8 Embarrassing Recalls Carmakers Want You To Forget

Recalling a car is always going to be embarrassing for a carmaker, but some cases are worse than others

911 fire Porsche

With Mazda being forced to recall thousands of 6s due to being outsmarted by spiders, we wondered if there could be any more embarrassing reasons to have to call back a faulty car.

After turning to you guys on Facebook to find out your thoughts, it became clear that spiders in vents were a just a mild inconvenience on the recall scale. So, thanks to your help, we’ve compiled a list of eight shocking stories that carmakers were hoping you’d forgotten about.

Ford’s exploding Pinto

Ford Pinto

There was nothing overwhelmingly wrong with the Pinto when it was released in 1971. With a typically American exterior, room for five and competitive running costs, it had a lot going for it. That was until the first car was rear-ended and burst into flames.

Despite its fairly conventional design, Ford’s choice to locate the fuel tank directly in front of the rear bumper meant that in the case of a collision, the most flammable part of the car - the fuel tank - was often penetrated, resulting in a fire or even explosion. It’s thought that 27 people died as a direct result of this issue, but it wasn’t until six years into the Pinto’s production that Ford finally decided to reduce the risk of fire and recall the cars.

Citroen’s accidental passenger brake

Citroen C3 Picasso

If you’ve ever been a passenger in a car you felt was travelling too quickly, it’s not uncommon to find yourself pressing your feet against the front of the footwell as if you were braking. But what would you think if you could actually slow the car down?

Well that’s what happened to passengers of some UK-based French imports such as the Citroen C3 Picasso. Due to the way the originally left-hand-drive cars were adapted to UK spec right-hand-drive, pushing hard on the passenger foot-well could actually apply the brakes. This embarrassing issue was rectified with a recall, but not before some very confused drivers found themselves with the brakes stuck on when nervous passengers rode shotgun.

Chevrolet’s missing Sonic brakes

Chevrolet Sonic

In many ways Citroen’s passenger brakes weren’t that bad at all - at least there were brakes. Because when Chevrolet sold its Sonic to the American market in 2011, someone actually forgot to put brake pads in the front.

Thankfully all affected cars still had at least one pad per disc, so the brakes weren’t completely redundant. But when the cars were recalled in early 2012 it became clear a significant few were running with only one pad per disc, meaning emergency stopping the Sonic would have taken far longer than it should have.

Toyota’s accelerative Prius

Toyota Prius 2010

Despite being one of the least exciting cars on the planet, the Prius once seemed as though it actually wanted to drive faster. Drivers of the world’s best selling hybrid could find themselves struggling to slow down as the Prius’ accelerator would stick due to tangling with the floormat.

After some fairly scary moments for drivers, Toyota recalled affected cars to apply a low-tech solution: cable-tying the mats to prevent them slipping under the pedals. The botchy fix seems to have worked however, so cable-tied Prius drivers can continue to provide road users with that annoying eco-smug look, without worry of being propelled into the next hedge.

Chevrolet’s unsteerable Cruze


It’s probably agreed that a car’s steering wheel is quite important. So when owners of the Chevrolet Cruze found their wheels would detach in their hands, they were understandably alarmed.

The issue was caused by incorrectly fastened wheels working themselves loose during rotation, something a steering wheel does quite a lot of. But thankfully no drivers were seriously harmed before a recall rectified the issue, though we can only assume there were a few stained underpants for Cruze drivers.

Chrysler’s reclining Concorde

Chrysler Concorde

Getting comfortable in your car is essential to prevent back aches on long journeys. But actually laying down on the motorway probably wouldn’t be the most comfortable position to choose, largely due to the fact you can’t see where you’re going.

Some Chrysler Concorde and Dodge Intrepid drivers didn’t have a choice however, because the bolts in their seat’s reclining mechanism could break and result in the seat falling flat. Luckily, Chrysler’s recall of over one million vehicles saw the issue quickly rectified before any serious harm could be done.

Porsche’s combustible GT3

911 fire Porsche

After spending £100,000 on your new supercar you could be forgiven for expecting it to not spontaneously combust. So imagine how disappointed you’d be to find your car doing exactly that whilst parked up.

Porsche determined that loose connector rod screws were causing oil to spill onto hot engine components, resulting in fire. The problem is being fixed for all 785 GT3 owners, including Top Gear’s own Richard Hammond, with updated engines being installed in every 991 911 GT3.

Ferrari’s flammable 458


The problem of supercar infernos is not just limited to products of Stuttgart. Four years earlier Ferrari 458 owners watched their brand new supercars burst into flames as a highly flammable wheel-arch glue ignited.

Only a handful of cars were affected and a simple glue change addressed the problem, but it’s ironic to think that a car famed for its prancing horse badge can be beaten by a product that was made from equines once upon a time…


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