The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

Humans are an imperfect species. People make mistakes. Unfortunately, other people sometimes have to drive those mistakes. These are Jalopnik readers' picks for the ten worst car-design glitches.

This list isn't about complex designs that work well but are maintenance-intensive, like the multilink front ends on some Audis and VWs. This isn't about awkward packaging compromises, like we see with a lot of miserably tight and poorly laid-out engine bays. This is about stuff that's just either silly or hopelessly wrong.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

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The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

10.) Nissan Xterra sunroof/roof rack

Suggested By: Goggles Pizzano

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: Roof rack on an SUV: Awesome. Sunroof on an SUV: Awesome. Not being able to open the sunroof because of the roof rack: Not awesome.

Photo Credit: David Zack

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

9.) Hyundai Veloster rear hatch

Suggested By: True-Blue is about to rebuild his Holley 4160

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: Hyundai's youth-oriented sports coupe/three-door is full of all kind of interesting details, plus one annoying one: the rear hatch. Open it, and if it's wet all the rainwater will spill down on the rear-seat passengers. Close it, and it will bonk those same passengers on their heads if they're too tall.

Photo Credit: Hyundai

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

8.) Cadillac V8-6-4 Engines

Suggested By: tonyola

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: The first of the bad-design perennials on our list, Cadillac's cylinder deactivation tech was a good idea for economy-minded times — and well beyond the ability of contemporary systems to make it reliably work. Common sense says that a more efficient Cadillac should be a smaller Cadillac, but we know how that worked out, too.

Photo Credit: General Motors/oldacrbrochures.com

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

7.) Cadillac/Oldsmobile Diesel Engines

Suggested By: For Sweden

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: The General Motors small-block diesel was one of the best-driving oilburners on the market in its day — while it lasted. A half-assed approach to the diesel conversion condemned compression ignition to automotive purgatory in the States for decades, a situation that more capable designs are still struggling to overcome.

Photo Credit: GM/Alden Jewell

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

6.) The Chevrolet Vega And Ford Pinto

Suggested By: Threnody3 for putting them together

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: Both of these are such complete dead horses at this point that we're grouping them together to save space. Neither needs much of an introduction: The Pinto was a fair-to-mediocre small car with a single awful flaw, and the Vega was the first real sign that GM was losing the plot amidst hubris, insularity, and interdepartmental confusion.

Photo Credit: Robert Spinello/wikipedia.org

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

5.) Pontiac Solstice Coupe Roof Panel

Suggested By: Lothar

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: The Solstice and Sky were great ideas but half-baked cars. Among the more aggravating underconsidered details was the packaging for the removable roof panel on the Solstice Coupe: there wasn't any. A driver could leave it in place, leave it at home, or leave it at the side of the road to pick up later. Very few left dealer lots.

Photo Credit: General Motors Corporation

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

4.) Cupholders, Cupholders, Cupholders

Suggested By: disadvantage got there first

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: For something that is essentially a required item in a mainstream vehicle, the litany of complaints about poorly-designed cupholders is breathtaking: Too small too shallow flimsy can't hold a regular drink breaks blocks shifter launches drink someplace covers stereo overcomplicated broke a nail weird location man touching. Damn. We're almost better off just having our coffee at home.

Photo Credit: Rutger Middendorp

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

3.) Biodegradable Mercedes-Benz Wiring Harnesses

Suggested By: fintail

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: Thoughtful, conscientious idea: Using plastics that will break down so they don't sit in a landfill until the end of time. Not-so-great idea: Using said plastics in the rather extreme environment of your average car. That the sober, rational types at Mercedes could make this call is a bit hard to believe.

Photo Credit: Stephen Murphy

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

2.) "Lifetime" Fluids And Filters

Suggested By: SilverBulletBoxer

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: We have no idea if this is something that the marketing types impose or if engineers sometimes think that they've gotten around the inevitable, but the use of uncleanable filters and undrainable fluids in a car is unforgivable. Subaru (screens, especially in the SVX above) and Ford (fluid) automatic transmissions appear to be the guiltiest parties.

Photo Credit: papurojugarpool

The Ten Dumbest Automotive Design Mistakes

1.) Ultradrive

Suggested By: bdinger

Why it's a discredit to the engineering profession: Gripes and minor flaws are still common in recent cars; major component fiascoes are not. The issues surrounding Chrysler's star-crossed computer-controlled four-speed autobox are now legendary. Later models worked well enough, but the original design had no end of internal glitches — exacerbated by incorrect instructions (both on the label and in the manual) about ATF. The word is still enough to cause mechanics to shiver in agony.

Photo Credit: Gord McKenna