15 years of automobile mishaps

Now it is almost 2015. I am curious if the members of this forum can put together a list of engineering, manufacturing, design mishaps related to automobiles of the past 15 years.
For example:
Mid 2000’s Subaru 4 cylinder head gaskets,
Early 2000’s Honda minivan transmissions,
Last years GM ignition switch debacle,
Late 2000’s runaway Toyota Priuses


A complete list would fill up the internet and beg for more space.

How about if the mishap is that the car was butt ugly . . . ?

I guess the mishap would be that the ugly beast actually made it all the way to the showroom floor

For your consideration . . .

Pontiak Aztek
Nissan Juke

@db4690 that fits under the design mishap…

Ford multi-piece spark plugs.
Honda ignition switches.
Ford plastic thermostat water outlets.

You can look at the TSB list for any production car made and find a laundry list of TSBs which were issued because of a design or assembly fault; usually the former.

As to design, one thing the Juke did was make me appreciate the Aztec design a little more. The Juke has to be the ugliest abomination ever placed on a dealer lot.


Ford “multi-piece” spark plugs

Yeah, I used parentheses because I’m sure the original designer(s) didn’t anticipate that they would get carboned up and separate during removal

I’m doing another ignition tune-up, this time on a 2005 F250. Anyways, after removing the coils and cleaning all the crud out of the spark plug holes, I sprayed a good amount of penetrant, before attempting to remove the plugs

I took my time, and worked each plug back and forth several times. Every single one of them was literally howling, but they all came out in one piece. 2 things were obvious. The penetrant had indeed wicked its way all the down. I believe this may have helped. And the carbon was extremely visible on all 8 of the plugs

As far as the Nissan Juke . . . a relative has one, and he thinks it’s an awesome car. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder

But I personally agree with you . . . in my opinion, it’s a hideous beast

There’s also the ongoing steering shaft and electric power steering problems with some GM cars.
Marnet and her 2007 Impala (ex Impala…) was a poster child for problems.

Some Chrysler MDS Hemis are shucking timing chains and ruining the cylinder heads.

More than 15 years ago, but I remember some comedian talking about a recall on brakes for a car, only 15% had been repaired, his guess they wer not able to stop by the dealership!

My wife and I were behind an Aztec today and I commented on how ugly they were and how no one wanted them. She said some people must have liked them to have bought them. I suspect she actually liked the looks of them. Glad they don’t make them anymore-I might have ended up with one.

My GF likes the looks of the Aztec. Maybe that’s why she settled for me, but that’s a different story :smile: I had a Juke as a rental car. The rental agency called it “The Frog”. In addition to it being strange looking, it had about 4 inches too little legroom even with the seat all the way back, so my knees were always slightly bent while driving it. Unpleasant. It had a little turbocharged 4 and a CVT. It was peppy and from the inside you could forget you were driving it. I used to think the Dodge Nitro was kind of stupid looking, but it has grown on me.

How about for stupid design, to retrieve trouble codes on 1980s and early 1990s Fords you must jumper a wire and count the sweeps of an analog voltmeter? On my Chrysler of similar years you just had to flip the ignition off and on 3 times. Then there were incendiary Ford ignition switches and cruise controls, Ford inertia switches that liked to melt their connectors (and occasionally also catch fire just for fun), and Ford oil pressure “gauges” that were actually hooked up to a resistor and on-off sender switch, so the gauge either measured good or total fail, with nothing in between? (I think Ford still does this–why bother with a gauge then?) And the opposite where you have one “Engine” idiot light indicating both oil pressure loss and overheating with no distinction. And Ford’s recent ‘infotainment’ system that they just dumped–though this is a Microsoft failing more than Ford. But someone could have actually given it a thorough test and compared it to their competitors’ systems before going “good 'nuff I guess”.

Chrysler’s 2.7L V6 and early 90s auto transmissions come to mind. (before they were beefed up) 1970s Chrysler products where the leaf spring mounts would fail and punch through the trunk. Some GM cars where to remove the HVAC blower, you must either remove the fender or cut a hole in it. (GM helpfully provided you markings on where to go spelunking for it) The Chevy Vega… 'nuff said. The Ford Pinto–again, ‘nuff said. The Dodge Aspens were in this category too, though they at least had solid power trains and didn’t often burst into flames, just rust like a steel wool pad. Subaru and Saturns’ penchants for blowing head gaskets. GM’s under-engineered OEM intake manifold gaskets on their V engines. Those Ford automatic seat belts that were extremely annoying.

And any car where you need to remove the bumper, grille, or anything that takes more than half an hour just to change a headlight or other bulb. Any car that uses a plastic tee or other cooling system fitting that is just made to fail.

Regardless of how we may feel personally about the Juke, it appears to have accomplished what it was made for. A polarizing car but with decent enough sales to make Nissan stand out in the Scion type market.

It could be a trend settle. People like smal economical compacts; people like SUVS with uprights seating, AWD and some ground clearance and security in traveling in winter. That it looks ugly is a statement too. It does perform as intended and with the turbo is a hoot to drive. I say…NO MISTAKE. I would take it over many more popular cars in a heartbeat.

As far as poor engineering is concerned, anything made with the word British embossed anywhere on a transmission or motor ( other then the expensive RR/Bently) on moderatly priced cars would be better then a Pinto IMHO. At least American cars had some pretence for the American market while anything made on an Island in that same era should be avoided.

Let me see, our 1941 Chevrolet had a vacuum assisted column shifter. It was great when it worked, but nearly all of these failed prematurely, and ours was converted to a regular column shift; the garage said this was a routine fix.

In 1958 Chevrolet introduced air suspension; the compressors failed very early and nearly all of these were retrofitted with regular coil springs. Ford had better luck later, but not much better.

The 1957 Chrysler products had the emergency brake on the DRIVE SHAFT!, just behind the transmission. In many a panic stop when the driver pulled the brake, the front driveshaft U-joint snapped off and the car POLEVAULTED as the shaft dug into the pavement.

The 1960 Corvair with the 15 LBs of air in the front and 26 or so in the rear tires easily went out of control in the hands of a novice driver who did not read the owner’s manual and did not check the tires.

The Pinto rear bumpers are well documented.

The 1972 Ford Torinos had problems with rear axles, and rear wheels could become detached like on the Vega. This was a major recall.

The 1965 Chevrolet and Pontiac V8 models had very weak engine mounts that could snap and lock the accelerator in a full throttle position, and the driver could lose control. The GM fix was small cables bypassing the engine mounts so that if they snapped, the cables would prevent rotation of the engine and keep the throttle from locking up. Some fix!!

The GM pickup gas tanks mounted on the side and outside the frame rails caused a number of severe fires during side impact collisions.

Recalls are more frequent now because of public awareness, and some are relatively trivial.

I see a lot about the Nissan Juke here…What about the Juke’s stablemate, the Cube?

The Cube is similar to the 1st Gen Scion XB, boxy and different but not quite as wild styling wise as the Juke. I like the look and idea of the Cube but the Versa base didn’t do it many favors with the performance and driving experience. Particularly with the CVT. In 2012 they sold around 1/3 of what they managed in 2009-2010.

When in college my classmate had an A40 Austin with the infamous Lucas Electric (“Prince of Darkness”) electrics. We were driving home during a rainstorm and the car hit a minor pothole as the road was under construction. Instantly all electric power was lost and with no light or wipers, we had to drive the rest of the way, 50 miles with our heads out of the windows.

My brother’s Mazda 3 doesn’t have a coolant temperature gauge

Apparently, there is a high coolant temperature dummy light. If it’s on solid, there exists the “possibility” of overheating, according to the manual. If the light is flashing, you are f . . . . d

Here’s the part that bothers me . . . the car has a good size multifunction display. It could have easily been programmed to show the coolant temperature. I have seen plenty of cars out there that allow you to do this, but apparently Mazda thinks its customers don’t want to be bothered with such trivial stuff

Not having an engine temperature gauge is a bad idea even if a pretty fair number of people ignore it. At least it can provide a heads up about a looming problem.

My youngest son recently bought a 2013 Camaro. Why GM felt the need to put 2 speedometers in the car I have no idea.

" Why GM felt the need to put 2 speedometers in the car I have no idea."

Hey, it’s GM…there’s a reasonable chance that at least one of them will be working…

Range rover air suspensions, the oldmobile 350 diesel, the Northstar engine. My recent favorite is the gm key fix that breaks a week after it is done.