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The Recalls Of 1968 Show That Not A Whole Bunch Has Changed In About 50 Years Of Auto Industry History

The Recalls Of 1968 Show That Not A Whole Bunch Has Changed In About 50 Years Of Auto Industry History

I have what I like to believe is a bunch of cool old stuff at my house. My wife likes to believe that this “cool old stuff” is actually “smelly junk”. She is of course wrong but the problem is that if I concede even and inch on this point, I’m pretty much admitting that I am a hoarder and that’s not a therapy bill I want to start paying at this point. That’s why pack rat with “cool old stuff” it is. Among my heap is the book you see in the lead photo above. This is the list of every automotive safety defect recall from January 1, 1968 – December 31, 1968. It encompasses virtually every company that was selling cars or trucks in the USA at that time both foreign and domestic. While the foreign car market had yet to explode like it did in the early 1970s, the companies outside of the USA were starting to make inroads into the market and eroding a little of the big Detroit manufacturers market share. Despite their far lower combined sales volume numbers, they did manage to have a whole bunch of cars recalled in 1968 primarily driven by two larger recalls from Toyota and Volkswagen. More on that later.

Here was the overall score:

Total number of domestic cars and trucks recalled in 1968: 955,484

Total number of foreign cars and trucks recalled in 1968: 552,397

So who led the league at getting the government to demand they fix their junk? Here’s the top three recalls (in numbers) for domestic manufacturers –

3.) Chrysler: 145,331 cars and trucks 

2.) Ford: 268,028 cars and trucks

1.) General Motors: 453,129 cars and trucks

Here are the top three foreign recall campaigns for 1968 –

3.) British Leyland Motors: 9,114

2.) Toyota Motor Sales USA: 39,014

1.) Volkswagen of America: 464,942

So let’s take a look at what the major drivers were for the league leaders in both foreign and domestic recalls for 1968:

Chrysler: Their big issue was the recalls of 100,000 Dodge models equipped with the 340, 383, or 440 engine that had Carter 4bbl carbs on them. According to the report, the carbs had bad fast idle cams and, “Prolonged usage, aggravated by engine backfiring, may result in failure of secondary lockout finger. This would reduce engine performance by keeping secondary throttle shut and could result in an open throttle condition wherein the engine would not return to idle. (Correct by installing new fast idle cam.)

Ford: There were three major recalls sprinkled into Ford’s lineup that drove their number to nearly 300,000 vehicles in 1968. Here they are –

39,000 Falcons, Fairlanes, and Rancheros were recalled for “Possibility that improper heat treated centerlink pin to steering idler arm may fail due to tension stress after tightening the retaining nut. Failure of this pin could cause loss of steering control (Correct by replacing with proper heat treated pin.)

82,000 F-500, 600, 700, 750 Series Trucks and buses were recalled for, “Possibility of failure of rivets used for attaching the front spring rear hanger bracket to frame. Rivet failure would allow the bracket to separate from frame imposing severe loads at the front bracket. Should the spring disengage from the front bracket the axle will shift and loss of steering control could result. Also, there is a possibility of misassembly or misalignment of certain components in the power steering system. Failure to correct this condition, if present, also could result in steering control. (Correct by installing new rivets and power steering components if necessary)

75,000  Fords and Mercurys equipped with drum brakes were recalled for, “Possibility front brake hoses incorrectly routed on vehicles equipped with drum-type brakes. Improperly routed hoses my be damaged through contact with brake drum, causing front brakes to become inoperative. However, rear brakes would not be affected due to dual brake system. (Correct by inspecting and properly routing hoses when necessary.)

General Motors: Like Ford, there were three big ones that really drove the numbers for GM in 1968. Here they are –

Chevelle: 64,913 Chevelles were called home to the dealers because of, “Possibly insufficient clearance between the brake pipe and the engine oil pan and/or the transmission cooler lines. Interference could cause brake line chafing and wear through lines. This would result in loss of front wheel braking action. (Correct by reforming brake pipe for adequate clearance.)

Oldsmobile: 28,639 88 and 98 Series Olds cars were recalled for, “Possibility of misaligned transmission downshift actuating rod could cause throttle to be held in partially open position should the accelerator be snapped to the floor abnormally hard to make a downshift. If the throttle is held partially open by this rod the vehicle may be difficult to control. (Correct by inspection and realign rod if necessary).

Camaro, Chevy II, El Camino, Buick Special, Skylark, Tempest, Firebird, F-85 equipped with L-4 or L-6 engine and Monojet carb: The big daddy for GM in 1968 was this recall that affected 310,290 cars and they all came in because there was, “Possibility that carb throttle lever may interfere with throttle retaining clip. If this occurs, can cause throttle lever to be held in partially open position, preventing its return to idle position, making the vehicle difficult to stop. (Correct where necessary with improved type throttle rod clip.)

Now that we have seen what the domestics were recalled for, here’s what the foreign stuff had issues with:

British Leyland had two recalls of note and they are small volume as compared to the Detroit guys, but then again so were their sales –

Triumph GT-6: 2,796 were recalled for, “Possibility that under extreme forward or backward stress on seat, pawl can slip out of aperture in seat runner on slide and alter seat adjustment. (Correct by filing slightly more angularity on face of pawl where it contacts slide.)

Austin American: 5,771 were recalled for, “Possibility front suspension tie rods improperly heat treated. If condition exists, rod could fracture allowing front wheel to come in contact with fender well, causing braking effect and possibly reducing steering control. (Correct by replacing tie rods)

Toyota was next up on the docket with their recalls and there was just one and it only affected one model –

Corona: 39,014 (which may have been every single Corona sold that year) were recalled because, “Possibility that screws within carburetor automatic-chock mechanism securing thermostat housing may become loose. In very rare cases, dropping of screws within housing may interfere with choke mechanism, preventing throttle level from returning to idle position and making vehicle difficult to stop. (Correct by inspecting screws and tightening and caulking where necessary.)

Lastly, Volkswagen led the league in recall number for foreign manufacturers in 1968 (they were also the largest selling foreign manufacturer in ’68 as well)

Beetle, Karmann Ghia: 87,860 were called back to dealers for, “Possibility wheel bolts were not correctly torqued and wheels were not correctly centered. If vehicle is operated under such conditions and especially if hand brake has not been fully released, the wheel bolts may loosen, (Correct by inspection of wheel and wheel bolts and properly centering wheels.)

Type I, II, III (Beetle, convertible, Karmann Ghia, station wagon, square back, and fastback) – 293,000 of these guys were brought in for, “Possibility that front seat over the shoulder/lap safety belts have tendency to gradually loosen their adjustment. If this occurs belts are not kept taut and are not as effective. (Correct by inspection and add a spring device as necessary.)



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