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Study: Porsche Boasts Lowest Recall Rate, Volkswagen Is Highest

A new study shines some interesting light on recall data from the past 30 years. The study, from, examined U.S. automotive recalls going back to 1985, and it reached some interesting conclusions.

For instance, Porsche had the lowest overall recall rate, issuing just 392,563 recalls out of 739,812 sold during that time period — or just 531 total recalls per 1,000 cars sold. Mercedes-Benz ranked second (624 recalls per 1,000), while Kia and Tesla came in third and fourth, with 788 and 936 recalls respectively.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Group brings up the rear of that list, issuing 13.4 million recalls since January 1985 despite selling just 7.4 million cars. That places Volkswagen’s recall rate at 1,805 per 1,000 cars sold, which vastly overshadows the next-worst automakers — Fiat Chrysler and Honda, at 1,422 and 1,307 per 1,000 vehicles, respectively.

The study also examined another interesting aspect of recalls: severity. According to’s analysis, only 71 percent of Volvo recalls were due to a defect that could cause death, injury, crash, accident or fire, making Volvo the safest recaller in the industry. By comparison, 100 percent of Tesla’s recalls had those potential effects — likely due to Tesla’s small number of recalls. Hyundai finished just behind Tesla on the recall-severity list, with 96.8 percent of its recalls potentially leading to accidents or injury.

The iSeeCars study also looked at recall-rate trends and noted that Volvo’s recall rate is dropping quickest, from 2,181 recalls per 1,000 cars just 10 years ago to 516 recalls per 1,000 cars today. Find a new car for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. This doesn’t seem too surprising. Regardless of how well designed a car is, most components are made by sub-contracted manufacturers. So, even if the design is fine, sometimes a part is faulty and requires replacement. 

    Really has nothing to do with the quality of the vehicle, although it does show who may have better supply chain and better sub-contractors.
  2. Here’s the thing though, recalls do not equate to reliability. I mean, look at Honda. They’re famous for reliability, but they have the third highest number of recalls.

    Also, it seems like automakers have started to recall things that would otherwise fail and leave owners on the line. My GTI for example had the water pump recall done soon after I bought it. That water pump was famous for failing and needing replacement, and for a long time it was the owner that would have to pay the bill. Instead, VW replaced it with a better design, and I didn’t have to pay a cent. 
  3. It is really depressing that having just over 53% of your products recalled at some point (however minor) is some kind of record. If this was any other industry they would all be bankrupt. 

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