Worst Car Recalls in the Automotive Industry - From Stuck Gas Pedals to Explosive Tanks

In today's automotive industry, creating a car from scratch will cost automakers billions of dollars, taking into account all the engineering behind it and the rules they must follow. Besides, they still need to make a profit, and sometimes they rush things a little too much. As a result, we end up with recalls, and here we are looking at the worst of them we have ever heard about.
Worst car recalls ever 15 photos
Worst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls everWorst car recalls ever
Volkswagen emissions scandal - Let's start with the most prominent and well-known recall. We all heard about the Dieselgate scandal in which the German brand was involved back in 2009-2010. Volkswagen intentionally programmed a device to restrict power and performance when the cars were tested to meet regulations on pollutant emissions.

However, when the vehicles were delivered to customers, VW removed this device, making the owners believe they had a "green car" when in fact it was the exact opposite. Volkswagen cared about their clients, so they recalled the vehicles to fix this problem by putting that cheap device back on the cars, meaning the vehicles were also underpowered.

Toyota sticking throttle - Toyota had this problem back in 2009 - 2010, and it was such a huge issue they even released a YouTube video on how to stop your Toyota when the gas pedal gets stuck (check video attached below the text). It's tough to imagine such an error from one of the most important manufacturers in the automotive industry.

The exact cause of the defect was different for individual vehicles, creating further confusion and delays in the repairing process. In most cases, the floor mats were getting lodged under the accelerator, jamming the throttle into the floor. In a few other cases, the gas pedal will simply stick down, resulting in more than 60 cars running out of control. Unfortunately, the issue resulted in one death, leading Toyota to issue two significant recalls in 2009 and 2010.

Worst car recalls ever
The costs of this recall were kept secret, but some Toyota ex-employees estimated that it would have been up to five billion dollars. If this value is real, it would make it the most expensive automotive manufacturing recall ever.

Takata seatbelt scandal (from 1995) - Car manufacturers never make every part themselves, usually leaving many components in the hands of other companies. Takata is a Japanese company that makes components for all the essential Japanese car brands, and a whole lot of others as well.

However, in the mid-90s, this partnership was terrible for the likes of Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Subaru, and Suzuki, when a nine-month-long investigation was made after consumer complaints. The study revealed that the button on the seatbelt latch was prone to cracking, meaning the mechanism jammed. As a result, drivers and passengers usually found themselves trapped in their cars. More than eight million vehicles were recalled, costing one billion dollars then, plus the bad mark over Japanese automakers.

Explosive Ford Pinto fuel tank from 1978 - In the late 1970s, the Ford Pinto was one of the most popular cars on the American market. It was a practical and stylish car, suitable for everyone, but it had a dark secret. When the Ford Pinto was hit in the back, the rear-mounted fuel tank tended to spontaneously explode.

Worst car recalls ever
The American carmaker did an early recall, but didn't treat the problem seriously, infamously conducting a cost-benefit analysis of lawsuits per life versus fixing the floor. It was cheaper to deal with law problems than to restore each car individually. However, the "El Plan" made by Ford backfired when a California Court ordered them to pay an astonishing $125 million to one's victim's family. The decision discouraged car brands from playing legal games and playing with owners' life.

These are some of the worst car services recalls in the automotive industry's history, but if you know more bad ones like those, please let us know in the comments.

Video thumbnail


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories