WASHINGTON — Automakers recalled nearly 64 million cars and trucks in 803 recalls in 2014, more than double the previous record set in 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The grim safety record includes high-profile recalls to fix defective General Motors ignition switches and faulty Takata airbags that could explode, shooting shrapnel at vehicle occupants. The GM ignition switches have been linked to 52 deaths in the U.S. at this point. Takata airbag inflator ruptures are responsible for four U.S. deaths.
"These figures demonstrate the need for vigorous, effective oversight to remove safety defects from our highways," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a statement. "NHTSA is committed to using every available tool in our drive to save lives and prevent crashes, and when defective vehicles or equipment put Americans' safety at risk, NHTSA will act."
Prior to 2014 the annual record for recalls was set in 2004, when 30.8 million vehicles were recalled.
NHTSA said 123 recalls in 2014 were influenced by NHTSA investigation and enforcement efforts.
"The 19.1 million vehicles covered by NHTSA-influenced recalls is the highest since 1981," said the agency, which oversees vehicle safety in the U.S.
In addition to the vehicle recalls, NHTSA said there were five child safety seat recalls in 2014 covering 7.6 million seats, the highest number of recalled seats ever.
"All but 16,655 of those seats were recalled in NHTSA-influenced actions, also making it a record year for NHTSA-influenced child safety seat recalls," it said.
Despite 2014's highly publicized recalls, an estimated 46 million cars nationwide have at least one safety recall that's never been fixed, according to a CarFax report last month.
"In fact, 5 million of them were bought and sold by potentially unsuspecting consumers in 2014," the report said.
Edmunds says: NHTSA's final 2014 recall figures should send consumers scrambling to their dealerships to take care of any unfixed recalls.