Imperial, California - In 2014, 62 million U.S. vehicles were recalled, an all-time record. Some of those recalls have been tied to serious injuries or deaths, which might have Americans concerned about the safety of their vehicles. A new investigation by Consumer Reports sheds light on these recalls, and what it all means for drivers. The report includes an exclusive interview with Mark Rosekind, the new chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

What’s really behind the historic number of recalls? Have automakers simply been dropping the ball? And will these recalls lead to  better  practices  and  safer  cars?  Consumer Reports believes the answer to both questions is yes. Several automakers have certainly made defective vehicles in the past and, in some cases, tried to cover it up. But the resulting publicity has turned a harsh spotlight on the problem and created an expectation of safer cars, according to CR.

“Cars are better and safer than ever, as shown in our tests," said Jake Fisher, director of the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. “Consumers, regulators, and the auto industry itself have collectively raised expectations.”

Though cars are safer, Consumer Reports believes there’s still plenty of room for improvement, particularly in the system for identifying and addressing safety defects. Automakers are sometimes slow to report safety defects, and federal regulators lack adequate resources to hold the auto industry fully accountable.

Five key questions about recalls:

  • How do I find out whether my car has been recalled? Go to your vehicle manufacturer’s website or to, and plug in your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN).  

  • How do I find out whether the used car I’m buying was recalled and the problem fixed?  Same as above.

  • Should I worry about my car’s air bags?  Any recall should be taken seriously. To get some perspective and learn about the greatest dangers, read “Everything You Need to Know About the Takata Air-Bag Recall,” at

  • How do I know whether my recalled car is safe to drive? If your car is unsafe, the recall notice from NHTSA or the manufacturer will say so in clear language.

  • How do I file a complaint? Go to

It’s imperative that consumers do their part by participating fully in recalls. A 2012 NHTSA- sponsored survey study found that 21 to 25 percent of the problems covered by recall notices between 2006 and 2010 remain unrepaired. There are 36 million cars on the road that have uncompleted recall work, according to Carfax. The report proposes solutions to combat this issue and ensure that unrepaired cars get fixed properly.

The full report, in addition to Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2015, car brand report cards, best and worst lists and other key findings are available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands March 5thth, and online at the Consumer Reports’ 2015 Autos Spotlight page on

For live coverage of CR’s breaking news, connect on Twitter at @ConsumerReports and on Facebook at

Consumer Reports’ testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Roughly 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process. CR buys all its test cars anonymously from dealers. Other reviewers base their evaluations on press cars that are hand-picked by the automakers.

Connect with us for live coverage of the Autos Spotlight, on, and on Twitter: @ConsumerReports and @CRCars #CRcarFest. Full coverage of the 2015 Autos Spotlight is at

About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936 Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50 plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.