After such a gloomy 2008, automakers are looking anywhere they can for a ray of sunshine. One such glimmer came in the form of a preliminary report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that recalls were down 30% last year compared to 2007, and at their lowest levels since 1994.

It's not all good, though. While automakers recalled a combined 10.2 million vehicles in 2008, the total number of recall campaigns hit a record number of 642 -- a 9% jump over 2007 - and also included a 233 safety investigations last year, up from only 98 in 2007.

David Kelly, acting NHTSA administrator, said his agency is attributing the drop in recalled cars to an early warning system used to alert manufacturers to problems as quickly as possible. Early fixes in a product's production puts fewer flawed cars on the road.

Among the top six automakers, Chrysler had the fewest recalled cars in 2008 at 360,000. That's a huge drop from the 2.2 million it recalled in 2007. GM, on the other hand, recalled 1.9 million in 2008, up from 538,000 in 2007. Honda and Toyota both saw their recall numbers increase, while Nissan's dropped.

[Source: The Detroit News]