Jim Adler | The Tough, Smart Lawyer
By Jim Adler June 13, 2016

Has your vehicle ever been recalled for a defective part? If so, you should know that federal law requires automakers to make repairs or replacements free of charge to consumers. That can lead to hugely expensive automotive safety recalls, a cost paid by manufacturers or parts suppliers.

Not all recalls are enormously costly, but recalls are common, with an average of about 200 auto recalls per year. Though some recalls are for minor defects, others can be very expensive, not only due to large numbers of repairs, but also the cost of compensating victims for their losses.

Families of victims have a legal right to seek financial compensation for injury losses due to an automaker’s negligence. If a loved one in your family was injured or killed due to a defective auto, notify Jim Adler & Associates.

Automakers also may suffer “image costs” from recalls, meaning they may sell fewer vehicles due to the bad publicity of a notorious auto recall. Manufacturers also may face federal fines for their negligence.

In addition, consumers may suffer recall costs in that their vehicle may have a lower resale value because of a bad reputation from a recall.

Takata Airbag Recalls

The most recent costly auto recall has involved defective Takata airbags. The Japanese auto parts manufacturer’s airbags have been found to explode with excessive force on impacts, sending shards of metal or plastic through vehicles, injuring or even killing drivers and passengers.

Millions of vehicles worldwide — including at least 33.8 million in America — have been part of a series of enormous Takata airbag recalls since such recalls began in 2008.

Takata airbag recalls involve many different makes and models of vehicles, whose manufacturers purchased the vehicles’ airbag component from Takata. Takata now must pay not only for the many millions of replacement airbags, whose manufacture and deployment will take years, but also will face costs from Takata airbag lawsuits by families of victims.

Houston’s ABC affiliate, KTRK, reported an airbag death in April of 2016. Huma Hanif, 17, was killed when her vehicle rear-ended another vehicle March 31, 2016 in Richmond, a suburb of Houston.

Investigators said the crash wasn’t severe enough to have killed Hanif, but the airbag inflator sent shards of metal into her neck, severing arteries. When Hanif got out of her 2002 Honda Civic, she collapsed and died.

Her death was the 11th worldwide due to defective Takata airbags and the 10th death in the U.S., all in Hondas.

Another Takata Recall

Another Takata auto safety recall involved defective seat belts. In all, 8.3 million vehicles from various manufacturers made from 1986 to 1995 were recalled due to bad Takata seat belts. The estimated cost was $1 billion.

In an investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had found that a button on the latch of the seat belts tended to crack and jam locking mechanisms, trapping occupants in their seats.

Costly Ford Recalls

In other cases, automakers themselves are held responsible for defective parts, designs or manufacturing.

Ford has been especially hard hit with expensive automotive safety recalls over the years. Among many Ford recalls (all manufacturers have many) have been the following:

  • A 1972 Ford recall for defective seat belts. This defect could cause the seatbelt to detach from the buckle. Four million vehicles were recalled.
  • A 1981 Ford recall for vehicles which could slip into reverse unexpectedly. All 21 million Ford models made from 1976 to 1980 were recalled, in the largest auto recall to that date. Recall costs and subsequent lawsuits cost Ford an estimated $1.7 billion.
  • A 1996 Ford recall of 14 million vehicles which could suddenly catch on fire. A tiny electronic switch for deactivating the cruise control when the brakes were applied could overheat and spark a fire. Cost of the recall was about $280 million.
  • A Ford recall of 1988-1993 vehicles whose ignition switches could short-circuit, causing overheating and even fires in the steering columns. Cost of recalling 8.7 million vehicles was $200 million.
  • A 2000-2001 Ford recall of nearly 20 million vehicles, including 6.5 million Ford Explorer SUVS, whose tires could have tread separation. That defect caused some Explorers to roll over, injuring or killing occupants. The Firestone tire tread separation recall cost was around $3 billion.
  • A 2014 Ford recall of 850,000 vehicles whose airbags might not deploy in a crash due to an electrical malfunction. The Ford airbag recall was expected to cost the automaker $500 million, according to the Detroit News.

Other Expensive Auto Recalls

Indeed, 2014 was a bad year for automakers, which set an all-time auto recall record of 50 million vehicles that year.

General Motors suffered $2.5 billion in recall charges after recalling 26 million vehicles in the U.S. and 29.3 million worldwide in a total of 68 different recalls. In all, GM auto recalls for 2014 cost the automaker $4.1 billion for repair expenses and for victims’ compensation.

Fiat Chrysler had $140 million in recall charges due to almost 870,000 SUVs with defective brakes.

The previous year, Chrysler had $151 million in recall costs for 1.56 million older Jeep SUVs which could have fire problems.

Most Expensive Recall in History

Also hit hard by costly recalls has been Toyota. Defective floor mats or gas pedals caused some Toyota cars to accelerate out of control, killing at least one person. Toyota issued gas pedal recalls in 2009 and 2010.

In all, the company expected its recall costs for unintended acceleration to reach $5 billion, making it the most expensive auto recall in history.

Get An Auto Recall Lawyer

Victims can rest assured they can get an auto recall lawyer or attorney to help them claim payments for their injury losses due to defective autos. Automakers are responsible for the injuries their vehicles cause.

Contact Jim Adler & Associates today for a free legal review of your case. You may be due payments for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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