Tell Us About The Worst Car You Ever Owned

Illustration for article titled Tell Us About The Worst Car You Ever Owned

Whether it’s a project car, a winter beater or a shiny new car fresh off the dealer lot, we all buy cars expecting the best. It doesn’t always work out that way. Those are the stories we want to hear today.


Welcome to Countersteer, where we ask you to tell us your greatest stories of success and failure, then we pull the very best of them to share with the rest of the world.

While many new cars are certainly better picks than others, these days it’s harder and harder to find a truly, objectively bad car. Pretty much everything you can buy new is going to be safe, hopefully well-built, and probably even fuel-efficient.

It wasn’t always that way! The car world used to be filled with all sorts of horrible stinkers and duds that now fill America’s junkyards and line front yards in front of double-wides. We want you to tell us about the worst car you ever owned.

Define that however you want. Maybe it was a car that gave you a world of mechanical headaches; maybe it was something you bought expecting to be fun, but later had major buyer’s remorse over. Maybe it was something that seemed smart at the time and turned into a bad idea.

I polled our staff, and I think Jalopnik’s worst car ever might have been Jason Torchinsky’s 2000 Volkswagen Passat AWD V6 wagon. He doesn’t have it anymore because VWs of that vintage are notoriously unreliable. He even wrote a few years ago about its dreadful oil pan:

I know it’s technically an aluminum oil pan, but it may as well be made of crépe paper and cheese for all the durability it has. I live in Los Angeles, and LA’s vast road network isn’t exactly the most pristine, so potholes and other exciting road textures are common. And while all my other cars bounce over them without a care like the lunar rover, the Passat has a very annoying habit of cracking its oil pan on unassuming-seeming bumps.

The current pan on the car is maybe just over a year old. Maybe. I was out with my wife and baby in the car the other weekend, and we hit a bump. Not a huge one, but it made a telltale sound that made our stomachs drop in unison, like some Olympic synchronized stomach-dropping team. When we got home, I peeked under the car and saw the telltale drooling of oil.


He dumped it for the Scion xB, which may not be as quick but is likely to run forever. “Vastly better car, even if it is several classes lower,” he said.

What’s your worst car ever?

Photo credit Owen W Brown/Flickr


Contact the author at


Lets get this SHO on the road

I wrote a story for a Reddit post on this:

A long, long time ago a young man got his first real job.

“Yippie!” He said jumping for joy. “I am part of the working world!”

The young man decided he needed a car! Oh, but what car? The young man weighed his options. Consulted his finances and had a budget. Then came time for the features:

“I want something cool! I want something quick! I want something fun! I want something practical!”

He started shopping. First he went to the Ford dealer.

“This one is too rough!” He exclaimed.

Next he went to the Subaru Dealer

“You can test drive the car after you buy it.” Said the apathetic man at the dealer. Dejected, the young man left.

Then he heard word of the new MK7 GTI had come into his local VW dealer. He went down lickety-split to check it out.

“Welcome, to a land of pure imagination” said the salesman gesturing toward the GTI sitting on the lot. “Why don’t we take it out?”

The young man was in love.

“Oh happy day!” he proclaimed while ringing it through the gears “I have found my bowl of porridge!”

The young man bought it the next day and drove it home.

A month later, the car started idling rough. So, undeterred by this the young man took it into the dealer and was given a loaner.

The car came back two days later with a clean bill of health.

Then, with 5k miles on it, the car started violently shaking when braking.

“Oh no!” Exclaimed the young man “I’ll just bring it back in”

That’s when the wicked witch of Germany cast her evil spell upon the young man and his car.

Within weeks the car was being brought into the dealer for repairs at least twice a month!

The young man started to grow tired of it when to correct an issue they replaced the entire front axle and wiring harness.

Then the young man had his parents visiting when most of the lights on the dashboard came on and the car lost power. Patiently they waiting an hour for the tow truck to take them the hour back to the dealer that he had just picked it up from.

The car emerged an hour or so later with no explanation from the dealer, just a diagnostic test and a software reset listed as maintenance performed on the car.

Then the young man had a friend visit. The car had been running perfectly and he had hoped to show it off to his friend.

The next morning they head to Myrtle Beach. They tried to start the car but it took more than 30 seconds to actually crank over! However, no lights were on so they went to McDonalds to get breakfast.

They made it all the way to the drive through until the car stalled out while paying and was having trouble restarting.

The young man, dejected, called the dealer and was told to bring it in. However, with the engine horribly misfiring and most lights on and no boost, the car never made it.

They placed him in a Jetta TDI Wagon loaner and they went to the beach.

The young man called VW of America to see if they could help in his misfortunes. However, VWOA wasn’t in a very good mood and told him to sue them or shut up.

Two days later they called him up and told him that the car was fixed. He went to retrieve it. Then it had a squeaking noise.

The dealer said that the squeaking noise was caused by a faulty seat frame rail and it would be a month to get one in.

The young man told them to shove it until they got the seat frame rail because he didn’t want to chance an accident.

2 weeks later the frame rail arrived and the young man picked up his car.

The young man didn’t even make it home before the car started to have boost issues again.

Three days later the young man traded it for an SHO and has only looked back in pity on the car that was screwed from the factory.

Do you know what the lesson is? Buy ANYTHING other than a VW.

edit:for clarity