When vehicles consist of thousands of moving parts (and more recently,
on-board computers), defects become statistically inevitable—although
good car companies will proactively test and issue recalls as needed to
ensure safety. Continuing our thread from the
previous post, let’s look at a few more of history’s craziest automobile defects.
Ford’s Fire-starting Ignition (1988-1993)
Giving fresh meaning to the word “ignite,” the faulty ignition
switches on nearly 8 million Ford vehicles would quite literally
ignite, frequently causing the cars themselves to catch fire. The most unusual
part: The fire could start at any time, even with the car turned off and
vacant. (Heaven help the owner if the car was in the garage.) Although
Ford didn’t complete the recalls until 1996, remarkably, no one
died from the incidents.
Chrysler Voyager’s Burning Radios (2004)
You turn up the radio, and the rear speakers catch fire. No, it’s
not a music video—you’re in a 2004 Chrysler Voyager minivan.
Thanks to an undetected design flaw, moisture from the air conditioner
ducts would condense on the radio system, causing a short circuit when
the radio volume was turned up.
Toyota Corolla’s Magic Airbag-Deploying Cup Holders (c. 1995)
In perhaps one of the weirdest cause-and-effect scenarios on record, Toyota
Corolla drivers in the mid-1990s started having their airbags deploy randomly,
triggered by beverages spilling out of the car’s defective cup holders.
Toyota had to recall more than 600,000 vehicles as a result.
Honda’s “Permanent” Seat Belts (1995)
Sometimes even the device intended to protect you can work against you.
In the mid-1990s, a design flaw in Honda’s seat belt mechanism would
cause the release latch to break while the seatbelt was engaged, making
escape nearly impossible. (Imagine the seat belt keeping you safe during
an accident, only to trap you in the car after the impact.) The recall
affected 3.7 million Hondas as a result.
Obviously, ignoring a vehicle recall can make driving unsafe for you and
for others. See our
recent post for more details.
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to a defective car part, our
Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys
can help. Call our office to learn more.