The worst, most useless, frustrating car you've ever owned.

Car threads have been popular lately, and one recent thread had people waxing nostalgic about “the one that got away”: the car they most regret getting rid of.

I’m curious about cars at the other end of the spectrum: cars that were so bad, such complete pieces of junk, that your station in life was significantly bettered simply by not having to drive them. Or maybe you know someone or had a family member that had such a vehicle.

I posted this in the other thread:

I found out later that my parents actually paid my uncle (the owner of the farm) something like $1K for that POS.

Years later I owned a… I forget the year, but 1986 or so Buick LeSabre coupe. I was dirt poor and my brother gave it to me for something like $200. The headlights and taillights worked but nothing else electrical worked: no stereo, no heater or fan, no dash lights, no cabin lights, nothing. My dad gave me a little 12v heater to put on the dash as a defroster.

When our first son was born I finally upgraded to a little 6-speed 4wd Tercel wagon. Great car, and one I drove for a decade. But that Buick, and the IH before it, has always made me weary about buying lemons.

I’m considering buying a new 2020 Kia Soul, but have been hesitating because two of the features I want – adjustable lumbar seats and a moonroof – are only available on a trim with a DCT, which has a poor reputation. I don’t want to end up with another POS.

So tell me your crappy car stories!

1978 Mustang II. I was young and dumb and it had been beautifully repainted by the previous owner. I fell for the deep red paint and the fact that it had a working heater (was driving a rusty Beetle at the time) and just had to have it.

GARBAGE IN EVERY WAY. Some stuff was Ford’s fault, like the fact that it was just straight up a piece of shit, some was the previous owner’s fault, like the too-wide aftermarket wheels that caused the rear tires to get chewed up by bolt heads in the rear wheelwells when carrying rear passengers.

Some of it was my fault, like when I left it running in the driveway one cold winter morning despite knowing that the parking brake was questionable. I knew I was in trouble when I saw it trundle past the kitchen window, bouncing off several trees on the way down a ravine.

I was overjoyed to deliver that bastard to the junk yard, running on two cylinders and covered in spray paint. The 50 dollars they gave me for the tires was the happiest deal I ever made.

I gotta go with the '73 Jeep Commando (I still own it). The wiring is a rat’s nest, the gaps in the door and windows, well, are like second doors and windows. The gears on the end of the cam that drive the distributor would eat each other with depressing regularity. Fuel leaks aplenty. The rear diff twisted itself into a pretzel. I replaced it with a mini-spool, locking the rear end. Worked great, but I suspect the additional load would up killing the transmission.

I could go on and on…

It’s for sale, by the way. PM me.

Chevy Vega is up there. But it wasn’t mine, my husband-to-be’s sister had gifted it to him. Abysmal mechanics aside, you had to drive nearly lying down trying to peer over the dash while holding on to the gearshift knob so it wouldn’t fly off the stick from the vibration. Only family car I just refused to drive and that’s including the horrible F-100 that only had two forward gears (neither was 1st).

For me, the most frustrating car I owned is the one I wish I had back. A few cars ago I had 98 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX. I loved driving that car, but for some odd reason it was a flat magnet. In the three years I owned that car I think I had five flats, plus one alloy rim that got bent and needed to be replaced. The tires were the wide, low profile performance tires that ran around $200 - $250 a pop. I wound up selling it because I got tired of constantly replacing tires.

One of the features that sold me on my next vehicle (Hyundai Santa Fe) was that it had a full size spare mounted underneath. I drove it for 14 years and never once had a flat. :smack:

'74 Ford Pinto. Nuff said?

1984 Plymouth Horizon-no power, much noise, and misaligned so bad that if you traveled in a straight line it looked like it was heading straight for the ditch.

My first “car” was one that i’d actively shove through one of those car shredder machines and be grinning and laughing every second, dear Og how I hated that piece of crap…

1988 Ford Escort Pony;
85HP of throttle-body fuel injected “fury”, 4 speed manual, 2 door notchback, it barely had enough power to get out of it’s own way

it had those annoying power shoulder belts, a cheap aftermarket (Kraco) cassette stereo, and about 10,000 miles on it…

a week after Dad bought it for me, and said I was responsible for all other expenses (insurance/upkeep/etc)the ECU failed, specifically the idle control circuit, it would hit the top speed in each gear without touching the gas, push in the clutch and the engine bounces off the rev limiter, thankfully it was fixed under warranty

20,000 miles, the left front tie rod was on the verge of failure because Ford used a cheap bushing instead of a bearing to save .35 cents

30,000 miles, right front tie rod is failing

40,000 miles, new brakes, new tires

45,000 miles, exhaust rusts out and falls off while driving in the rural outskirts of Claremont NH, had to get shotgun earmuff hearing protectors to prevent me from going deaf

50,000 miles the wiring harness for the throttle body fuel injector shorts out and nearly burns the car to the ground

55,000 i’m fed up, trade it in for a whopping $1500 towards a new Dodge Shadow America, my first new car, I loved that little thing, still wish I had it, so much better than the crapscort in every way!

To this day, I will never trust another ford product.

I had the lowest-end '82 Mustang (3rd generation) and it was an equal POS. It was also saddled with the 80s version of pollution control which meant air pump, horrible carburetor (featuring every manner of mechanical feedback known to mankind) and general crappy construction. At least the engine was not interference style so when the timing belt broke at 55K miles, the pistons did not eat valves. Riding your bicycle to a parts store to buy replacements is a humbling experience.

I had a 74 Pinto as well. However, it was free and it ran. Leaked oil like sieve, and what didn’t leak out passed right through the non-existent piston rings to burn up. It was a serious Spy Hunter smoke screen car. Plugs would eventually foul up. I knew when one would go because it would lose power and start running rough. However, that engine would still run with only two functioning cylinders. You could barely get it moving it had so little power at that point (not that it was a power house with all 4).

The biggest piece of junk was a 1959 Plymouth station wagon. To be fair, I bought it for $300 when I was stationed on Adak Island in 1970, so it had seen some hard use. It lasted for several months and then finally lost almost all compression. I pulled over to the curb and abandoned it.

In high school, I drove a 1960 Rambler Super that was identical to this one, right down to the white over pink colors. Totally gutless, but a good snow car with the positraction rear end. It was mainly the embarrassment of driving a pink car.

I briefly owned a Fiat Panda sorta like this one. 'Nuff said.

Hmm. Not sure if I would call it useless. But I once owned a 1997 Jeep Wrangler with soft top and 5-speed transmission.

Under-powered engine. Noisy. Bouncy. Unreliable. And shifting was a workout.

I ended up selling to my nephew for a dollar.

Although my father’s immediate family had always bought GM cars, Dad’s Uncle Norman worked at a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership and convinced Dad’s sister Karen to buy a first-year (1976) Plymouth Volare. That car was the epitome of a lemon, and broke down so many times that Chrysler finally sent a representative of its “Man in Detroit Team” to Cleveland to check the vehicle out. Even he was stumped as to why the Volare had so many problems.

Aunt Karen decided to risk taking the car on a trip to Disney World that summer, and got back to Ohio with the Volare intact, but traded it in for a Chevy Nova soon after. She stuck with GM (generally Pontiacs) for the rest of her life.

Mine is connected to a ‘car that got away.’ When I was 18 or 19, circa 1998, my parents generously offered to buy me a car. I was taking community college classes and working, and they wanted their car that I was borrowing for my younger brother to drive. Great.

One car we test drove was a 1970s era BMW 2002. It was awesome, cool, zippy, comfortable, it had swagger right down to its hand-cranked sunroof. But my parents said they didn’t buy it because it was a manual, and I couldn’t drive stick. I suspected it was just too expensive.

Instead, without consulting me about it*, they bring me home a 1981 Toyota Camry. It had a manual transmission. :mad:
Oh my sweet Og, it was a piece of shit. I don’t remember all the exact problems while it was still alive, mainly leaking oil and a terrible clutch. When it died, during my commute to work, the engine block cracked and the transmission failed. Its dead body was donated for a tax writeoff for my folks.

Every time I see a BMW 2002 on the road, I daydream about the one I never got to have… and the fucking Toyota from hell.
*: What was I gonna do? They were giving a car for free.

When I finished university the old car I could afford was a 1994 Ford Aspire. It had a 1.3L 4 cylinder engine that had 63 HP. It took forever to reach highway speeds and passing on 2 lane roads took a massive amount of planning and several downshifts. It floated above 120 km/h and was very noisy above 80.

Although it was a cheap car when new the parts for it were ridiculously expensive. I could usually find the parts I needed by picking the most expensive one of its type on the shelf. I think it was built by KIA before they were a good car company.

I always thought the Ford Aspire was named because the thing aspired to be a car, but never quite made it.

Seeing that my first car was a 1974 Chevy Vega it’s a miracle that I didn’t give up driving altogether.

It wasn’t bad looking, but it was prone to corrosion and various breakdowns, the worst of which compelled me to start it by opening the hood and connecting two points with a long screwdriver (humorist Dave Barry experienced an identical problem with his Vega).

Eventually I gave up on the Vega and got a Dodge Omni, which was very nearly as bad mechanically as well as being uglier.

Some of my cars have been better than others; but ‘worst’, ‘most useless’, and ‘most frustrating’ can’t really be used to describe any of them. To be sure, my first '66 MGB was occasionally problematic, as is the current '66. The Porsche 924 had a habit of turning on the windshield wipers for no apparent reason. (I pulled the fuze when it wasn’t raining – which was most of the time.) But my cars, from the MGs to the Porsches, to the Chevy Sprints… They’ve all been pretty good.

knocking wood

[quote=“Pork_Rind, post:2, topic:842287”]

1978 Mustang II. I was young and dumb and it had been beautifully repainted by the previous owner. I fell for the deep red paint and the fact that it had a working heater (was driving a rusty Beetle at the time) and just had to have it.

GARBAGE IN EVERY WAY. Some stuff was Ford’s fault, like the fact that it was just straight up a piece of shit, some was the previous owner’s fault, like the too-wide aftermarket wheels that caused the rear tires to get chewed up by bolt heads in the rear wheelwells when carrying rear passengers.

I HAD THAT CAR!!! What a piece of shit. You had to take out the battery to change the oil. I got so sick of doing that that I took it to a lube place–they punched a hole in the fender to get a wrench in there to change the oil. I wasn’t even mad.

When I went to get a new car, I went to a place that was about half a mile from my house. They were going to give me like $250 for a trade in. the car I bought wasn’t going to be ready until the next day. I was driving home, realized I forgot something at the dealership, so I went to turn around in the parking lot. I hit a deep pot hole. that car was so low to the ground, that the front end slammed into the pavement Wound up driving my fan into my radiator. Cost me $150 for a replacement radiator so I could get my $250 trade in. Oh, and the paint was crap too.

Oh, Dude! I feel for ya! My 2002 is one of my favorites! Such a blast to drive!

#1. 1960 Corvair. Purchased in 1970 when it was way past its prime, if it ever had one. It was cute. Convertible top that balked going up and balked going down. Continuous oil leak. Air-cooled engine, my foot. I would pull this thing, smoking like crazy, into a as station/garage, and before I could breathe a sigh of relief that I’d actually got it there without having to push it, someone would come out and say, “We’re closed. Also we’re too busy. No you can’t leave it.” I eventually (after three months) signed the title and put it on the bulletin board in the student union, free car. Some guy took it and turned it into a dune buggy. It probably killed him.

I knew it was a mistake when I was driving it home for the first time and it stalled. On railroad tracks.

#2. 1960-something Triumph Spitfire. “Spitfire” was accurate. This one would have been okay if only I’d been a mechanic, as it needed constant adjustments. For the right person, it could have been a fun car, but I was not the right person. Sold it to a guy and saw him driving around in it for a couple of years afterward so he knew what he was doing…I guess.

#3. '73 Chevy Vega. I got this right after the Spitfire so by comparison it was practially maintenance free. If you can believe it, I followed it up with a '74 Ford Pinto. Like I was just trying to hit every car on the Top Ten Worst Cars Ever list. Next up, '79 Plymouth Horizon. What was I thinking?

At least none of these awful cars bohered me for very long.