So, after getting flamed for my usual sarcastic opinion on the front page, I thought I would do some sleuthing and try and back up my ideas with actual numbers and not those I pull from a badger's ass.

Would it surprise anyone that you cannot actually find over stats on recall numbers by brand or manufacturer anywhere on the web? I've been looking for a couple hours now and I have yet to find them. Wolfram Alfa can't even comprehend what I'm asking for when I query "Car recalls by brand."

The NHTSA has a very; I was going to say lovely, but official-looking is the better descriptor here, website that allows vehicle owners to search for recalls by VIN, provided they can find the search icon among the all the other info bombarding their eye-holes once the site loads. It's functional, but wow what a mess.

I live-chatted with a less-than helpful representative who pointed me toward the "Flat Files" that people can download from the NHTSA search website. These files are merely enormous rich-text files (the recall file is 103 MB!), that require MS Access to open them properly. I don't have MS Access on my PC, so I tried Open Office Calc. Not only did Calc not load all the cells, the file is just lines of random characters. I'm sure they have some meaning to the people who assembled it, but I am clearly not hallucinating from pure, concentrated boredom so I don't know what they mean.

One would think in this data-driven, instant-results society we live in, that anyone could fire up their ancient, dust-entombed Dell PC, log into America Online, and search for cute kitty videos, I mean automotive recall statistics by brand, year, or multiples of brands and years just to see who is building higher quality vehicles, and has been doing so for how long. Why is this so difficult? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Advertisement

I'm sure that the major manufacturers would prefer that any stats related to recalls weren't even available. But, I would not have guessed that it would be difficult to find some general, broadly informative stats about the different brands and years total recall numbers. I know that these are generally big numbers, and that most of the public can't really do math beyond laps of a NASCAR race.

Am I missing something? Should I not want to be able to find these numbers? Are the black helicopters I keep seeing important?