The Ten Weirdest Car Glitches You've Ever Experienced

Illustration for article titled The Ten Weirdest Car Glitches You've Ever Experienced

Cars aren’t perfect. That’s something most of us here at Jalopnik have come to accept. These ten crazy car glitch stories only further support that theory.

10.) “My Only Choice Was To Carry A Hair Dryer And 200 Feet Of Extension Cord”

What fun it must be to have to unroll 200 feet of extension cord and stand out in the rain holding a hair dryer to your distributor, in order to start your car up in the rain. You know what, doesn’t even sound remotely safe either!

I had a 1991 Acura Integra that had something wrong with the distributor or distributor cap. If it rained it refused to start. I had the distributor replaced, the cap replaced a half-dozen times, and it went to three mechanics, and no one could permanently fix it. My only choice was to carry a hair dryer and 200 feet of extension cords. I would then stand in the rain and blow dry my distributor cap until it would start.

Great car otherwise!

Suggested By: Kerberos824

9.) Airbags Have Minds Of Their Own

If an airbag went off spontaneously while I was driving my car, I would probably be scared shitless. Damn you GM and your overly sensitive air bags sensors!

I was driving my Camaro on a bumpy road and hit a large pothole, which my car assumed due to a sudden drop that a rollover was imminent.

The technician starts walking to the other side of the car thinking he’s going to see some side impact damage. But then his face goes from a cheeky smile to life-questioning confusion. They put it on the lift, plugged in the OBDII port and everyone standing around was so confused.

And yes, the insurance covered it!


Suggested By: IamStephen

8.) Jumbo Jet EMPs Oldsmobile

How can things like this even happen?

I work near Atlanta International Airport. One night, I was driving home in my Olds Intrigue when I was overflown by a British Airways 747 coming in for a landing. As the jet passed overhead, every light on the car’s instrument panel lit up, then the engine died. It was like the scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but with less Richard Dreyfuss.

I pulled to the side, came to a stop then restarted the car without any further issues. I’m guessing I got zapped by the jumbo’s radio.

It’s either that, or a totally plausible coincidence.

Suggested By: Green Pig

7.) No FiSting Allowed

Fiesta STs are incredibly fun cars, but not when they brick themselves and prevent their loyal owners from driving them. That’s exactly what happened to Noah. Multiple times.

When I first bought my Fiesta ST it was a basketcase. One of the first hundred in the states, and Ford Sync really wanted to remind me of that fact. Firstly the operating system went on the fritz and caused the immobilizer to freak out and strand me. The doorlooks didn’t work because computer car and we couldn’t open the hood to disconnect the battery. Had to be flatbeded back home (was at a trackday event, not driving.)

The second time the OS decided to try and update the entire night even though there was no wifi and as a result it completely drained the battery and the car had to get flatbedded because we once again couldn’t open the doors or get to the battery.

It also occasionally Blue screen of deaths.

Had one more occasion where the car went on the fritz and we were able to open up the hood but nothing worked.

Still love the car.


Suggested By: NoahthePorscheGuy

6.) “You’re Not Supposed To Drive The Car Like That!”

With only 8000 miles on the dial, how can Subaru refuse to even take a look at this reader’s car? Quick, Someone give Steve Lehto a ring.

My 2015 WRX is suffering from inexplicable premature fuel cutoff.

The conditions are always the same: at a racetrack, on a straightaway, after the first 3 warmup laps, full throttle, 4th or 5th gear, at exactly 5500 RPM. The fuel cutoff engages as if I hit redline (which is 6800 rpm).

Originally it would cut out only once and return to normal immediately. Now, it continues to cutout, even if I upshift, and only goes back to normal once I slow down significantly. There are no error lights on the dash, and no weird sounds from the engine.

Subaru refuses to even diagnose the problem, let alone try and fix it. For obvious reasons I can’t disclose that I’ve been tracking the car. They kept insisting I wasnt paying attention and was hitting the actual 6800 rpm redline. After reiterating that it occurs at 5500 rpm exactly, they politely claimed I was lying/mistaken.

They even went as far as to say “you’re not supposed to drive the car hard like that!”

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?! You’re not supposed to drive the WRX quickly?!? The performance car that put Subaru on the map!?!

So, yeah, I’m selling my brand new 2015 WRX. For what it’s worth, I’ve never been able to replicate the problem at Autocross or on the streets.

So if anyone’s interested in a World Rally Blue WRX Limited with only 8000 miles and an extra set of gold wheels (with brand new Pilot SuperSports), and has no intention on taking it to a racetrack. I know of one!


Suggested By: marshknute

5.) Post-Soviet Russia’s Best

A little Russian econobox built in the mid-90s. Somehow, I’m not too surprised that there were issues.

Not my car, but a friend’s that I drove a few times in St. Petersburg. A mid-90’s Lada Sputnik with the wiring all backwards. Basically most of the switches were connected to something other than what they were labeled as. Flashers turned on the radio, that kind of thing. I have no idea if it was a practical joke by some disgruntled factory worker or just shoddy Russian engineering. As a plus, someone spilled some noxious chemical in the trunk, which soaked into the lining and made the car smell like biological warfare test all the time.

What a car.

Suggested By: Schnabeltier

4.) “When All Of A Sudden, No Power”

When this reader was in desperate need of immediate engine power, his car often refused to provide. Imagine accelerating for a merge, then all of a sudden, losing all power. What a nightmare.

Had an Audi A3 S-Line for about a year. Wonderful little car, with the 2.0T. Basically an AWD GTi, and fairly well built. Until it went into limp mode, which often happened when I needed the cars power the most.

I’d be driving onto a freeway, up the on ramp, and accelerating to 100KM/H on the crest of the apex when all of a sudden, no power. The ESC light would come on, and the car would immediately decrease speed to 50km/h. Not only was this incredibly dangerous, but it was also a burden to the people driving behind me. I’d have to pull over onto the gravel side, and restart the car again, only to find the issue is no longer present.

Other times, it’d be rush hour traffic, and I’d catch a gap, and... nothing.

Sometimes, I’d be out in the snow, and I’d need power to get through a thick patch... and nothing.

This was on a car with less than 40,000KM.

The worst part is that Audi wanted $1800 to repair the car, since it was out of warranty (2009 model) and they were completely unwilling to fix it for free even though many thousands of reports from Audi owners can be found on Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Audi owners clubs websites, all reporting the same thing with many Audi models.

I’d plug in an OBD-II reader from time to time, and reset the codes, and it would work perfectly for a few days only to happen again shortly thereafter.

Totally unacceptable, and definitely a pain in the ass, not to mention inherently dangerous and poorly designed.


Suggested By: The-Ever-Socially-Apathetic TBAL

3.) ‘I’m Behind A State Trooper, And The Horn Just Honks’

This reader’s poor luck led to State Trooper probably wanting to backhand him, until he realized the actual situation at hand.

I had a ‘90s Eagle Vision that I bought on salvage title at the copart auction and fixed up. It had some electrical issues. Random stuff would happen all the time. Door locks, trunk opening at inappropriate times, etc. Nothing major.

One day I’m on I-290 North about to exit onto the ramp for I-190 in Worcester, and I’m behind a state trooper. And the horn honks. Just a little tap. And then again.... And then it comes on and stays on.

Trooper’s lights come on, he moves left, slows, pulls in behind me. I pulled over and just took my hands off the wheel and put them up in the air. He had this gruff pissed off look on his face as he came up to the car until he looked in an saw me and started cracking up. Turned out to be pretty nice about it and waved traffic around while I pulled the fuse.

Anyway... that’s when I learned who the guy that had been pissing me off by honking his horn in the parking lot at my apartment complex in the middle of the night was. It was me!


Suggested By: ivan256

2.) It Would Fart, And The Torque Was Gone”

Who knew a “farty” turbo could cause such big issues.

Easy: My new, farty 2001 VW Jetta 1.8T. The car was fine, except for one little thing. If you drove it for roughly a half-hour or more, the engine got weak.

What’s that mean? It’s like this: out on the highway, cruising along. Come into a toll booth, and when you pull away, it will start out, just building the boost (and torque)... then it would make a flatulent sound, and that torque was gone. Give it a few more seconds, and the boost would build up again, it would fart again, and the torque was gone.

What in the world?

It took MANY visits to different VW dealerships before finally one of them figured it out.

There was an O-ring in the turbocharger plumbing that was split. When it was relatively cool, it held the boost pressure just fine. But when it warmed up, like after driving a while, it became more pliable.

They ordered four of them, and broke three before finally getting the last one successfully installed.


Suggested By: Thunder

1.) “One Beetle For The Price Of Two!”

Maybe it’s because the motor and transmission were in the wrong place and the car was confused? Who knows.

I owned a very early model 2000 New Beetle 1.8T. Every 20k miles, almost like clockwork, the clutch would explode. At the time, I was working at a VW shop, and one of the guys there worked at VW’s buyback repair bay under their HQ in Auburn Hills. This was, apparently, a common problem on a certain run of Beetles.

The way he explained it to me was that the hydraulics couldn’t completely disengage the clutch - so every second you had your foot pressing the clutch pedal, even to the floor, it was slipping. Do this enough times, and the clutch would heat up, and it’d keep slipping after you took your foot off the pedal. Do that on a long enough drive, like the 100 mile trip from Lansing back to the Detroit area the first time it happened to me, and it just sits there slipping and heating up, until it fails catastrophically.

VW knew about the problem; my buddy had repaired one for a lady that picked it up at their HQ afterwards, and made it all of 200 yards down the road to the turnaround before hers exploded again. The way they handled it? Telling every owner they were racing their car, and that they had to pay for the clutch swap. Never once mentioning that if they replaced their master/slave cylinder, the problem would go away. I finally fixed mine by upgrading to a Neuspeed sport clutch, that tripled the clamping force of the factory one. Even heated up, it’d clamp and stick, rather than slip.

And that’s most of how I ended up spending $19,472 and change in repairs over the time I owned the car. I got one Beetle for the price of two!


Suggested By: SkaBob

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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Eddie Brannan

Attn FiST guy: my “keyless” 2013 Ford keyfob contains a real key. My understanding is that all Fords do this and have a keyhole on the driver’s door somewhere (maybe concealed) specifically for situations where the battery completely drains.