If you're weary of the nonstop recall coverage lately, we don't blame you. It's been an unprecedented year for them. Tallying recalls is a dubious task, given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's counts a vehicle recall as anything from passenger cars to garbage trucks and motorcycles. But the Detroit Free Press counted 56.1 million auto recalls year to date on Oct. 20 — a figure that thumped NHTSA's prior record of 30.8 million vehicle recalls set in 2004, according to annual totals obtained by Cars.com. And that was two days before NHTSA added another 3.1 million cars to a widespread airbag recall.
Meanwhile, new-car sales at GM are up 3.9 percent through October. That falls short of the industry's 5.5 percent gain, according to Automotive News, but it's better than you'd expect for an automaker whose 25.6 million recalls top other automakers by a mile. Other recall-heavy automakers have had mixed years: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is up 15.8 percent and Toyota is up 5.8 percent, but Ford and Honda are roughly flat.
Still, a new survey suggests that car shoppers do, in fact, care about recalls — and most of them know about this year's largest ones. How that influences shoppers' decisions, on the other hand, is up for debate.