Spiders, the wrong shade of turn signal, passenger brakes, and more spiders.
Recalls are an annoying fact of automotive life. This writer recently had an airbag recall on a 2001 BMW, which was to fix a recall that was supposed to fix the original recall 15 years ago. While that might sound absurd, it's got nothing on some of the following recalls.
Even Honda's recall last year with a fix that involved 336,468 people having to put a correction sticker over an error on their car handbook didn't make the cut. Nor did BMW being forced by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard to change the software for the rear-view camera system so the driver can't change the settings and make the screen so bright it becomes useless. These are even more ridiculous.
Back in 2011, GM had to call back 4,296 Chevrolet Sonic models as they had left the factory, gotten to the dealer, and then been sold to customers with brake pads missing. The problem was traced back to a subassembly of components, where the brake pads were falling off before they reached Chevrolet's factory in Michigan. Nobody noticed that the brake pads had landed at the bottom of the containers. As far as we know, not many cars were actually affected, and no injuries or loss of life came of it.
In 2015, the Lincoln MKC came to market with a button-operated transmission, and under the stack of buttons was the engine stop/start button. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what started to happen. Ford explained it as: "Due to the switch's close proximity to other controls, occupants are inadvertently shutting off the engine while driving." The manufacturer had to bring back 13,574 cars to change the module.
Honda's silliest sounding reason to call customers back to the dealer concerned the badge on the tailgate of its minivan. On the 2014 Odyssey models, Honda realized the badge could have been glued on the wrong side of customer's vehicles. Honda did the right thing, though, and explained: "The placement of the emblem may indicate that the vehicle has had repairs performed that are consistent with it being in a crash. This could affect the resale value of the vehicle."
In 2013, Toyota realized that a blockage in a drainage tube coming from the air conditioning condenser could cause water to drip down onto an airbag control module and cause a short circuit. That short circuit could then result in a sensor going off, deploying an airbag, or short-circuiting electrical functions like power steering. Three airbag deployments were recorded as well as 35 warning lights coming on in Camrys and Avalons. It was discovered that the blockage was caused by spiders spinning their webs in the drain tubes.
Before spiders bugged Toyota, Mazda had an issue with a specific breed of the arthropods. Yellow sac spiders were building their nests in the evaporative canister vent line of the fuel system, causing a blockage. Reportedly, some specific species are attracted to the smell of volatiles in gasoline, and Mazda issued a voluntary recall of Mazda 6 models built between 2010 and 2012 to fit them with software that would detect the problem and alert the driver.
Drinks are inevitably spilled in cars. However, if you were driving a Toyota Corolla in the mid-1990s, it could have set off the airbag. It turned out that spilled liquid in the cupholders could leak and affect the airbag sensors, causing a malfunction. Exactly 627,858 Corolla's were recalled in 1995 to fix the issue. Mostly, the airbag warning light would come on, but the risk was an airbag being deployed.
In 2018, BMW had to call back some X3 models as "The outer rear turn signals may flash red while the inner rear signal lights flash amber." The concern was that divers behind could get confused, while the signals didn't meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. We look forward to your 'BMW driver not using turn signal jokes' in the comments below.
This was also a problem for Ford back in 1978 when it was discovered that the Granada's turn signal lenses weren't the correct shade of amber.
Imagine driving down the road, then smelling smoke, and realizing your jeans are starting to burn. That happened to a Canadian woman, who also had her child in the back of the car. She discovered her car was one of 94,000 that had already had a recall performed to rectify the heater in the seat from short-circuiting. The Jetta, Golf, and the GTI built between 2002 and 2004 were all affected.
This one affected several 2010-2012 models, including the Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, and Subaru Impreza. What all the cars had in common was a CVT transmission with the Audiovox remote engine starter accessory installed. The problem was that if the remote was dropped, it could "randomly transmit an engine start request without pressing the button." In non-PR speak, it could start the vehicle and cause it to run for 15 minutes or until it ran out of fuel or the remote ran out of power. Not a huge deal, unless the car was parked in an enclosed space where it could cause a build-up of carbon monoxide.
You know when you're in the passenger seat of a car with a bad driver and find yourself reflexively pressing on a brake pedal that isn't there? In Europe, some Peugeot, Citroen, and Renault passengers in UK registered models found that it was. The models affected were designed and built in France as left-hand drives cars, then adapted to become right-hand drive for the UK market. The problem was that the master brake cylinder is on the left, so the automakers added a crossbar between the master cylinder and the driver's brake pedal on the right. However, they failed to "protect" the passenger-side lever.