Automakers recalled a record 63.9 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a Thursday report.
The tally was nearly three times the number recalled in 2013 and more than double the previous record set in 2004.
The record tally was largely the result of two large safety scandals that prompted car companies to recall millions of vehicles -- one with a faulty General Motors ignition switch now linked to at least 52 deaths and the other involving exploding air bags in Hondas and other cars that have caused at least six deaths in the U.S. and abroad.
In both case regulators are investigating why the cars weren't recalled earlier even though the problems were known for years.
"These figures demonstrate the need for vigorous, effective oversight to remove safety defects from our highways," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said.
GM alone recalled almost 27 million vehicles last year, more than the entire automotive industry in 2013.
The ignition switch problem, which GM admitted first cropped up about a decade before it began recalling cars, prompted an overhaul of its recall system. In the process GM made dozens of recalls concerning unrelated problems.
Honda, which was most affected by the air bag problem, looks to have had the second-most recalls, but NHTSA has not yet broken down the data by automaker.
Honda is the biggest customer of Takata, which made the faulty air bags, but other automakers including Nissan, Subaru, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mitsubishi and Mazda also had recalls related to the problem.
In addition to the automotive recalls, NTHSA said there were five child safety seat recalls covering 7.6 million seats, the highest number of recalled seats ever.