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The Biggest And Most Damaging Auto Recalls Ever


Traffic on a french road. License: MBG Stock. 

The automotive industry has to be the most serious industry in which recalls are made, where they have the potential to damage a company’s reputation irrevocably. In this guide, we look at the top 5 biggest auto recalls of all-time.

Ford’s Failure-to-Park Recall, 1980

Number Recalled: 21 million vehicles
Models Affected: All Ford vehicles between 1976 and 1980.

Ford are regarded as the granddaddy of the automotive industry, so when it was discovered that their was an issue with their transmission system, which had gone on to cause over  6,000 accidents, 1,700 injuries and 98 deaths, the industry was understandably shocked


Ford Thunderbird 1980. Over 180,000 produces. Photo credit: Soernieins. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike.

The issue was actually involved with their US models, where a faulty safety catch was causing cars to switch from park to reverse suddenly.

Fire Strikes Ford Vehicles, 1996

Number Recalled: 14 million vehicles
Models Affected: Numerous Ford models

Ford once more came into problems in 1996 when it was found that an electronics component in the cruise control had been causing cars travelling on cruise control to deactivate, and, where the break was applied in certain situations, this seemingly innocuous part caused a fire.

Toyota’s Crazy Accelerator Pedals, 2009 & 2010


2009 Toyota recalls thousands of cars. Photo: Creative Commons / Mike384

Number Recalled:  9 million vehicles
Models Affected: 2004-2010 Toyota Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Highlander, Prius, RAV4, Tundra, Tacoma and various Lexus models.

A recall that involves run away vehicles can never be a good thing, but in 2009 and 2010 this is exactly what happened for Toyota. Over 60 cars were reported to have ‘run way’ after their accelerator pedals would get jammed.

Ford Ignition Problem, 1996

Number Recalled: 8.7 million vehicles
Models Affected: 1988-1993 models of Ford Aerostar, Bronco, Crown Victoria, Mustang, Escort, Tempo and F-Series Trucks; Mercury Cougar, Grand Marquis and Topaz and Lincoln Town Car.

Following the 1980’s recall, Ford had had a relatively quiet period of 16 years in which to rebuild their reputation, however, in 1996 disaster struck once more in a shocking mistake if you asked us at Alpha Batteries. It was found that the ignition switches in many of their models had a habit of short circuiting, which was then in turn followed by a fire. Particularly damaging reports even came in about cars that were parked up that had caught on fire! All in all this recall cost the company well in excess of $200 million!

Aston Martin and the case of the counterfeit component, 2014

Number Recalled: 17,590 vehicles

Aston Martin

Aston Martin recalling cars over breaking gas pedals. Image Credit: Photo: CNN Money

Models Affected: Most models since 2007

The most recent car recall has been made by Aston Martin, and whilst the figure being recalled is considerably lower than others on our list, it features because of the value of cars at hand. With Aston Martin presenting themselves as the cream of the auto crop, this recall could damage their reputation far more than has been seen with the more ‘standard’ brands.

This recall has been brought about by the discovery that a counterfeit component in the accelerator assembly, leading to questions about just how good Aston Martin’s quality assurance processes are.

Cormac Reynolds

Cormac Reynolds

Cormac Reynolds is a car lover and an enthusiast of older autos. He writes about his passion for a number of blogs and also enjoys karting.

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