Last year was a big one for recalls. According to The New York Times, 2010 served up a record number of voluntary recalls from automakers. A total of 14.9 million vehicles were ushered back to dealerships for repairs that were not part of a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration investigation. The figure is up 8.5 million vehicles from 2009. That doesn't necessarily mean that the repairs were made out of the goodness of automakers' hearts, of course. When a manufacturer learns of a defect, the company is required by U.S. law to initiate a recall, even if it wasn't prompted by NHTSA.
In all, automakers recalled around 20.3 million vehicles in 2010, making it the fourth largest number of recalls in a year since NHTSA began keeping track in 1966. Number one still goes to 2004 with 30.8 million units recalled.

The New York Times reports that of the top five manufacturers with the most recalls, three were Japanese. Toyota led the game with a total of 6.7 million vehicles going back to dealerships, followed by General Motors with four million recalled vehicles. Honda landed third with 2.4 million troubled units with Nissan and its 2.1 million units not far behind. Finally, Chrysler rounded out the big five with 1.6 million recalled vehicles.

[Source: The New York Times]

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