushes Honda just ahead of Ford in terms of affected vehicles at 6.3 million, but Ford still ends the year on top for the total number of recalls at 56 (two more were announced before December 31).
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through December 20, Ford has issued 54 recalls potentially affecting 5,692,135 vehicles in 2023, the most of any automaker. This year marks the third year in a row Ford has held the top spot for recalls in the United States.
Going strictly by vehicles affected, Ford had nearly twice as many as second-place Kia at 3 million, the bulk of which came through a single recall for leaking brake fluid leading to a fire risk. If you go by total recalls, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles USA was second to Ford with 45, affecting 2.7 million cars. BMW had 29 recalls, Mercedes-Benz had 27, and Nissan rounds out the top five for automakers at 22.
Gallery: 2021 Ford F-150: First Drive
Ford's numbers are down from 68 recalls affecting 8.5 million cars in 2022 but it's still way ahead of other automakers. Things have improved roughly 30 percent over last year per Ford, which offered the following statement to Motor1:
"We’re constantly working to improve vehicle quality and deliver the best experience for our customers. Voluntary recalls are one of the ways we proactively protect customers from experiencing an issue. Our initial quality is improving and customers with our latest vehicles are benefiting from it. Compared with 2022, about 30% fewer Ford customers were affected by safety related recalls in 2023."
The surprise recall story for 2023 is actually Volkswagen. You may recall the German brand holding the number two spot behind Ford for 2022, clocking 45 recalls affecting 1 million vehicles. Imagine our surprise when VW didn't show up on NHTSA's pie chart for 2023, which only shows 12 brands. We thought perhaps data wasn't available, but searching specifically for the company reveals a total of 18 recalls for 332,700 cars. That's considerably lower than last year.
We asked VW about the year-over-year improvement. A spokesperson offered the following statement to Motor1:
"Volkswagen Group of America has been working diligently to improve the quality of its vehicles, which in turn reduces the potential for recalls. Recently, quality problems have been reduced significantly, warranty claims are at a historical low and our regional Quality Testing and Validation program is showing positive results."
While Ford still leads for recalls, Tesla takes the dubious honor of having the largest single recall for automakers in 2023 over its Autopilot driver-assist system. This one is likely fresh in your memory as it occurred in early December, affecting 2,031,220 vehicles. That's pretty close to every Tesla the company built for the US market, but it likely won't be a costly recall for the automaker. NHTSA determined that Autopilot doesn't do enough to prevent misuse, which Tesla plans to remedy with an over-the-air software update.
With a few days left in 2023, it's always possible a big recall could crop up. If that happens, we'll certainly update the post. But with folks headed out for extended holiday breaks, don't hold your breath.