Folks, it has been a banner year for fails on the part of the world's auto manufacturers. 2014 might have been the high water mark for official NHTSA recalls, but if you include the 11 million vehicles Volkswagen is going to end up retrofitting, and the 14 million cars FCA voluntarily recalled for its 8.4-inch Uconnect issue, this is a record-setting year for cars returning to the dealership for fixes.
To celebrate the occasion, Ray and the Motorin' Tabernacle Choir present their rendition of that old holiday classic, "The 12 Recalls of Christmas," and we're presenting the information on all the recalls mentioned in the song. You can play the entire video at the end of this story. Special thanks to the Choir, which was composed of MIT students who all participate in MIT's many acapella groups: Jakob Weisblat (MIT Techiya), Jaqui De Sa (MIT Asymptones), Ayesha Bajwa (MIT Ohms) and Brandon Sanchez (MIT Logarhythms).
2. Filthy Diesels
This one should go without saying, but Volkswagen (and Audi) were ensnared in a scandal regarding its TDI Clean Diesel-powered models, where the company employed software to cheat emissions testing by reducing the diesel's emissions only when the car was plugged-in to have its emissions tested. While NHTSA hasn't issued an official recall, Volkswagen is working on a fix for the cars that will involve as many as 11 million cars worldwide. Read more about the scandal at BestRide.com.
3. Lethal Airbags
The Takata airbag scandal continued to unwind throughout 2015, gobbling up manufacturers from around the globe. Takata represented about 20 percent of the entire airbag supply for the auto industry, and the recalls included cars from BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and even Ferrari. Shortages mean that it might be years before all the cars end up having their airbags replaced. Find out if your car is affected, right here.
4. Slipshod Seat-Belts
This year, Tesla recalled every single one of its Model S sedans to inspect and possibly replace a seatbelt that wasn't properly installed. Unlike most of the other recalls in the song, this one was a voluntary recall initiated by Tesla after a customer turned to talk to her rear-seat passengers and her seatbelt disconnected. The incident didn't involve a crash, and nobody was injured. This year, Tesla also ended a significant benefit to customers who needed service, but weren't close to a Tesla service center. Read more about that at BestRide.com.
5. Fried Piston Rings
We're claiming a little poetic license on this one. It wasn't just fried piston rings, it was the whole car. GM recalled 1.4 million cars this year for an oil leak that could drip onto the exhaust manifold and cause an engine fire. In some cases, cars are being recalled for the fourth time because the original fix didn't work. GM had a ton of recalls this year and you can read all about them here.
6. Tailgates Drooping
Some General Motors crossovers feature a tailgate that can close exactly when you don't want it to, which bashed 56 people in the back of the head. The recalls include the Chevrolet Traverse, the Buick Enclave, the GMC Acadia, and the (discontinued) Saturn Outlook.
7. Tanks Exploding
Ford wasn't immune to major recalls this year. Nearly half a million of its Ford Fusion and (defunct) Mercury Milan sedans had a fuel tank with a defective canister purge valve that caused internal tank pressure that could lead to a crack in the tank. (Ford not depicted in massive car fire photo above).
8. (point four) Hackers Hacking
Look, we're not Luddites (although we do still have a VCR to record Matlock) but sometimes technology advances too quickly to keep a handle on. That was the case with the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system that allowed hackers to not only change your favorite radio presets to All Michael Bolton, All the Time, but to cause major functional control issues for the driver. Like the Tesla recall, FCA got out ahead of the problem and took the 14 million cars affected back before official NHTSA recall. To read why the issue was so significant, read the coverage at BestRide.com
9. Ignitions Failing
For GM, the ignition switch recall is the issue that simply wouldn't go away in 2015. By September, General Motors agreed to pay $900 million to families of the 124 people killed in part due to a faulty ignition switch in its cars.
10. Fuel Lines Leaking
This recall was small in the grand scheme of things, but potentially devastating if you're one of the people driving almost 50,000 Nissan Altimas or Maximas with a faulty o-ring installed between the fuel tank and the fuel sending unit. In a crash, that o-ring can cause a significant leak.
11. Wheels Not Steering
12. Fuses Blowing
All press is good press, right? Toyota wasn't content to let all the other manufacturers gobble up all the attention, so it recalled 6.5 million cars this year for inconsistently applied electrical grease on a power window switch that could cause a fire.