Electrical related recalls were the number one category in 2020. This was closely followed by Interior related items such as seat belts and Air Bags.

As cars become more connected, electrical components will become a common area of concern. Luckily, many of the items could be fixed with Over-The-Air (OTA) updates.

Here we will look at the Top Five issues for 2020 as well as the top OEMs with recalls.


2020 USA Automotive Recalls, by Category

Electrical Related -23.9%

These are recalls related to either battery, electrical components, or software. The top items were:

  • 29% - Backup camera not functioning
  • 22% - Software bugs
  • 17% - Electrical components related

Interior components that dominated the recalls were related to Air Bags or Seat Belts. Air Bags sensors could be considered electrical as their deployment is triggered primarily via sensors. For our segmentation purposes, we have put them into the Interior category due to physical issues (folding, crimping) than electrical related issues.

Most of the issues were related to packaging and component issues which could have caused lack of fuel issues. There was not one clear issue, but multiple issues from multiple OEMs.

Most of the items were brake related, but 15% of the recalls were related to OEMs that used Continental tires which were overcured.

Most of the Body related items had to do with labeling issues which resulted in being out of compliance with FMVSS requirements.

These recalls amounted to almost 80% of the total recalls.  


Top OEMs with Recalls

Mercedes-Benz led the OEM league in recalls in 2020. Second place went to BMW, and both were primarily having recalls related to electrical/electronics.

NHTSA Recalls, 2020

What's interesting is that as electrical components lead the pack in recalls, Tesla had no electrical related recalls, but had two for mechanical issues.


The Cost of Recalls on Cars

The cost of recalls is not felt on a brand until years later, unless the recall is a drastic safety recall. At Keemut, we look at recalls based on their severity and if they have an impact on the value of a particular model. In 2020, there were over 600 recalls, but none had an impact that would drastically hurt the value of a brand or a model.

The long term impact of recalls will be known in a few years, but for Mercedes-Benz, and BMW we do not see any major impact on valuation. To be alerted if there is a large recall that could hurt your car's value, sign up at Keemut.com and see how we can reduce your vehicle's depreciation through better tracking.