Everything You Need to Know About the Ford Tranny Defect

Thankfully, this Ford tranny defect happened several decades ago, so it’s nothing we should be worrying about today. But given the recent scandal going on with Volkswagen, it’s always a good idea to look back on history and see some notes regarding the automotive industry. Perhaps it may keep us on the right footing when things go wrong, as we’re sure VW’s looking carefully into their future for the market.

Let’s Move on From the Pinto and Go to This Horrible Debacle of a Ford Tranny Defect!

Ford just doesn’t get much luck, does he? Recalls seem to be the common deal for such an Ford tranny defect-1automaker, and even while the Ford Pinto was nothing but a disaster, it turned out that Ford faced another catastrophe in a recall back in 1980 once the NHTSA discovered Ford’s automatic transmissions between 1966 and 1980 were defective — as in the Ford tranny defects would cause the cars to go in reverse. Yes, go ahead and let your jaws drop. Everyone’s nightmare behind the wheel.

Sadly, this was another case where Ford simply neglected to deal with the issue since 1972, knowing that there was this apparent Ford tranny defect. Shame on you, Ford. The company even rejected an improvement to the design that would cost them an easy three pennies per vehicle and opted to just simply pay off victims and families a hefty $20MM sum for their troubles.

At the time, it seemed more convenient to do just that. But in hindsight…. Really, what was Ford thinking?

Of Course, This Ford Tranny Defect Fiasco Didn’t End With Such a Settlement

It turned out that the Ford tranny defect actually caused well over 700 accidents, over 250 injuries and over 20 accident-related deaths. The NHTSA couldn’t just sit there — they were going to declare an apocalyptic 23MM-car recall, which would’ve likely sent Ford to the grave, but who came to the automaker’s rescue? None other than President Reagan who issued out a compromise as Ford pleaded poverty in the worst way.

What was the solution? Ford ended up issuing out 23MM stickers to all Ford owners, reading “make sure the gear selector lever is fully engaged in park” and to also “fully engage the parking brake” before turning off the car. Smart. And that was apparently enough to dodge the disastrous recall that would’ve been heard globally.

Ford got super-lucky.

Everything You Need to Know About the Audi Scandal

Sorry to say, but this Audi scandal’s long gone as a memory of the ’80s, although the fact is this — this scandal wasn’t even really a scandal, per se, but Audi certainly did take some massive heat for it. Want to know what it was about?

The Audi Scandal of the ’80s: When Cars Drove Wild

We’re of course talking about acceleration, something those Audi vehicles had some trouble with, apparently. Audi very nearly had to exit the American market of the auto industry as a result, much like how Volkswagen might have to regarding their emissions test scandal. Audi scandal-2However, the scandal was only due to a sucker punch of an exposé when CBS’s “60 Minutes” interviewed Audi owners claiming that their cars would accelerate without drivers putting any pressure on the gas.

Scary thought. Makes one think about those haunted Stephen King cars (“Christine” or “Maximum Overdrive,” anyone?).

Talk about an apparent scam, though, setting off such a panic after Audi went ahead and sold more than 75K cars in the U.S. and facing sales trickle of a measly 12K cars in 1991. But here’s the kicker: the video proved to be a scam all itself as viewers weren’t even told that the Audi car was modified with an air compressor forcing the vehicle into gear so that it would look like it was accelerating uncontrollably. Sneaky.

Still the Damage Was Done Thanks to This Audi Scandal

And it took the automaker nearly 20 years to recover from this obvious Audi scandal, through no fault of their own, though. Even when Audi ran some pretty snotty ads quizzing potential buyers about their cars that “if you can pass this test…. You’re ready for an Audi,” making it seem like buyers wouldn’t know where the gas pedal was, Audi still survived.

And it turned out Audi was absolutely right — tests proved that people would confuse the gas and brake pedals, vindicating the automaker as a continuing competitor in the automotive market. I guess that’s a precursor to the hanging “chad” of Florida voters when Gore ran against Bush? Hmm….

Everything You Need to Know About the Ford-Firestone Fiasco

Thankfully, this bitter problem has been long gone in the annuls of scandalous automotive history, but Ford to this day probably still does remember the issue back then regarding those Firestone tires. What was the deal with the Ford-Firestone disaster? Check it out….

The Ford-Firestone Problem Was All About the New Explorer

It was the ’90s, an age when SUVs ruled the landscape like the thunder lizards. Who knew that this T. Rex of a scandal would rock the nation in 2000 when Ford partnered with Firestone to herald in the new era with the Explorer, replacing the dangerous Bronco II, an SUV prone to Ford-Firestone-1rollovers. Not something you’d want to experience.

Ford-Firestone thought they had it right. And for a while there, they did. The Ford Explorer sold like hotcakes until it turned out the NHTSA sought to investigate occurrences of blowouts leading to rollovers. So what did Ford do?

Ford blamed Firestone.

What did Firestone do? They blamed Ford! You can see the issue ensuing and a battle between dinosaurs of this automotive industry shock the world.

The issue had to be addressed given the fact that there had been 100 deaths worldwide due to rollovers, so someone had to be held accountable. Ford-Firestone was on the brink of implosion as the tire company recalled 6.5MM tires while pointing the finger and saying that the heat, low tire pressure and the Ford Explorer’s weight were all the causes of those accidents. Of course, Ford Motor Company struck back, sticking to their opinion — they said those Firestone tires sucked.

Like All Battles, It Ended ‘Amicably’

Of course, executives for Ford-Firestone collectively battled each other in court, trying to come up with some consensus on who was at fault, but in the end, it just turned out that Ford-Firestone was no more back in 2002. Parting ways, it just seemed the right decision given the millions of dollars paid out for lawsuits. The issue just no longer mattered!

What’s funny is this — neither company to this day has admitted full responsibility for the rollover issue.

Everything You Need to Know About the Toyota Scandal

When looking at auto scandals, such as the one Volkswagen’s facing right now, you have to wonder just what could possibly be the worst — is it the tires like with Firestone and Ford? Or perhaps it’s all about the cutthroat marketing with GM and Chrysler? No. It has to be something that could very well jeopardize human life. Acceleration. And we saw something like that before regarding Audi (although that automaker was indeed vindicated).

This Toyota Scandal Is Exactly About That: Acceleration

To be clear, that’s unintended acceleration. When your car seems to be gaining in speed and you don’t even have your foot on the pedal, there’s a problem! And it turned out that only Toyota scandal-1just three years ago, Toyota had agreed to pay the government an astonishing $1.2B, avoiding prosecution in the automotive industry for years of proof showing unintended acceleration occurrences with your Toyota and Lexus models.

This payout happened to be the largest criminal penalty ever. And with no surprise, the Toyota scandal did result in the carmaker blaming the issue on everything but the kitchen sink —

  • Driver Errors
  • Floor Mats
  • Lack of Proof

Sadly, it turned out that the Toyota scandal had been blanketed by the fact that the company was effectively hiding documents about the one central flaw — the gas pedal assembly! Executives of Toyota had to take one good look at their hands and realize that the skin’s smeared with the stains of many facing the flaw and potentially realizing death due to accidents that could be prevented.

It’s a Miracle Toyota Still Manufactures Vehicles Today

That’s tenacity and professionalism, something Volkswagen can take notes on regarding the Toyota scandal of that decade. Toyota admitted fault, recalling 9.3MM vehicles worldwide. Replacing those gas pedal assemblies took a lot of money, but in the long run it was well worth it for the automaker. And the truth shall set you free.

Everything You Need to Know About Those Takata Airbags

There’s a reason why we don’t see problem with airbags these days — it seems like the auto industry would learn their lessons and know that automotive safety is paramount. That’s why we have this Takata airbags scandal to learn from:

What Exactly Went on With Those Takata Airbags?

The Japanese automotive supplier knew all about airbags for years, actually. But something got missed in a memo saying that the Takata airbags between 2000 and 2008 weren’t doingtakata airbags-1 the job they were supposed to do, risking the lives of many drivers. And this was a big deal precisely due to this fact: Takata airbags were installed in vehicles for ten of the globe’s greatest automakers!

That’s about 17MM vehicles, for those wanting turnkey mathematics. Talk about a big Takata airbags scandal resulting in arguably one of the heftiest recalls known to the automotive industry. We can guess that Volkswagen can relate regarding their emissions scandal….

The problem with those Takata airbags was the fact that they were apparently affected by moisture, also deploying with excessive force. This could cause fatal injuries when the Takata airbags were meant to provide safety. The New York Times, of course, exposed the issue, alleging that Honda and Takata knew about that fatal flaw, which resulted in the government fining Honda a pretty wicked $70MM. What’s sad about that is this: Honda wasn’t even responsible!

It was Takata, facing fines of $14K for each day they didn’t cooperate with the federal investigation.

But Here’s the Scariest Thing About This Scandal….

Because of how expansive this worldwide scandal is regarding the Takata airbags, it turns out that there still may be as many as 30MM vehicles out there with those exact same airbags. You better be careful; you might be driving a death trap. Pretty frightening, don’t you think?

Everything You Need to Know About the GM Ignition Scandal

Karma kills in the auto industry, people — it’s been seen a million times, and when you consider nearly a century ago GM got vicious with a scandal sending the monumental Chrysler Airflow to its grave, turnabout’s fair play as this GM ignition scandal could potentially make Volkswagen quiver in its boots over the current emissions scandal the German automaker’s facing. What happened to GM almost a decade ago? Very simply put, General Motors wasn’t careful, and the GM ignition scandal hit them hard.

The Gist of the GM Ignition Scandal

It was back in 2007 when Chevrolet ended up having to recall 98K vehicles for failing to meet federal safety standards. Nothing too serious, though. It’s when you get to the millions when the auto industry essentially says you’re screwed, and GM was far from that.Gm ignition scandal-1

However, in 2010, a faulty power steering system caused the recall of 1.3MM vehicles. Without a doubt, GM was feeling the heat. Their recall numbers hit well above the million range, but would you believe that even that wasn’t enough poison? Try this:

The Chevy Cobalt could’ve easily buried the company if it wasn’t for some coughing up the costs and potentially contributing to the bankruptcy of one of America’s most prolific automakers. The Chevy Cobalt was infamous for the GM ignition scandal due to a faulty ignition switch. How important is this switch? Well, it only ensures that the car stays on. If something’s wrong with that switch, your car could easily just shut down while driving, deactivating your safety systems like the airbag and anti-lock brakes. You can see where we’re going with this….

Of course, like with all other scandals, the automaker knew about this GM ignition scandal way back in 2004, surmising that the cost completely outweighed the effort to remedy it. Big mistake. Although in 2006, GM finally decided to eat their own words and fix the situation resulting in 13 deaths, issuing out a 2.6MM recall of the Cobalt as well as the Pontiac G5.

Sadly, GM also faced a $10BB civil suit, a lawsuit they were able to ‘dodge’ to some degree due to the fact that the “old” bankrupt GM before the corporation restructured should be held responsible. Smart tactic.

Still, It’ll Be a Long Road for General Motors

Old GM or new doesn’t matter. History says a lot about lost money, lives and defective auto parts. Perhaps they should’ve been a little nicer to the Chrysler Airflow all those years back!

Everything You Need to Know About the Ford Pinto

Economy and simplicity became the name of the begin around the ’70s, what with the rise of imports pulverizing the automotive industry and forcing the American-made market to make some kind of move. So Ford came out with the Ford Pinto in 1971. Big mistake (at least in the long run).

Honestly, the Ford Pinto Wasn’t a Bad Car at All!

It seemed like everyone wanted a Ford Pinto back then! Apparently a car named after a bean was kind of cute. In its first year of sale, Ford made a pretty penny on the bean with 328,275 vehicles sold. There was just one slight problem: Ford know there was a problem with the Pinto but neglected to tell anyone about it.Ford Pinto-1

Here was the problem with the Ford Pinto: it had a fuel filler neck that could easily break away and poke a nasty hole or two in the fuel tank. This naturally would only occur during a rear-end collision, though, but in that day and age when crashes were common, this didn’t say much for the Ford Pinto as a reliable vehicle. As a result, as the fuel filler neck would puncture the tank, this would then spray fuel into the passenger compartment and cause a nasty fire. You’d think Ford would’ve been wise enough to do something about that before launching the Ford Pinto into sale….

Here’s Ford’s reasoning for not addressing the issue they knew would occur even before Ford Pintos would even go into production — it was just too expensive to fix! We call that quite the auto scandal possibly even rivaling that of the most recent Volkswagen-gate going on. But it’s all relative. The fact was a fuel system upgrade would’ve added $11 to the cost of each car. Not a lot at first glance, but when you’re producing thousands of vehicles for sale, well….

Still, a shield to protect the tank from rupturing would’ve easily cost Ford only a measly dollar, but what the heck do we know? We’re just Profile Reviews. We call it like we see it.

So Did Ford End up Coughing Up the Money to Remedy the Situation?

Yes, and no. You can see Ford slapping his own forehead with this one, as a memo back in 1973 found its way to the media basically spelling out the estimate for how many deaths to expect annually due to the defect in the fuel filler neck, and it wasn’t pretty — it basically said it would be cheaper for the company to just ‘ignore’ the problem versus fixing it, and by 1978, they felt the public sting and outrage as Ford went ahead and recalled 1.5MM of those Ford Pintos, along with the Mercury Bobcat, just to make those modifications to the fuel system.

How bad was the outcry that forced Ford to succumb? Well, when facing 900 drivers dying as a result of the fuel system flaw and millions of dollars in coming civil suits, it turned out that the memo was wrong. Ford spent way more money than what it would’ve cost just to make those changes. You live and you learn.

Everything You Need to Know About the 1960s Chevy Scandal

Not one worker for Chevrolet back in the day of the late ’60s felt blessed to work in the factory when this Chevy scandal hit the fan like feces and caused a massive chain reaction — much like the chain reaction set off by Chevrolet engine mounts — that sent ripples through the auto industry. Pretty bad issue, actually, but thankfully we’re still seeing those Chevys driving around today….

It Wasn’t so Easy Back Then Because of the Chevy Scandal

So what was the whole hoopla about? Well, those engine mounts were the problem. They Chevy Scandal-1were defective. An NHTSA report shed some light on the issue, referring to General Motors about some more data, and the information wasn’t exactly pleasant — 172 reports of failed motor mounts, which resulted in 63 accidents and 18 injuries. Now that wasn’t even the Chevy scandal that would mess with your head….

It turned out that GM — and the NHTSA — actually went hush-hush on the issue for almost three years before coming out with the report and making it known to the public. In a nutshell, they risked more accidents occurring as a result of these defective engine mounts. Not smart.

Why were those engine mounts so defective? Basically, at the high speed, those mounts would torque out of position and throw the entire throttle body out of sync, causing even more acceleration — unintended acceleration. GM, in fact, discovered that those same defective engine mounts had been installed in Chevys for over a decade, forcing the discussion for that legitimate safety concern that’s so prevalent in today’s auto industry, what with auto insurance and roadside assistance major factors.

What Did Gm Do About This Chevy Scandal? It’s Simple….

The automaker recalled an alarming 6.5MM of those vehicles, fixing the issue promptly. Smart move. And it saved GM from disaster. Take notes, Volkswagen. This is how you handle a problem.

 

Everything You Need to Know About the Tucker

What is the Tucker? Oh, only one of the hidden gems of the automotive industry, surprisingly eclipsed equally by its subsequent failure. You can’t blame the man, though, behind the myth and the machine, Mr. Preston Tucker, for his drive and desire to put his own footprint and skidmark in the auto market with tenacity and fervor. If only he had thought things through just a bit more, he might’ve had a real goldmine there….

The Tragedy That Was the Tucker

Enter: the “honeymoon stage” of a birth of a new innovation in the auto industry, as the Tucker was launched back in 1948 to the imagination of the public of a new era. Think bold. Tucker-1Think streamlined and styled to herald a new future in the commute of a brave American empire like General Motors. Preston Tucker really did have something in his dream, honestly, given how successful he was as a designed of a gun turret for the United States Navy.

With the advanced safety features and a charismatic fundraising campaign, Tucker took his, well, Tucker and did a bit of a grassroots initiative, traveling in his car, selling stock and dealership franchises to make that name for himself. He even took down payments on cars to put into production. Ambitious. But risky.

It was risky given the fact that Tucker’s company really started with no capital at all — something any normal businessman would’ve even think of doing, no matter how successful the idea might be predicted to be. So you can’t blame Mr. Tucker for doing his best to at least keep the lights on for his auto factory by selling options and accessories to customers who had purchased vehicles that weren’t even built, yet!

You can see the big ending here: delays in production occurred. Pretty much par for the course. But because customers got antsy, the government got involved and indicted Tucker and his board of directors for fraud, effectively shutting his company down. You honestly can’t sell cars to people that haven’t been manufactured, yet! How’s that for an auto scandal, Volkswagen?

The Tucker: an Inherent Tragedy, But Not Because of the Car Itself

There’s no doubt that the Tucker would’ve been a tremendous standard in the auto industry. But after just 51 of those Tuckers built and the factory closing shortly after, it’s a sad fact that you may never see a Tucker even sitting in a garage today. You might see it in a museum, though.

Everything You Need to Know About the Chrysler Airflow

When it comes to auto scandals like what we’ve seen with Volkswagen, this story may be just about the dirtiest of them all, because it does involve a major automotive giant still existing today, albeit the most recent financial troubles: General Motors. Back in the day, GM was king — until another energetic upstart of an automaker came out with the rather innovative Chrysler Airflow in 1934, a prototype of sheer cinematic genius way ahead of its time and foreshadowing automotive excellence for many years to come.

Of Course, GM Hated That the Chrysler Airflow Was Getting so Much Attention….

This is where the auto industry can get super-vicious. So what did General Motors do? theyChrysler Airflow-1 bought out advertisements in the Saturday Evening Post, pitching proverbial puke balls at the Chrysler Airflow with allegations of plagiarism due to a “top-secret GM design.” Think of it this way: GM was the big bully kid jealous of the smarty-pants who the girls really liked (but wouldn’t admit it).

Those were the days when auto advertising and competition were so bloodthirsty that it made mixed martial arts look like butt slapping with a wet napkin. Amazingly enough, though, Chrysler wasn’t reeling much at the stab GM made, releasing a newsreel of phenomenal prowess and innovation, showing off the Chrysler Airflow and its advanced suspension by shooting out tires at high speeds. Impressive. The newsreel even featured a pitcher throwing a fastball at a window and not even cracking the glass. Testers even rolled the darn car over and drove it away without a problem; and if that wasn’t enough, they drove the Chrysler Airflow off a 110-foot cliff, and after it landed, testers at the bottom drove the steel beast off into the horizon — all without one dent on the fender or a scratch on the windshield.

You’d Think That Impressive Newsreel Would Make a Difference in This Auto Industry

Sadly, it did not. The Chrysler Airflow was beaten (not by the cliff, obviously) due to the gossip and scare tactics of GM and their successful smear campaign. The car that would’ve made more headlines for years to come was then discontinued due to the bad press and negativity of the supposed “scandal” and was never seen again.

Case in point: you lose in the auto industry if you’re the target of gossip!