dangerous car recalls

Top 5 biggest motor vehicle recalls


Lots of things affect your safety on the road, and in particular: recalled cars. Defective vehicles are a serious hazard to the average driver and their passengers. There are all sorts of reasons why a vehicle might be recalled such as accelerator defects, restraint system failures, brake failures, etc. For the past year, over 13 million cars have been recalled by different automakers. Of course, not all recall issues may cause a serious risk of severe injury. However, some of them stand out from the rest because of their scope, length, and public attention. Let’s look over the top 5 biggest and most dangerous recalls which left a huge trace in the automotive industry.

Toyota Sudden Acceleration

Sudden unintended acceleration has always been recognized as a serious safety hazard. Back in 2009 one of the widest reported product recalls in history involved Toyota’s faulty gas pedals. In short, gas pedals would stick, leaving drivers unable to stop. There were more than 60 accidents, half of which resulted in fatalities. In total, Toyota recalled 9.3 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles around the world between 2009 and 2010 due to issues with spontaneous acceleration. It’s one of the largest recalls undertaken by an automaker. Prior to these events, Toyota was the world’s largest and most profitable auto manufacturer. The company was universally perceived as a builder of high-quality, reliable vehicles.

Takata Airbag Inflator Ruptures

Takata Corporation was a Japanese automotive parts company. They began making airbags in 1988 and, as of 2014, held 20% of the market. During 2013, several automakers began large recalls of vehicles due to Takata-made airbags. Vehicles made by 19 different automakers were recalled to replace front airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s sides. The airbags would sometimes explode when deployed, causing serious injury. Through various announcements, the recall has grown to include 63 million airbags from more than 42 million vehicles in the U.S. The NHTSA has already called that “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history”. 

Volkswagen’s Diesel Engine

The Volkswagen emissions scandal began in September 2015. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the German automaker, Volkswagen Group. The agency found that they had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions tests which made the results meet US standards during regulatory testing. However, it turned out that in real-world driving it exceeds the legal emission limits by 40 times. Volkswagen recalled 11 million vehicles around the world, including 500,000 in the U.S. Besides, the automaker was forced to set aside more than $18 billion to cover recall costs, legal claims, and other related expenses. The scandal damaged the company’s reputation and hurt its sales. The resale value of affected cars was down to nearly 16% depending on model as compiled by Black Book.

Ford/Firestone tires 

In 2000, hundreds of rollover accidents and dozens of fatalities prompted the NHTSA to investigate the high rate of tire failure on Ford’s popular Explorer SUV and its corporate siblings, the Mercury Mountaineer and Mazda Navajo. Initially, it was determined that Firestone was responsible for producing tires causing Ford’s SUVs to roll over. To remedy the problem, Firestone issued a recall of 14.4 million tires in August 2000. Firestone acknowledged producing faulty tires — but with its corporate reputation on the line. Lately, it openly questioned the role of the Explorer’s design in triggering rollovers. After that, Firestone officially ended its 95-year relationship with Ford. The following day, Ford issued its own recall of all Firestone tires – regardless of size, the Ford truck they were installed on, or the Firestone factory from which they were produced.

Ford Steering Column Fires

In 1996, Ford Motor Company issued the largest voluntary safety recall of that time with more than 8.7 million vehicles affected. A faulty ignition switch was blamed for spontaneous steering column fires, which could occur even when the vehicle was not in operation. The automaker was spurred to action in part by Transport Canada, who ordered a recall of 248,000 vehicles over the issue in 1995. Eventually, Transport Canada ordered a recall of 834,368 vehicles over the issue including Mustangs, Broncos, Thunderbirds, F-Series, and Mercury Cougars.

Wrap up

Unfortunately, it’s hardly a complete list of such recalls. GM Side Saddle Fuel Tank, Chrysler Minivan Tailgate, Ford Pinto Fuel Tank, Audi Sudden Acceleration, Takata Seat Belts are recognized as the worst safety defects in history. To stay out of accidents, we recommend checking your car for recalls with ClearVin. A quick car VIN number lookup can also provide information on a car’s accident history, service records, and more. We also provide contact info to apply for a remedy if necessary. 

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