The greatest vehicle recalls in history, vol. 2

2020-09-27 • 4 min read

The greatest vehicle recalls in history, vol. 2
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Let’s continue our retelling of historic auto recalls worse than Lukashenka’s hideous mustache (click here for vol. 1). That’s right - though automobile recalls can sometimes be caused by simple stupidity, that doesn’t make the billions in damages any cheaper. And don’t forget - you can always find out if that jalopy you’re looking at was ever subject to a recall by checking on CarVertical’s website.

Fiat Chrysler, 2010-2020

The reason for the recall was that, in the event of a traffic incident, the explosive deployment of the airbags would be accompanied by a piece of hot, high-speed metal. Kind of like a bullet. These malfunctions were responsible for killing at least 11 people and wounding more than 100. It was all thanks to a Japanese company called Takata, whose fantastic innovation graced as many as 37 million vehicles by various manufacturers.

Models recalled:  Chrysler 300, Dodge Dakota, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Jeep Wrangler and others.

Vehicles recalled: about 3 million.

General Motors, 1971

In this case, a nut defect caused the engine to sometimes suddenly detach from the body of the car and rise about 10 centimetres up. This would cause surprise malfunctions that driver’s ed probably did not prepare you for. Some of these delightful surprises included vehicles that would suddenly accelerate on their own or whose brakes wouldn’t work. It was a rough Christmas at General Motors, as they had to announce the recall in December.

Models recalled:  Chevrolet, Nova, Camaro, GMC.

Vehicles recalled: 6.7 million.

General Motors, 1973

Back in 1973, the United Arab Emirates were still a poor country that had almost no asphalt roads. Everyone drove on gravel. GM nonetheless managed to release Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models that were built in a way that would collect small bits of gravel even better than my apparently cursed windshield does. When these gravel bits built up in the steering box, the cars would quickly become uncontrollable. Fun fact: the sudden plague of raging wild Buicks plowing across the Great Plains is what wiped out the last American bison.

Models recalled:  Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac.

Vehicles recalled: 3.7 million.

Chrysler, 2004

This recall covered Dodge, Plymouth, and some other manufacturers nobody cares about. Due to what we can only hope was an unfortunate coffee spill or a drip of ketchup on the wrong blueprint, they managed to release a gearbox with a P setting that didn’t actually stop the car from moving. You had one job! Like Neo breaking out of the constraints of the Matrix, countless cars summoned their willpower and faith to start rolling downhill despite being in a park. But hey, maybe it was just a maintenance feature. After all, you know what they say - “a rolling parked car gathers no moss.”

Models recalled:  Dodge, Plymouth and others.

Vehicles recalled: about 2.5 million.

Ford Motor Company, 1981

Ford had a similar problem on their hands, and probably before your parents even met. Striding boldly into the future, Ford put themselves at the forefront of innovation by releasing a dizzying number of cars with P positions that didn’t work. The reason we mentioned your parents is that if daddy had ever decided to pick mommy up in his brand new ‘81 Ford and drive her to the scenic overlook at night to work on making you, they probably would not have succeeded. And Ford’s initial solution was also about as graceful as a horny teenager fumbling around in the dark with his pants around his ankles - they sent out stickers explaining that “Unexpected and possibly sudden vehicle movement may occur” with detailed instructions for how to use their faulty shift boxes better. Only later did they find a real solution. Less funny was the fallout - Ford caused about 6,000 accidents, killed almost 100 people, and injured over 1,700.

Models recalled: Ford Fiesta, Ford Mustang, Ford Bronco, Ford E-series, Ford F-150, Ford Capri, Ford Escort and others.

Vehicles recalled (greatest recall ever): 23 million.

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