Deadliest Car Defects In History

We all know that driving comes with at least some element of risk. According to experts like this Sacramento product liability lawyer, though, auto manufacturer errors and defective vehicle parts are another hazard to keep in mind, as they account for a noticeable amount of accidents and collisions out on the road.

Just what sort of defects have been prevalent in the cars we drive? That’s what we’ll be taking a look at today, as we examine some of the deadliest car defects throughout history.

The Ford Park-To-Reverse Problem

To make a long story short here, Ford Motors produced about 23 million vehicles from the period of 1966-1980 that had a design defect in their automatic transmissions. That defect would cause the car to unexpectedly shift from park to reverse, putting motorists at risk.

Ford was able to mitigate the problem, in a sense. Instead of recalling the vehicles, though, they mailed out notification stickers to the owners of these vehicles, instructing them to “shove the shifter into Park real good and then mash that parking-brake pedal before shutting down the engine.” Unfortunately, this warning came after some 100 people lost their lives because of the defect.

Gas Tank Goes Boom

The Ford Pinto is a name that will live on in infamy, but it wasn’t the only vehicle that claimed victims due to poor gas tank positioning. 

The Mercury Bobcat suffered from similar issues that would cause the gas tank to rupture during rear-end collisions, spill fuel, and, in the worst cases, explode. Close to 200 people were killed due to this defect, and the subsequent recall involved about 1.5 million Ford Pintos and 30,000 Mercury Bobcats.

The list of explosion-related defects goes on. While the Pinto and Bobcat explosions might be linked to poor gas tank positioning, the issues with Fiat’s Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee models were mostly due to the gas tanks being improperly protected.

It’s a defect the manufacturer knew about but kept hush in an attempt to save money on potential recalls. Though some steps to mitigate the issue have been taken in the recent years, there have been well over 400 deaths from the defects on these vehicles since 1998.

Faulty Ignitions

In more recent news, GM was embroiled in quite the scandal once the public caught wind of their defective ignitions, which would cause the airbags in vehicles to disable (while the car was in motion) and would also result in drivers losing control of their car (or the car turning off altogether). All told, more than 120 people died because of the problem.