Workers check cars at a Dongfeng Honda production line in Wuhan, Hubei Province.
More than 47 million defective cars have been recalled on the Chinese mainland in the past five years, following the 2013 adoption of product safety regulations.
The number represents 83 percent of all cars recalled in the past 14 years, according to China's top quality supervision authority.
More than 56.7 million cars were recalled between 2004 - when China began implementing recalls - and the end of last year, data from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine show.
Last year, a record 20 million cars were recalled, a 77 percent increase over 2016.
The figure makes China second in the world, behind only the United States, in the number of cars recalled annually, the administration said.
Of the cars recalled last year, those made domestically, including foreign brands, accounted for 91 percent, said Wang Yan, deputy director of the administration's Defective Product Administrative Center.
The number of cars recalled has been rising at an average rate of more than 50 percent annually for the past three years, he said, adding that the increase is related not only to increasing ownership but also to stricter law enforcement.
With rising demand for safety and higher quality, consumers in China are becoming more active in filing complaints over defective products and supporting the authorities in supervision, resulting in a rapidly increasing number of recalls, said Yan Fengmin, chief of law enforcement and supervision for the administration.
He said the increase is largely attributable to a regulation on the management of defective cars adopted by the State Council, the country's Cabinet, in January 2013.
The regulation, which covers all cars produced or sold on the Chinese mainland, stipulates that producers must recall any defective vehicle. China's top quality supervision authority is also empowered to order a recall.
Manufacturers should notify the owners of cars subject to a recall, take corrective measures as needed including refunds, replacements or repairs, and bear all the necessary costs, under the regulation. Automakers face fines and could have their business licenses revoked for violations.
Fifty-three percent of the automobile recalls last year involved quality problems with air bags or safety belts, according to Yan, who said other major reasons included problems with engines, steering systems and electrical systems.
The administration has been intensifying its supervision of automobile quality. Last year, 13.5 million cars were recalled after investigations by the authority into defective products, accounting for nearly 70 percent of all recalls, Yan said.
This year, the administration will work with other departments to extend recalls to cars that fail emission standards, he said. It has also pledged to continue to intensify checks to root out defective cars, and has urged enterprises to do a better job carrying out their recall duty.