How Did Your Last Vehicle Die?

83 Volvo 240 wagon got into a fight with an armored car.

The salt on the roads wreaks havoc with sheet metal. If you want your car to last more than a few years, you get it washed every week with the setting on “mudblaster”. It helps to keep it garaged, which I do.

I’m lucky in that I had a cash windfall and was able to pay cash for a new car back in 1998. It’s just good economics to trade it in when the warranty expires and pay the $5,000 or so difference for a new car with no problems. No payments, no interest, just the planning necessary to accumulate the cash payment.

My brother has something like six vehicles, all in various stages of decomposition. Most of them require a tetanus innoculation before getting into. I think his oldest truck is 23. He’s a vehicle junkie, owning those cars and trucks, plus a huge winnebago that sits idle in AZ most of the time, along with a pickup for running around while he’s there, plus four snow machines and three boats (at last count). And we won’t go into his extensive gun collection.

Got off track; sorry.

My car had a massive oil leak. I used to have to stop twice on the way home from college (a two hour, ~115 mile drive) to put oil in it. After some rough calcuations, I figured it got about 30 miles to the quart of oil. I drove it like this for about 3 months before I could get another car. I am still amazed when I check the oil on my new car and the level hasn’t changed!

The last vehicle I had was a 1987 Toyota 4 x 4 (actually it was the first vehicle I ever owned that I purchased entirely with my own money - I got a car soon after I received my driver’s license at 16, but my mother and step-father chipped in with some of the money to buy it).

Anyway, I was driving southbound to work on the interstate, doing about 70 mph in the fast lane. I felt a small pop, and I could no longer excellerate (goodbye transmission). So here I am in the fast lane, my truck decellerating. I’m trying to move over towards the right so I can safely coast my truck to a stop on the shoulder. But the traffic is heavy and moving too fast. So I’m forced to coast to a stop on the left-hand shoulder. Problem is, the left-hand shoulder is about half the width of my truck. That’s because there’s a concrete wall seperating the southbound traffic from the northbound traffic.

Once I knew what the situation was, I quickly turned on the emergency lights to let those know behind me there was a problem. I eventually coasted to rest as close to the concrete wall on the left-hand side of the freeway, giving myself just enough room to get out of my truck. There was an exit about a 1/4 mile up the road - I dodged traffic and made my way down the exit. I knew there was a McDonald’s at the bottom of the exit ramp, so I made my way there, found a payphone and called AAA.

30 minutes later, they arrived and took me to my dead truck on the freeway. Since it was stalled on the left-hand side near the concrete seperator, the AAA guys were freaking out, shouting at me to “give me your keys!!” It was a dangerous siuation, but fortunately they were able to hook-up my truck and tow it away.

Unfornately, the only place I could think of them to tow it to was a salvage yard (remember I was on my way to work - I suppose I could have had them tow it to my workplace. But I would then have to have it towed to a garage to have it repaired; since my truck was 14 years old, the repairs would probably exceed the value of the truck itself; hence, my decision to have it towed to the salvage yard). So the truck I had owned for 14 years and had accumulated over 140,000 miles met an inglorious end. I had to junk it for a lousy 50 bucks - :frowning:

It’s funny how one can get attached to inanimate objects…

3/4 Head-on collision at a traffic light as someone failed to yield before turning, closing speed ~50mph. No serious injuries (airbags ROCK!, two cars destroyed, two mildly damaged.

Still haven’t replaced it, better art of a year later. I get to spend more time with Intaglio as we carpool to work.

I hit a deer with my '84 Cutlass Supreme about 3 or 4 years ago. That car was built solid and took the impact well. I barely felt a jolt, but the deer managed to tear in half. One side of the carcass landed on one side of the highway, the other side landed on the other side. Although I could’ve claimed the deer corpse, needless to say, I didn’t. Because the car’s radiator was busted and the whole body would’ve needed to be aligned, it was totaled. The funny thing is, I missed my exit on the highway and had to go to the next one. If I had been able to change lanes in time, the whole deer incident would not have happened. Oh well, now I’ve got a '92 Bonneville.

Which begs the question: Do most cars die a peaceful or a violent death? This thread seems to be split about 50/50.

Brings to mind a tale the Troll told me, about a time he drove back to Houston to see his mother.

Houston, Texas, is about a four hour drive from where we lived at the time, so he’d been on the road awhile when, as he drove up Westheimer in his huge, ancient white Cadillac, thick ugly black smoke began belching out from under the hood and the wheel wells. What the HELL?

The Troll went from “seein’ fine” to “visibility zero” in a matter of seconds. Frantically, he jerked the wheel to the right, hoping like mad no one was in his way, and hoping even more that he was aimed at where he remembered the convenience store’s parking lot to be.

He felt no bump; he hadn’t hit a curb. He coasted a ways, hoping desperately that no one was in his way, and when he simply couldn’t stand it any more (the smoke had begun leaking into the car, choking him with the stink of burning rubber), he slammed on the brakes, threw it into PARK, and killed the engine.

Leaping from the car, he saw that he had in fact made it into the convenience store parking lot. No one else was in the parking lot. He was out of traffic. He ran around to the front end, which was still belching great black gaseous turds of smoke, and fiddled with the hood release, burning his hands in the process.

The Cadillac’s hood burst open, and a fireball erupted skyward. “Holy FUCK,” thought the Troll, “MY FUCKING CAR IS ON FUCKING FIRE!”

He leaped backwards, away from the roaring inferno atop his engine.

His butt hit… the gas pumps.

He had parked his burning car less than six feet from the gas pumps.

The Troll about lost his MIND.

He leaped into the car, hoping to move it. He tried to start the engine. The car screamed like a horse might if you stuck it in an industrial drill press, but it did not start.

He tried to put the car in neutral. No go. Something was wrong with the transmission or the shift lever. The car wasn’t moving.

He ran, screaming, into the convenience store, howling at the clerk to call the fire department, get some water, get SOMETHING!

The clerk, a middle-aged Korean man, looked at him funny. The clerk then turned, carefully selected a pack of Marlboro Reds from the rack behind him, and placed them on the counter. “Dolla fotty nye,” he said, which gives you some clue as to how long ago this happened.

The Troll stood there, aghast. “Hey!” he cried. “My fucking CAR is on fire! It’s out there, next to the PUMPS! Where’s your fucking PHONE?”

The clerk looked at him. An irritated look creeped over the man’s face. He replaced the Marlboros, and pulled down a pack of Marlboro Lights, and dropped them on the counter. “Dolla fotty nye.”

The Troll relates to me that at this point, he actually began to see stars. His vision became a little red around the edges. “HEY, FUCKHEAD!” he screamed, causing the clerk to jump a bit. The Troll spun and pointed out at the plate glass front of the building. Some twenty yards away, right next to the gas pumps, the Caddy was still burning merrily away. “ARE YOU FUCKING BLIND? IF YOU DON’T CALL THE FUCKING FIRE DEPARTMENT, YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING LIVELIHOOD IS ABOUT TO GO UP IN A BIG FUCKING FIREBALL! DO YOU COMPRENDE “FIREBALL?” HOW ABOUT “KABOOM?” DOES THE WORD “DIE” MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?”

The Clerk got a sour look on his face. He did not appreciate this big stupid white man screaming at him. He put the Marlboros away, pulled down a pack of Camels, and put them on the counter. “Dolla fotty nye.”

The Troll froze. He told me that his first instinct was to hit the guy… but how could he really attack the guy for just… standing there… not knowing how to speak English? It wasn’t HIS fault that someone had driven a blazing deathtrap into his parking lot and parked it next to the gas pumps. But – couldn’t he SEE? Troll spun around. The burning car was still there. So were the gas pumps. For how long?

“Dolla fotty nye,” said the clerk, testily.

The Troll turned and looked at the clerk. What the FUCK? He really was having a hard time believing the man couldn’t see this giant burning land yacht parked out front. Idly, he wondered what would happen if he grabbed the guy, dragged him over the counter, and pointed his face out the front door. Would he notice THEN what was going on? (You had to know the Troll. He was big enough to do just that, hence the name).

…and while he stood there, staring at the testy little man… he noticed the giant red fire extinguisher, hanging on the wall, right next to the big rack of cigarettes.

Without a moment’s hesitation, the Troll launched himself over the counter.

The clerk screamed. “HYEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” He leaped back. Troll ignored him, tore the fire extinguisher off the wall, and launched himself back over the counter, and headed for the front door.

“HYEEEE!” screamed the clerk again. “NO! YOU TEEF! YOU STEAL! YOU NO STEAL! YOU BRING BACK!”

The Troll slammed through the front doors, tearing the tag and locking ring off the extinguisher.

The clerk tore through the door after him. “YOU TEEF! YOU NO STEAL! YOU BRING BACK! YOU TEEF! YOU TEEEEEEF!!!”

The Troll sprinted across the parking lot, grabbed the little dangling hose, and furiously began hosing chemical foam at the blast furnace under his hood. The flames quickly vanished, but the thick, billowy smoke got thicker, and continued to gush from the engine compartment. The Troll kept hosing, furiously!


The Troll ignored the little man, and kept blasting. As he hosed into the swirling smoky mass, the volume of smoke began to decrease. Troll realized that the fire was probably out, and what he was seeing was evaporation from the red-hot metal. He decided not to take any chances, and kept blasting the stuff into the front of his car.


As the smoke finally began to clear… and as the engine finally ceased to make more… the Troll could see the fused, melted remains of his engine block. The fire was out. The wind dispersed the thick, nasty smoke.

The Troll realized that something was tapping him on the back. He turned around. The little clerk was furiously clubbing him with closed fists. “YOU TEEF! YOU BRING BACK! NOT YOURS! YOU STEAL! YOU NO STEAL! YOU PAY! YOU TEEF!”

The Troll waited for the realization to sink in on the little man. The Troll stood (and stands) some six foot three, and weighs some 250 pounds. The little Korean clerk stood perhaps five foot four, and was maybe a hundred and ten, dripping wet. Plainly, it would not take long for the little man to get a grip.

The little man did not get a grip. He did notice that the Troll had turned around, though, and quit hitting him. Instead, the clerk settled for waving his hands around and pointing angrily, still keeping up his litany of “YOU TEEF! YOU NO PAY! YOU GIVE BACK! YOU PAY! YOU NO RUN! YOU TEEF! YOU PAY,” only now, the speech was interspersed with what Troll assumed was some sort of Korean profanity. He couldn’t understand it, but it sure SOUNDED profane.

He just stood there. What the hell was he supposed to do? He opened his mouth to try to explain.

The clerk waved his hands in front of Troll’s face. He didn’t want to hear it. “YOU TEEF! YOU NO PAY! YOU GIVE BACK!”

The Troll thought about it. He held out the fire extinguisher.


The clerk realized that the Troll was offering him the extinguisher. He stopped talking for a moment. He took the extinguisher. An odd look of alacrity crossed the man’s face. Plainly, the Troll had realized he was not going to get away with this shocking act of public theft, and was surrendering his stolen property.

The clerk waved a naughty finger at the Troll. “No steal!” he admonished. And then he walked back into the store with the extinguisher. There was no clue he had ever noticed the burning car at all.

The police showed up shortly thereafter, and politely asked the Troll for some sort of explanation. Someone had reported a fire in the vicinity. Troll told them what had happened. The other officer went into the store to speak with the clerk. Troll was a bit worried about that – he HAD technically assaulted the man and stolen his extinguisher – but surely, the police would understand. Then again, this was Houston, Texas, where the cops do NOT have a reputation for being kind or reasonable.

While the officer outside took the Troll’s statement, Troll glanced nervously at the front of the store. Through the glass, he could see the little Korean man, as well as several OTHER Koreans who had apparently materialized out of nowhere, all gesturing and talking to the officer inside. The clerk occasionally paused to point at the Troll.

Troll waited.

Shortly thereafter, the cop walked out. He was chuckling.

“The store manager says you stole his fire extinguisher, but he made you give it back,” snickered the cop. “He says since you gave it back, he won’t press charges.”

“Officer,” said the Troll, “did he ever actually notice that my car was on fire, and parked right next to his gas pumps?”

The cop quit laughing. He glanced at his clipboard. “You know,” the cop said, “he never actually mentioned it…”

I loved my 1993 Honda Accord – she was the acclaimed 10th Anniversary Edition (her name was Bessie) :slight_smile: – Ole Bessie had 210,000 miles on her, a cracked windshield that prevented her from passing city inspection, and a leaking radiator. But nothing could reduce my love for that ole girl. One day, in a fit of inspiration - I cleaned all of the trash that had accumulated in every part of Bessie’s interior, applied ‘ArmorAlled’ to protect her, washed her exterior, and took her to a shady spot for a good waxing. I’m certain if Bessie could talked that day she would have said – “I feel so loved – so beautiful!” — I then traded her in for a new 2003 Honda CRV.

Another Wang-Ka classic! Thanks for the good laugh!

My last car was a 1989 LeBaron convertible, but my sister charitably called it the POS.

It was a money pit. But strangely enough, I loved it. It had a strange effect on me, almost supernatural in its intensity. I paid for a new top when the back window was shattered by a roadside mower kicking up a rock through the back window. The British Columbia road department paid for the back window and I paid for the new top.

It was constantly at the mechanic. Various things kept going wrong, but I sure enjoyed a warm summer day with the top down driving with the wind in my hair.

When I returned to Schwarzen-fornia in 2001, I got use of a company car and decided the LeBaron had to go, it had sucked enough money out of me.

I sold it to a cow-orker, with full disclosure of all its problems. But she assured me that she wanted it. The POS had worked its strange spell on another person.

Within 2 weeks the LeBaron had run into a truck backing out of a driveway, buckling the right side windshield support and cracking the windshield. But cow-orker went ahead and fixed it.

Several other minor accidents were evident over the next 4 months. Then I walked out back one day to see POS limping into the back yard, with the hood buckled and the front grill pushed in.

Yes, she had rear-ended someone. POS remained in the yard for several weeks while the insurance companies wrangled. Oh yes, did I mention that she never registered the car in Schwarzen-fornia?

I received several calls as the owner of record from the state of Washington. But fortunately, I had reported and registered the sale of POS to said cow-orker, so I had no liability in the accident(s).

One grey and foggy morning I was driving to work and saw a wrecker towing POS out of the yard and away to it’s ultimate demise. My eyes were misty as I watched it disappear into the gloomy morning fog.

You never forget your first convertible.

95’ Ford Escort Wagon LX automatic.

Transaxle blew apart just outside of Minneapolis. My Dad, (who lives about 90 miles north of the Cities,) got a tow truck and hauled us back to the Chrysler dealership that he works at as service manager.

He called around the next day. He was qouted $5000 by one guy and $2500 by another for a new transmission/transaxle. (When the transaxle blew, parts of it penetrated the case into the transmission itself.) I had only paid $1500 for the car.

He helped me buy a nice Chrysler Grand Caravan. I love it.

'77 Impala. The electrical system died. First it wouldn’t start, then it would stall if the radio was turned on, then the lights. After spending untold bucks those problems were fixed and then it started stalling on turns. ON TURNS! That happened once while I was a passenger on a left hand turn on 6 lane 4th Ave and I told my husband I was never, ever getting into that car again. Ever.
This was in '98. My husband and his brother were absolutely heartbroken over this.

It is a testament to the engineering nerds at Ford that I am still in one piece after I had a near head on collision with my Ford Econoline in 2001.

The airbag did not go off, probably because, we later realized with my new-to-me Econoline that the same very minor dashboard indicator light that flashed incessently for reasons that no dealership, mechanic or Fix It place could figure out, was figured out (by a very good friend of ours) to be a faulty something that basically deactivated the airbag. (years of trying to figure it out came up with zip.) It was the same thingee that controls the horn and cruise controls. Being that I never use either (hey, this isn’t NY) , it wasn’t a big deal. But, not having an airbag…that is a little frightening.

In other car deaths, I have personally pulled the plug on two cars to be donated to charity:

a 1984 Dodge Ram pickup with 250K on it. Engine was great. Body beat up. No breaks and transmission going. The last of the manly trucks.

A 1990 Ford Escort with 190K on it. It was rusting through, clutch shot, radio worked fine.

I love that story, Wang-Ka. :smiley:

My first car was 1990 Chevy Cavalier that I started driving in 1995. Every year, there would be a major and expensive engine problem with that car that would do nothing but frustrate me and drain my wallet. I finally got rid of it in 2001 at my mother’s nag-- er, insistance.

When I traded that car in, it was on it’s last tire. The air conditioner was dead. The compressor had frozen almost a year earlier, and I didn’t have the hundreds of dollars to fix it. Houston summers in an un-A/Ced car are not fun. On top of that, the water pump and radiator had a leak. I had to refill the coolant in my car once a week. The radio shorted out about three months before I traded it in. The interior molding around the doors would fall off if you grazed them with your head. The trunk leaked. After one particularly rainy week, I had empty my trunk and use a cup to dump the water out of it. My jack started rusting because of that. On top of all that, the engine was beginning to act funny again. I’m glad I listened to my mother and got rid of it instead of dumping more money into it.

I topped a hill and hit a cow with my Taurus. I guess that’s poetic justice. It was the end of both of them.

Well, the last one that died was a '78 ('79?) Plymouth Voyager van. The Big Blue Beast™. It was rather infamous… we drove it on a roadtrip from Washington State down to Disneyland, and we’d see people pointing and laughing at it. :smiley: (And that was before it was really bad!)

We knew the end was near when:

a) A goodly chunk of the floorboards had been replaced by plywood.

b) The rust holes on the doors were big enough to put 2 2-liter bottles through, and there wasn’t any way to bondo the holes… bondo needs something to bondo to!

c) The horn had shorted out, in downtown Honolulu. Rush hour. :eek: But when we tried to repair the horn, we found that the cover on the steering column wouldn’t come off. So, Dad accessed the base of the column and rerouted the horn wire to the cruise conrol, and cut the wire for the cruise control.

d) The back door was sagging so much from rust near the hinges, it was unsafe to open and really needed to be welded shut.

e) The other doors on the van were approaching the same state.

f) The engine made a banshee-like scream when started, and diseled for a good 30 seconds-1 mintue after being shut off.

g) There was also a belch of smoke (blue-grey) when being started.

h) The guy for the Hawai’i safety inspection kept staring at the checklist muttering “I can’t belive I can pass this thing!”

i) We found that the reason why the brakes made that odd noise when coming to a halt was due to the brake pads being solid rust.’

j) There was a crack in the windshield that ran across the entire width of it, about 4 inches from the bottom.

So, we finally stopped trying to run the van into the ground and donated it to the National Kidney Foundation. Unless some of those parts were usuable, they probably only made money on it by giving it to a Automotive class to practice on.

<< Some days you are the bug; some days you are the windshield. >>

A 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass with less than 60,000 miles on it (in 2001). Perfect body, perfect interior, new tires, immaculate condition. I’d had it less than a year, and was the second owner.

I hit a wet spot on the freeway, and must have hit my brakes inadvertantly. I honestly don’t know if I did or not…it happened so fast.

My sweet little Olds kissed the concrete median head-on at 55mph. Didn’t destroy the engine, but wrecked the frame all to hell and back.

Actually, I guess that Olds still lives…as I type this, her engine is going into my son’s car which has a perfect body, but no engine. She’s gonna be reincarnated! :smiley:

1990 Grand Am
Totaled in 1993 when a teenager ran a red light.

My daughter killed it.

1993 Pontiac Grand Prix, 198,000 miles: Ignition coil for cylinders #2 and #5 (i THINK) was fried and the coil next to it was being fried. The poor thing began to sound like a motorcycle and ride like a tractor.

My 1988 Toyota Corolla didn’t die a sudden death, but its condition was terminally ill by the time I traded it in for a whole $300. It had over 120,000 miles on it. The A/C stopped working, the gas mileage had dropped to 16MPG, and the engine was getting hot after just driving it to work (four miles), plus, it had a few other symptoms I don’t recall. I had a mechanic look at it. When he gave me a $2300 estimate to repair it I knew it was time to send it to that great big junkyard in the sky.