10 Automotive Scandals That Continue To Affect The Industry
10 Automotive Scandals That Continue To Affect The Industry

10 Automotive Scandals That Continue To Affect The Industry

Stephanie Schoppert - February 20, 2017

10 Automotive Scandals That Continue To Affect The Industry
Tucker 48. www.autobody-review.com

The Tucker 48

The Tucker 48 was supposed to be one of the safest cars on the road, and it featured a streamlined and futuristic design. In many ways, it wasn’t far off from the Chrysler Airflow. Preston Tucker had successfully designed a gun turret for the U.S. Navy, and decided that he could design a car just as well. In 1948 he started driving around in his Tucker 48 and showing off the look and features of the car as he drove from one side of the country to the other. At each stop he took down payments on cars, sold stock, and even sold dealership franchises. People were excited and eager to get behind the new stylish car.

The Tucker 48 stood out as being the utmost in passenger safety. It had a pop-out shatterproof windshield, a center headlight that turned with the front wheels, a padded dash, and a reinforced safety cell. It seemed that the car was destined to be a success…there was just one problem with the car, it was not really in production.

Preston Tucker started the company with next to nothing and every bit of money he took from people for down payments, stocks and franchises was used just to keep his Chicago factory running. When the money started to run dry, he began calling his customers and selling them extra features that he made them pay for up front…before they even got to see their car.

One setback after another delayed production, and in 1950 when cars still were not rolling out, the government stepped in. Preston Tucker and his entire board of directors was indicted for fraud and the company was completely shut down. There were only 51 cars produced which makes it one of the rarest and most desirable classic cars in the world. A Tucker 48 recently sold for over $1.5 million.

10 Automotive Scandals That Continue To Affect The Industry
1966 Chevrolet Impala one of the cars subject to the recall. Chevrolet

Chevrolet Engine Mount Failure

The scandal with the Chevrolet engine mount was not that it was particularly deadly or that it was a problem, but that everyone knew there was a problem with the car but no one did anything for three years. The problem stated in 1969 when General Motors received reports of 172 failed motor mounts. These failures had resulted in 63 accidents and 18 injuries. Instead of addressing the issue, GM just let it go. Reports then started coming into the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

They found that there was a failed motor mount in Chevrolet cars that could potentially led to death if a certain chain reaction occurred or during an accident caused by the failed mount. No one did anything and left it as it was for three years.

Finally in 1971, the media started to notice that there was a problem and that it was not being addressed by GM. With more and more people talking about the issue, GM decided to do a recall in December 1971. 6.5 million cars were recalled and fixed. Strangely enough, GM did not say that the recall was due to a safety issue but rather due to the “mounting publicity” that the issue was being given. It seems that would never have addressed the problem if the media had not spoken up.

It turns out that the engine mount used the in 1965 to 1969 Chevys had the potential to completely collapse at full speed. This would torque the engine out of position and then would place too much stress on the throttle body linkage. The end result was unintended acceleration. Another potential problem was that the movement could twist the automatic transmission out of place rendering it impossible to shirt the car into park. As part of the investigation, GM admitted that they had been using the same mounts since 1958. It only became a problem with the horsepower and engine displacement ramped up in the 60s making the 1958 engine mount undated and unable to handle the extra stress.

10 Automotive Scandals That Continue To Affect The Industry
Takata Seatbelt. Reference.com

Takata Recalls

The Takata Corporation of Japan has been responsible for some of the largest automotive recalls in history. The first major recall came in 1995 when the NHTSA announced that more than 8 million Japanese vehicles made between 1986 until 1991 would be recalled in order to replace the seat belts. An investigation by the administration looked into numerous complaints made by Honda owners that complained their seat belts did not latch or that they released during accidents or without notice. This was a deadly problem, and the investigation found that it was much bigger than they initially anticipated.

The initial investigation only focused on Honda vehicles, but it was later found that other Japanese imports featured the defective belts. In total, 11 manufacturers were affected and many of them chose to offer lifetime warranties for seat belts on their cars in addition to performing the required recalls. At first the manufacturers were not as cooperative some of the blaming the defect on user error.

But a nine-month investigation determined that parts of the seat belt were made from ABS plastic. This plastic would become brittle and break after prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. The broken pieces would then get jammed in the latching mechanism of the seat belt.

The seat belt recall was brought to mind again when the Takata Corporation faced an even bigger recall in 2014. It was discovered that cars manufactured from 2001 until 2015 included airbags made by the Takata Corporation that were defective. The NHTSA launched an investigation and over the next two years’ massive recalls were scheduled. The Takata Corporation refused to cooperate with the investigation leading the NHTSA to fine them $14,000 a day. By the of the investigation and numerous recalls more than 42 million vehicles were affected, 11 people died and 180 were injured.