By on August 24, 2010

I went to a public sale this past Thursday. Dozens of vehicles were sold for four figure premiums, but unfortunately virtually all of them were complete and utter trash. A repo’d 2008 Dodge Avenger SXT was riddled with 89,000 torturous miles of abuse and neglect. It shaked, rattled, and barely rolled through the block. Thanks to an owner who considered the numerous warning lights to be mere suggestions.. But it still went for $8800. How? Why? We’re talking clean book value for a rough car in every sense of the word.

Then I reminded myself. A lot of folks still buy with their eyes. That car may have more internal problems than Andy Dick. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t go down the road given the right wax and detail. As an FJ Cruiser, Ram, and Police Interceptor soon found their financial shangri-la, I started to think about my own debacles. Which model had been the true bane of my existence?

I would have say that the 1993 – 1997 Isuzu Rodeo was certainly a  chart topper. Those things just seemed to eat tires, parts, electrics, and labor hours in a way that would make a Daewoo proud. Some people have luck with them. Me? I get to throw a thousand bucks in the kitty and sit and watch as all the planned obsolescence of it’s parts go straight to my bank account. But that’s just the luck of the draw. What model for you has been the equivalent of a financial black hole?

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65 Comments on “Hammer Time: Take This Car And Shove It!...”


  • avatar
    mjz

    Someone bought THAT for $8,800?

  • avatar
    210delray

    Two cars come to mind:

    1990 Mercury Sable. Around 17K miles, the brakes were pulsating. When it was about 2 years old, the intermittent wiper settings (7 different speeds!) started to act wonky. I had the local dealer replace the wiper switch and motor around 47K miles after having enough. Then after about 65K miles (and the payments were finished), all hell broke loose (and I was using an indie shop by that time) — front struts, tie rod ends, numerous and costly a/c leaks (bad o-rings I was told), water pump, CV joint boots, starter, alternator, wiper switch (again), headlight switch, sticking rear brake caliper which ruined the rotor, and the coup de grace: the transmission lost O/D and had to be replaced at 93K miles. I managed to keep the car 10 years and 135K miles, but in retrospect it should have been dumped after 60K miles. This car disabused me of the notion that if you took good care of a car, it would take good care of you.

    1975 VW Rabbit. My first new car. A lemon right from the start. Faulty carb needle valves prevented the car from starting when it was 3 months old. There was a back-order for parts so the dealer jury-rigged it to run until the parts came in. Sunvisor broke off (plastic bracket). Radio tuning knob broke. Clutch failed after 13K miles (and I knew how to drive a stick, learned on a ’67 Chevy). Catalytic converter contents fell apart and rattled like a can of marbles. Parking brake cables misrouted (dealer fault). Timing belt (partially exposed, brilliant design!) slipped off its cogs when a blizzard filled the engine compartment with snow. Muffler failed. Cracks in the floor insulation under the front seats (I don’t know if they went all the way through, but when I pressed on the area, brown-colored water would seep out). All of this before 40K miles, when I traded it in.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      Ironically, my dad’s 1991 Mercury Sable was one of the most reliable cars we ever owned (and we’re a Toyota family). Zero engine, brake, tranny, or suspension problems. It did have recurring A/C leaks near the end of the life, and the light bar lights would occasionally burn out, but nothing else major broke over the 16 years we had it. He only got rid of it because I gave my Camry to him.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      WaftableTorque: +1. My experience closely matches yours, except my is 18 years old and only has 120K on it. And those light bar bulbs have been discontinued…I hate lights out on a vehicle…

    • 0 avatar
      Nick

      The Taurus/Sable suffered from the occasional lemon which sullied their reputation.  My mother-in-law’s 89 Sable has about 100l miles on it now and it has been remarkably solid and reliable.  The only niggling problem is the frequency with which some of the rear light bulbs burn out.  Apart from that…smooth sailing, touch wood.

  • avatar

    1995 Geo Prizm. Purchased it for my wife as a lease return from the local Chevy dealer thinking it would have Toyota reliability. Everything on it seemed to just not work right. The master cylinder and all brake lines needed to be replaced at only 50k miles, various smaller repairs plagued the rest of the parts under the hood, the 3-speed auto trans was posessed. Even the aftermarket stereo and speakers didn’t function quite right.

    I was driving a ’96 Plymouth Neon at the time which surprisingly was the most reliable car I’d had to date. Ended up driving it for 9 years just because it was paid for and just kept going without much complaint.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    1995 Olds Cutlass Supreme. I’ve had good luck with GM products but this car was a total dog, with its head gasket habit, bad electronics, terrible seats… and this was not even a first-year model.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Two J-s. I was a glutton for punishment. I liked the general size, layout, etc of the car but the execution….
    1982 Cavalier. Barely made it through a year before trading. Massive engine oil leaks which dealer could not fix. After engine was removed a couple of time and strange noises appearing – bye bye.
    1984 Sunbird. I called it my $250 car. Numerous electrical failures that cost $250 each to fix out of warranty. Wiper control board. Rear wiring harness. Control for positioning of rear view mirrors. Headlight switch. Power door lock. Power window motor. Turn signal arm broke twice – this is what triggered the bye-bye.
    on to a 1989 Grand Prix. Not too bad except for the cold solder joints in the ECU.

  • avatar
    red60r

    1997 Saturn 4-door SL1. Spartan interior, OK radio/CD, no frills. Mostly driven locally, in about 30k miles over 7 years, it needed two fuel injectors, a battery, and was about to require a water pump. OEM tires were the usual junk. The heat was never adequate below 40F and the A/C was equally marginal above 85. Replaced with a Forester.

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      I guess you hit a lemon, or the SL2 was much better. We got grandma’s 97 SL2 with 18k on it in 2002 and while I needed to replace an engine mount and the headliner (Florida car)it’s been mostly reliable since. I have 90k on it now, and while it rarely goes below 40 degrees in Portland the heater has worked fine on snowy days.
      I have had to replace the alternator, the rear wheel cylinders, and two sets of tires but that’s about it.

  • avatar
    racebeer

    I have a used and new car story for this. First the “Used” ……

    Bought a ’74 Fiat X1/9 in ’77. Between the rust issues all over, the electrical gremlins I was constantly chasing, and numerous structural problems (I’m talking rear strut towers….), I easily spent almost as much in 2 years as the original price I paid. Which brings us to the “New” car ……..

    Got rid of the Fiat and got a ’78 Alfa GTV. I essentially traded one relative cheap Italian problem for a much more expensive Italian problem. Don’t get me wrong, when it was right, it was absolutely delightful. Unfortunately, in 4 years of ownership I had the following issues:

    1) Rear deck rusted through TWICE. First one replaced under warranty, the second was on me.
    2) Ate 2 second gear syncros. Actually, the syncros were fine … it was the syncro dogs on second gear that got eaten alive. Not cheap.
    3) Went through 4 calipers on the inboard rear brakes. Constantly either sticking or leaking.
    4) Went through 2 master brake cylinders. Believe it or not, it was the seals that were going bad and leaking. But you couldn’t replace the seals because for the NA market they used a different diameter master cylinder, and they DIDN’T STOCK THE CORRECT SEALS!!!! Had to buy a complete master cylinder.
    5) I can’t count how many rubber donuts the driveline ate. Since this car had a rear mounted gearbox, the driveshaft turned engine rpm. Instead of a u-joint in the midddle, they used a rubber donut to connect the front half to the back half. The rubber was, to put it mildly, insuffficient for the load.
    6) Starting at about 6000 miles, oil consumption started to pick up. When I finally got to 1 quart per 200 miles, I had the engine pulled and rebuilt. New liners, pistons, rings, etc. This at 28,000 miles.
    7) Should I mention the mechanical fuel injection?? Don’t want to go there with all the bad memories ….

    There isn’t space to talk about the other niggling problems that I just learned to put up with (Marelli ignition ….. the Italian version of Lucas electrics). So, I happily traded the money pit in on a brand new 1983 Pontiac 6000 STE. Drove that thing for 10 years and 135,000 miles with absolutely no problems.

    As much as I still love to look at Italian sports cars, I’ll happily stick to our classic ’63 Dodge that has cost me much less than either of those two sleds.

  • avatar
    NN

    2002 Mazda Millenia

    Bought in May 2009 with 65000 miles. Now has 80k on odometer.

    In those 15k miles and 15 months, it has needed:

    transmission rebuild ($1500)
    new radiator ($800)
    timing belt snapped/tensioner change ($800)
    tune-up with new plugs/wires/distributor ($200)
    tires/brakes (maintenance, I know, but not cheap maintenance…$900)

    So after sinking $4k into repairs and maintenance in one year (much of the maintenance–like timing belt–way before the scheduled due time), I take it for an appraisal and find out previous owner rolled back the odometer before selling it to me. I ran a CARFAX when buying the car and it was clean–so don’t put much faith in that service. Car actually has an estimated 140k miles (rolled 60k back). That loss costs me an additional $4500 or so in resale value.

    There you go–$8500 in a year lost on a used car! And all for trying to do the financially responsible thing. Who says new cars are a bad value??

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Distributor? 2002?

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      I’m curious on how a 60K rollback got missed on a carfax. At least for NC vehicles, carfax tells you the mileage at every annual emissions inspection, as well as at every title transfer. Do they not provide that info for all states?

      And how did the appraiser discover the odometer rollback? That would be a good trick to know.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Distributor Cap.

      And the appraiser found out the odo rollback by running a CARFAX. You see, the CARFAX I ran last year did not show over three years or servicing and reported mileage. It showed last reported mileage at 62k back in 2006. I figured that as far as I knew, the car sat on a lot unsold for that amount of time, or was driven by a grandmother who put very few miles on it during those years. I bought the car in May, then sometime afterwards all of these servicings showed on the CARFAX. When I titled the car in VA at 65k miles yet the servicings showed 113k miles, CARFAX noted that there may be an odometer rollback. I did not discover this until seeing the dealer’s CARFAX that was ran a few weeks ago. CARFAX itself claims innocence, as they only honor their buyback guarantee if there’s a missing title, which there isn’t. The service center may be complicit, but I’ve got to prove it…I’m working on the legal stuff now.

    • 0 avatar
      WetWilly

      I’ve added Carfax to the “Take it with a grain of salt” list. A friend bought a GM certified Pontiac G6 in 2006, the dealer pulls a Carfax and it’s clean. After multiple airbag problems, the last one literally 100 miles out of warranty 3 years later, she had enough and went to trade it in. The dealer pulls a Carfax and tells her “Did you know your car was in an accident?”. The latest Carfax said the car had been in a police-reported, airbag-deployed accident in 2005; Carfax didn’t add the 2005 accident data until 2009.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Just checked and the radiator is a $175 item aftermarket. Beware whoever is selling you radiators for $800. I have replaced mine in under an hour and I’m an amateur.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Hmmmmmmmm….. I know a few contenders. 1982 Chevy Celebrity purchased by my father in 1985 with 45,000 miles, inherited by me upon getting my license in 1993. The car ate front disk brakes, had difficulty holding a front end alignment, and required the engine to be completely rebuilt at 100,000 miles (approx when I inherited it), rusted like a SOB too. Oh I almost forgot the 3 alternators it when through but that had more to deal with improper installation by dealership technicians on one. When put out to pasture at 150,000 miles, the only original mechanical part was the transmission.

    1997 Escort station wagon, not bad, had electrical problems with the rear wiper motor and switch, eventually developed a rear dome light that wouldn’t turn off. At 66,000 miles the transmission went, developed a slipping torque converter that necessitated a transmission rebuild. That one I blame on myself, I didn’t do the proper maintenance on a car that was know for having a rather fragile transmission.

    Two best? 2004 Ford F150 and a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Ford has needed nearly nothing, Oldsmobile only required a water pump (100,000 miles), Steering column taken apart and put back together at the same time, although when it was stolen at 150,000 miles in Detroit, it was going to be ready to either part out or frame off rebuild. It was developing structural rot in all the typical places.

    Slightly related question for Steve, I’ve heard you praise the Olds Aurora but vilify the Northstar. Does the Aurora 4.0 not suffer the same issues?

  • avatar
    kurkosdr

    2003 Ford Mondeo (european edition) my father has.

    One failed engine bay while still on warranty (fixed for free). Rims were made out of tincans, so they developed dents even when hitting the smallest of potholes. My father changed them with aluminum Borbet rims, no problems since. The door handles at the interior started to wore out after 2 years of light use. Not fixed yet. 2 failed fuel pumps for no reason, had to take the bus to get back home.

    Needless to say, Ford lost me as a potential customer. Too bad, because they seemed to get their act together with the Focus, but apparently they are back to business as usual.

  • avatar
    carguy

    93′ Taurus SHO with 75K

    AC condenser and compressor – replaced
    Auto box lost overdrive – repaired
    Corrosion of radiator – replaced
    Short in the dash which blacked out most of the gauges half the time.

    …and it wouldn’t be an SHO if it didn’t have a perpetual “Check Engine” light that couldn’t be diagnosed.

  • avatar
    portico

    210 Delray: I also owned a 75 Rabbit. I bought it when I was in college in 1989 for 500. The car was literally lemon yellow. I went through 4 radiators, a clutch and other issues. I finally sold it to my local gas station guy who turned it into a portable pig cooker! He took the back seat out as well as the gas tank. In place of the back seat who put a larger pig roaster that he would drive to local pig roasts to make money. He put a steer horn on the front of the car and called it the “Road Kill Cafe” Great memories!

  • avatar
    texan01

    My personal one would be my 1986 Pontiac 6000-STE. I bought it used in 1999, with 92,000 miles on it, one-owner older lady owned. It was in decent shape other than a ragged drivers seat and armrest, got those re-upholstered and it looked brand new.

    I had owned it for 3 whole days, when I decided to take it out to see what itd do. About 70mph was all it was capable of doing, before the bottom end chewed a rod bearing on the injected 2.8.

    I rebuilt the engine with a new crank and rod, a friend found a crank for a 3.1 that we could have swapped in about a week after I bought the new crank for the 2.8. It definitely had much more scoot after I was done with it, so much so it was nearly as fast as my old Chevelle. It was trouble-free for about 6 months, then the water pump went out, the radio, the A/C compressor, the alternator, the distributor, the fuel pump, the rear air suspension, ball joints, tie rods, rack & pinion, the power steering hoses, speakers, power antenna, engine cradle mounts. It needed a part thrown at it about every 6 weeks for the duration of my two and a half years of ownership.

    I was going to school and could not afford to keep fixing it, so my brother in law made me a great deal on his gently used ’95 Explorer which I snatched up. I gave the 6000 to Carmax for the paltry sum of 700 bucks, with 130,000 miles on it and looking and driving like a brand new car. It was a fun, fun car but it was not terribly fun to work on in a dorm parking lot.

    The Explorer? I’m still driving it, 270,000 miles and 9 years later, after it needed a $2200 transmission at 225,000 miles. It looks and drives like new, It even outlasted my half-hearted attempt to replace it with a 2000 Contour, that proved to be nowhere near as nice to drive as the Explorer. I kept that little car for a year, and never really warmed up to it.

    The ’76 Chevelle that the 6000 replaced I had for 8 years, and it was pretty darn reliable considering I took it apart more often to ‘fix’ it when it didn’t need anything at all, Just to see how it worked.

  • avatar
    210delray

    My Rabbit was lemon yellow also. It was a warning I suppose.

    There was also a “chrome yellow” color offered. It looked like school bus yellow.

  • avatar
    werewolf34

    We had 2 Audi 100s from the 1980s. Nuff said

  • avatar

    Wife’s POS 1998 Buick Lesabre has to top my list. In 7 years/99,000 miles….

    Front license plate bracket fell off, wheel warped and had to be replaced, battery holder broke and almost new battery cracked and had to be replaced, numerous electrical issues, two recalls for electrical, seat broke, cigarette lighter broke, inside of passenger door fell off, interior surfaces delaminated, rear windows would only roll down if I sprayed them with WD 40, back end made creaking noises and dealer couldn’t figure out why, wouldn’t start occasionally and dealer couldn’t fugure out why, water pump failed at 30k miles, crappy plastic intake gaskets failed at 99k miles, pile of crap. Last GM product for us!

    John

  • avatar
    ajla

    My 2013 Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    Mine goes back a little farther. In the fall of 1978, I became enamored of the black 1963 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special owned by my mother’s Aunt Alma. Aunt Alma bought it new, but never had a drivers license. Eventually, it wound up with some grandchildren, then back in her garage. About 89K on the odo, IIRC, and kind of tired. $400 and it was mine, although it took a day to get it running again. It was the perfect “winter driver” so that I could keep my newly repainted 67 Galaxie convertible out of the midwestern salt.
    Over the next 6 months, it kept reaching into my meager college-kid wallet. Tires, exhaust system (including Y pipe), CV joints (in the driveshaft), blower motor, rear brake lines, transmission seals. The car was averaging over $100 a month in repairs during a time in my life when $100 was serious money. I got about $1000 into it pretty fast (not counting the 7.5 mpg on premium). You could buy a pretty nice car for $1000 in 1978, and this Cadillac, though fairly presentable from 15 ft, was not it.
    After about 6 months, the Cadillac had about ruined me, and I was forced to bundle it with my convertible. Sold them both, bought a 6 cyl 68 Mustang hardtop to drive. I had ignored the rule of Howard, my car mentor: “Never buy an old luxury car!” In a world of BMW V12s and Audi A8s, Howards rule has never been more true and I have scrupulously followed it.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      Amen, my brother. I say Amen.

      I did not know the meaning of the word “cheap to buy – expensive to repair” until I bought a 750iL. Even the Indy’s greedily rub their hands together when they see it coming.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    I have a ’99 Honda Accord that I’ve done the following to:
    Wheel bearings (all 4)
    Upper ball joints (twice – thanks MN pot holes)
    Struts/coils (all 4)
    sway bar links (rust – thanks MN winter)
    Timing belt/water pump
    New brake rotors (all 4) and a couple pad replacements
    Thermostat control knob (both – flimsy plastic)
    3 sets of new tires – not including original

    All that after 11 years and 175,000 miles. What’s all this talk about Honda reliability?!

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      That actually doesn’t seem that bad for a 175K car that’s been through 11 Minnesota winters. Mostly wear and tear and maintenance items. Doesn’t seem like it ever left you stranded either.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I’m not seeing a problem here either.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      With the exception of the rusted endlinks and HVAC controls, it sounds like you’ve replaced wear and tear items. I don’t think any of those items should last 175k miles.

      Nevermind if you were being sarcastic.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Yeah, I presume you’re being sarchastic; given that virtually all of the issues you’re throwing out are due to your choice of location (that and extended mileage.)

      Of course, I am still in mourning for my comatose ’96 Accord, lying in repose next to my carport. 215k, and save for the last year where we had multiple cooling/transmission problems, ran like a freakin shitbox stallion. Hell, I had to replace the vent knob, too, 3x; but you know, keeping a leatherman with a needle-nose in your door compartment can be handy for those ergonomic deficiencies.

      So yeah, nothing gets me more pissed than talking about Honda’s current product line-up and priority, but don’t talk trash about nineties Honda reliability. Them’s fighting words.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      Yes – I was being sarcastic as they are all “wear and tear” items…and over 11 years it really hasn’t been all that much time in the shop. No design flaws or just poor engineering/build quality issues at all. But if I tell someone off the street all I’ve done to the thing they think it’s a lemon – not taking into account the age. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      So is a freakin shitbox stallion a good thing or a bad thing? We don’t have those around here… LOL!
      We’re 205K miles in a ’99 CR-V. No problems aside from regular maintenance.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    2005 Honda Odyssey – 20 months of lemon pergatory until I traded down for a reliable 1998 Dodge Caravan with 99k miles. Cost me $11k in car payments and $8k in resale value.

    1980 Mercury Bobcat – I got it for $1 from a friend. It never got more than 14 mpg, performed terribly, leaked, was very uncomfortable, and cost me a fortune in rebuilt engine, transmission, suspension, bodywork, etc., and I even did the work myself. Not nearly as good as my 71 or 76 Pintos.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    1980 Cadillac Sedan DeVille which was on the books as a 1979. Numerous alternators, ball joints, the dreaded AC control unit (big nightmare), electrical gremlins galore.

    BUT.. there is a saving grace here.. I had rebuilt the carb and replaced some noisy lifters in what was the calm before the storm.
    The ol’ 368 ran great for two weeks. I wowed friends and family alike until said storm hit. Tranny went, another ball joint, half the outside lights quit and no heat. That was it. For 20 dollars, I got to watch the grim reaper drive it on to his flat bed, yes, start it up and drive it on, but I was done at that time anyway.. No more and since then have not owned another GM product.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Wife’s 1987 Mustang. So unreliable from new she wouldn’t drive it. Engine burned a quart of oil every 600-miles. Ford deemed it “normal” and denied warranty. Judge disagreed. Made them put a new motor in it. Chewed through a half-dozen alternators and a couple of a/c compressors. Even caught on fire twice. We should have let it burn!

    Lasting memory is the despicable way FoMoCo treated her. Over twenty years later she would still take the bus or walk before she would drive a Ford!

    • 0 avatar
      xyzzy

      Hasn’t happened to me but I have a friend who kept a VW bug way too long. It finally caught fire and burned up in their driveway. The wife was so happy to see that car gone that she was smiling in the driveway while it burned and the police were suspicious at first. So they asked her how much it was insured for, and she said “nothing! It was a piece of shit!”. The cop smiled, closed his notebook and said “I understand” and that was that.

  • avatar
    Cole Trickle

    2002 Audi A4. Bought in 2007 CPO with 19k on the clock.11 warranty visits over 2 years. And there’s no loaner at my dealership. Everything went wrong but the sludge and the CVT. probably exploded a month after I sold it. Loved the way that car looked and drove. Glad its gone.

  • avatar
    classicnigel

    I’d say the worst I’ve had is an ’03 mini Cooper S. Bought it used with 16k on the odo, only to have the engine grenade at 47k. Cost me an arm & a leg to get a used engine with 10k put in. Now something with the battery is keeping it from starting.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I don’t know if it’s entirely fair to complain about used cars, especially older ones (when you get them), one has to do their homework and determine if it’s good buy. That said, I’ve been burned a couple of times. However, with new cars, the assumption is that they’re relatively trouble free. Not in my case. I’ve owned my share of bad iron, so I will limit this to a couple of examples.

    My 1990 Mercury Topaz, the worst POS I’ve ever owned, but not by much. This car ate parts *constantly*. I was forever fixing bad tie rod ends, warped disks, CV joints, valve cover gaskets, A/C compressors and associated components, etc, etc. That was just the short list. There was plenty more, but the space here isn’t infinite. Oddly enough, I kept the car because I was in bad financial shape after the birth of my one kid. I could not afford to trade it, and even though I took reasonably good care of it (I didn’t want to), no one was interested in buying it outright. I had a Yugo that was more reliable (no kidding), and ended up depending upon it until I could pay off that POS and get some breathing room, financially speaking.

    More recently, we had a 2004 Pontiac Aztek that was a POS, but not to the level the Topaz was. I was suspicious of this car, but my wife really wanted it (I know, WTF?) and I had the bright idea to buy an extended warranty on it. I took advantage of that warranty frequently, as the car ate wheel bearings, head and manifold gaskets, a gas tank, the A/C condenser (twice!), the on-board air compressor for the rear suspension, and best of all, the torque converter expired spectacularly in my driveway. I paid @ $1200 for the extended warranty, and the torque converter parts alone were $1200, so for once, the extended warranty was a good idea. Fortunately we leased that car, and gave it back to GMAC (when they were still owned by GM). I still have (other new and used) GM cars, and as the subsequent ones have been virtually trouble free, I still think the 04 Aztek was a so-called “Monday” car.

  • avatar
    skor

    My father bought a new 1979 Ford Granada with the ESS (European Sport Sedan)option. The only thing “European” about this car was that it was sans vinyl covered roof. The car came with a single barrel 250 inch straight six. In a European car a straight six means smoothness, good economy and low end grunt. Not this car. Gas mileage like a V8, power like a 4 cylinder with a fouled-out plug and a case of terminal shakes from day one. The car literally started to fall apart the first week he owned it. It lasted until 1985, and 101K miles, when he paid the local junk man $40 to haul it away.

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    2001 Olds Bravada. Sun shell gear in Trans. (No reverse) at 54k. passenger side wiper arm gear, both front wheel bearings at 66k, U-joints at 83k. Almost $4000 in repairs before 100k. Then the on-star system went away in Jan. 2007. Analog with no digital upgrade possible. My 1994 v-6 Tempo by comparison in 193k miles, speedometer cable; other than normal wear items.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    1976 Ford LTD Country Squire, The ABSOLUTE worst POS I ever owned. Bought it from my brother in law because I needed hauling and camping capacity, but it never worked well enough to use. After a year of being hundred dollar-ed to death, I paid someone to haul it away. ( it wasn’t running, again.) On the other hand, my 1998.5 Contour Sport, was an absolute joy to own and drive.

  • avatar
    camoeto

    2001 Jetta GLS 1.8T. Leased new in 2000 for 3 years.

    * Defective coil packs at < 1000 miles. Imagine the fun of getting your 1st new car and having to tow it in to the dealer after a few days of ownership because it won't start.
    * 3 failed window regulators. Driver's side twice and passenger once. I got to be an expert in pulling out the window with pliers and taping it to the door frames.
    * Defective REAR brake pads. Were completely gone at 15k miles and took the rotors with them. I actually had to fight VW to pay for this even though there was a TSB.
    * Interior soft plastics started to have the finish peel from them by year 3. I kid you not.
    * Paint would chip easier than any other car I had. It seemingly chipped by itself.
    * Horrible dashboard rattle that the dealer was never able to "replicate".
    * Check engine light went on at 30k miles. By that point in time I was so fed up with the car I just decided to screw it and didn't even bother to have it checked out by the dealer.
    * There was a couple of other issues that I just can't remember now since it's been too long.

    I quit driving this car even though there was time and miles left on the lease. That's how frustrating it was to own it. VW never again. No, it's not my fault it was built in Mexico. Yes, I owned plenty of other cars without issues of this sort.

  • avatar
    detlump

    I guess all these stories make owning or leasing a new car with a warranty maybe a better bet. I’ve had good luck with my Volvo 855 non-turbo. 230K miles and only needed belts and hoses, still has original alternator, AC works fine, I finally replaced the rear rotors at 200K. I have changed the water pump when I was doing the timing belt. Only left my stranded for 5 minutes when the coil wire popped off. Fixed it and was on my way. I did enjoy the amazing complexity of the 82 Civic I had, that carb had to have a million pieces – and the vacuum lines – miles of them!

  • avatar
    obbop

    A gift from Mom’s hubby.

    He never did like me.

    Can’t blame him, I suppose.

    1980 Audi 5000

    Relentless electrical problems.

    Audi dealer unable to repair.

    Independent “expert” unable to repair.

    Sold to the Russian immigrant whose “abilities” were locally legendary.

    “Repaired” and sold.

    Heard later the car caught fire and burned to the nubbins of the melted aluminum wheels.

    Bought a theft recovery 1978 Toyota pick-up to replace the Audi from Hades. A few hundred bucks purchase price and parts and reliable motoring was in my grasp…. along with a new abode.

    Where are these itty bitty gnat-like critters trying to fly up my nose coming from?

    An entire planet to fly within and they select my face to hone in upon.

    I need a reptilian-like tongue to rid my airspace of the annoyances and garner some free protein.

    Audi sucks.

    They sold very few parts in the wrecking yard. Nobody wanted to buy the parts. And the insurance firms wrote them off as totaled even with not-so-severe damage.

    Of course, times were different back then and the buying public, on the whole, was a different group back then as compared to the herd of today.

  • avatar
    JMII

    “* Interior soft plastics started to have the finish peel from them by year 3. I kid you not.”

    My ’00 VW Passat suffers from this, its horrible, the lower dash, the arm rest and handles on all the doors (including the back ones which are almost never touched), the entire center console and various other tan colored plastic parts. They are all coated with some kind of soft “skin” that peels off if you even look at it wrong.

    While the Passat has been slowing eating thru various stupid and expensive parts over the last 11 years, it was a used Ford Ranger Splash that was killing me in repairs. After two years of ownership my wife calculated we were spending over $400 a month on “fixing” it. I replaced every component related to the A/C system at least twice. Gave up and bought a NEW Dodge Dakota which so far has been acceptable/average in required repairs.

  • avatar
    twotone

    The Lada Zhiguli 06 I bought new in 1993 and drove for the five years I lived and worked in Moscow. A one-year-old Lada is worth more than a new one as the owner had a year to fix what was wrong when it came out of the factory.

    Twotone

    PS: My 1991 Isuzu Trooper (four cylinder, manual transmission) was one of the most realiable vehicles I’ve owned.

  • avatar
    itsgotvtakyo

    Oops, wrong thread.

  • avatar
    northeaster

    How could we be missing the 1975 Fiat 128?

    A used example, given as a 1 year old wedding present with 20k miles by the bride’s parents, in the next 1.5 years and 6k miles, needed

    1) two clutch cables
    2) 1 carb rebuild
    3) 1 replacement of all underhood fuel and main fuel filler lines. The former, without warning, hemorrhaged gasoline from under the air cleaner onto the top end of the engine. Miraculously, we avoided being barbecued.
    4) 2 CV joint boots
    5) 1 CV joint proper
    6) 1 brake master cylinder
    7) 1 rear wheel cylinder
    8) 1 windshield (which didn’t fix the fishbowl / glove shelf in the dash)
    9) 1 2nd-3d gear synchronizer. Never replaced, but not really a problem with proper clutching.

    Plus wear items and a couple of other things that fail to come to mind for the moment.

    Divorce was a good thing for more than one reason…

  • avatar
    delche

    2001 Audi TT Quattro. I loved the car but it went through 5 clutch slave cylinders between new and 77K miles. Every time I took it in, the dealer tried to sell me a new car. The last time it stranded me, it was in the shop for over a month. I visited the dealer to get something from it and it took them almost 30 minutes to find my car. I will never buy another Audi as long as i live.

  • avatar
    CompWizrd

    1996 Trans AM.

    Bought used at 68,800 or so km.. first engine seize was at 12x,xxx km.. took three months for Pontiac/Chevy to send it out for a rebuild.. came back, ran like crap till i got it fixed on my own dime.

    Three years later, 30,000 km later, no oil pressure again.. pulled and replaced with a yard engine.. up to 210,000 now.. Transmission lost overdrive about 4-5 years ago, replaced with GM certified, been good since.

    Currently sitting in the backyard while I figure out what to do with it.

    I figure at least 15,000 in repairs went into that car in the 10 years I’ve had it, on top of the 22k it cost to actually buy it… but that’s still cheaper than a new car payment.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Soooo, if one buys a used car, one may have, umm, issues.

    I guess all that I would offer is that if you don’t have the chops to change a throttle cable, a guibo, or sort out a minor electrical problem, you should be leasing a brand new whatever that has a warranty to cover the span of your ‘ownership’.

    This is much like owning a home – if you can’t perform basic R&M, you should live in an apartment until you have a lot of money.

    While it may or may not be pathetic that you are unable to source and replace a cheap replacement CV joint, it does define that you are not person who should own a used 750il.

    I learned when I was 14 that if I were going to afford to own anything “nice” I would have to be able to fix it myself. Or be rich enough to pay the piper.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Steven Lang,

    If there are buyers in ATL that will pay more than 2K for the POS captioned, please do let me know.

    Even after transpo costs we will make a fortune…

    That kind of dreg goes for a coupla grand at the insurance auction – if anyone bids at all. And they often don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      The repo’d 08 Avenger will be semi-repaired and flushed into the buy here/pay here market as a low mile (less than 100k) 2 1/2 year old car.

      One item to note is that most of GA does not have inspections so POS are easier to sell off than in other states.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    That wasn’t the car in question.

    The two that were sold that day were fully intact…

    Econobiker got a good part of it. The Avenger is a BHPH vehicle. Georgia does have emission inspections (for 14 counties) and state inspections for formerly salvage vehicles.

    It’s actually a hot topic given that the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate lobbied for special contracts on behalf of a company he owns while holding office.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/us/30ethics.html

  • avatar
    honfatboy

    I had a ’87 Milano that I wanted to love. Especially after I took at $4000 loss in six months. I’m pretty sure now the mechanic that worked on it was trying to tell me not to buy it.

    Live, spend and learn.

  • avatar

    I suppose I’m dating myself, but I bought a ’64 MGB when it was four years and about 18,000 miles old. At 21,000 miles the pressure plate collapsed and before it had 30,000 miles the mainshaft bearing in the transmission was making expensive noises. I loved the car, but resolved to invest in greater reliability after that and passed the dying transmission to a new owner. After a miraculously reliable Chevy-engined ’54 Healey and a decent ’64 Mercury Comet, I bought my first new car, a bulletproof ’72 Datsun 610 wagon we used as a truck to carry hang gliders up rutted jeep tracks to a launch zone. A ’74 RX-4 followed (totalled by a Volvo), 1980 Mazda GLC and a marvelous ’82 Supra all convinced me it was worth buying new cars and spending money on depreciation to avoid spending time on rentals.

  • avatar
    M 1

    2003 Mercedes Benz E500

    Worst car I ever loved. Comfortable as hell. Great to drive. Broken almost continuously. Ironically the main components rarely failed — it was almost always the sensors that were supposed to monitor those components which failed by the handful. I sold it the day it went out of warranty, right after Brumos replaced the transmission at only 45,000 miles. Pathetic.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’ve only had one really horrible vehicle. My ’77 Macho Dodge Power Wagon. 360 2 bbl automatic full time 4WD. Bright yellow and black outside, black everything inside. Most comfortable seats on any vehicle EVER. I could, and did, sit in it for 12-16 hours at a crack, and I could walk normally when I got out. I sat in a ’78 recently, and they felt as good now as they did then.

    The problems started almost from day one. First issue was a stuck transfer case lever. I had it in low to go up a hill nearby to see if I could see my escape artist dog off in the desert. I found the dog, but couldn’t get the case to come out of low, so it was a long, high revving trip to the dealer the next morning. They fixed it, and a bad leak from the front differential that seemed to appear overnight. Ate an alternator (bearing) about 3 months along, and I had to have it towed to a dealer in LA when it died on I15.

    There were constant minor issues until, on another LA trip, the engine died at 75 MPH on I15, and I had one of the scariest times of my life fixing it during rush hour while cars flew by me at about 80. I was very happy when traffic slowed to a crawl. The problem was water had seeped into the main electrical connector on the firewall, and the connector had corroded very badly. I polished it up, but the engine would cut off randomly every so often, and you had to hold the key in the start position to get the engine to run. Doing this killed the coil pretty quickly, but it did let me drive it to Pep Boys, where I bought some wire and stuff, and in the parking lot, I spent about 2 hours bypassing the corroded connector, solving the engine cutting off problem.

    The first time it caught on fire, I should have let it go. Why I didn’t, I don’t know. When it did it the second time, I almost let it go, but after a moment’s hesitation, I cut the positive cable, and it went out. Afterwards, I thought about it, and called myself a moron for not letting it burn up.

    Over the 4 years I had it, it broke an axle (Bad heat treat at factory), a trans, the transfer case chain broke, a water pump, many intake manifold gaskets, a set of head gaskets, a power steering pump, a master cylinder, several alternators and regulators, an amazing number of windshield washer bottles, and the thing leaked from everywhere it could leak from.

    Just after it’s fourth birthday, I had enough and bought a 79 Trans Am to replace it. It wasn’t perfect, but it only had minor issues, and was a dream compared to the Power Wagon.

    Crazy thing is, I’ve seen one for sale, a 78, in fantastic shape, and if I had the cash, I would be driving it now.

  • avatar
    Nick

    1990 Mercedes Benz 220.  I can’t do it justice here.  I once recorded it’s repair history in a spreadsheet, there so many entries.  Couple that with a the dealership that wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them in the butt, and a corporation that is utterly devoid of integrity.  This is going to sound awfully harsh, but you’d have to be a fool to buy a car from Mercedes.

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