By on October 9, 2008

If there’s a product recall that illustrates a particularly important point– like the GM hot fluid windshield wiper story (I’m getting to it)– TTAC will cover it.  Otherwise, no; if we didn’t cover all recalls, it would look like we were picking-on a particular manufacturer– and we can’t have that now can we? But this recall story from mylemon.com works for me because, well, it’s someone else’s blog. AND it fits into a genre that normally annoys the pee out of me, that helps lift TTAC’s numbers every year (i.e. our forthcoming Ten Worst awards). AND it makes me wonder how a lawyer who runs a site called mylemon.com can drive anything other than a lemon. AND the story lets me play around with this gallery thing, which is also annoying the pee out of me right now. So, here are David J. Gorberg & Associates’ rogue’s gallery, for which the Lord should make him truly grateful.

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17 Comments on “Total Recall: Ten Largest Auto Recalls of All Time...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Recall magnitude is a bad metric, especially now. Think about how many cars share common chassis and powertrain components:
    Toyota SXV: Camry, ES, Highlander, RX, Venza, Sienna
    Nissan FF-L: Altima, Maxima, Murano, Quest
    Ford CD3: 6, Fusion, Zephyr, Edge, CX-7, CX-9, MKX
    Honda Global Midsize: Accord, TSX, TL, Pilot, Oddy, MDX, Ridgeline

    Now, think about a recall of a core component, say, in Toyota’s SXV. That’s an easy million cars for a given model year in North America alone.

    It’s the classic problem of a lack of genetic variation in species: there’s an advantage, but there’s also huge shared vulnerability. It’s going to affect a million cars because a million cars share the problem. Back when each car was more unique, recalls weren’t quite so widespread. And it’s going to get worse as intercompany collaborations become more common (the Chrysler/Mitsu/Hyundai GEMA program, the incestuous transmission sharing, the wholesale platform sharing between makers in Europe, like the Toyota Aygo’s rebadging under Peugeot).

    The nice part is that, with so many eyeballs, the potential recalls become more easily identifiable at the design stage. Hopefully.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Actually, I don’t think there are that many more eyeballs …

      For a JV-program, Nissan/Ford Quest/Villager (VX62), the responsibilities for the product development were divided-up between the two companies rather than being double developed and tested … here, specifications on the other hand are subject to negotiation … they may default to the more stringent of the partner’s specs, or they may be a mixture of requirements… but double development or testing would destroy the economic potential of a program.

      For a contract-manufactured vehicle, Mazda/Ford Navajo/Explorer (UPN150/1), the specifications were essentially Ford, and the Navahoe was more or less an Explorer clad in Mazda trim (opposite could be said for the Mazda-engineered Thailand-built B-Series/Ranger).

      To differing degrees, other companies have done the same over the years Chrysler/Daimler/Mitsubishi/Talbot/Rootes, GM/Isuzu/Suzuki/Subaru, Nash/Austin, etc.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    No Chrysler ???

    except for two, all GM & Ford. Maybe Chrysler’s are not as bad as everyone believes ??

  • avatar
    geeber

    Mr. Farago,

    If possible, for accuracy you should change the photo of the Camaro for the GM motor-mount recall.

    That recall affected 1965-69 Chevrolets equipped with a V-8 engine. The Camaro pictured is a second-generation model, introduced halfway through the 1970 model year. No 1970 or later Chevrolets were affected by this recall.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Polishdon :
    No Chrysler ???
    except for two, all GM & Ford. Maybe Chrysler’s are not as bad as everyone believes ??

    Hard to recall 500,000 cars when you only make 100,000.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    except for two, all GM & Ford. Maybe Chrysler’s are not as bad as everyone believes ??

    No, it’s all due to volume. Ford and GM, for a long time, sold more cars. They certainly sold more recall-worthy cars during their recent history

    This list is silly. If anything, it should document the most-recalled cars (2000-2002 Ford Focus, first-gen X5, first-gen ML-Class), cars that should have been recalled (the GM Dexcool and Plastic Intake Manifold fiascos), or recalls handled badly (Ford/Firestone, Toyota sludge).

    Recall-by-unit-count may make a good soundbite, but it is disingenuous.

  • avatar
    seoultrain

    woah, it’s an actual law blog!

    Now I just need to find the Bob Loblaw Law Blog.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I’m going to have to go back through the list again but was every Ford recall fire related except the one seatbelt. That’s kind of scary, do they not hire good electrical engineers. They deserve the flambe-mobile name I jokingly call them.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    The list is simplistic to the point of being utterly worthless. Let’s see, a cruise-control recall as the biggest problem ever? I think I would take that cruise-control affected vehicle over Yugo any day of the week (and Yugo never made the list, did it?).

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    A lemon law “attorney” is a TTAC source?

    Most states have air tight consumer laws, specifying exact criteria for what a “lemon” is (3 repair attempts; 30 days down for example).

    Bottom feeders such as Mr Gorberg and his lowlife henchmen actually cause delays in the process for the motorist who deserves refund or vehicle replacement.

    Watch for more “Got A Lemon” billboards as his typical, bad credit “client” gets sick of their 19% financing.

    psarhjinian has it right; this list is sensationism at best; write about shitboxes like the 1998 ML350 which had FIVE faults to be corrected on the Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI).

  • avatar
    menno_

    We must all remember that recalls don’t necessarily relate to the actual quality of a car.

    After all, Malcolm Bricklin is still proud, to this day, that his imported YUGO cars never had a recall!

    Not one.

  • avatar

    Cavendel :
    October 9th, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Polishdon :
    No Chrysler ???
    except for two, all GM & Ford. Maybe Chrysler’s are not as bad as everyone believes ??

    Hard to recall 500,000 cars when you only make 100,000.

    You beat me to it!

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    Um, could you please use larger images that aren’t so pixelated?

    And although the article is interesting, I think that the more severe, image damaging recalls should be included. I also don’t understand why the Ford Focus and the Chevrolet Citation weren’t included on this list, especially because they are the two most recalled vehicles in history.

    If I were writing the list, it would go like this (In no particular order)

    10. With Saturn freshly launched, there was a defect quickly found on the S-series. Although it was minor, to prove its committment to customer service, Saturn replaced the car entirely. Thats right – every owner of an affected car got a brand new Saturn.
    9. The rotting frames on 90s Toyota compact pickups, in which Toyota bought them all from their owners.
    8. The 2000 Ford Focus. Fresh off the ferry from Europe, the Focus was a huge success in the United States – until a number of catastrophic quality problems became public. Problems ranged from peeling paint, to engine compartment fires and wheels coming off, and the Focus tied the record held by the Chevrolet Citation to become the most recalled new car in history. Ironically, the European Focus, which was nearly identical to the North American model, didn’t suffer from those quality problems and has a good reliability record. That means that this was caused purely by the car being beancounted to death by the mothership for the North American market.
    7. The 1973-1987 Chevrolet C/K and the side mounted gas tank. When Dateline, fresh off of nearly destroying Audi’s reputation with false reports of 5000s accelerating spontaneously, made a story about these trucks exploding Pinto style, when hit on the side (as opposed to the rear). The story was a PR disaster for GM, and although they didn’t issue a recall, had many lawsuits filed against them, and later settled with offering owners a $1,000 coupon towards the purchase of a new GM truck with the trade in of an old one. However, GM investigators studied the film and noted that the truck was rigged to explode when it was hit in a staged accident, due to the fact that the gas tank started to smoke a split-second before the actual collision ensued. This turned into a PR disaster for Dateline, as GM issued a two hour rebuttal of the story, and then went on to sue NBC for defamation, leading them to take back the story, and reading an on air apology to General Motors and the owners of GM trucks. As Alanis Morissette once said, “Isn’t it ironic?”
    6. The Ford Pinto. Do I really need to elaborate? Detroit beancounters don’t want to reinforce defective gas tank, leading to a car that exploded when rear ended that would subsequently roast its passengers. PR disaster ensues. Somehow, Ford continued to produce this thing until 1981, when it was replaced by the Escort.
    5. First generation Honda Accord. Wha? Yes, although today Honda is known for their reliability, the first generation Accord was a lemon at best. It suffered from trim pieces discolorating and falling off, transmission failure, and poor rustproofing that would not only cause the body to disenterigrate faster than orange tang, but it would cause the strut towers to rust through and fail. However, since Honda is known today for making bulletproof cars that could probably survive the apocalypse, it just goes to show you that if you are a car company, you can easilly save you reputation if you

    AH SHIT, timer ran out!

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    “6. The Ford Pinto. Do I really need to elaborate? Detroit beancounters don’t want to reinforce defective gas tank, leading to a car that exploded when rear ended that would subsequently roast its passengers. PR disaster ensues. Somehow, Ford continued to produce this thing until 1981, when it was replaced by the Escort.”

    Ahem. Deaths in fires were no more (per car sold)than for equivalent models from other manufacturers. What is really funny/sad is that the jury awarded punitive damages because they were horrified by the idea of a cost benefit analysis being carried out. This was used to establish whether it was worth spending money to improve safety. It is ironic that a CBA is now a standard method for assessing whether to put safety systems in, across many industries.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      And many of these CBA’s were based on the CBA created by DOT, and the value/human life therein, for determining the appropriate design for safety barriers on the Interstates.

  • avatar
    Polishdon

    MgoBLUE :

    Polishdon :
    No Chrysler ???
    except for two, all GM & Ford. Maybe Chrysler’s are not as bad as everyone believes ??

    Hard to recall 500,000 cars when you only make 100,000.

    You beat me to it!

    Well….

    I do recall several Chysler recalls, and chrysler does sell more the 100K cars! And they tend to use the same part on ALOT of their cars (i.e. 2.7L engine, Transmision, etc). Heck if you go back, Chrysler made EVERYTHING off the K-Car! So, if there was a recall, then it would be huge, right??

    I’ve had my share of problems with Chrysler, Ford and GM cars over the years. Heck, Ford soaked me for $1500 with the defective plastic intake on my Town Car becasue the repair was outside the arbitrary “claim period” they set.

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