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Massive Toyota Recall Triggers Ripple Effect on Voluntary Recalls

The massive recall in 2009 and 2010 of more than 8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles due to a sticky accelerator pedal has prompted an equally massive increase in voluntary recalls in the automotive industry.

2010 saw the fourth-largest amount of voluntary recalls since the U.S. started recording recall data in 1966. A total of 20.3 million vehicles were recalled, 14.9 million of which were voluntary. 2004 is still number one for the amount of recalls in one year, with a total of 30.8 million vehicles recalled for defects.

A voluntary recall is when a car company independently identifies a defect in one or more of its models and notifies vehicles owners to get the defects repaired. Usually the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is notified after a car company has taken action to fix the issue.

Toyota holds the record for most voluntary recalls in 2010, with 6.7 million vehicles representing 17 different models recalled for defects. Three Japanese automakers-Toyota, Nissan, and Honda-made up three of the five top companies for recalls in 2010.

In a non-voluntary recall, the NHTSA investigates a reported problem with a car model, and will force car companies to recall vehicles if it finds an issue. Forced recalls accounted for 5.4 million of the 2010 recalls.

The increase in total recalls should prevent motor vehicle accidents and make our roadways safer, as long as drivers are attentive to recall notices and get their vehicles fixed as soon as possible.