DETROIT, March 8 (UPI) -- Domestic and foreign automakers recalled 19.5 million cars and light trucks in the United States during 2003, despite improving engineering quality.
Federal government data indicate automakers issued 529 recalls affecting 8 percent of all light vehicles produced last year -- just under the record 541 recalls of 2000.
There were 436 vehicle recalls during 2002, but the Detroit News says automakers blame the increase on the rising number of new vehicle launches and tougher federal reporting requirements enacted in the wake of the Ford Explorer-Firestone tire debacle.
"A large number of recalls is not good, no matter how you cut it," Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for Auto Safety told the News.
General Motors recalled 7.4 million vehicles in 27 recalls for possible defects; Ford, 3.4 million; DaimlerChrysler, 2.1 million, and Toyota, 212,252.
GM has recalled more than 3.4 million vehicles so far this year, more than half involving vehicles at least 5 years old.