But others, not so much: Earlier this month, GM recalled 184 Chevrolet and GMC trucks that were equipped with floor mats prone to move under the driver's feet because the vinyl floors have no attachments to secure them in place. GM also recalled more than 57,000 trucks whose chimes did not work if a key was in the ignition while a driver's door is open, or a front seat belt is not buckled.
The cost of recalls can put a financial strain automakers. GM estimates that its recalls will take $2 billion off its bottom line this year.
But for automakers and dealers, there is also an upside. Analysts say that at least two in three recall notices is fulfilled, meaning that dealers get to have their old customers back in the showroom. There, they can show off the new models, and, at minimum, be in a position to sell drivers on some repairs they previously were not considering.
"The recalls, per se, are not bad," Wheaton said. "The thing is how you handle them, and are you, as an automaker, seen as trying to hide something. If done right, they can help dealers and automakers. Dealers get traffic in the showrooms, and automakers get to show they are being aggressive and concerned about fixing problems."
While the huge number of recalls this year is an anomaly, people who follow the industry say car owners should expect to see a healthy number of recall notices in their mailboxes going forward. As cars become equipped with more computer and other electronic components, the chances of defects increase. Also, Wheaton noted, more autos than ever share parts, meaning that if one part is bad, more vehicles will have to be recalled to fix the problem.