A total of 1,724,678 vehicles were recalled through 178 campaigns during last year, a leap from 1.4 million in 2000 and 1.06 million in 1999. The biggest impact came from a recall of the BMW 3-series, which affected 250,000 models, and the Vauxhall Corsa and Tigra, which had two recalls, one of which called back 586,000 vehicles for checks on seats and belts.
In the past six months, 572,802 vehicles were recalled, with 'highlights' including the Mini One/ Cooper, which was recalled because of static discharge causing a fire risk while refuelling; the Chrysler Voyager, which had a warning the handbrake may fail, and the Ford Mondeo and Cougar, affected by fears over the parking brake.
Under a voluntary code of practice, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to inform the Vehicle Inspectorate when substantial evidence of a safety defect that requires remedial action has been confirmed.
A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the record number of recalls showed the success of the current car distribution system in ensuring safety in a mass-produced car market.
He added: 'The success of recalls for cars is much higher than any other market, for example electronic goods. We have an enviable reputation for recalls should there be even the slightest problem.
'This proves that the current system of block exemption is working and that manufacturers take safety very seriously.'