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What's the worst car you ever owned, "foreign" or "domestic?"

We’ve recently had a discussion about the most reliable “domestic” car (although oddly, that definition includes Chrysler - don’t ask me why). We’ve also had a discussion about the least reliable foreign car. I’d like to know, regardless of country of origin, what is the worst car you’ve ever owned?

Mine would be a 1984 Mercury Marquis. That thing needed a carburetor rebuild every three months.

The worst new car I ever had was a 2000 Focus a garage owner finally bought it after it dropped a valve and runs it to this day-Kevin

Worst was a 2000 Chevy Tracker ZR1. Great little vehicle until a fuel sensor went out 4 years later. No one had the sensor, they had already stopped making parts for the engine. Finally had to junk an otherwise fine car because of a total lack of availability on a $40 part.
Well, not junk. Sold to someone that wanted to make a project out of it. But sold as non-running.

While Chrysler may not be majority owned any more, it still has most of its assembly plants in the US, and a much larger percentage of American ownership than ‘foreign’ companies. As a result, at least a goodly chunk of the revenue gets plugged back in to the American economy, unlike Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi, etc. You can’t entirely blame Chrysler for its woes. After it became the underloved stepchild of Daimler, then was kicked out of that unholy union, it was next bought by a company that had no interest in it other than making a flip. Getting Fiat to put up a stake in it was pure survival. If nothing else, Chrysler seems to be the comeback king. Just when they’re down for the count, they manage to find a solution and battle their way back to relevancy. Pretty much three times now, and without abandoning their unwanted baggage for someone else to deal with, like General Motors’ “Motors Liquidation” spinoff.

Worst car I’ve owned? Probably an 81 Firebird. Suspension problems, water leaked into the trunk, weird electrical gremlins, a tail light would burn out at least once a month, anemic small V8, saggy doors, and the overall build quality of a $10 stereo from China. The next worst was probably a 1985 Ford LTD. While LTDs are mostly good cars I think, the primitive engine management system on mine couldn’t be encouraged to work right even with divine intervention.

I have never owned a bad car. They all have been good or better.

Thanks for simplifying the question. Foreign vs. domestic is a meaningless comparison.
I agree with Jos. Had a Susuki Sidekick that had a plethora of poor characteristics but it filled ir’s roll as a great off roader. Had a Rambler that was less then steller reliability wise, but the interior made into a double bed. Had a Toyota PU fit for off road that handled very poorly but got me home in any weather.

So there are no bad cars…just inappropriately used ones. Even early Fiats were admired in Europe for city driving and economy…

Reliability my 72 and 73 Vega’s. Engine problems…tranny problems…rust problems…interior leaks…But it was fun to drive and I learned a lot about how to maintain a car.

Then there was my 84 GMC S-15. Engine was fine…Tranny was fine…but all the other things kept breaking. This one cost me a lot of money to maintain.

Renault 18i, think it was an '81. Actually, the 18i was better than a '70 Jeepster with a V6. Both were poorly built and multiple problems for “new” cars. The 18i was a better design and engineering, but awful build quality. Renault shipped the cars to the US missing parts and figured the dealers would take care of it.

My worst vehicle was a 1959 Simca that my uncle gave me. My wife’s worst car (brand new) was a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron. It was at the shop more than it was driven. The dealership was finally forced to buy it back through arbitration.

My '72 Vega was the most unreliable by a longshot. But I truely LIKED that car!

My '95 Saturn I’ll say was the worst, only because not only did it come with some warrenty repairs, but it really wasn’t an enjoyable car. Competant, perhaps, but never enjoyable. It never rode well, the seats were poor, it had too much torque steer…it just was not a car that I enjoyed owning. The only thing I liked about it was that after my ex took it in the divorce the headgasket blew!

I had a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee that required (if I’m remembering correctly) 62 service visits over eight years. It also had the “death wobble” kick in from time to time, which they never could fix. Let’s just say that I was very disappointed with that car.

My “worst” car was also my favorite car! I had a 1971 Fiat 850 Spyder. I never knew if it would be willing to start, each and every time I turned the key was a flip of the coin! It ate 4 starters, a transaxle, 5 sets of points and two coils in the 2 1/2 years I had it. It also left me stranded and walking or hitching home too many times to count.

On the other hand, on the occasion when it decided it wanted to run on a sunny day it was glorious! That little 850cc engine would scream as you flicked the car through a twisty road with the top down and the wind in your hair.

The brief glimpses of brilliance were well worth the persistent pain and suffering! After it gave up and I got a very reliable Dodge Colt, my motoring life became much more stable and predictable, and much less passionate and fun.

1971 Toyota Corolla 1.6. Things broke on that car that never broke before and since with other brands that I have owned. The cylinder head leaked antifreeze into the oil and oil to the outside of the engine due to unbelievably coarse head surface machining, a valve spring broke that caused a valve to burn, the differential side gears stripped causing car immobility and there were other less important failures such as leaking clutch slave cylinder, worn out front struts, worn out ball joints well before 93k miles when I got rid of it. I don’t know how Toyota managed to stay in business if that car was an indication of their quality. Toyota cheated me with that car and I’ll never buy another; don’t care how good some believe that they may be.

Possibly they are still on a learning curve; have problems with door fires now.

The worst car I ever owned was a 1955 Pontiac. The car was used, but the Rambler dealer had overhauled the engine. From the beginning, I had problems with the valve train. Apparently, sludge would break loose and clog the passages in the studs on which the rocker arms were mounted. In those days, most cars had a rocker arm shaft. This was new technology. The oil filter was an option for the Pontiac in 1955 and my Pontiac did not come equipped with an oil filter, even though the car had hydraulic tappets. This was the first year for the Pontiac V-8. I added an oil filter and changed the oil regularly, had the studs pulled out and cleaned and the oil passages in the head cleaned. Yet, after I would be on the road for a couple of hours, the rocker arms would start to chirp. I also had to have new bearings in the transmission (it was a manual shift), and the gears were hard to shift due to a poorly designed shift linkage. The second worse car that I owned was a 1975 AMC Pacer. I had problems from broken baffles in the gas tank, a cracked exhaust manifold and a defective steering rack.

Both the Pontiac and the Pacer drove and handled well. It’s too bad more care wasn’t taken in the execution of the design of these cars.

95 Ford Contour
Had a persistent problem with overheating

“So there are no bad cars…”

Yes there are: 1970 Austin America. It burned 2 valves before 10,000 miles elapsed. They, and all BMC automobiles, needed top end jobs at 5000 miles. The Brits thought it was maintenance, the practice was so common. The Austin was incredibly fun to drive - when it ran.

My wife fell in love with a Fiat 850 Spider…it seldom made it home without me providing road service. I found her a nice MG-B…While not perfect, she never walked home again…

Reliability-wise, I haven’t had a bad car. The '65 Mustang would rate ‘worst’, because it was such rust bucket. Pop riveted what was left of the outer fender to the wheel well liner. Carpet got wet in the rain…from below. We gave it to a relative, they had to bail out when the fuel line broke, sending fire back through the ‘fire wall’.

But a fun car, learned a lot on it.


1971 Toyota Corolla 1.6. Things broke on that car that never broke before and since with other brands that I have owned.
I've heard people say something similar about the first generation Honda Civic.

2000 Saturn SL:

Underpowered, skittish handling, no power steering, manual transmission, and costly to repair/maintain (although this was likely partly me getting ripped off by the dealer). Also small, cheap interior. Pluses: good gas mileage and reasonably effective AC/heating.