Automakers Could Recall Record Number of Vehicles this Year

General Motors Company announced today that it is recalling approximately 2.7 million vehicles in five separate actions. The latest recalls are to fix a variety of problems including defective or improperly working headlights, windshield wipers, brake lights and power steering systems.  Including these latest actions, the automaker has recalled 11 million vehicles worldwide since January.

GM is not the only automaker to announce sizeable recalls this year.  Ford, Toyota, Chrysler have also announced massive recalls and the industry, as a whole, may break the record of 30.8 million vehicles recalled in 2004.  That year, GM recalled 11.8 million autos.

Earlier this year the company recalled 1.62 million ‘05-‘07 Cobalts, 2007 Pontiac G5, ‘03-‘07 Saturn Ions and ‘06-‘07 Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys to replace defective ignition switches. The defective switches have been blamed for 31 accidents and 13 deaths.

In general, automakers have taken a more proactive approach to safety recalls in recent years.  Addressing a forum in Auburn Hills, MI on Tuesday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne expressed concern that automakers may take “excessive corrective actions” to avoid the bad publicity that has accompanied GM’s slow response to the ignition switch issue.  Describing the attitude within Chrysler, he said, “I think what we’re going to see is that a lot of issues will be taken up to these vehicles recall committees — some of which have nothing to do with safety — but they’ll do it just to make sure they aren’t the ones that are held responsible for making that call.”

According to GM’s new VP of Vehicle Safety Jeff Boyer, the company has added 35 new members to its recall review team.  In an interview with the AP, Boyer said, “We’re not waiting for warranty trends to develop over time. It’s not only about frequency. It has to be about the seriousness of the potential defect as well.”

GM’s new attitude toward safety is reflected in its recall of 2.4 million model-years 2004 – 2012 Chevrolet Malibus, Saturn Auras and Pontiac G6s to repair brake light wiring problems.  GM says it is aware of 13 accidents and two injuries that resulted from corroded wiring which prevented brake lights from working properly.

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