Have you ever been burned by a car? Maybe it was unreliable, maybe maintenance ended up costing more than you expected, or maybe it just turned out to be a much less pleasant daily-driver than you’d anticipated. Or maybe it was too much fun (?). Tell us about a car you would never buy again. We’ll make no judgements here.
Now let’s make fun of our pal Thomas Hundal. When I was asking for advice on choosing a stock photo guy, this happened:
Ordinarily, Thomas is an absolutely tremendous knower of cars. Which Acura Vigor trim level came with a 6-CD changer? Was the 1996 Vauxhaul Astra offered as a wagon with a manual? Thomas knows off the top of his head. He’s that guy. Usually. Apparently his superpower is coffee-fueled. We feel you, Thomas.
Last time around we asked: “What Car Advertising Campaigns Have Stuck With You (For Better or Worse)?” Your answers included some absolute legends such as Chevy’s “Like a Rock” campaign featuring Bob Seger’s 1986 hit of the same name, as well as reminders of bangers we’d forgotten and some commercial’s we’d never seen.
I’m convinced this is actually the best campaign of all time: Anchan vs. the Daihatsu Wake.
It’s a whole series that documents one man’s descent into madness as he tries to one-up the Wake and can’t. Everything about it is incredible. I feel like I’m commenting a blog just mentioning it. The entire series is an absolute masterpiece.
Joe Isuzu, end of story
“Wanna see the air bags?”
I’m am kind of stunned no one has yet mentioned it, but my absolute favorite bit of automotive marketing has to be “Cog”, the two-minute mini-film from Honda. It’s about a deconstructed Honda Accord with the parts arranged in a wonderful Rube-Goldberg setup that doubles as pure asmr before that was a thing. No CGI either – it’s still a delight to watch:
And our very own Mercedes Streeter shared this heckin’ legend from Pontiac, which we’ve also expressed our love for on Twitter:
The FULL LENGTH version of "Ride, Pontiac, Ride is *fantastic.* Turn it UP ???? (Link below to full video) https://t.co/swkhm5TDDx pic.twitter.com/vMmo5pyvSZ
— The Autopian (@the_autopian) April 10, 2023
Anyway, that’s how you responded to the last Autopian Asks; now it’s time to hit the comments and tell us which car you’d never buy again and why.
I am honestly surprised nobody mentioned Range Rovers. I bought a 98 4.6 HSE low mileage, only a few years old, knowing one of the air bags was shot (air suspension) what I didn’t know is that it would continue to cost me $1000 every 3 weeks. Every time something broke, it always seemed to cost a grand. Fuel pump, more suspension parts, the list goes on. I finally parked it when the electrics REALLY started freaking out on my way home from work, in the rain, and the sunroof kept opening by itself and all the windows rolled down. This is also when the doors started locking and unlocking almost rhythmically and the wipers quit. I sold it during a yard sale. Took a deposit, pulled it back into the garage, and the next morning when the new owner came to pick it up, it had puked ALL it’s oil into the garage floor. Gave the guy a HUGE discount just to get it out of my way. Even though I really like the looks of the Evoqe 2 door, I’ll stick to my 25 year old Jeep 5.9.
Speaking for a relative here and what I’ve heard from them. 1988 Pontiac LeMans. Or as I call it, a “LeMons.” The relative got the car as a gift from a kind boss, as she could not afford a car. So in that aspect the car was good, and cosmetically it was in well shape. But that’s just about all
good. The car had a grinding gearbox, broken fuel gauge, multiple suspension issues, and numerous engine issues. I mean, it had a lot of issues, but it did run sometimes. The thing only had 60,000 miles. This is why you don’t design a car in Germany, build it in Korea, and ship it to America. Another car would be from another relative, 1977 AMC Gremlin. Peak malaise era. The car would continue producing combustion 20 seconds after you turn the car off, heater did not work half the time, fuel gausge again wasn’t very accurate, and water would get into the rear of the cabin when it rained. However that gremlin had many miles on it, so it gets some slack (it also gets some more slack since I like malaise era vehicles) These two cars seem like the best thing sliced bread compared to these other cars here though.
VW Kombi (VW Bus in the US). I LOVED that car. I also knew, every time I stepped on mine, that I would die driving it. C’mon, my legs are the shocks, and my chest, the airbag!
As long as I don’t drive it again, I’m immortal (it is science!)
My story isn’t a “I’d never buy one again” but rather “I really, really hope those problems were specific to the particular one I had.”
’97 Ford Econoline-150 conversion van. Got it in 2013 at 97k miles, drove for 7 years and about 60k miles. Never had an engine or transmission issue. But it found the damnedest things to break and labor was often pricey since things are harder to get to on full-size vans.
Ball joint replacements were an arm and a leg.
The vapor can vent valve (where air leaves the tank when it’s being filled, and vice versa) got clogged and needed to be replaced…twice. And that’s a “drop the tank” job apparently.
The fuel hose between the cap and tank rotted out.
Getting the A/C compressor replaced literally cost me $666.
Serpentine belt snapped and took a lot of crap with it.
A rusting terminal on the alternator led to an intermittent short that would occasionally make the whole van lose power everything. That was terrifying and took hours for the shop to figure out.
The nail in its coffin was the catalytic converter starting to rattle and break apart inside…it was 3 years old, had a 2 year warranty. (The other converter was still original.)
Of course, the interior was immaculate, and good times with friends tend to weigh heavily against all the bad, so I’m hoping to get another one someday soon, especially now that it’d be a second vehicle to my Prius rather than my daily driver.
1986 Fullsize Ford Bronco. The 302 V8 was worse than the inline 6 (Which I had a 1980 with an inline 6 and a stick). 4 speed automatic transmission was no fun and always dropped into overdrive as soon as possible. Rust upon rust on the body, if the state threatened to salt a road the truck would drop another chunk of fender. It ate tires due to its inability to stay aligned. I would buy an early 80’s Bronco with an inline 6 and a stick in a heartbeat, but my 86 was junk and I went from Ford to Jeep and never looked back.
Ford. Oh wait, did you mean a particular model?
I had a 1994 Taurus wagon with the 3.8 that ate its transmission. Apparently, all the 3.8s ate their transmissions. What was worse was the gaslighting I got from Ford, claiming they never ever ever ever heard of the problem, and that the internet (as it was back then) was all full of lies. Apparently all my friends with Taurus/Sable with the 3.8 and dead transmissions were liars too. Ford Taurii with the 3.8 were just perfect. It wasn’t just the dealer, even the zone manager was playing dumb. I swore off the Taurus and all Ford products after that. Never again.
Original Mini. Fun to drive on good, flat roads but after 10 years and 3 Minis (1000, 1300 carb and 1300 SPI) I was done with that.The total lack of any comfort features and the turbo-rusting finally let me give up.
79 Monte Carlo. Stuff broke on that which never broke on any other car, including the manual adjuster on the driver’s seat.
they broke so commonly on 88-98 gm trucks that they stocked them on a spinny rack at autozone.
I’ve had a lot of shitboxes, 5 Jeep YJs, Bronco II (My first car), Jeep Cherokee, Kia sephia, 96 Buick LeSabre. Just to name a few. However the one car I hated the most is my 2006 Subaru Forester. Three head gaskets, new catalytic converter, 3 CV axles, wheel bearings, pretty much every suspension part possible, oil consumption, oil leaks, exhaust rusted out, multiple window motors, wiper transmission….. the list just keeps going. It’s most egregious flaw however is how damn boring this thing is. Not fun to drive at all. I’m actually selling it tomorrow, and ending 4 years of misery.
BMW X3. Got it CPO, off of a lease I believe. Only a couple of years old, even had an extended warranty for a couple years to add to the factory one that was still active. Check engine light came on after a couple of months, and it started shifting hard. No big deal, take it to the dealer under warranty. Except that every time they fixed it, a month or two later it happened again. This went on for about two years. I think I drove loaners more than it. They reprogrammed the transmission twice, replaced the transfer case, and were about to replace the transmission for the shifting issue. They started small with the engine, but over time replaced every plug 2x, every sensor at least once, the entire wiring harness, I think a computer, and the heads. It was about 2 more trips to the dealer from a brand new engine and transmission because they couldn’t figure it out. Then I moved and the new dealer wanted to start over (some BS about not being able to get the records from the first dealer, but I’m guessing they just wanted to get BMW to pay them for a bunch of work). I said ‘just fix it’ and traded it on something else. What a pile that thing was. Ruined BMWs for me completely.
My worst car by far wasa Mazda Millenia S. I thought they were really cool when they came out, and while car shopping came across one for sale just a few years old that wasn’t to expensive. The aftermarket wheels with tires that were a couple section widths too narrow should have clued me in, but it didn’t. Shortly after purchase it developed a copious oil leak that nobody wanted to even try to fix, it had some sort of current draw down and the battery would discharge after a day or two. It was already starting to rust, the cupholders didn’t work, it was basically a falling apart POS at 4 years old and 60,000 miles. The leather interior was aged and cracking too. The supercharged six pulled pretty hard, but, I keep remembering things, the transmission was really schizophrenic, sometimes stubbornly staying in high gear no matter what, and sometimes downshifting suddenly and with little input, it would scoot when
This car had obviously been used and abused when I bought it, but after having a string of Japanese cars since the late 80s that had been pretty much bullet proof it was a bit of a shock.
Have owned Triumphs and MGs and Healeys all my life, sure they have their quirks, but never anything on the level of that damn Mazda.
1989 SHO. Tiny weak clutch, 5 speed trans that was made of glass, rear brake calipers that seized repeatedly, HVAC buttons that collapsed and pushed through, 24 manually adjusted bucket and shim valves, and a defective ford designed thermostat that stuck open in the summer, disintegrating the $1,000 cats in the y pipe assembly – and worse – sucking the ceramic dust back into the engine on upshifts, wiping out the piston rings on the rear bank of the engine.
My first – and last – Ford.
I’ve been thinking back over all my cars, and the only ones that come close to regret are the two B5’s I owned. Did the clutch in both (it was the exact same clutch, actually, first car got t-boned by a cop). Glad both are out of my life. Can’t really say that about any other cars I owned, and I’ve owned a Nissan.
Came here to nominate my b5 a4 1.8tqm, for the two weeks I owned it where everything worked it was glorious. The other 3 years were a hellish slog of fixing 1k control arms, 1k clutch and being too broke to fix the turbo when it finally gave up. My wife has outlawed buying audis unless we have fuck you/lease money.
I owned a B5 A4 1.8t quattro sport a few years ago.
I’m also joining the party to say; never again. It ate so much money for so little reward. It was basically horribly dull to drive no matter how fast I went.
I’m now into E36s instead. Easier and cheaper to maintain and actually somewhat fun.
Same! B5 A4 1.8T Q Avant, first car I ever bought brand new. Fuel pump, coil packs, transmission, rear diff, torsion clutch, and on and on. Story points for a harrowing ride in the cab of a tow truck through the Sierras in the middle of the night with “Muh name’s Jim but everyone just calls muh cowboy. Do you guys go to church?”
Another high point was at a LA charity event when my date and I had to retrieve our own car (in tux and high heels) because the valet was afraid to drive it. “Smells like leaking gas, bro!”
Had less than 20k on it when I started carrying around extra pints of oil in the trunk. Then there was the 7 month battle with the dealer and manufacturer rep over a $10k warranty bill. Burned me so bad it was not only the last Audi I’ve owned, but the last German car period.
My knee-jerk reaction for an answer was ‘anything that says GM on it’ but if you want a real answer I’m gonna go with a Mini Cooper. My wife’s red ‘05 was fun and all, but as someone who does primarily all their own maintenance and repair work I will not allow the purchase of another one.
Started to say VW, but I only owned one of those, so it’s got to be Chrysler or Dodge. Had a 1980s Dodge Caravan & Chrysler Lebaron, then later a PT Cruiser, all were autos and all had to have them replaced way to early, plus constant petty repairs. Fool me three times, oh crap, I was the fool. Never again.
1993 Ford Ranger with the 3.0L Vulcan V6 and the A4LD automatic. That stupid V6 with it’s crappy oil passages that starve the valvetrain of oil combined with that power-sucking automatic made that truck and absolute pain in the butt to want to drive. After rebuilding the top end and still having lifter issues, I was not the least but sad when someone borrowed it and then promptly totaled it. I’ve owned many Explorers and would own another Ranger, but not one with that engine or that transmission.
1992 Ford Explorer Sport. 5-speed manual transmission disintegrated on the highway at 70 MPH in 1994. Had it towed 70 miles to a Ford dealer. Rebuild cost $1700. 4000 miles later, it disintegrated again. Ford refused to honor the repair warranty, and dealer claimed the part was on national backorder. Had it towed to a transmission rebuilder who found the part at the next dealer up the freeway.
I have never since given Ford a dime, even indirectly. If they’d have gone bankrupt in 2009, I’d have traveled to Dearborn just to do a happy dance on their headquarters lawn.
1974 4 door Plymouth Valiant. On the ride home the exhaust fell off except for connection to the heads. An acrylic tie acted as a tie up for 40 miles before it melted. After 2 weeks every time i turned left it stalled out. On a long trip coming home from college it died. I opened up the hood. The carbeurate was leaking from a rubber gasket seal onto the engine block which was glowing orange. It was so close to melt point and explodion poinr i was lucky it died on the Florida turnpike. I was lucky to hitch a ride from a Gator fan as i am from FSU right after they had kicked the shit out of us the prior weekend. He was actually a great guy stopping and not bragging on the win. One time the transmission failed or slipped. I pulled in a parking spot that required backing out. While trying reverse no luck. We tried neutral while still running i pushed the car and we found forward. The bitch pinned me between the front bumper and a 10 ton AC unit that was knocked off its base.i lent it to some frat buddies, flat tire they didnt look under the plywood for the spare and bought a tire that wasnt the right size so cost. The only positive was traded it in on a new Chevy Spectrum and got $500. The spectrum is another car i woul never own.
I would take that crazy bitch car from Christine glsdly before this valiant
My mom had a ’74 Valiant, bought new. Slant six, powder blue. I drove for about a year before I got my own car, so if I could borrow the car I got the Valiant, this would have been 1977-78. Despite all my efforts to kill it, it wouldn’t die. So I gave up and got my own car.
Well shit. We had one in 1978 that pulled the engine shut off shit on every left turn. A frickin air intake leak at the carb base. My friend drove it that way for 3 years. That was some crazy shit. This was in Alabama. Must be a southern thing.
We could not kill that damn car. It was like a cockroach.
1988 Eagle Premier ES. All white mono-chrome. Car was fast and comfortable, but an electrical nightmare. Multiple dead batteries, lights would flash off and on repeatedly. Electric door locks would go up & down. Multiple calls to AAA for jump start and/or tow to dealer. Car went totally dead once at night at Interstate speed – no lights no nothing. Coast to the side of the road and restarted and continued home safely. Tried to use state Lemon Law to get rid of it but while I supplied a 1″ thick envelope of service attempts and tow expenses, dealer said there was nothing wrong with it. Claim denied.
I’m only going to pick on three cars that I bought new.
#1 – A 1978 Honda Accord. It ate the valve train (replaced), then the bottom end (the whole engine replaced), all within 50,000 miles. It was caused by oil contamination from the EGR system, IIRC. It is the only vehicle I have ever owned that stranded me twice, and I’ve owned English, French, and Italian cars. Speaking of the French…
#2 – A 1982 Renault Fuego Turbo. It was a fun car, except the rear hatch never wanted to latch (two latches on opposite sides, so one would latch and the other wouldn’t), and interior parts like knobs and plastic trim which would just fall off. The best was the clutch cable that made a loop around the engine and was prone to breaking every several thousand miles.
#3 – A 1995 Chrysler Cirrus. It ate one of the body control modules like candy. The BCM in question controlled the wipers, and it rained every time it failed. The other problem was with the A/C, which had a sensor that refused to believe the car was hot. Replacing it meant tearing out the whole dash, a good portion of the interior, and a whole lot of money. I drove with the windows open in summer.
My wife had previously bought a New Beetle convertible before we married, so I had decision in that purchase. While under warranty, it had so many rattles and noises that multiple visits to the dealer could not fix the problem. On top of that, the dealer was horrible and could never fix the problems. When the powered convertible top began sometimes not closing, I knew it was time to dump this car before a very expensive repair became my problem. I have since swore to never buy a VW again. They are dead to me.
I ended up with a 2007 Hyundai Elantra in the same way. My wife has it before we were married. The car itself was a reasonable transportation appliance, and probably a better choice for me to drive for my longer commute, but it was boring. That combined with the fact that when we took over payments from her parents we still seemed to have to pay most of what the car cost new, even though it was two years old.
It’s irrational to apply that fault in the car, but that’s where I am at.
That isnt the car that is the buyer. They overpaid and screwed you over to save thrmselves. I am thinking poor nursing homes when the time comes.
A good friend, who is quite the VW fan, told me that there’s a guy at the end if every assembly line who checks every vehicle for buzzes and rattles, and if it doesn’t have one, he installs one. Or many.
No offense to David:
Any worn out clunker. Many of us started off driving rolling heaps of junk and learned to wrench on them. But as you grow older and others are relying on your vehicle, reliability wins.