By on June 16, 2014

sideofroad

…on the side of the road?

Way back in the day, I used to work as an auctioneer at Logandale Auto Auction. I used to call it, “the red light district” because every vehicle there sold under the red light, which meant AS/IS.

findautoauction

AS/IS meant, as it is. That means whatever you bought when it came on the auction block. it was yours. That also included whatever spilled or fell off the vehicle as it was leaving the barn. You, and you alone, were the new owner of a vehicle that probably drank, smoke, and hung around with the bad boys.

Why do I mention this? Well, most of the vehicles that were sold at the sale were impounded or abandoned vehicles. Those vehicles you see on the side of the road in the USA? Well, out here, most law enforcement officers will stick a nice bright tag on the front and rear windshield of the vehicle, giving the owner “x” number of days to get the vehicle or the local wrecker company will pick it up and impound it.

find2

From there, it’s a waiting game, and the vehicles get ever the more expensive to get out of impound. Here in Georgia, the standard rate is around $126 for the tow and $20 a day for storage. If you don’t get it in time they end up having a public auction which is usually advertised in the local county paper beforehand.

15 years ago, I would say that about 90% of these vehicles that were at those nearby auctions would eventually wind up at Logandale. The buyers would usually just fill up the coolant levels to the max, oil if it needed it, a cheap refurbished battery, a quick wash detail, and voila! Brand new auction vehicle sold to the general public with the ultimate of caveat emptors as the buying policy, AS/IS.

flickriver

Back in the Y2K era, I would see a ton of old K-Cars make it through the auction along with Chevy Blazers, 1980′s GM econoboxes, and most notably, the Ford Taurus. Sometimes it seemed like the majority of the inventory at this sale matched one of these four categories to some degree or another.

I was reminded by this from my ride home yesterday from an 85 mph racing circle here in Atlantan that we call Initerstate 285. Now that the weather is hot, I’m seeing a lot more vehicles on the side of the road with bright stickers to alert the local wrecker services. A 25 year old Buick Lesabre may have finally earned it’s wings on Exit 27. But the 2002-ish Cadillac Seville on Northdside Dr. may have fallen victim to the reptilian four figured fangs of GM’s Northsatr head gasket issues. A mid-90′s Sable wasn’t far away, and finally, a similar era Roadmaster sedan rounded out the four I saw over the course of the 20 mile drive.

I’ve seen a lot of rolling money pits and crusher fodder in my travels. But what about you? What’s the most common vehicle you have seen on the side of the road?

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143 Comments on “Question Of The Day: What Is The Most Common Vehicle You Have Seen…...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Grand Prix / Grand AM for sure.

    Also 90s Buick LeSabres.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You see 3800s on the side of the road broken down?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think it’s because of things like dead battery, no gas, tire blowout, or a broken suspension. The people driving them look like pure trash.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I haven’t seen any particular make or model broken down on the road, although I stop driving heavily three years ago. Even then i can’t think of one make/model specifically afflicted by roadside failure. The last car I can actively remember on the side of the road was a 91-93 Caprice, and I knew the model year period by the fender skirts. The occupants (a family) seemed the type who were not strangers to being stuck on the side of the road.

        • 0 avatar
          mankyman

          Yes
          Here in Memphis you see cars by the side of the road/expressway, etc ALL the time. Usually someone is walking to or from the disabled vehicle carrying a red gas can. I’ve never seen this anywhere else I’ve lived. Is this a unique thing to Memphis?

          I just don’t get why people seem to think they can magically drive without filling up their gas tanks.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        The late 90s 3800 Series 2 had nylon upper and lower intake manifolds that the EGR was fond of melting over time. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the slurry of coolant that would then pour into the engine.

        I believe that they fixed this for MY1999, but the earlier models were certainly affected.

        I’ve had horrible luck with Buicks. My 1998 LeSabre had the gasket issue, two transmission failures, and two brake failures. What ultimately did it in was the transmission and brakes failing within 3 minutes of each other on the way to work one day. The car was otherwise pristine.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “You see 3800s on the side of the road broken down?”

        Dexcool and a plastic intake manifold.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        Nope. My car I bought in High School was a 1995 LeSabre. I took great care of it- and still have it. A while ago, my transmission lost Overdrive and Third. I drove it 35 Miles home in second, and another 40 miles to the transmission shop. What a car!

        I do see a lot of broken Pontiac’s though. Usually teenagers that want a $500 radio setup instead of say- tires, suspension, brakes, wheel bearings, ….

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Corey, you keep the Grand Am out your mouth!

      90′s Cavaliers though, for my serious reply.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      Yeah, 90s/early 00s Pontiacs and 90s C/K 1500 trucks.

      But then these seem to be the most common cars on the road. I don’t know why the Grand Prix / Grand AM were so popular here (I guess cheap + domestic).

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Would agree with this as well. They were generally solid cars, but it seems like a lot of them just ended up in the hands of people that didn’t put an ounce of work into them. I saw two W bodies stranded roadside on my last long trip and neither looked like it should have been road worthy in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        “They were generally solid cars, but it seems like a lot of them just ended up in the hands of people that didn’t put an ounce of work into them.”

        Why would these particular cars tend to end up in the hands of people who didn’t put an ounce of work into them?

        • 0 avatar
          kmoney

          I didn’t mean new or in their early to mid-lives, but recently. Now, and for the last 5 years or so, you can buy a running W body around here for $6-900, whereas anything Japanese from a similar time frame is $15-1800+ but more realistically around $2500 on the low end. So if people want a car to drive into the ground without any maintenance, they seem to gravitate toward the W’s.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          Kix
          I see what you tried to do there!

          What’s the matter, did the factory issue tampon dispenser run out today in the Prius? ;)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Significantly less resale value vs Toyonda equilivalent for starters.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Man, that body was on the stretcher and being whisked into the ambulance before I could even swing my fist. This is exactly correct! These GM beauties grace the sides of Chicagoland’s expressways on a daily basis, usually fitted with temporary license plates from another car.

      The earlier GM A-Bodies (say 1988-92 or so) used to be plagued by what I called the “jips.” That’s when one of the front wheels would be bent at a sickeningly unnatural angle like something out of the movie “The Grudge.” I haven’t seen this one in awhile (maybe the fixed it on later cars) but plenty broken down with the hood up.

      • 0 avatar
        PRNDLOL

        Ah yes, the broken tie rod end. I used to see high mileage Japanese cars with this affliction regularly on the side of the road in southern Ontario in the 90′s.
        http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/j435/smoothscott123/Honda%20Ballade/broken1_zps63444825.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Funny you mentioned broken tie rod ends or whatnot in Hondas. While the total number I’ve seen is probably on 10 or so, I’ve seen this problem only in Hondas…one wheel hanging out of the wheelwell…wonder why? Not all I saw were wishbone models either.

      • 0 avatar
        DrGastro997

        Ah Chicago, yes. I take the Ike everyday and I see these shoulder huggers just about every other day: Chrysler Voyager, Ford Exploder, BMW 3′s any Pontiac and the old Daewoo junks. Believe it or not, I have seen a few Range Rover Evoques since it’s debut. I joined this group with my 2010 911 that was running on 2 cylinders…

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I took a 400 mile round trip road trip this weekend. I saw a 2000s Grand Prix broken down on the interstate. On my way home from work today, I saw a one or two-year-old Toyota Tundra with insurance company livery on the shoulder with hazards. A few miles down the road, a thoughtful driver had killed his WJ JGC at the top of an off-ramp obstructing the left turn lane and a portion of the right turn lane.

      Overall, I think the most broken-down cars I see are either the Chevy Blazers or the old Ford Explorers. A testament to both the relative toughness of both vehicles and the fact that they are eventually driven into the ground by folks with no other options than to drive a cockroach without putting anything but gas into it until it gives up the ghost.

    • 0 avatar
      Giltibo

      The 3800 was bulletproof but the transmissions were absolute sh*t. Myself, I owned a 1995 Regal with a 3800. In its life (282 000km), it went through 3 transmissions (plus a couple overhauls), 5 Crankshaft sensors, 4 alternators, plus multiple electric problems. In fact, between 55 000km (33K Miles) and its death, it was NEVER 100% functional, there was always something wrong with it. But in the end, I just got tired…

      And to answer the question: Cavaliers / G5s / Sunfires. Very popular, cheap cars…

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        This describes my experience as well. I did some reading about the brakes, and apparently the computers had the habit of over-pressuring them to the point of failure.

        My first brake failure was on the way to work, approaching a busy intersection. I had to keep making right hand turns until momentum slowed enough to safely run it into a snowbank without damaging the front clip.

        My second brake failure occurred a year later, minutes after my second transmission lost everything but first gear, while also driving to work. Fortunately, I was only able to go about 10km/h, so the parking brake got me stopped.

  • avatar

    CLA
    Ford Crown Vic
    Hyundai Sonata
    Toyota Camry
    Accord
    Dodge Charger

  • avatar

    Lately, a lot of old Corollas. Seems to be the preferred transportation of last resort around here.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Late model Audi and Mercedes, although usually accompanied by owner awaiting a tow.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Here in the electric car capital of the world: Oslo Norway, I would say I see various electric cars dead on the shoulder most often. I also often see commuters driving extra slow trying to nurse their electrics all the way home before the batteries expire, because you can’t just pop in the gas station for a quick gallon or two to make sure you make it. Thus my guess is the dead electrics on the shoulder didn’t quite have the range to make it all the way home, perhaps because the owner forgot to plug it in during the night or all the outlets at work were occupied during the work day.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Yesterday in the grocery store parking lot I had a Prius owner ask me if I had battery cables – for a jump start, I suppose. Then I got to wondering exactly how that would work.

      • 0 avatar
        360joules

        In addition to the main battery pack, there’s a regular car battery for the accessories and the ignition. I used to have neighbors who owned early second generation Prii/Priuses and it happened to them.

        • 0 avatar
          DrGastro997

          Me too. I think some Prius owners are not shutting it off completely.

          • 0 avatar
            formula m

            A girl I know posts on twitter when ever she leaves her prius “running” accidently because she can’t hear it. Lets just say happens more than I would admit…lol

        • 0 avatar
          Slow_Joe_Crow

          Full electric cars have a similar setup,my friend has had to jump start his Nissan Leaf and his Think City when their 12V utility batteries ran down while they were parked and unplugged for a week or so.

  • avatar
    RayH

    Southwest Ohio:

    Honda Accord
    Oldsmobile Ciera
    Chevy Cavalier
    Chevy 1500/Ford F150 single cabs from the 1980′s

    In Ohio, I believe the “3 day warning” for towing is a bright orange 3″x3″ sticker on the rear or driver’s side of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’m in SW Ohio, and the only one I’d agree with might be Cavalier. You see broken Accords, and (rare) Cieras?

      • 0 avatar
        RayH

        Late 80′s/early 90′s Accords, I’m assuming with broken timing belts. I saw one on 675 just this morning, and one on 75 late last week.

        I call all A-bodies a Ciera… maybe more of them are Buick Centuries. The last broken down one I saw was a Pontiac 6000, rarer than them all!

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Oh 675. Well no wonder you see such old stuff if you’re outside Dayton. Can’t recall the last Accord I’ve seen of that gen. Some Centuries, I suppose – generally see larger busted Buicks.

          I have only seen a 6000 about 3 times in my life!

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Speaking of Ohio, can you guys start doing vehicle inspections? I drove from WV to Cincinnati today and encountered no fewer than 3 vehicles with broken brake lights. The heaps that have cracks windshields, drooping mufflers, collapsed suspensions, and bald tires are bad enough, but I can at least spot them from afar. I don’t know the brake lamps are out until they see a trooper and stab the brakes. Ohio heaps really set the bar for “that really shouldn’t be on the road”. /grumble

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          No, we can’t!

          I’m guessing you were on 32 for a long ways, where you’ll see many country hicks in their POS cars. Steer clear, you know they don’t have insurance!

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            This was on 275 around Cinci. I went 35 to I71 yesterday because my destination was on the north side of Cinci. Today, I’ll be driving 32 since I’m heading to the south side of Cinci. I see more Amish on the side of the road than anything on 32, haha.

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            I love lack of inspections in Ohio, it makes the automotive landscape so much more interesting!
            In Pennsylvania all the tired jalopy bucket cars fail inspections and end up–IN OHIO! The best part is that it creates a wonderful bottom tier of really cheap cars; with that tier in place, it keeps the prices in check. If you’re looking for a Lemons car, southern Ohio can’t be beat! If you’re worried that an ancient Sunbird Safari wagon may plow into you because the brake lines rusted lacking inspection, well, yeah, that’s probably going to happen.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Sounds like you were right near where I work. Don’t see much junk up here!

  • avatar
    onyxtape

    Around here, the drivers are relatively well-monied (and thus don’t have really old cars) and I can’t remember seeing any cars on the side of the road during the last year or so – other than a rusted out Previa about a week ago.

    But it’s usually some mid-to-late 90s vintage domestic or VW/Audi that’s otherwise seen on the side of the road around here.

    A number of years ago, within a span of 4-5 miles on I-405 here, I saw a downed 7-series, Audi Allroad (this one was on a dealer test drive), and a M-class. What are the probabilities of seeing the trifecta within a 5-mile stretch of the same freeway on the same day?

  • avatar
    DIYer

    Neons.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    “That also included whatever spilled or fell off the vehicle as it was leaving the barn. You, and you alone, were the new owner of a vehicle that probably drank, smoke, and hung around with the bad boys.”

    A few years ago, an acquaintance who lives by the US/Mexico border bought a Pontiac G6.
    One of the back doors had a rattle, and when he dismantled it, he found a few dollar bills on an envelope. Not a lot, unfortunately for him.

    Made him nervous on what else could be hidden, but so far he has not found anything.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    It’s an interesting question.

    It’s not so much that the breakdown cars were bad design/quality, it’s that they survived long enough to slip to the lowest rung of economic ownership.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If we are talking used-up hulks, around here I think it’s the old slab-sided Caravans.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      Round here I would add 1973–1991 Suburbans to this list as well. See lots of these on their last legs, but somehow still motoring along — usually packed to the gills with crap.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Nothing can kill the 73-87 (or 73-91 for Blazers, Suburbans, and 1-tons) GM truck in the Northeast. Same goes for 81-93 Dodge trucks. Seems nothing can kill a 80s 318 powered D150.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Rust can!

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Psh, I see plenty of severely rusted old Dodges, Fords, and GMs that are still rolling around hauling crap.

            Hell, the stereotypical scrapper truck is usually an old Chevrolet that looks like it should be scrapped along with the bits of metal in the bed.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Rural Alabama: Chevy Cavalier, Ford Explorer (see lots of these), 25+ year old pickups, Neons, and the occasional Taurus/Sable.

    One morning on my commute I saw an Explorer on the side of the road burning and an Explorer Sport coasting to a stop on the highway.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    All-American cars stranded on your route!?

    I have seen quite some Peugeots lately. A Volvo that had lost a wheel and got some ugly scratches. Hoon’s cars, lowered and uglified to 11, but with less attention to everyday issues, I presume.

    European fun fact: Where does the German ADAC have most extra summer missions? Around Kiel in the north. Underused slow-speed-limit-cars from Sweden and, especially, 80km/h-Norway leave their ferries here. Not used to Autobahn-speeds, family fathers end up cloaking their engines with burn residues, broken bits of stuff etc.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    I see the same vehicle broken down regularly, in flashbacks from the 90′s. It still haunts me. The 40k mile ’89 Bronco II I bought by mistake from my ex wife’s Grandma’s 2nd husband. I had no credit in the US and he took payments. The mechanic took the rest of my paycheck, until I was a able to finance a replacement.

    16 months of uncertainty over what would interrupt my travel next. It’s favourite trick was to stall during left turns smack bang in the middle of busy intersections.

    This rolling hissy fit of reliability was my second life lesson in unreliable vehicles. I still feel it’s hand on my shoulder whenever I’m tempted to buy anything that originates from Europe.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I do see a lot of broke-ass Panthers too, but they’re still running so it don’t count none. I steer clear of them, as they surely don’t have insurance.

  • avatar
    mars3941

    Once a vehicle wears out it’s over and many people today can’t afford either a new one or a late model used one. They also reach a point where they can’t keep a junker running any longer so they just abandon it on the side of a road. So here’s what these poor soles are faced with. Can’t afford to replace the worn out POS, credit cards if they still have one maxed out. Buy here pay here lot at 39% interest for another junker and the cycle starts all over again. A pathetic situation but one that’s all to common.

    • 0 avatar
      TheyBeRollin

      What I never understood is why people don’t simply sell them to a junkyard at that point. I mean, your car is broken down by the side of the road and there’s no way you can can afford to fix it. Do you a) leave it there until the police impound and auction it, or b) sell it to the junkyard guy and get some cash you can put toward a bus pass or another car? Unless it’s owned by a BHPH lot, I can’t see any reason you’d just leave it. If it was owned by one, wouldn’t you call them so they can either fix/resell it or junk it themselves?

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        The answer is in the article:

        “around $126 for the tow and $20 a day for storage”

        Most dead cars are worth, what, $200 scrap value? It doesn’t take long for the fees to be more than the car is worth, and you still have to get it to the scrapyard.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Easy answer.

    Audi Quattros in the snowy ditch in January.

    A friend of mine once said that 4WD just gets you killed farther from civilization.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      … right on. When heading into snow country here, it’s typically the desert yahoo’s who are stuck in the median / verge in their 4WD vehicles – unfounded overconfience in summer tires. My ex father-in-law always advised not using 4WD until you get into trouble – because you need it to get out of trouble.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Actually this winter, I saw less of the results of the attitude, ‘I’ve got a Quattro(WRX, Grand Cherokee, etc) I’ll just keep goin’ 70 (BAM) this year, maybe driver here learn their lession last year. The only one I remember from two years during first snow was a kid sailing along in his WRX, luckily with very few cars in front of him. About a half mile later, he’s suddenly bouncing off left and right guardrails like an oversize pinball machine. Maybe either cars are generally more dependable or owners are taking better care of them, but these days the only cars I see at the side of the highway on any regular basis usually have a state trooper parked with his light bar illuminated behind them.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      LOL – I was going to say I hardly ever see cars on the side of the road. But you bet the first snow storm of the season there will be a TON of AWD whatevers in the ditch.

      But I really do see VERY few broken down cars here – our annual safety inspection keeps the real beaters off the roads anyway, and it is rarely hot here, so fewer tire and overheating issues. But when I DO see something broken, it is always some nasty old jalopy, usually American.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “But you bet the first snow storm of the season there will be a TON of AWD whatevers in the ditch.”

        Oh, hell yes. Often soon after blowing by us in the lane they haven’t plowed yet.

        But in WI you seldom see older 4Xs or AWDs in the ditch. Those folks are too hip to the slip. Noobs, though, are pretty sure to go ditch diving because they KNOW they don’t have to slow down. Slowing down is so ’90s.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Oh, yeah- Quattro! Watch what this can ….
      Does anybody have a F-150 and a rope!?

      I should quit talking. I drive a 2001 A6 wagon.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Pretty much any mass-market car that’s 15-20 years old. Japanese, Korean, American; it doesn’t matter. Poor maintenance will kill anything of that age without discrimination.

    I see fewer luxury cars, probably because fewer luxury cars survive that long given chronic electrical issues.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    It’s usually a function of where I am. The majority of cars broken down on the road seem to be because of factors outside the realm of direct vehicle quality and have more to do with the circumstances and owner neglect like tire blowouts, obvious damage etc. Therefore, whatever is most common in that region seems to be found on the side of the road most often.

    Around here, it’s 15-20 year old Detroit hoopties.

  • avatar

    MOPAR FTW, usually very beat 3rd gen minivans, Stratus/Sebrings, Neons, or LH cars that have been beat to hell.

    Also, Galants.

    Though yesterday, I saw an alarming number of mid-aughts Civics litering I-4, like four of them.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      The DC stuff I usually see in bad shape is more Hooptie than Derelict. Be it a Neon, Sebring or Caravan, they all seem to keep on trucking with lots of dead parts and dying paint along for the ride on a still-usable powertrain.

      But what really sucks is that the 2005-2010 Chrysler 300 was an innovative, well-done vehicle that quickly became the Official Car of People With Bad Taste and Worse Credit.

  • avatar
    p161911

    U-Haul trucks. Those things seem to always be on the side of the road with some sort of breakdown.

    • 0 avatar
      ja-gti

      U-stall trucks by far. Rented a trailer from them and
      was worried it was either going to infect my van with the stall virus, or the axle was going to seize.

      I’m actually more surprised at how many actually are moving on the road instead of pulled over to the side!

      But I have rented my share and never had a problem, so the number I see on the side of the road are probably just a function of the tens of thousands they rent every day…

      • 0 avatar
        Windy

        Yes the rental trucks and vans are what I see the most of on my annual drive from Maine to New Mexico and back to visit my sister. Closely followed by 18 wheelers with tread separations in the summer heat of the south west as I frequently work in a visit to west coast friends on these annual trips which run about 10,000 miles or so.

        A few years ago I recall a huge moving company trailer that was being emptied on to the shoulder of I90 in west Texas some poor sods entire life on display due to a smoldering fire near the front of the load.

        Old contractor vans and box trucks also featured more often than their numbers on the road might indicate. As are old beat up pickup trucks.

        But as for cars broken down they are quite rare in last years trip I only recall a highway patrol dodge, with what based on all the oil on the ground, must have blown an engine and on the trip back east a stretch limo with a flat outside of Nashville

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      Some gal rented a U-Haul to buy our couch that we were selling on Craigslist. It got to our house OK, and I helped her load the couch onto the truck. Then the truck fails to start.

      U-Haul had her wait for 3 hours before sending a mechanic. She had her old, amnesiac mutt with her so we invited them in the house to wait it out and have a cold one. The dog just endlessly slowly circled our kitchen island for 3 hours – it would have been amusing had it not been midnight.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Grumman LLV

    If that doesn’t count, I tend to see Cavaliers and Neons suffering a lot.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I seem to see mostly ’90s vintage GM large cars – usually in horrible shape. I think I have seen the same gold Regal at about 4 different spots on US1 so far this year.

    The second most common family I see are dilapidated crown vics and town cars from the same era. Same story – these are not the coveted crown vics, these are the ones with mismatched tires and dented bodies.

    I would imagine this is due to being in Southeast Florida, the most common cars 15-20 years ago were large american cars driven by an ‘older’ population.

    The majority of cars on the road around here are quite nice. It is rare to see anything nice on the side of the road for any longer than it takes the tow truck to be summoned via cell phone.

    What I see in common are cars that are not cared for in the least.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      I see a fair amount of third and fourth generation Tauruses and Sables with saggy rear suspension and in various states of disrepair around here, and the Tauruses/Sables older than that are often in even WORSE shape.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        When I was a kid, I thought that an inherent characteristic of front-wheel drive cars was weak rear springs, because every old K-car I saw was dragging its ass.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Chrysler LH sedans and VW’s down in Florida. Hard to find a LH not broken down or blowing smoke out the back. And VW’s always find a nice place on the side of the road. Mostly 90′s models.

  • avatar
    qest

    Ferrari.

    Of the maybe 20 or so Ferraris I’ve witnessed in the wild, two were breakdowns on the side of the road.

    Sure, I see a lot of old American iron on the side of the road, but mostly I see them running.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I will say this: it’s not so bad. Getting stuck on the side of the road; it really isn’t all that big a deal that people need to worry about it. Now, I wouldn’t recommend it to people to try, but I see so many people trading in perfectly nice 10 y.o. cars over the fear that somehow, someday, they may get stuck on the side of the road.

    You have a cellphone, right? Many insurance companies include roadside assistance in their coverage. If yours does not, then just call AAA and they will sell you a roadside assistance coverage on the spot, and then transfer you to someone who will dispatch tow trucks. Or, just use your phone to find a local garage and ask them to send a tow.

    Call Enterprise from the tow truck and have them meet you at the repair shop with a rental.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    1st gen W-bodys but almost all the 3.1 to 3.4 powered ones. The ones that are still running tend to have the most offensive exhaust odor too.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    My totally unscientific answer is older corollas, taurus, explorers, civics, accords. Not camry so much. These are all cars that people tried to get too many miles out of in my opinion, rarely do you see new cars broken down on the side of the road, but my unscientific answer for the most common new car breakdown has to be BMW and Volkswagen. I dont know if I just take notice at certain cars, but those are the standouts in my mind.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Southern Ontario: late-90s to early 2000s minivans/suvs.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    It’s a function of poverty. The people need cars to get to their jobs, but only barely have enough money to purchase the most neglected offerings, and don’t have the funds to do any maintenance. So they drive cars that have chronic Check Engine Lights, low oil level lights, and bald tires, with the expected results. What I see dead on the side of the road most often are 15 to 20 year old cars, the make spread evenly among domestic and foreign manufacturers. The distraught owners are usually members of America’s economic underclass.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      I’d say it’s more a function of stupid and lazy. Around here the spending and learning priorities for people who do roadside car donations are:

      a) Huge TVs and the content streams to feed them.
      b) Cell Phones
      c) Drinking
      d) Guns & Hunting
      e) Vacations
      f) Kids
      g) Rent/Mortgage
      h) Cars
      i) Child Support

      Nah, poverty isn’t an excuse for the people who abandon those cars by calling for a ride on their Galaxy S5s.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Those are some interesting priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Foley

        Excellent and accurate comment, Kenmore, but you forgot “tats/piercings,” which I’d say slots in between “drinking” and “guns/hunting.”

        PS There’s nothing wrong with tats/piercings, unless you’re suckling the government teat, which means I am paying for your body art through income redistribution schemes.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Yep, good catch. I have no idea what those self-mutilations cost, but I’ve gotten the sense that they’re anything but negligible.

          And, God, am I sick of seeing people disfigured by them.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Makes me think I should have gone into laser dermatology instead of computer science!! Another twenty years or so, those folks will be able to write their own tickets!

            And +1,000 to the remarks about misplaced priorities in general, particularly if Uncle Sugar is paying the freight!

            (The Galaxy S5 is now an “Obamaphone?!” The world really is imploding!)

  • avatar
    GS 455

    Dodge Stratus and Intrepids litter the roads like dead racoons and skunks on our highways.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    GM J-Bodies with hail dents and faded paint are what I most commonly see on the side of the road…and also late-eighties/early-nineties Hondas. I myself got stranded in my old ’90 Accord EX more than once. Ironically, I once had to abandon it overnight at the entrance to a Honda dealership when the head gasket had a sudden failure and leaked oil into the spark-plug wells. They must have thought I was nuts…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Puget Sound…

    Nothing really sticks out in my mind as the dead vehicle you see a lot of.

    Maybe older Ford Explorers.

    In most cases around here a broken down car, even off the highway causes bottlenecks because Puget Sound drivers take rubber necking to a whole new level. So a car dead on the side of the road is removed pretty quickly.

    So from Tacoma to Marysville, kind of hard to say what you see “a lot of.” It’s kind of rare to see a car on the regions highways with the state police orange check mark on it.

  • avatar
    koshchei

    I don’t see that many, but the last two (over the last five years) were both MINIs, and both ablaze in the hood department.

  • avatar
    agiguere

    I recall seeing 3 Geo Storms broken down on the side of the road in a week’s time back in 2002.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I imagine most vehicles found on road dead (ha a pun!) were already well into beater status, but they would have to have strong enough drive-trains to withstand abuse long enough to get into the state they are found in. So the usual suspects apply: GM SBC, 3800, 60V6, Opel 2.2s, Caddy 4.9s, 4.2 I6s, 4.3s, some Chrysler such as the old 2.4s, 3.3s, 3.5s and the occasional 3.9 or 318, Ford 3.0, 4.6, 5.0, Honda I4s or possibly 3.2s with the fourth transaxel, Toyota I4s, Volvo I4s etc. Occasionally something German and older than MY95 too, haven’t seen much newer on beater status.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Since nothing comes to mind I’ll have to construct a memory here. Let’s see… must be something that sold in large numbers, had junky transmissions/electrical/other essential components, and a tendency to attract cheapskates (or fanatics) who try to keep them running forever

    I’ll say it’s a tie between the Ford Aerostar and any older Volkswagen.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “Since nothing comes to mind I’ll have to construct a memory here.”

      Seems to me that’s what most of the commenters here are doing – you’re just the first one honest enough to cop to it. COTD {slow clap}

    • 0 avatar
      dhathewa

      Since an Aerostar (twice) and a VW stuck us on the side of the road on vacations, I’d say your memory construction techniques were above average.

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    I drive a truck in the mountains of CO and WY. I see a lot of Jeeps, mostly Grand Cherokees, Ford SUV’s and of course, the Ford Taurus. My most fun day is Memorial Day weekend. Obviously, people just throw a bunch of stuff, kids and the wife into the car that hasn’t had a maintenance check in months and 3 miles up I-70, they are broken down or overheated. I counted 26 in stretch of 2 miles one year.

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    Now that all of the mark IV Jettas are in the junkyard, the only thing I really notice is the cars are usually pretty old.

    I will say this as an engineer who works for my state’s highway department, we get a disproportionate number of damage claims from BMW’ owners where potholes bend / break control arms / wheels. We get a lot of bent wheel and alignment damage claims from folks running aftermarket low profile tires, but rarely broken / bent suspension bits.

    That being said, I live about 5 miles from their factory on I-85 and we do have a lot of them running around, Bubba Makes Wheels and all. Here a BMW most likely means you work for them and are taking advantage of the super employee lease deal, not a professional who upgraded from a Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      “Now that all of the mark IV Jettas are in the junkyard”

      Nobody told Pennsylvania that, because I still see tons of them and Mark IIIs as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I don’t live in Pennsylvania, but I have a Mk3 Jetta VR6. And I see, in a month, maybe one or two other Mk3′s. I may see fifteen to twenty Mk4 Jettas in that same time span. Mk1 and Mk2…nonexistent around here.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          It’s kind of funny how quite a few Mk I Golfs and Jettas were made in Pennsylvania, but PennDOT’s love affair with brine and the passage of time makes them very rare sights on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Certainly no shortage of MKIV VWs in Maine.

      As for BMWs, yup, they sure do break. Combination of relatively fragile aluminum control arms, runflat tires, and fashion-victim 18″ and 19″ wheels. RFT sidewalls might as well be solid steel for all the give in them at 35% aspect ratios, so you hit a huge pothole and something is going to give – usually the wheel, but if the pothole is bad enough you can bend a control arm.

      RFTs work fine in 17″ 45% on my car, but I also actually watch where I am driving and leave enough room between me and the car ahead to see and avoid the road craters. Amazes me how ANYONE can manage to hit something like that in broad daylight, but it is a daily occurrence on the BMW forums.

      • 0 avatar

        My 330i came with very pretty staggered 17 inch wheels, front a 225/45 and rear a 245/40.

        Over time, and with multiple bends (yes I do see potholes but in NYC you oft don’t have reaction time OR runoff room so WHAM !) I gave up. When I drove German roads, it was clear the designers of “sport package” cars from Germany have a much different view as to what a road “looks like”. It isn’t the Bronx River Parkway near I 95, that’s for sure.

        I’m running a set of 225/50 on 16 inch wheels. I lost one-two mpg to drag but when a wheel eater gets you, you don’t wobble away, and ultimate grip is pretty much the same.

        The current base “oh its a BMW !!!! OMG” F30 has 225/50 on 17 inchers…clearly BMW corporate reads the warranty reports, and know these buyers ARE still price sensitive.

        My mom has the new 5 series and lives in Manhattan. If you buy the “unlimited wheel replacement” add on, it is a great deal. She’s on wheel #3, and that rim/runflat combo is over $1K each installed. Again, often you can’t avoid that wheel eater in NYC driving.

        A “side of road” breakdown in NYC is very expensive, think towing and tickets. I saw a lot of Taurus for a while, then the occasional Mitsubishi, most of which have the dread zero maintenance plan. Ten and fifteen year old CamCords are probably the most common roadkill.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Semi Trucks are the VEHICLE I see broken down the most.

    As for passanger cars, probably Mopar minivans, Ford Exploders, and W-Bodies.

  • avatar

    Here in rural South Carolina I would say beater Explorers top the list. Lots of trailer trash cars in the grass median. Neons,the last cloud cars on the road, old beemers and ricer mods.

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    In Orange County I usually see BMW’s broken down on the side of the road. But when I’m going up the grapevine, It’s usually the Ford Exployer.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Chrysler products, definitely for many years. Lately? You name it – I saw it:

    Caddys, Camrys, Corollas, Accords, Civics, Altimas, Sentras, Cavaliers, old Impalas, Malibus, Fords of every model & trucks of every make, everything. Apparently, people who buy cars at the “last resort” lots haven’t the resources to keep them running properly.

    Chrysler still wins, though.

  • avatar
    ajla

    SN95 Mustangs.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    In San Diego, usually older Hondas that are on their last legs or junker ricers.

    Same thing for Mexican plated junkers, cars that were too worn out to be repaired here, but are wholesaled out of the country. Mostly 80′s era cars. Also, not too uncommon to see newer Mexico plated cars that aren’t sold here, like some of the smaller Mexico only “Chevy’s” and small Nissans, saw a Ford Ikon, some smaller VW’s like the Derby and other oddities.

    Also oddly enough, newer model BMW’s and Audi’s. 2 weeks ago I was heading to work when I was stopped dead in a traffic jam. What had caused it was a brand new BMW 5 series that had apparently stopped dead between the 78 East and 15 South onramp; the POS was blocking half the onramp. To add injury to insult, the car still had it’s dealer plates on. Garbage.

  • avatar
    redav

    About four years ago, I asked a tow truck driver what the most common car was that he towed. His answer was “Chrysler 300s. No contest.” I don’t think that’s entirely the car’s fault. There are a lot on the roads, and they considering the adornments so many carry, they probably weren’t maintained well by their owners.

  • avatar
    skor

    The last car I saw at the side of the road that was not in wreck was a newish Toyota…flat tire.

    Around here I almost never see a stuck car that isn’t a flat.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    A true story: in 1972 I was in the Navy stationed in Charleston, SC. I
    lived in Atlanta, GA. Most weekends I would go home on Friday afternoon
    and return to base late Sunday night/early Monday morning. I regularly
    rode with another fellow. Sometime in early summer, I bought a used VW
    bug while home for the weekend, left with my brother-in-law to rehab,
    and returned to Charleston. The following Friday, I rode home to Atlanta
    with my regular “chauffeur” and I swear we saw at least a dozen, maybe
    more, broken down VW bugs on the side of the rode on the way home. That
    sure scared the hell out of me, but I fortunately never had a breakdown
    in that car the whole time I owned it. Only after I put a new clutch
    in it did the engine freeze up, and that was in my own driveway.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’ve gone about 900 hwy miles in the last 4 days and the only cars I’ve seen on the side of the road were pulled over by LEO’s and occupied. Several trucks stopped in brake check areas in passes. It didn’t used to be this way.

  • avatar
    slow_poke

    live in bay area. driving home and telling the wife BMW’s have crappy reliability. pointed out TWO on the side of the road during the drive…. kills me cuz i’d love to have a sweet M3, but don’t want to pay the lease rate and couldn’t bring myself to buy one as a 5yr old daily driver…

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      I’m with you on that one. I have an extreme attraction to the 235i and 435i, but I can’t ever see myself buying one.

      I have a buddy with an M3. His warranty repairs would make you cry. Beautiful car, but it has had more warranty work than I’ve spent on new cars.

  • avatar
    RatherhaveaBuick

    Any time I hear a horrible sound emmiting from a car or truck, its a Chrysler vehicle. I also have seen several looking broken on the side of the freeway.

    Also, Mitsubishi’s I see commonly as well.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So yesterday evening I had to drive the entire I-405 corridor and part of SH-167. I made a conscious note in my mind to look for dead on side of the road.

    1) An old British roadster, maybe Jaguar – was actually in good shape white, but clearly DOSOR south of downtown Seattle

    2) Honda Civic, older black, owner was looking under the hood, traffic was crawling by (damn rubberneckers) and there was a clear pool of bodily fluids from the Civic on the ground under it

    3) Chevy Suburban – newer

    4) Toyota Corolla, on a SH-167 ramp – totally dogged out older model

    That’s it. I guess I just filter out DOSOR cars when I drive.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    In the last 10 years or so, it comes down to two cars:

    1. Pontiac 6000. I’ve seen so many of them on I-475 that when it isn’t a 6000, or the #2 car, it shocks me.

    2. Ford Focus, first generation. Usually green. I have no idea why. One of my favorite memories of Focus dead on the shoulder was when I saw a co-worker’s brand new Focus spew coolant all over the road. I gave him a ride to work. He said, “I think I screwed up buying that thing!”. A year later, it was lemoned, and replaced with a Ranger. Another co-worker had a used one he had bought to replace an old Fox Mustang he had driven to death. He got to be infamous for asking people to jump him, as the Focus made the Mustang look good. After a couple of weeks at the dealer, it finally became reliable to trust enough to drive to Cleveland twice a week. One day, he came to work and the mirrors were about to fall off, and the roof was kind of flattened. It was the middle of winter, and during a blizzard, a semi cut him off and he had rolled it two times in about a foot of snow, and just kept on driving, as it was the middle of the night, and he never saw what company the truck belonged to. He fixed the mirrors with the insurance money, but the roof was left alone until the car was traded for a CR-V.


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