Top 5 Most Notorious Recalls of Automotive History
Though Toyota is currently in the midst of a public relations nightmare, the 4.3 million vehicles being recalled for unintended acceleration rank at only number six on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s list of top-ten most notorious recalls. Here’s a look at the five recalls that beat Toyota for this dubious distinction:
1. Ford Explorer (1991-2001)
When the dust settled from this case, over 200 deaths were found attributable to Ford Explorers that came equipped with certain Firestone tires. The combination of top-heavy handling and tire blowouts led Ford to recall almost a full decade’s worth of vehicles in 2001. Sales of the Explorer plummeted once the case went public.
2. Ford Pinto & Mercury Bobcat (1971-1976)
Due to the precarious placement of its fuel tank and fuel-filler pipe, Pintos and Bobcats were prone to bursting into flames during certain rear-end collisions. Worse yet, investigations revealed that Ford may have known about the problem but chose to ignore it to save money in the manufacturing process. Although only 1.4 million vehicles were recalled in 1978, the issue illustrated grave corporate negligence and delivered a devastating blow to the auto maker.
3. GM’s X-Cars (1980-1982)
Despite the initially positive acceptance of the Buick Skylark, Chevy Citation, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix, they are remembered as some of the most recalled cars in history. The problems were numerous and varied, from faulty fuel lines and detaching steering gears to malfunctioning front-end coil springs. Leading the recall count, was the Chevy Citation with nine distinct recalls. Multiple recalls over multiple models damaged GM’s reputation for years to come.
4. Audi 5000 (1978-1983)
The first Audi 5000 recall was due improperly positioned floor mats and the potential for ‘runaway acceleration.’ Less than 100,000 vehicles were initially recalled, but despite the relatively low incident rate, a stream of negative media wreaked havoc on the luxury manufacturer. Audi’s annual sales numbers withered from 74,061 vehicles in 1985 to just 12,283 vehicles in 1991.
5. Dodge Aspen & Plymouth Volare (1976)
By the close of 1977, the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare were recalled a total of eight times. These recalls ran the gamut from fuel and emissions systems to seatbelt retractors. In addition to the mechanical maladies, problems with excessive rust later surfaced. Chrysler didn’t begin to recover from the fallout until Lee Iacocca took the reins in 1979.
[Source: Popular Mechanics]