8 biggest scandals in the automobile industry, naming VW, Toyota, Ferrari & more


Posted by: Kennedy Ilediagu

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Most of these scandals happened as a result of automakers trying to cut corners when it comes to making vehicles with cheap materials to boost gain, or being careless about the safety of drivers. Check out the 8 biggest!

Over the last few decades, the automobile industry has experienced a lot of scandals. From recalls and laundering, to poisonous car emissions and killer airbags, almost every major auto brand have had their own fair share of blame. Most of these scandals happened as a result of automakers trying to cut corners when it comes to making vehicles with cheap materials to boost gain, or being careless about the safety of drivers. Good thing about these scandals is that the culprits were brought to book - and subsequently, brands have learnt to make driver's safety and experience priority. That said, we have decided to bring you the 8 biggest scandals in the automobile industry - in no particular order.

1. Volkswagen dieselgate scandal

In 2015, it was found out that Volkswagen had installed a software that allows their cars pass diesel emission tests. These tests are usually carried out to ensure that a vehicle doesn't release poisonous gases into the environment - especially while in use. In as much as this was eventually resolved, it cost the German car manufacturing brand over 15 billion dollars to settle.

>>> And it seems Volkswagen is not alone: EU charges Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler over car emission scandal


Sacrificing the environment for life convenience is never a sensible strategy

2. The exploding airbags by Takata

Sometime in 2016, about 11 people died in the United States of America when the airbags in their Takata vehicles, exploded while they were driving. The company was penalised and forced to recall almost 20 million vehicles. Reports from surveys that were carried out showed that millions of vehicles made by the Japanese automaker had issues with the airbags made for both passenger and driver. When driving the cars, the airbags had the tendency to inflate really fast on its own and explode. Those who were victims died from injuries sustained after metals pierced them in cases.

After the revelation of killer airbags was made, Honda has announced to recall close to 1 million vehicles which were equipped with these dangerous Takata.

3. Faulty switches on General Motors cars killed people

In 2014, a criminal investigation began when faults from ignition switch in General Motors cars led to the death of almost 200 people. The cars had really bad switches that could turn the car off while a person is driving. Imagine that happening in the middle of the highway. What made the scandal even mind blowing was that the American company said that some of their workers had know about the problem for years. They eventually had to recall about 30 million vehicles (including 800,000 Pontiacs and Chevrolets), and pay close to a billion dollars in settlements to those affected.


One of the GM cars installed faulty switch ignition back then

4. Fluctuating acceleration in Toyota cars

The Japanese car giant, Toyota, had their own fair share of scandals when defects in their Lexus and Toyota cars were detected. A lot of their cars made between 2009 and 2013 had bad floor mats, sticky accelerator pedals and faulty brakes. This made the vehicles drive really fast or slow - on its own! It got really bad when a police officer in California, United States, crashed with his Lexus ES350. Four people died in the crash when the vehicle increased speed to about twice what the officer wanted it to be on. Toyota tried to cover up by saying the driver made an error or wrong calculations, but eventually gave in and recalled about 11 million of its cars at the time. Also in that same 2014, they had to pay over a billion dollars in settlements.

5. Ferrari's supercars were prone to explosions

458 supercars made by Ferrari were prone to explosions. This was because an investigation discovered that there was a glue used in fitting the wheel arches, that could melt and pour over the exhaust pipe. Now, if that pipe is hot, this might cause it to ignite a fire and explode. Each of this supercar goes for about $500,000, and every single one of them was recalled.

>>> Recently, a Tesla also exploded in the garage by unknown cause: CCTV captures moment when a parked Tesla Model S car suddenly exploded in a garage

6. Firestone tyres were exploding

Ford is one of the few car brands that have had deals with tyre manufacturers. Their current deal is with Michelin - for self sealing tyres on their latest models. But in the early 2000's they had a deal with tyre making brand - Firestone. But that deal led to multiple deaths. Almost 300 people died and close to a thousand sustained several degrees of injuries when the tyres on their Ford car exploded. Another explosion scandal! Firestone had to recall close to 7 million tyres.


Ford and Firestone deals ended when the tyres on many vehicles at the time kept exploding while driving

Part two of this scandal was a rollover. Firestone tyres would just roll out of the vehicle. This happened a lot with Ford Explorer SUVs at the time. Ford said Firestone was at fault, Firestone said Ford was at fault. It clearly became obvious that their partnership was not a match made in heaven, and the deal fell apart.

7. The fuel tanks and gearbox on Ford cars were heavily faulty

In the 1970's, before the Firestone scandal apparently, Ford had their first taste of auto scandal. They had to recall almost 2 million Ford pintos as a result of faulty fuel tanks that immediately bust into flames when hit at the rear by an object. This led to almost 30 deaths. What hurt most people is that the company actually knew about the faults but were willing to pay an out of court settlement, than recall the cars.

Less than two decades later, Ford was in another scandal involving bad automatic transmission. It was discovered that cars built ten years before and ten years after had faulty automatic gearboxes. The cars would slip into reverse on its own and start rolling. This led to almost a thousand accidents.

>>> Above are just biggest scandals, the list goes on: US set to probe Kia and Hyundai over car fire incidence

8. Faulty Chevrolet engines falling off

Chevrolet were involved in scandal that led to them recalling almost 7 million of their vehicles. The denied knowing that the cars they made before 1971 had faulty engines that fall off when the car is in motion. This led to widespread protests leading to the recall.

Hopefully, we don't come across anything close to these 8 biggest scandals in the automobile industry in subsequent years.

>>> Read more about the latest car news and shocking car facts here on Naijauto.com!

Kennedy Ilediagu
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Kennedy Ilediagu

Kennedy Ilediagu


Kennedy Ilediagu is an experienced wordsmith and a creative automotive writer for Naijauto.com. His forte ranges from vehicle maintenance and latest industry updates, to car review articles. He is also a brand management and content creation expert who has worked with Daily Posts (United Kingdom), ESUT Egg Day magazine, and many others for years. Digital copies written by him inform, educate and engage readers globally. When Kennedy is not writing, he is busy taking care of animals, traveling or watching football.

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