Have you ever been forced into the recall rigamarole? Besides the terror you face when driving a car known to have potentially deadly defects, even run-of-the-mill recalls can sap a car owner’s time and patience.
It begins when you read the casual mention in the press that the model and make you are driving may spontaneously burst into flames. Next comes the NHTSA smackdown, following which you get a form letter from the automaker explaining how you might die if you don’t get your car fixed pronto. Armed with that info, you nail down an appointment at the local dealer after a few tries to get through on your lunch break. Now that you have a time slot for the service, you have to take an extended lunch (or lose a day off) while you get the problem fixed. The process may or may not involve getting a loaner car, returning several days later, and any other number of inconveniences automakers have yet to invent.
The whole process is enough to make a car shopper scour the recall information on Safercar.gov once you know the vehicle you want (along with its specific model year). According to a new study by iSeeCars.com, the choice could cost you over 14 hours of your life after you finish shuttling back and forth to get a car’s defects corrected. To get to the final numbers, iSeeCars analyzed data on the 35 “most widely available cars” from model years 2007 through 2013 to see which had the highest number of recalls per year. From that data, an average was calculated, and the worst offenders cost their owners between 9 and 14.4 hours to deal with the recall runaround.
Here are the 10 vehicles that waste the most time of owners to deal with recalls.
10. Nissan Altima
As of last count, Nissan had sixth place locked down for most recalls by an automaker in a record 2014. (Fifty-eight million vehicles had been recalled in 2014 in the United States at press time.) One of its biggest offenders was the Altima, the seventh-best selling car in the U.S. in 2014. According to iSeeCars, Altimas cost their owners nine hours in lost time over the years. With an average of three recalls per vehicle in that seven-year time frame, Altima drivers spend more quality time in the dealership than they would like.
9. Dodge Grand Caravan
The Dodge Grand Caravan sold over 125,000 units in the U.S. in 2014, so there is a heavy sample size for the type of recalls owners of this minivan endure. From 2007 to 2013, Grand Caravan owners faced an average of 3.0 recalls per model. To get those bugs worked out, it ended up costing each 9.1 hours of their time over the years. That adds up to a couple of birthday parties, more than a full night’s sleep, and many other things you might choose to spend your time doing. You could probably even squeeze three Christopher Nolan movies into a 9.1-hour time slot.
8. Chrysler Town & Country
“More money, more problems” could be the slogan of the Chrysler Town & Country ($29,995) when being compared to the Dodge Grand Caravan ($21,195), its corporate twin. Town & Country has more recalls on average (3.5) and wasted more owners’ time (10.5 hours) than even the Grand Caravan could manage. In fact, the entire iSeeCars study cast a dark light on Fiat-Chrysler’s many brands. Out of the top 10 time-wasting vehicles in America, Fiat-Chrysler can claim five as their own.
7. Toyota Camry
There are so many Camrys on the road from those seven years in question that recalls must have Toyota service centers running 24 hours a day. Typical Camry owners will spend 10.9 hours dealing with recall-related issues if they have a car model badged between 2007 and 2013. The average model racked up 3.6 recalls in that era. Considering it will sell over 400,000 units of the Camry in America in 2014, Toyota is hardly being hurt by this fact. Who needs data when an automaker’s reputation on the street is “reliable”?
6. Hyundai Sonata
It was another year of gains for Hyundai with its Sonata, which will sell over 200,000 units in 2014 (17th in U.S. vehicle sales). If the average recall trends hold, those drivers should prepare to spend extra time dealing with defect fixes. At an average 3.9 recalls per model, iSeeCars puts the amount of time wasted at 11.7 hours per driver. Between the inflated fuel economy claims and the high number of recalls for one of its top sellers, Hyundai and Kia have not had a good run with U.S. auto regulators in recent years.
5. Jeep Wrangler
Beginning the alarming run of Fiat-Chrysler cars in the top five is the Jeep Wrangler. Second only to the Grand Cherokee in Jeep’s U.S. sales, Wrangler has had its share of recalls over the year. In fact, iSeeCars put the number at 4.2 recalls per model, which would end up wasting 12.6 hours of a Wrangler owner’s time over the years. Here’s a tip: While in the dealership for that half-day stretch, don’t be seduced by Fiat-Chrysler minivans. Actually, read through this entire list before doing anything at that dealership. It might save days of your life.
4. Ram pickups
If you cross-reference the list of most recalled vehicles since 1990 and get a direct match with this list, you can say it’s a bad sign. Ram is 10th in most recalled vehicles in the past quarter-century (1.2 million trucks recalled) and fourth in average number of recalls at 4.3 per model. Over the life of a truck, this shuttling back and forth to your Ram dealer for fixes would waste about 12.9 hours of your time. You can watch a whole season of House of Cards in that time, so make sure you have your tablet in the glove box and your Netflix subscription current.
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee
Fiat-Chrysler’s biggest offender was its best-selling Jeep, Grand Cherokee. More than 175,000 units of the Grand Cherokee were delivered to U.S. auto consumers in 2014, so between any upcoming recalls and the many other vehicles the automaker is fixing, people have their work cut out for them. Grand Cherokees sold between 2007 and 2013 had an average of 4.4 recalls per model, which led to 13.2 hours of an owner’s time being wasted over the years. The next time you see congestion around a Chrysler dealership, remember the periodic backups the service centers must experience. Despite that track record, Fiat-Chrysler was only fourth on the list of automakers with the most recalls in 2014.
2. Toyota RAV4
The world’s biggest-selling automaker pulls into third place with the most recalls in 2014. Through mid-December, Toyota had recalled nearly six million vehicles in the U.S. RAV4, which has gained 24% in 2014 over the previous year’s sales, could sap a great deal of an owner’s time. To be precise, iSeeCars has RAV4 owners facing an average of 4.7 recalls in vehicles from model years 2007 through 2013. Working out those kinks could cost an owner 14 hours over the years. Oh, what a feeling.
1. Chevy Cruze
It might not have the sheer volume of recalls as the Chevy Malibu — the car that was recalled 29 separate times to encompass 15.8 million vehicle recalls — but the Chevy Cruze is certainly no slouch. Between model years 2011 and 2013, Cruze owners faced an average of 4.8 recalls per model. All that time drain between recall notices, dealer appointments, loaner cars in and out, and pickups took its toll. An estimated 14.4 hours of a Cruze’s owners time disappeared over the years. With GM’s 29 million U.S. recalls in 2014, it’s safe to say there was some backup trying to get defects corrected. Of the many black eyes GM has received in recent years, the recalls of recent years are right up there with the worst.