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Why 2016 has already set a car safety recall record

Why there is a record number of car safety recalls: 2.5 million and counting

Has car quality hit reverse, or do they not make 'em like they used to?

More cars have been recalled this year than any other time in Australian automotive history.

We've already passed the annual record for car recalls -- and there is still six months left to run.

A staggering 2.5 million vehicles were the subject of a safety bulletin in the 12 months to the end of June -- including more than 1.6 million in the first six months of 2016.

In the full 2015 calendar year, the worst on record for recalls, more than 1.3 million cars were caught in the safety net -- more than triple the 339,000 cars recalled 10 years ago, in 2006.

The world's biggest recall involving close to 100 million deadly Takata airbags that can spray shrapnel in a crash -- including 1.4 million cars in Australia over the past 18 months -- has pushed up the tally.

Some recalls are more serious than others.

But the recalls.gov.au website shows there are dozens of other causes for concern, from Hyundai and Subaru bonnets that can fly open, to Jeep's dodgy gear shifter that appears to be in park while the car is still in drive (linked to the death of a US actor last month).

Some recalls are more serious than others; Toyota has issued a bulletin to fix power window switches while Jaguar and Land Rover have been concerned about diesel cars that can catch fire.

On certain Alfa Romeo cars "the brakes may not function correctly".

A Jeep Renegade's electronic "park assist mode ... may not bring the vehicle to a complete stop".

Super-luxury brands are not immune from faults.

Last month more than 350 Ferrari sports-cars got caught up in the Takata airbag safety campaign.

Fellow Italian brand Maserati recalled close to 1000 vehicles locally to fix floor mats that can interfere with accelerator and brake pedals.

Last week, 800,000 Mitsubishi and Toyota cars were recalled in a 48-hour period. This week Honda and Subaru combined added more than 200,000 cars to the Takata airbag scare.

Society is a lot more litigious these days and more companies are worried about being sued.

Experts say the sharp rise in car recalls is due to car companies becoming increasingly fearful of being fined or sued for not disclosing faults as soon as they become apparent.

Last year General Motors was fined $900 million in the US for not addressing ignition switch defects linked to 124 deaths over 15 years. In the end, 30 million cars were recalled globally (none were sold in Australia).

 "Society is a lot more litigious these days and more companies are worried about being sued," said Jack Haley, mechanical engineer and senior policy manager at the National Roads and Motorists' Association.

 "We are also seeing more recalls because more brands are worried about what happens to their reputation if they don't do a recall and get exposed later for trying to sweep it under the carpet."

 Mr Haley said car companies are "now acting much earlier to capture faults".

 Are cars being built worse due to pressure to cut production costs -- and an increasing dependence on outside suppliers?

 "There's no data to suggest parts quality is getting worse, but the reality is we don't know. We also don't have data showing it's improving either. You'd hope quality is improving," said Mr Haley.

 Spanner in the works: major recalls so far in 2016

Toyota: 9 recall notices covering 465,000 vehicles

Mitsubishi: 9 recall notices covering 438,000 vehicles

Honda: 5 recall notices covering 295,000 vehicles

Nissan: 5 recall notices covering 111,000 vehicles

Subaru: 5 recall notices covering 108,000 vehicles

Jeep-Chrysler: 11 recall notices covering 85,600 vehicles

Hyundai: 4 recall notices covering 60,895 vehicles

Volkswagen-Skoda: 9 recall notices covering 12,800 vehicles

Holden: 5 recall notices covering 12,300 vehicles

Mercedes-Benz: 9 recall notices covering 8500 vehicles

Jaguar-Land Rover: 7 recall notices covering 3600 vehicles

Peugeot-Citroen: 6 recall notices covering 3000 vehicles

Maserati: 2 recall notices covering 1900 vehicles

Kia: 2 recall notices covering 750 vehicles

Fiat-Alfa Romeo: 4 recall notices covering 66 vehicles

Source: Car companies and recalls.gov.au, not all recalls listed.

How does your car rate?

The recalls.gov.au website lists all major car brands. In the first six months of 2016 there have been more than 110 individual recall notices -- compared to 136 for the full year in 2015.

Have you been affected by a recent recall? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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