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NHTSA 02-13
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Contact: Karen Aldana, (202) 366-9550

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that manufacturers filed more than 650 safety recalls, affecting over 17.8 million vehicles, child seats and vehicle equipment, during calendar year 2012. The nation's top auto regulatory agency played a significant role by itself influencing the recall of more than 9 million vehicles and 60,000 items of vehicle equipment, including tires and child safety seats, in 2012.

"Every day millions of motorists are safe on our nation's roadways because of the work and dedication of our defect investigation and compliance teams here at NHTSA," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We have one of the most effective programs in the world and will continue, in 2013, to pursue investigations and recalls wherever our data justifies doing so."

As a data-driven agency, NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation and its counterpart, the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, constantly review information from numerous sources to identify potential safety defect trends, including direct consumer complaints, early warning reporting data, technical service bulletins, as well as independent auto web sites, fan sites, bulletin boards, trade publications, and popular magazines for information that might warrant an investigation. Over the last three years, NHTSA's defect and compliance investigations and compliance testing have resulted in over 430 recalls involving 22 million vehicles and products.

Many recalls are initiated by consumer complaints. In 2012, NHTSA received 41,912 complaints concerning potential safety defects, 49,417 in 2011, and 65,765 in 2010. "The role of the consumer in influencing auto recalls cannot be under-estimated," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Consumers are the lifeblood of the recall process and recalls are often the direct result of a government investigation into consumer complaints."

Since its inception in 1966, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has held automakers accountable for recalling vehicles and equipment that have a safety defect or that do not meet the requirements of applicable safety standards set by the agency – resulting in more than 17,000 recalls involving over 500 million vehicles and more than 84 million items of equipment.

NHTSA believes recalls are a serious safety matter that should be promptly addressed and urges consumers to get the latest vehicle safety information, recalls and investigation information at Consumers can also sign up for automatic notifications of recalls affecting their vehicles, thus receiving immediate alerts about recalls affecting them without having to wait for a manufacturer to send out consumer notification letters.

>> View the 2012 recall report. This document should not be interpreted as an indication of what NHTSA thinks of any particular manufacturer or its products – and these tallies are not used to evaluate manufacturers.

>> View 2012 Recalls by Manufacturers