"Long before Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for millions of cars worldwide, the automobile industry, Volkswagen included, had a well-known record of sidestepping regulation and even duping regulators. . . The universe of automotive scandals has been a broad and often tragic one, including Ford’s 1978 recalls of 1.5 million Pintos after evidence emerged that its gas tanks were prone to catch fire during impacts. The Chrysler Corporation was indicted in 1987 on charges of disconnecting the odometers of 60,000 cars used by executives and then selling them as new. The Ford-Firestone scandal that started in the late 1990s was linked to 271 deaths. And more than 23 million cars have been recalled by 11 automakers over airbags made by Takata that could violently rupture in an accident. . .
This article provides lots of detail on automaker misconduct.