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Auto recalls up 30% in 2007
Automakers recalled nearly 15 million vehicles for repairs at dealerships last year, the government reported today, an increase of about 30% over 2006.  Automakers issued 588 separate recalls involving 14.5 million vehicles in 2007, or about 30 percent more vehicles than the previous year, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2006, the industry recalled 11.2 million vehicles as part of 490 individual recalls. Car makers frequently ask owners to bring their vehicles to dealerships to fix faulty parts and address potential safety problems. Recalls have become more common as many companies build vehicles that share common platforms and components and respond more quickly to deal with potential safety hazards.

Recalls have been more common since the federal TREAD Act was enacted in 2000 to help spot safety defects earlier. The law responded to the recall of more than 10 million Firestone tires in 2000.

The industry set a record of 30.8 million recalled vehicles in 2004.

Automakers have averaged about 524 separate recalls involving 18.9 million vehicles a year since 2000, according to an Associated Press analysis of the NHTSA data. In the eight previous years, 1992-1999, the industry averaged 281 individual recalls.

“The manufacturers are more willing to do a recall before the agency starts an investigation, which is a good thing for consumers and a good thing for manufacturers because ... you are going to catch them before they get big,” said Clarence Ditlow, president of the Center for Auto Safety, a watchdog group.

In 2007, Ford Motor Co. had the most recalled vehicles in the United States with more than 5.5 million. In August, the automaker recalled 3.6 million vehicles to address concerns about a cruise control deactivation switch that has led to nearly 10 million vehicles recalled since 1999. More at Detroit Free Press

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