The Current State of Automotive Software Related Recalls

How many software recalls per vehicle?

On average, affected vehicles have 1 open software recall, which represents the majority of overall cases. The remaining has 2, but there is one specific case with the highest number. The most affected vehicle by model and year is the Porsche Cayenne 2019, which has had 3 software recalls for 2019: two from April 2019 and one from December 2019, affecting overall collectively 58,336 vehicles and an overall completion rate of 31% in ~ 6 months.

The Top 5 Software Defects

To identify the top most common software defects in the US, we analyzed the data and classified each software recall by affected ECUs, resulting in these top 5 components:

  1. Brake ECU (4,643,931 vehicles across 11 NHTSA IDs)
  2. Powertrain Control Module (1,690,616 vehicles across 4 NHTSA IDs)
  3. Backup Camera (1,486,303 vehicles across 2 NHTSA IDs)
  4. Engine Control Module (677,714 vehicles across 8 NHTSA IDs)
  5. Fuel Injection ECU affecting (437,032 vehicles across 1 NHTSA ID)
  1. Instrument Panel (12 NHTSA IDs) affecting 167,988 vehicles
  2. Brake ECU (11 NHTSA IDs) affecting 4,643,931 vehicles
  3. Engine Control Module (8 NHTSA IDs) affecting 6,77,714 vehicles
  4. Transmission ECU (8 NHTSA IDs) affecting 235,679 vehicles
  5. Body ECU (5 NHTSA IDs) affecting 139,834 vehicles

OEM Analysis

Highest number of software recalls?

FCA is at the top of the list, with the highest number of software recalls for 2019, capping at 8, across 11 models and 5 years. Right after are Ford and Daimler Trucks with 6 software recalls, spanning respectively across 8 models and 7 years for Ford and across 3 models and 3 years for the commercial Daimler vehicles. In third position we have GM, VW and Porsche, respectively across 10 models and 7 years, 13 models and 7 years, 22 models and 5 years.

Most affected vehicles?

The overall most affected vehicle based on how many model years have been recalled for one specific software recall are actually commercial vehicles, specifically fire trucks, produced by Pierce, where the affected products (model make and year) sum up to 90 for a total number of 994 affected units, impacting 11 production years, from 2004 to 2018.

  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • GMC Yukon

Completion rates

  • Volvo recalled all 2019 and 2020 models for a software issue with the AEB sensor inside the windshield, on March 12th accounting for nearly 750,000 vehicles worldwide, 121,605 of which are in the US. The recall is expected to begin May 1st 2020; As mentioned above, in 2019 Volvo had 0 software recalls.
  • FCA is recalling 318,537 vehicles in the US, across 11 models, for 2020 and 2019, due to a software error that can cause the rear view camera image to remain displayed after the vehicle has been shifted out of reverse. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 111, “Rearview Mirrors”. The solution is an update of the radio display software, delivered by a dealer. The recall is expected to begin on May 22, 50 days after the OEM identified the issue.
  • As of January 30th, 2020, certain 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 vehicles (148,055 units) are being recalled for a software update on the software they received in the previous recall, for the Electronic Brake Control Module (EBCM). The first software has an error, and as a result, the vehicle’s electronic brake assist may be disabled. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 126, “Electronic Stability Control” and 135, “Light Vehicle Brake Systems.” The recall began February 24th, making the remedy promptly available in 25 days.


As the number of software recalls will keep rising in the foreseeable future alongside the number of vehicles affected, OEMs must become quicker and more agile in reporting and fixing them in a timely manner. The outcomes of this approach benefits the entire industry by aiding in the reduction of:

  • Unremedied vehicles on the road, consequently reducing crash risks;
  • OEMs overall direct recall costs;
  • Trips to the dealer for each vehicle owner;
  • Vehicles in operation are not compliant with the requirements of federal motor vehicle safety standards;
  • Costs associated with non compliance mentioned above;
  • Indirect costs OEMs might occur in resolving software issues — reputation and brand image, repeated recalls, potential settlements and legal fines.
  • Dealer network efficiency and overall capacity and effectiveness, in having to address only hardware recalls;
  • Overall completion rate numbers and full control over the rate;
  • Software issue fixes: timely, effectively and securely.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


Enabling the Connected Vehicle Ecosystem