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Recalls: Are You At Risk Of Being Affected By One?

car in servicing


  • Recalls affected 23 million cars, or about 8% of vehicles on US roads, in 2023
  • Of those recalls, only about 33% of them were considered urgent/service immediately
  • Both Ford and Honda combined accounted for 53% of all recalls in 2023
  • Honda only had one major safety recall, while Ford had about 14 significant recalls
  • Despite everything, we think you’re much more likely to have a flat tire than be affected by a recall, as only 2.7% of recalls are of the urgent/service immediately type

We like to believe today that almost nothing can go wrong with our vehicles, yet year after year, manufacturers send out service bulletins, send out ECU and firmware flashes for the control units that make everything work, and issue recalls if a significant issue is found.

It is that last item that is the focus of our analysis today. To first understand the analysis, we need to define what a recall actually is. By the purest definition, a recall is issued when a component of a vehicle has been found faulty. 

These recalls are usually applied to a vehicle at their scheduled service or at customer request. There is also a sub-definition for an “urgent recall,” which is when the faulty component is related to safety and needs to be serviced immediately, at which point a dealership or manufacturer will contact clients directly and request they bring their vehicles in. Those account for maybe 33% of recalls each year, +/- 6% variance.

The Most Prevalent Recalls In 2023

Top 10 manufacturers by number of vehicles recalled
As you can see, Ford and Honda top the list by a huge margin on number of vehicles recalled in 2023

With how high tech today’s vehicles are, recalls in the modern era are more often than not related to electrical or control system issues. In fact, according to USA Today, the top issue was electrical systems, accounting for nearly 55% of all recalls.

The second most prevalent was “Equipment,” which is an umbrella term for things such as the dash, infotainment system, seat heaters, and the like, taking up the next 20% or so of recalls.

Overall, there were 23 million vehicles recalled in North America in 2023. Of those, Ford Motor Company lead the pack with a total of 58 recalls issued over the year, with over 66% of them being related to the electrical system and/or the powertrain across 6.1 million vehicles. This equates to just over 26% of all recalls in 2023

Top 10 manufacturers by number of recalls issued
Ford, Chrysler, and BMW accounted for just under half of all recall bulletins in 2023

The most affected vehicle by the recalls was the F-150 truck, with a full 25% of the recalls related to it, including issues such as back-over protection sensor failures (electrical system), transmissions seizing or failing to shift (powertrain), and possible fires if the engine failed (powertrain). 

While Ford had the most prevalent recalls and some of the most serious, it was actually Honda that had the most vehicles recalled at 6.33 million. While there were only 18 recalls issued, with the most urgent being a potential fuel pump failure on 2017 to 2020 Honda vehicles, they accounted for 26.7% of all 2023 recalls.

Analysis Of Recalls By Manufacturer & Number Of Vehicles Affected

As discussed above, two manufacturers accounted for roughly 53% of 23 million vehicles recalled. Yet, Ford had 58 recalls, and Honda had 18.

Of those Honda’s, the fuel pump failure issue affected nearly 2.5 million Honda and Acura vehicles, primarily those based around the Accord. That alone is just under 40% of the total affected cars, from one recall. 

2023 Honda accord
The Honda Accord, in hybrid and regular powertrain styles, and its Acura derivatives, accounted for nearly 40% of all of Honda’s recalls in 2023. Image via Honda USA

For Ford, the total number of vehicles affected per recall was relatively small, but their severity was higher. The most urgent, which came with a “do not drive and park away from enclosed structures” notice, was a recall for 125,322 hybrid Ford Mavericks, Ford Escapes, and Lincoln Corsair vehicles made between 2021 and 2023. 

2023 Ford Escape Hybrid
One of the vehicles affected by Ford’s most significant recall of 2023, the Escape Hybrid, which could catch fire if the hybrid motor overheated. Image via Ford

The issue at hand was that the hybrid motor could overheat and catch fire, causing a vehicle fire. In comparison to Honda’s 40% of vehicles by one issue recall, Ford’s recall affected only 2.1% of their vehicles in 2023. 

With these numbers in mind, a significant trend emerges: The more recalls that are issued, the less vehicles may be affected by each one. While there are exceptions to every rule, the other 17 Honda notices for 2023 were roughly distributed at 3.5% of the total vehicles recalled each. For Ford, that number drops to just 1.71% of total vehicles affected per recall.

Recalls & Reliability

This is the question that is raised during our analysis above: “Does a vehicle recall mean that my car/truck is not reliable?”

The truth of the matter is that no one issue can cause a vehicle to be unreliable. There are far too many variables outside of recalls, such as service history, maintenance, driving conditions, how you drive, and more that can affect a vehicle’s reliability.

Consider that there were approximately 286 million vehicles on the road in the USA last year. There were 23 million recalls, of which roughly 33% are the urgent/do not drive/service immediately type. 

Flat tire
You’re more likely to have a flat tire than a recall affect your vehicle by a ratio of at least 80:1

The math shows that you have an approximately 2.7% chance to be affected by a recall that could be safety or reliability concerns, as 23 million is roughly 8.04% of 286 million. To put that into context, you’re more likely to have a flat tire than a recall in a ratio approaching 85:1. 

Basically, there is no direct correlation between recalls and reliability.


As our analysis demonstrates, despite recalls affecting 23 million US vehicles in 2023, only a small percentage of them were significant enough that they could cause reliability issues or be of a dangerous type requiring immediate service. Even at 2.7% of vehicles affected by urgent/serious recalls, very few actually come with notices of “Do not drive.” Only the Ford hybrid fire risk recall was serious enough to come with that advisory, and Ford themselves did reach out to as many customers as they could to notify them.

That is also taking into account that modern vehicles are incredibly complex machines, with potentially thousands of points of failure in each. They are also highly computerized, with at least two or three independent control systems working together, especially with the rise of EVs.

One also needs to take into account that many vehicles today, and not just electrified ones, will connect over the air with the manufacturer. These connections allow for pro-active firmware and software updates to fix issues before they rise to the level of a recall. A perfect example of this is Tesla’s over-the-air updates, which is why they only issued 13 recalls total in 2023 as many issues were rectified well before they became serious.

 We think that while there is always the possibility of a recall affecting you, at 2.7%, it’s much more likely that you’ll simply be able to enjoy your vehicle without worrying about the risk that something may be wrong with it.