The worst car recalls ever

The worst car recalls ever

The worst car recalls ever

In 2019, years on from the original problems and recalls, the Vauxhall Zafira is getting some heat once again – no pun intended. Melting plugs rather than outright fires are the problem this time, so it’s not quite as severe. A safe move on Vauxhall’s part, nonetheless. Do the fiery chronicles of the Zafira match other big recalls? Here, we have some more significant recalls from recent years.

Takata: airbag disaster

The worst car recalls ever

This is the most famous and destructive recall saga of all time. Countless marques, from Ford to Ferrari, that used Takata airbags, were recalled for potentially fatal faults that could see them randomly erupt in occupants’ faces. It all began in 2013 but the latest round of recalls sees the total affected airbag units rise to near-on 70 million. It won’t surprise you to read that this has led to the downfall of Takata…

Ford F150: Transmission issues

The worst car recalls ever

When you have a problem with the best-selling vehicle on the planet, first of all, there will be a lot affected, and secondly, everyone is going to know about it. Last year, over 350,000 vehicles in North America (F150s and Expeditions) were recalled for gearbox trouble. 2019 started even worse for the American giant, with nearly 1.5 million 2011-2013 F150s with six-speed ‘boxes recalled for a propensity to shift randomly into first.

BMW: diesel fire risk

The worst car recalls ever

As many as 1.6 million diesel BMWs were set to be recalled as of late 2018, because of a fire risk. The initial recall was mooted for 480,000 cars throughout European and Asian countries but was expanded a few months later. Both 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre four-cylinder and six-cylinder diesels built between August 2010 and August 2017 were affected. The issue was caused by exhaust gas recirculation coolers leaking coolant, which becomes combustible when mixed with engine soot and subjected to heat.

Ford GT: fire risk

The worst car recalls ever

Money can’t buy perfection: even supercars at the heady heights of the Ford GT suffer stumbles that need to be corrected post-release. Like with the Zafira, fires have plagued the GT. In this case, wing actuator hydraulic fluid leaks onto the exhaust. Around 200 cars were affected on the American continent.

Toyota Hybrid: fire risk and power failure

The worst car recalls ever

Toyota hybrids have had a selection of issues, with the most recent being fires and a loss of power. Over the course of September and October 2018, we reported on fire risk and then power loss risks on Toyota hybrid cars. Models from no earlier than 2014 were affected, with the fire recall only affecting plug-in models.

Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG: too fast in reverse

The worst car recalls ever

Some recalls are serious, some are just plain hilarious. The Mercedes G-Wagen feels a bit sketchy when you’re going fast in the right direction. The recall pertained to being able to go fast… in reverse. Just 20 G65 AMGs sold in North America were affected, given that they didn’t have software to limit reverse speed. All were amended before any Kardashians were harmed.

Mercedes Benz: starter motor fires

The worst car recalls ever

A massive one million Mercedes-Benz cars built between 2015 and 2017, including E-Classes, GLAs, GLCs and C-Classes, were recalled for fire risk a couple of years ago. Starter motors were prone to combusting, as repeated start-up attempts cause them to heat up. There were as many as 30 fires in the US alone, with 21 elsewhere around the globe. No fun for the three-pointed star…

Porsche 911 GT3: fire risk

The worst car recalls ever

Porsche had a bit of bother following the release of the 991-generation GT3, with its rev-happy 9,000rpm engine. The very thing that was receiving a lot of love began catching fire. Unlike with many recalls where there’s just a ‘risk’, there were, in fact, many examples of customer GT3s going up in flames. The situation was so severe, Porsche advised owners to not drive their cars until they could be recalled for a fix. Those owners included one Richard Hammond…

Porsche 918: fire risk, chassis problems and seatbelts

The worst car recalls ever

Further to our point back there about how money doesn’t buy perfection. Whether it’s the near £500,000 Ford GT, or the near £1,000,000 (when new) Porsche 918, no amount of money can buy absolute fire resistance. The worst thing is that the dodgy wiring harness that posed a fire risk was the second of three separate recalls. The others were chassis parts concerns and mixed-up screws for seatbelt mounts and seatbelt reel mounts.

VW group: emissions recalls

The worst car recalls ever

One of the most high-profile recalls in automotive history owes its fame to the most famous scandal: the infamous ‘Dieselgate’ of 2015. A fix was mandated by governments the world over to bring cars in line with quoted emissions figures, as achieved by test cars with ‘defeat devices’. Famously, there were questions as to whether owners would want to, given that power decreased in some cases. Likewise, monetary compensation was also an option for U.S. owners. The costs to VW for recalls, buybacks and fines are in the tens of billions.

Fiat-Chrysler: infotainment hack

The worst car recalls ever

Some recalls are dangerous. Some are funny. Some, like this, are just downright frightening. Fiat-Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million cars from the U.S market, over fears they could be hacked via the Uconnect infotainment system. This “would reduce the driver’s control of the vehicle increasing the risk of a crash”. Science fiction-levels of scary stuff…

Ford: Door latch issues

The worst car recalls ever

Here’s a biggy: how about near-on 2.4 million Fords with door latches that don’t work? That was what the marque was facing in 2016, with affected models including 2013-2015 C-Max, Escape, 2015 Mustang, 2014-2016 Ford Transit, 2015 Lincoln MKC and the big-seller 2012-2015 Focus. The issue would prevent doors shutting properly and more dangerously, meant they could pop open at speed.

Toyota RAV4: seatbelt troubles

The worst car recalls ever

Around three million RAV4 models, including over 48,000 in the UK, were recalled by Toyota in 2016 given a risk that belts could be severed in an accident by seat cushion frames in the rear seats. Just two crashes in North America could have potentially been linked to the issue, but Toyota wasn’t going to take any risks. Better safe than sorry… This following Toyota’s 2014 ordeal recalling 6.5 million cars for seat and steering wheel issues.

Nissan/Infiniti: airbag sensor

The worst car recalls ever

In 2016, Nissan began a recall of 3.1 million US cars because of a problematic airbag sensor. No, this isn’t related to the Takata fiasco. The issue began back in 2013, but continued to persist beyond the initial 500,000-car recall. There were also steering wheel issues at the time, including for over 130,000 UK-based Nissan Micras.

General Motors: Airbag and seatbelt software

The worst car recalls ever

Turbulent times again in 2016, this time with General Motors. As you’ll see further down the list, GM has bad recall luck. This is small pickings by comparison, though, with just 3.6 million vehicles recalled due to an airbag and pretensioner software defect. Models including Chevrolet’s Corvette, Tahoe, Suburban, Silverado and SS were affected throughout the 2014-2017 model years, as well as many related vehicles from other GM-owned marques.

Toyota and Lexus: brake problems and fire risk

The worst car recalls ever

A collective ‘oh dear’ for Toyota. 2015 saw the marque pull 6.5 million cars because of potentially combustible power window switches – an issue that extends to as many as 14 million cars going further back. In 2014, it announced recalls of 1.67 million cars amid concerns over faulty brake and fuel components. In a separate issue, sister company Lexus announced a recall of 759,000 cars across the world after discovering a fault with the fuel pipes.

Mercedes C-Class: steering issue

The worst car recalls ever

A total of 8,145 Mercedes-Benz C-Classes were recalled in the UK in 2015. The issue – which affected cars built between January and September 2014 – surrounds a faulty steering system.

Aston Martin: accelerator pedal

The worst car recalls ever

Aston Martin recalled 17,590 cars due to a potential problem with the accelerator pedal back in 2014. You can’t escape a pursuing Jaguar if you can’t accelerate. 007 wouldn’t be impressed.

General Motors: ignition defect

The worst car recalls ever

It’s easy to pick recall fights with GM. If recalls were pimples, GM is a teenager’s face. So here’s one of the juiciest, and we’ll call it quits for generic GM recalls. 2014 was a terrible year for General Motors, with millions upon millions of cars recalled across the world. In total, more than 20 million vehicles were affected in 2014 alone, with a faulty ignition switch the chief headache for the beleaguered American giant.

Saab 9-3 Convertible: seatbelt retractor

The worst car recalls ever

Yes, this is still GM, but it’s interesting. Proving you don’t need to be active to be affected by a recall, General Motors recalled nearly 29,000 Saab 9-3 Convertibles in the US to replace a driver’s side seatbelt retractor.

Porsche Cayenne: loose headlights

The worst car recalls ever

In 2012, Porsche issued a recall for 2011-2012 Cayenne models amid fears “the headlamp may come loose” and detach from the bumper. Not ideal if you’re driving in the dark.

Toyota: defective pedals

The worst car recalls ever

In one of the most famous cases of all time, Toyota was forced into recalling millions of cars because of a faulty accelerator pedal and – later in 2010 – millions more because of slipping floor mats. To cap it all, thousands of Toyota hybrids were also recalled to rectify braking issues.

Mazda 6: Yellow Sac spiders

The worst car recalls ever

You couldn’t make it up – in 2014, Mazda had to recall 42,000 Mazda 6s because of the Yellow Sac spider. Apparently, the spider has a love of petrol (don’t we all) and became rather keen on weaving webs inside the Mazda engine. This would result in blockages and, in turn, an increased risk of a fire.

MINI: fire risk

The worst car recalls ever

In 2012, 235,000 MINI models needed rectifying because of a potential fire risk caused by defective electric water pumps. The recall affected the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models built between March 2006 and January 2011.

BMW 5 and 6 Series: fire risk

The worst car recalls ever

It seems incendiary risks are a common recall problem, with an incorrectly-fitted battery cable cover causing 109,000 BMW 5 and 6 Series models in the UK to receive attention. The recall affected 1.3 million cars across the world.

Volkswagen: gearbox and light fuses

The worst car recalls ever

In 2013, nearly 3 million VW owners were contacted over concerns surrounding gearboxes and light fuses. The recall – which extended to other brands within the Volkswagen Group – affected 60,000 cars in the UK.

Kia: faulty brake light switch

The worst car recalls ever

Kia may have the most comprehensive warranty package around, but that can’t guard against the dreaded recall. In 2013, Kia called in 25,000 cars in the UK for the replacement of a faulty brake light switch. The recall affected numerous models built between 2006 and 2011 and was part of a global recall involving 1.6 million Kia and Hyundai models.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class: floor mats

The worst car recalls ever

A small issue could have disastrous consequences, which is why Mercedes-Benz recalled 8,675 M-Class 4x4s in 2012 after someone discovered the floor mats could trap the accelerator pedal.

Smart Fortwo: risk of fire

The worst car recalls ever

In September 2014, certain Smart Fortwo models were recalled after it was discovered a short circuit in the electronic heater shut-off valve could result in a fire.

Honda Jazz: electrical faults

The worst car recalls ever

Honda’s unflinching reliability reputation took a knock in 2010 when 170,000 Honda Jazz cars in the UK were recalled over potential electrical faults.

Ferrari 458: fires and boot mechanism

The worst car recalls ever

In 2010, Ferrari issued a recall for the 458 Italia following a series of fires. The Italian manufacturer traced the problem to materials used in the construction of the wheel arch lining and heat shield and called owners back for remedial work. Later, in 2014, the 458 Italia and Spider were involved in a second recall amid fears someone could get stuck in the boot of the car. No, really.

Ford: cruise control switches

The worst car recalls ever

One of the biggest comes to us from the 90s and early 2000s. Near-on 15 million Fords, mostly US-sold, from the 90s and early 2000s, had to be recalled for a faulty cruise control switches that could catch fire. There can be warnings in the form of electrical gremlins, but it can occur even when vehicles are off. In spite of Ford’s advice to ‘not park near garages or homes’, several building fires have been directly linked.

Vauxhall: loose front seats

The worst car recalls ever

More GM, but this one is curious, not least because it involves the old Tigra. Back in 2001, Vauxhall recalled half a million Tigra and Corsa models after discovering weak seat rails could result in the front seats becoming loose in an accident.

Ford Pinto: risk of fire

The worst car recalls ever

We end with a recall that didn’t affect the UK, but is perhaps the most famous case in the world. It surrounds the Ford Pinto of the 1970s and the placement of the fuel tank. By positioning it behind the rear axle and with a fuel-filler pipe that would explode in a rear-end collision, the consequences were horrific.