Highlights:

  • Porsche’s Taycan electric car is projected to be the most recalled vehicle
  • Tesla’s entire model line occupies four of the seven slots for most projected recalls; Lucid is in position 5
  • Six of the top seven cars with the most projected recalls are EVs
  • When over-the-air (OTA) recalls are excluded, Tesla drops out of top 25 most recalled list
  • MINI, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are among the least recalled cars

A vehicle recall is issued when a car has a safety concern that must be addressed. This process usually involves visiting a dealership, which means excessive recalls can negatively impact a car ownership experience. Yet in 2023 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued more than 300 vehicle recalls that involved more than 35 million cars. 

It’s reasonable to assume a car will experience at least one recall over the course of its usable lifespan because cars are complex, mass-produced machines. But after analyzing the latest recall data from NHTSA, iSeeCars identified the 25 cars with the most projected lifetime recalls and determined that their projected  recalls are much greater than a typical car. The Porsche Taycan EV has the most projected lifetime recalls at 70.7, while Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3 closely follow in positions 2 and 3, with 66.9 and 60.7 projected recalls, respectively. 

The most recalled cars have quite a bit more lifetime recalls than the industry median of 3.2, and substantially more than the 25 least recalled cars, which are projected to have less than one recall over the course of a 30-year lifespan. The MINI Convertible leads the industry with just 0.2 projected recalls, followed by the Lexus ES 300h, RX 450h, and NX 300h each having 0.3 projected lifetime recalls. These projections are based on NHTSA recall campaigns data for 2015-2024 model year cars. 

“If you’re hoping to avoid recall hassles, you can significantly improve your odds by choosing the right model,” said Karl Brauer, iSeeCars’ Executive Analyst. “A vehicle like the MINI Convertible or Lexus RX 450h has, literally, a fractional chance of being recalled even once, versus more than 60 projected recalls for the Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model Y, and Tesla Model 3. Even the industry median of 3.2 lifetime recalls sounds much better than the approximately 15-plus projected recalls for all of the cars on the most recalled list.”  

 

The 25 Most Recalled Cars

The 25 most recalled cars are projected to have between 14.7 and 70.7 recalls, with Porsche and Tesla appearing at least twice in the top 10 spots. Ford and Kia have five models in the top 25. All four of Tesla’s vehicles make the list, with Porsche showing up a total of three times, Ram and Volkswagen appearing twice, and Genesis, Lincoln, Lucid, and Rivian with one model each in the top 25 list.  
Cars With the Most Safety Recalls - iSeeCars Study
Rank Model Expected 30-Year Lifetime Recalls Compared to Median
1 Porsche Taycan 70.7 21.9x
2 Tesla Model Y 66.9 20.7x
3 Tesla Model 3 60.7 18.8x
4 Porsche Panamera 43.1 13.3x
5 Lucid Air 40.1 12.4x
6 Tesla Model S 38.5 11.9x
7 Tesla Model X 37.6 11.6x
8 Lincoln Aviator 26.2 8.1x
9 Genesis GV70 22.3 6.9x
10 Kia Telluride 22.2 6.9x
11 Ford Maverick 20.7 6.4x
12 Rivian R1S 20.7 6.4x
13 Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid 20.4 6.3x
14 Ram 1500 Classic 19.3 6.0x
15 Ram 1500 19.1 5.9x
16 Volkswagen Atlas 18.5 5.7x
17 Kia K5 18.4 5.7x
18 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport 18.1 5.6x
19 Ford F-150 17.2 5.3x
20 Ford Bronco 17.0 5.3x
21 Porsche 911 16.0 4.9x
22 Kia EV6 14.9 4.6x
23 Ford Bronco Sport 14.9 4.6x
24 Ford Explorer 14.8 4.6x
25 Kia Sorento Hybrid 14.7 4.6x
Median Recalls 3.2 --
“It could be argued that a car company willing to issue and address safety recalls is being more proactive to protect its customers,” said Brauer. “And while that sounds honorable, most consumers would prefer a car not have a recall that needs addressed, thus saving them the time and trouble of visiting a dealership.”

 

What Happens When Over-the-Air Updates and Safety Recalls Are Removed

Over-the-air (OTA) recalls can be addressed through remote software updates that usually happen at night while the car is parked and the owner is asleep. Dealing with these recalls is far less troublesome to consumers, who may not even know a recall was issued and fixed. But while OTA recalls aren’t as time consuming to car owners as traditional recalls, they still represent safety concerns that need to be addressed to protect vehicle occupants and satisfy NHTSA standards. 

When OTA recalls are removed all four Tesla models and the Rivian R1S drop out of the top 25 most recalled list, while the Lucid moves to the last slot (25). Conversely, the Porsche Taycan remains at the top of the list and the Porsche Panamera moves to slot 2. 

Cars With the Most Safety Recalls, Excluding Over-the-Air (OTA) Recalls - iSeeCars Study
Rank Model Expected 30-Year Lifetime Recalls, Excluding OTA Recalls Compared to Median
1 Porsche Taycan 70.7 22.5x
2 Porsche Panamera 43.1 13.7x
3 Lincoln Aviator 26.2 8.3x
4 Genesis GV70 22.3 7.1x
5 Kia Telluride 22.2 7.1x
6 Ford Maverick 20.7 6.6x
7 Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid 20.4 6.5x
8 Ram 1500 Classic 19.3 6.1x
9 Ram 1500 19.1 6.1x
10 Volkswagen Atlas 18.5 5.9x
11 Kia K5 18.4 5.9x
12 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport 18.1 5.8x
13 Ford F-150 17.2 5.5x
14 Porsche 911 16.0 5.1x
15 Kia EV6 14.9 4.7x
16 Ford Bronco Sport 14.9 4.7x
17 Ford Explorer 14.8 4.7x
18 Kia Sorento Hybrid 14.7 4.7x
19 Porsche Macan 14.7 4.7x
20 Kia Stinger 14.5 4.6x
21 Kia Carnival 14.5 4.6x
22 Ford Bronco 14.4 4.6x
23 Genesis GV80 14.2 4.5x
24 Lincoln Corsair 14.1 4.5x
25 Lucid Air 13.4 4.3x
Median Recalls, Excluding OTA Recalls 3.1 --

Nearly All of Tesla’s Recalls Can Be Addressed By OTA

The recall numbers for Tesla are quite high, but so is the percentage of recalls that can be addressed through OTAs. This reduces the hassle for Tesla owners, though the need for so many recalls – OTA or not – is still concerning because every recall represents a safety issue.
Tesla Safety Recalls, including and excluding Over-The-Air (OTA) Recalls - iSeeCars Study
Model Expected 30-Year Lifetime Recalls Expected 30-Year Lifetime Recalls, Excluding OTA Recalls
Tesla Model Y 66.9 11.4
Tesla Model 3 60.7 8.6
Tesla Model S 38.5 6.7
Tesla Model X 37.6 5.1
Median Recalls for all Cars 3.2 3.1
“Tesla is ahead of the industry in its ability to improve models through over-the-air updates,” said Brauer. “We’re seeing other automakers take this route by increasing their OTA capabilities in recent years. We expect all car manufacturers to eventually leverage OTA updates as effectively as Tesla.”

 

The 25 Least Recalled Cars

The 25 least recalled cars are projected to have less than one recall over the course of 30 years. Lexus has seven models on this list, with four of them in the top 10. Mercedes-Benz has even more models on the list, with a total of eight. Audi appears three times, BMW twice, with Buick, Lincoln, Mazda, MINI, and Nissan appearing once, though Mini has the top slot with the MINI Convertible projected to have just 0.2 lifetime recalls.
Cars With the Fewest Safety Recalls - iSeeCars Study
Rank Model Expected 30-Year Lifetime Recalls Compared to Median
1 MINI Convertible 0.2 0.1x
2 Lexus ES 300h 0.3 0.1x
3 Lexus RX 450h 0.3 0.1x
4 Lexus NX 300h 0.3 0.1x
5 Lexus ES 250 0.3 0.1x
6 Audi TTS 0.4 0.1x
7 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF 0.4 0.1x
8 Mercedes-Benz CLA 0.4 0.1x
9 Mercedes-Benz GLA 0.4 0.1x
10 Mercedes-Benz GLC 0.4 0.1x
11 Audi TT RS 0.4 0.1x
12 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 0.4 0.1x
13 Mercedes-Benz GLE 0.4 0.1x
14 BMW X5 M 0.4 0.1x
15 Lexus UX 250h 0.5 0.1x
16 Audi RS 5 Sportback 0.5 0.1x
17 Lexus RX 450hL 0.5 0.2x
18 Lexus RX 500h 0.5 0.2x
19 BMW X3 M 0.5 0.2x
20 Mercedes-Benz GLS 0.6 0.2x
21 Nissan 370Z 0.6 0.2x
22 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 0.6 0.2x
23 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid 0.6 0.2x
24 Mercedes-Benz GLB 0.6 0.2x
25 Buick Regal TourX 0.6 0.2x
Median Recalls 3.2 --
“With Lexus and Mercedes-Benz occupying 15 of the top 25 slots it’s clear which two manufacturers do the best job of avoiding recalls,” said Brauer. “Nearly every least recalled model comes from a premium brand, with Nissan’s 370Z the only mainstream vehicle to make the list.”

Regardless of how many times a car is recalled, it’s important for car owners to address open recalls and ensure their vehicle is operating properly. Checking any vehicle for recalls is easy to do through the NHTSA website.

 

Methodology

iSeeCars analyzed vehicle safety recall campaigns as of May 7, 2024 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for cars from model years 2015-2024. The number of campaigns for each model was aggregated and projected for an expected 30-year lifespan, taking into account the overall behavior of the automaker and when each recall campaign was issued in the car’s lifetime. The resulting estimates were then used to rank models with the fewest and most expected safety recalls. Heavy-duty vehicles, low-volume models, and models discontinued prior to the 2020 model year were excluded from further analysis.

 

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is a data-driven car search and research company that helps shoppers find the best car deals by providing key insights and valuable resources, including the iSeeCars VIN Check report and Best Cars Rankings. iSeeCars has saved users over $416 million so far by applying big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and using proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of new cars and used cars.