Certainly one of the biggest and most complicated of this industry's recall messes is the disaster surrounding what has become known as dieselgate.
What started as a scheme to outfox the emissions rules for vehicles with diesel engines has spread into a seemingly endless legal battle and public relations disaster.
For the public, it started four years ago next month, when Volkswagen Group's tampering was revealed. Since then, the scandal has touched a good number of its rivals as well.
Daimler, for example, said in late July that expenses related to ongoing diesel-related litigation contributed to a $1.74 billion loss in the second quarter.
I have a sense that by now, every one of the culprits in this debacle has been identified.
The fines and related costs — well over $30 billion at Volkswagen Group alone — have been staggering to say the least. None of the perpetrators has denied the accusations. The list of executives who've lost their jobs or faced legal peril is long.
Still, I have a suspicion that dieselgate will continue for quite a while longer.
It may have seemed like a great idea at the time. A supplier came up with a way to conduct diesel emissions tests without giving a true reading of vehicles' nitrogen oxide emissions, and Volkswagen Group secretly embraced the technology.
As a result, VW owners for years were deluded into thinking their "clean" diesels were delivering unrivaled performance and fuel economy. In reality, their cars were spewing out 40 times the legal limit of NOx.
Of course, sooner or later, this was all going to be discovered.
For German automakers especially, the episode has been a continuing nightmare that has cost the companies involved huge amounts of time and money as well as their consumers' trust.
Mercedes and its earnings hit is just the latest example. But few have gone untouched. It may end, but probably not soon.