Toyota's troubles may have pushed car recalls into the headlines, but they were hardly the first high-profile carmaker to do so. In fact, Toyota's recalls of the past year amounting to 9.1 million vehicles, aren't nearly as infamous as some in the past.
For sheer size, Ford's fire-prone, cruise control mechanisms prompted a car recall of more than 20 models and nearly 15 million vehicles worldwide from 1996 to 2010. If your criterion for worst ever is unbridled brand damage, look no further than Ford's 1978 recall of its snake-bitten Pinto model, which led to years of bad press and the phrase "a barbecue that seats four."
Since the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was enacted in 1966 giving the government the power to recall unsafe cars, 390 million vehicles have been recalled. Most car recalls were important, but more for mundane fixes for defective emergency brakes, leaky fuel lines, bad axles and other parts that can fall victim to bad design or shoddy manufacturing.
But sometimes a vehicle defect is so far-reaching or dangerous that it makes national headlines for weeks or months. Here are Bankrate's eight most infamous car recalls.