Front-page news today that Nissan is recalling more than 2.1m cars globally due to a faulty engine control system attracts perhaps more attention that it should due the fact that there have been a number of similar headline-grabbing actions in the last year or so.

Unlike recent Toyota recalls, this does not come after any high-profile accidents or alleged incidents. Nissan said that problems in the ignition relay could cause the engine to stall or fail to be restarted but stressed that no accident had been reported in connection with the problem.

In Japan alone the company is recalling 834,759 vehicles involving nine models, including the Cube, March [Micra] and Tiida [Versa], produced domestically between 2003 and 2006. Nissan is also recalling 761,528 vehicles in North America, 354,170 in Europe and 194,409 in China and Taiwan because of the problem.

A few years ago, automakers began looking at the number of different components they were using in their various model lines and the order - rationalise - went out. Engineers and purchasing agents duly complied and the result, should something go wrong, is recalls of the magnitude of this one. Specify a one-size-fits-all widget and, if the maker of said widget fails to, say, solder a wire properly in a batch, you're faced with recalling every car fitted with one to check.

Hence the number of cars so widespread across the globe. In a perfect world, no bad parts would make it to the assembly plant but, in so many cases, rigorous pre-production testing fails to spot a potential problem which often only shows up 'in service'.

Nissan has done the right thing, at potentially considerable cost, but the headlines screaming 'another Japanese recall' never seem to reflect that.

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