Hooniverse Asks: What Other Lies Do You Think Automakers Are Getting Away With?

Lies, damned lies, and statistics, is a phrase popularized by Mark Twain among others, proving that prevarication is not a concept born of modernity. Volkswagen is perhaps the world’s biggest liar right now, having cheated its way through global emissions tests for a decade or more, but they are far from the only ones. In fact, just this moth Mitsubishi was caught having lied about their cars’ fuel economy. Less was made of that company’s fabrication however, since who the hell gives a rat’s rear end about Mitsubishi?
Still, with these corporate scandals having come to light, it makes you wonder, what else are auto makers attempting to get away with these days? What do you think are some of likely lies that car companies are trying to pull off right now?
Image: TheFreep


  1. It’s a lot more subtle than blatantly violating the law, but I’ve often wondered what, if any, the environmental impact is of all of the battery production for hybrids and EVs. I mean, there’s been chatter since the inception of the Prius that the mining for the battery did more harm than the Prius’ good mileage could make up for, but was there ever actually an environmental study done to prove this?

    1. Add in the fact that most electric generation in the US is coal fired plants and EV looks even worse.

    2. The subtlety relies on consumers’ pathological aversion to critical thinking, and obsessive love of easy answers. Any newly manufactured car will damage the environment far worse than keeping a used car going for another 5 years. “Oh, it uses less fossil fuels, therefore problem solved!” (See P161911‘s comment.)
      My easy answer? Just require manufacturers to provide 20 or 30 year service contracts that stay with the vehicle, not the owner, so the demand for new cars goes down and manufacturing them slows. Horrible for the economy, but maybe better for the enviroinment.

      1. Maybe Mercedes could return to making cars that last long enough to be heirlooms instead of being the softer alternative to BMW.

    3. I think the problem is there’s so many variables, and so many axes to be ground. Sure, there’s lots of mining involved in making a battery, but battery recycling has evolved, and there’s hardly zero impact in getting crude oil out of the ground.
      As far as the axe grinding goes, the only study I can easily think of is that one that claimed an H2 was more environmentally friendly than a Prius, but also presupposed the Toyota would be junked by 150k, while the Hummer would have a lifespan twice that.

    4. It’s a good question, and perhaps not an obvious answer. It’s a life-cycle analysis question.
      Making a car is a large-scale industrial enterprise. Many things need to be mined, refined, shaped, transported and assembled. There’s a lot of feedstocks, and a lot of bulk waste. A lot of process energy, and embodied energy, much less transport costs. There’s the energy and environmental issues related to operation and maintenance. And there’s also the environmental costs of disposing of the car, one way or another, at the end of its service life.
      When you look at the impacts of EVs and hybrids, they need to be weighed against those total casts and impacts of the life cycle of a gasoline or diesel powered car.
      This is one of many reasons why I prefer to purchase pre-owned vehicles. By extending service life, I’m avoiding all of the costs of making a new car, and helping to further amortize the costs of building this car.

  2. Ford was busted for the 32v Cobra when the performance didn’t match the HP promised. They pulled that crap back when the Mustang switched from the 302 Mod engine and the HP went down… Ford said the HPs were different or something?

    1. I was under the impression the 2003-2004 Cobras were under-rated, or do you mean the NA 32 valve Cobras?

      1. The 1999 Cobra 32v was supposed to have 320hp but was closer to 300… the intake had some manufacturing issues where there were little stalactites and stalagmites causing flow issues.
        After intake-gate, Ford started underrating.

  3. Temple of VTEC’s dyno testing of factory-fresh Accords indicates that Honda is a liar-liar-pants-on-fire about the crank horseponies of the earthdreams range of engines. This is the plot of the “189hp” four-banger paired with a manual:
    Either that, or they have engineered an incredibly efficient lineup of transmissions that slag off only about 5% of power between the crank and the road.
    Also, look at that torque curve. Electric. Can we finally put that bit about Hondas to rest?

      1. A-yup. Most reckon that Acura’s power claims are the true ones, when there’s zero difference in the engines themselves.

  4. People don’t want trucks, they want to buy fuel efficient Chevy Volts. Of course, that was Government Motors saying that. Politicians don’t know how to tell the truth.

    1. Well, they want the efficiency of Chevy Volts when gas hits $4/gal, but they want someone else to buy them in the lean times (development and production costs be damned), and they really would rather have that efficiency in something massive (laws of physics be damned).

  5. Not as blatant as VW but every manufacturer games the fuel economy ratings.
    The other would be truck manufacturers removing anything not welded down to increase the GVWR.

    1. Thankfully most truck manufacturers are finally getting some accountability for towing ratings with the SAE’s new tow tests.

    2. Of course they’re going to game the system. It’s a defined profile that is used to get the EPA numbers. Any time there is a government-mandated system in any industry, people are going to find ways to make that system work for them. Corporations are just groups of people.

      1. I was listening to an environmentalist on NPR talking about a polluted river up in the Northeast, and I thought it was interesting that he didn’t blame the corporations which polluted the river, rather, he blamed the government for not regulating what the corporations were doing, because what the corporations were doing was completely legal under the current law (although they didn’t immediately know the effects of what they were doing). He argued that even though he was an environmentalist, he still recognized that a corporation’s goal is to make as much money as possible, and as long as that’s within the confines of the law it’s hard to blame corporations for pursuing that goal.

        1. Crap. I just agreed with an environmentalist. I’m going to go rethink my entire existence now.

  6. If they can, or think they can get away with it, they are lying about it.
    There are so many people involved in the creation of a vehicle, the common wisdom would be that it would be difficult to keep a secret.
    More realistically, there are so many people involved in the creation of a vehicle, it is impossible to keep them all honest. If you’re at the top of the chain, you don’t want to know. Plausible deniability is your friend.

  7. I’m just waiting for proof of it, but I suspect that at least some BMWs ARE equipped with turn signals…

  8. Not quite a car manufacturer, but Google’s insistence that its self driving car is never at fault every time it’s in an accident smells fishy to me. It might not technically be at fault, but when it’s getting rear ended all the time, one has to wonder what exactly in the behavior of the AI is causing people to crash into it.
    Though the whole “computer controlled cars will never crash!” narrative is total bull anyway.

    1. The kind of computers and software engineered for self-driving cars conforms to a different set of constraints than the $500 HPDellToshiba you get at best buy. They would be built to a standard heretofore seen only for aircraft glass cockpits (which cost up and over a million buckeroos to equip ONE plane).
      Everything can be made reliable with sufficient investment. The real advantages of self-driving cars will be seen when all cars are not only self-driving, but receiving instructions from a central datacenter that is managing all traffic, at which point the AI is resting, ready to take over if/when connection is lost to the datacenter. The AI built into individual cars will take over fully once the car leaves the datacaenter’s grid, or in the event of a failure. Additionally, cars will be able to communicate with one another in a emotionless way that doesn’t involve middle fingers, horns, brake and lane checks, and generally ruffled feathers.

    2. My day job is troubleshooting enterprise software for a company that has plenty of experience in the field. I don’t buy into the whole “driverless cars are perfect” thing either.

  9. I think the most continual, widespread lie is, “We have not seen widespread reliability issues with the component/system involved in your warranty claim. The failure you experienced is an isolated issue.”
    Dexcool. Kappa differentials. Takata airbags. Ford truck brakes. They were all rare exceptions, over and over, until they weren’t.

    1. Went through that with the fuel tank on the Trailblazer. Lots of recalls, but “no your VIN isn’t affected”. A couple of years later I get a letter: “you might have had to replace your fuel tank, we’ll pay for it, if you can provide proof in triplicate with all correct paperwork”.

      1. So far, Honda hasn’t given us much trouble with the stuffs that needs repaired under recall or extended warranty on our Ody. Fuel pump leaking, making fire a potential? Replace them all in all Odys, just shy of a million of them. Power steering pump dying at under 100k? That’s pathetic — extend the warranty on them to 110k, and ask no questions when someone wants it replaced. Don’t wait for it to sound like a FoMoCo unit.
        The transmissions are still a sore point for many, though. 40k is pretty pathetic.

        1. Odys are still having transmission issues? I thought after about 2005 or so they had sorted that out.
          Our 99 had a transmission failure at 40K and again at 120K. Honda picked up the tab for both. When we traded it at 205K it was starting to act wonky again.

    2. I do wonder whether there isn’t some intentional “right hand not knowing what the left is doing” going on there. If you have a big distributed network of dealers and service centers that don’t do a lot of notes-comparing, and the manufacturer’s corporate office isn’t totally forthcoming about sharing or spreading data to all dealers, and dealers aren’t especially motivated or encouraged to report everything all the way back to the manufacturer…

  10. I guess we’ll ask which automakers didn’t violated the law, throw the first rock.

      1. You know I can easily get on board with designless utility. Designed futility on the other hand…

        1. Daihatsu Applause. Notable mostly for bad jokes about it being Lady Gaga’s favorite car, and also looking like they accidentally put a test mule into production.

  11. This was a while ago, but I remember seeing Land Rover ads that said something along the lines of “90% of all Land Rovers sold are still on the road today”. Heh. If you say so…

    1. Whenever I hear one of those claims I always mutter “the other 10% got all the way to the destination”.

  12. I always thought it odd that Ford spends a lot of effort noting that the F150 has been the best selling vehicle for eons when the combined numbers of the Chevy/GMC twins have been better. My conclusion is that they know that they are winning on a meaningless technicality, but that GM has a vested marketing interest in that technicality, so they won’t call them on it in their own marketing materials.

    1. I would argue that combining the Chevy/GMC numbers is the technicality. Those are two different trucks when it comes to counting sales, even if they are corporate twins.

  13. It makes you wonder what of their claims and stats you can believe, for any of them. And self-certifications seems to have a few glitches…

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