Why Big Auto Recalls Will Keep Happening

Analyst: For one thing, cars keep getting more complicated

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 11, 2014 1:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – Seems like there's a giant new auto recall every week, and Derek Mead at Motherboard advises that we all better get used to it. He runs through a slew of factors on why recalls are becoming the new normal in the auto industry, including:

  • Complex cars: Autos keep getting more complicated, thanks in part to safety requirements, fuel efficiency rules, and drivers' "endless appetite" for new gizmos. All these new features add up to more things that can go wrong.

  • Parts sharing: Automakers usually share parts across various models for obvious reasons. Why make dozens of windshield wiper motors when one will do? But when that "one" fails, the effects are widespread.
  • Supply chain: It's long and it's convoluted, and problems often crop up in subcontractors' subcontractors.
Mix in more aggressive regulation, and there you have it. "Automakers are making better cars, but because those cars have more parts than ever—parts that are increasingly being pulled from the same bins—when one thing goes wrong, it affects a lot of people's rides," sums up Mead. "And that's not likely to change anytime soon." Click for the full column.

In this 2008 photo, the Chevy Cobalt moves on the assembly line in Lordstown, Ohio.
In this 2008 photo, the Chevy Cobalt moves on the assembly line in Lordstown, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
The emblem of a Toyota car shines at Toyota Motor Corp.'s showroom in Tokyo.
The emblem of a Toyota car shines at Toyota Motor Corp.'s showroom in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye, File)
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