Tell Me About Your Worst Car Failure

When things go wrong, they tend to do so spectacularly.

Image for article titled Tell Me About Your Worst Car Failure
Photo: Robert Cianflone (Getty Images)

If you’ve ever had a torrid love affair with an unreliable car, you’ve experienced the gut-punch that is an automotive failure right when you need it the least. I want to hear all about the time when your car betrayed you in the worst possible way.

Advertisement

I’ve been very lucky. The unreliable mess of a Grand Prix Turbo I drove when I was in high school could make it about 10 minutes before it started to fall apart, which was exactly as long as it took me to get to school. My Mazda 2 is still new enough that I haven’t had to worry about it pooping out on me. My wildest car disaster has been with the Suburban, which I’ve documented here.

But I have one very delicate, not-so-terrible story regarding the ol’ Mazda. I’d gone to the Circuit of the Americas for a weird vintage weekend, and they’d limited parking to one specific gravel lot that you had to drive through thousands of potholes to get to. I made it in and out mostly okay, but I absolutely curbed one of my tires. It seemed fine… until the next day, when I went to Target, came out, and there was a massive bulge in the sidewall that looked a little bit like a tumor.

A quick consultation of Google Maps showed me that there was a Discount Tire less than a half a mile away, so I crept along to the store, only to find out it had closed for a company party. Okay, fine. There was another tire shop about a half a mile away. I crept on over… and found out that it had closed early, no explanation given. Okay. Fine. There was another tire shop just down the road. I crept my way there. They were open. They would fix my tire. I left it with them.

They called me at 6:51 to tell me my car was done and that I needed to pick it up before they closed. They would not keep it overnight, and if I wasn’t there by 7 — closing time — then they’d have my car towed and I’d have to fork over more money to get it taken care of. I was at least 20 minutes away, and I had to wait for an Uber to pick me up. My Uber driver then proceeded to get confused about my drop-off location. The single dude at the tire shop gave me an earful about how I’d fucked him over by making him stay late. It was the most annoying Sunday of my life.

But I know some of you are going to have worse stories. Who had a car die on the way to a wedding you couldn’t miss? Who got stranded for hours on the side of a one-lane dirt road? Regale me with your stories.

DISCUSSION

By
RatMR2

Lack of time, injury and apathy all conspired to make what initially seemed like a reasonably innocuous failure into an issue which has slightly wounded my soul on a regular basis for a fair while now.

I was driving my MR2 to my dad’s place, when it suddenly lost some power and the dash lights illuminated. It got to dad’s place okay, but there was evidently an electrical gremlin somewhere that needed to be put right.

I parked it at dad’s. And googled the issue. “Lights of death” wasn’t encouraging, but I was at that point undeterred. I’d be able to solve this - after all it wasn’t like it’s that complex.

And over the next six months, I tried to find out which wire had broken, which component had crapped out, where the problem originated. Couldn’t find it.

Then I fucked up my back, so a sports car that I literally couldn’t drive became less attractive for a fair while. I got overburdened with work.

All the while the car mouldered away.

Periodically I’ve tried to figure it out, but there’s less and less impetus as time goes by.

So every time I go to my dad’s place I walk past it, still sitting, still waiting to drive again. Every time for the last six years.