I don’t have a lot of experience of car ownership. In fact, in sixteen years I have owned four cars, including the one my wife and I bought in January here in the USA.
So I know my experience of car recalls is going to be limited: None of the three cars I owned in the UK experienced a recall.
But we have owned a car in the USA for under four months, and have experienced a recall. The car in question is five years old, and it’s its first recall, so there’s an element of luck here, but I wonder whether car recalls are more common in the US? And if they are, is it because of better safety requirements or because of poorer quality checking at construction, or some combination of the two?
Part of the explanation is this, from the Boston Globe:
Safety runs the gamut. In Europe and Japan, cars are rigorously tested before they go on sale. In the U.S., automakers self-certify and cars are tested only after they go on sale. (Source)
This makes sense, but it also disappoints. That same article talks about the relative safety of the same car in different countries. The bare statistics aren’t the full story, because regulations differ by nation (e.g. the US requirement instructions to be in English, which would only result in a recall in the US and, perhaps, the UK).
I’ll leave the stats as the final thought:
In 2013, there were 714 vehicle recalls issued in the US, where 28 million cars, trucks and motorcycles were called back due to safety issues. That outpaced the rest of the world. In Europe, which has around the same number of cars on the road as the US, there were 110 recalls. In Japan there were 303. China had 130, Brazil had 74. India had no numbers available.