Driving a good car is always the ideal. No one wants to get stuck behind the wheel of some shitpile that makes you want to drive into a tree, but that’s the case more often than not. It’s that thinking that led us to yesterday’s question.
We wanted to know the worst car you’ve ever driven. Think of this as a safe space to share in your automotive misfortune. We’ve all driven some miserable crap in our time. No one is here to judge you. Well, maybe I am going to. Nobody’s perfect.
Anyway, why don’t we take a look at some of the worst cars you all have ever driven?
2 / 18
I haven’t driven many terrible cars. Some cars were harder to drive and certainly would make for awful daily drivers (1938 Plymouth convertible, 1966 mustang). Some were pretty sketchy to drive (1975 K20 with Alaska camper, 1988 Suburban towing its limit). The 2 cars I hated driving were
2000 Dodge Dakota 2wd with the 3.9 Magnum V6
I drove that around west Texas for a while and while it was certainly cooler than the Corolla I was driving, I couldn’t believe how gutless it was and how awful it drove. It was brand new and at 2500 feet elevation it couldn’t break a tire loose on gravel...with the V6. The steering and brakes were wooden and the ride felt like it had already done 200,000 miles. It was awful.
But I was told this is when trucks were trucks and no one needed anything more. Weird!
Submitted by: HammerheadFistpunch
3 / 18
I spent about 18 months working as a lot assistant for a Nor Cal car dealer and as such I got access to drive a ton of stuff. I learned how to drive stick in a Saturn that was on its way to auction, etc. Of everything I drove the worst car I have ever driven is a 2012 Ford Focus SE, and yes, it was the transmission. And yes, I even bought one. The Gen 2 Focus was “boring” but a great car. The dual clutch shitbox in the 2012 Focus was so so so bad. And this was before Ford acknowledged it was bad. It even had a complete transmission failure in the middle of an intersection. So I took it into the shop, watched the service writer try driving at about 5 mph, watched the car lurch, he wasnt ready and hit his head on the seat, got out and said “Seems normal to me, but we’ll take a look.” 3 days later I had a new transmission at 10,000 miles.
It’s wild how you’ve driven an old Saturn, but it isn’t the worst car you’ve ever been behind the wheel of. I am praying that you will never be in this situation again.
Submitted by: EngelNUL
4 / 18
It will always and forever be one of these.
These cars are junk, and we should all stop pretending otherwise.
Submitted by: FijiST
5 / 18
I nominate the Chevrolet Chevette. In 1986 we had a car that had been hit, the rental we were given was a Chevette. What a miserable piece that was. When the repair took longer than the rental allowance covered, the bodyshop loaner was an even worse Chevette.
The driving position was horrid with the steering wheel seeming to be three inches right of center of the seat. Both cars had the automatic transmission. No power. As I said, miserable.
I appreciate the fact that Chevette jokes actually live up to the cars themselves. It takes work to do that.
Submitted by: v8corvairpickup
6 / 18
look at it’s ugly wannabe truck face and then realize its looks might be the best thing going for it.
Hard uncomfortable seats with limited position options. A sin of any minivan. Worse the seat configuration needed a family of six working in unison to re-arrange the seats... mostly to just toss them out and sit on the floor.
Suspension was tall, choppy, and clink/clunked over every gap in the asphalt. Hit a pothole and it felt you were in a whirlypop. Any mild corner would be an instance of recklace driving. Coming to a complete stop before turning was required.
But it had the V6 ... which anything more than 15-20% would break the front wheels lose and engage the traction control ban hammer. We might as well had a four-banger with a rev-range that would not freak out the “triggered over effort” traction control. It might have been faster to have something weaker.
And then you realized that it was just a warmed over, final version Chevy U body in which this platform shared with the legendarily bad Lumina APV and Venture. Then definitely DONT google the crash tests if you own one.
Every single plastic button, trip, or component (and this was 00s - so it was ALL plastic) flaked off. Does this button turn off the radio or does it turn on the heat, does roll down the windows, or is it a black switch or trim piece? We will never know.
I will give any pass to any cheap gutless “basic transportation” econobox. This was not.
Where did all of the Uplanders go???
Submitted by: BigRed91
7 / 18
Ford Escape Hybrid
Ford Escape Hybrid
1st Gen Escape Hybrid. Flinty handling, weird brake pedal, weird gas pedal, loud as hell on the highway. Press the gas nothing happens, press more, nothing happens, press more oh shit you want to actually go somewhere-engine fires up and you get all the acceleration it has at once. Brakes act in the same way. Just absolutely a horrible car.
I remember a time when every taxi in New York City was one of these. Oh, childhood.
Submitted by: klone121
8 / 18
As a brand new car, the last generation Cavalier, it drove like a car with 100k rough miles on it, the materials were so cheap and flimsy (even amongst its entry level peers at the time), rode poorly and full of rattles. I had low expectations going in and was still massively disappointed.
I remember being a child who had no concept of money, and I still thought these things looked cheap. Well, now they’re all gone anyway.
Submitted by: CitronC
9 / 18
1986 Hyundai Pony, back when Hyundai did not have the reputation it has now. Rusted almost immediately, had a manual choke (joke?). and with 68HP barely enough power to get out of its own way. Door locks that eventually failed and I basically left it unlock (who would steal it?). Miserable handling as well, and rear wheel drive meant it handled like crap in the winter.
It was a handmedown from my parents after my Dart died, so beggars can’t be choosers. Only good thing is that motor kept going and going, 225,000 km and sold it running for $75.
Now, this is a fine piece of automotive machinery. Just look at it. No notes. God, the 80s were a terrible time.
Submitted by: slapdabass
10 / 18
A 2009 Dodge Caliber, base model. It was the loaner car at my local CDJR dealer and it was just the worst. I mean, it was not good at anything it was supposed to do save maybe for being better than walking. It wasn’t a usefully proportioned station wagon, nor an attractive looking sedan nor a usefully sized SUV. It was this weird thing with CVT that got should-have-been-better gas mileage with poverty-spec interior fittings and iffy build quality. At least the related Jeep Patriot had some useable interior volume as an SUV. I drove one of those once and it groaned like the Mayflower in heavy seas when you’d take a turn.
One of my favorite things - pretty much the only thing - I enjoyed about the Caliber is the fact that the commercial had V8 noises dubbed in. No Caliber ever had a V8. Though, some got an SRT-4 engine... which is good.
11 / 18
Ford Topaz / Mercury Tempo
Ford Topaz / Mercury Tempo
Ford Topaz. Or Mercury Tempo. Whichever. I would get them as rentals when traveling or when my car was in the shop. They were the cheapest available for a reason. I would always hit the shoulder belt tensioner getting in or out. Slow, uncomfortable, cheap everything. At least they never broke down the short times I had them.
I am so happy to be born at the time I was. It means I never had to deal with these dreadful cars.
Submitted by: Thomas Correl
12 / 18
Renault Anchor or Appliance (I forget which) back when a couple of the major US rental-car companies were fond of them. I’ve never driven a car that gave me such a feeling that I could rip it apart with my bare hands, and probably should, if only as a favor to others.
The engine was so puny that flashing the high beams at idle made it noticeably change revs from the alternator load, but maybe it’s just as well that the thing was so underpowered, because it handled like a waterbed on roller skates.
I’ll concede that maybe, maybe, it was one of those examples of “the US government won’t let them bring the good versions over here” (and that a stick shift rather than the automatic universally found here on rental cars might have helped make the most of its modest power), but as found, it was a truly wretched little thing whose only virtues were okay gas mileage and a “can do” attitude toward the 55 mph speed limit.
I have no idea what the hell this is, and, frankly, I do not care to find out.
Submitted by: Ad_absurdum_per_aspera
13 / 18
Got it at a rental place in Ontario, CA. The joys of that week:
1. You could idle or you could run the AC, but not both. The engine would die if you tried to idle and the AC kicked on.
2. The engine had no power at all. I got it up to a wheezy 65 mph on a freeway where everyone was going nearly 90.
3. The interior was made out of plastic that looked like it was lifted off of a thrift store boombox. Buzzes and rattles and the like as well.
When I got it, it was well over 100 deg and I turned on the car and fired up the AC which didn’t make anything cooler. As I pulled up to the security shack, it died and wouldn’t re-start until I turned off the AC. I complained and the guy said “all we have left are Galants and you have the best of the lot. The AC will work once you get it up to speed, unlike the other ones.”
It was mid-summer and I had to work at San Bernardino, where temps regularly hit 120+ deg. What a miserable week. Thankfully I didn’t have to attempt to climb the mountains around the area, I don’t think the car could have made it regardless if the AC was on or not.
I’m going to file the Galant under “cars I totally forgot existed.”
Submitted by: hoser68
14 / 18
1998 Plymouth Neon
1998 Plymouth Neon
1998 Plymouth Neon Expresso.
This was a hand-me-down from my wife’s family; it had been purchased new for her. It had Geico mechanical breakdown coverage on it, when at the time was unlimited miles, unlimited age. How could you get rid of a vehicle that has an infinitely extended warranty with a $250 deductible?
Well... that thing was such a turd. 3 speed automatic, but at least it did have the DOHC 4 providing 150 HP. Well... it would on occasion, when it decided to actually kick down. It had power windows in front... but not in back.
I ended up taking a job that required me to drive over 1000 miles per week. I ran that little thing ragged. It made it to about 125K before we finally gave up on it. The transmission (which had been repaired many times) was going again. It was leaking oil all over the place. The A/C frequently needed work. Even a throwaway car with $250 repair deductible can reach the point of not being worth it when issues are sufficiently frequent.
Twins! Or at least siblings. My mother had a 1998 Plymouth Expresso as well... but it was a Grand Voyager. Regardless, I will not be accepting any late-90s Chrysler slander in my comments.
Submitted by: Thunder
15 / 18
I got into a rear end collision in my daily driver, and it was sent to the shop for estimates and repairs. In the meantime, I was given a free rental. When, I went to the local rental place, a few blocks from the repair shop, there was a gray Dodge Avenger waiting for me. (Just like in the pic.)
“What a boring and generic looking sedan.” I thought as I climbed into that classic, cheap Dodge plastic interior. Looking around the cockpit, everything needed was there. Gauges, info, controls. Not laid out great, but not terrible. Driving characteristics? It went and it stop. Acceleration wasn’t sharp, but didn’t make me feel like I needed to gun it to get on the freeway. Handled like you’d expect a car should. It stayed on the road. The wheel gave little to no information, but it wasn’t like the floating boats of the 80s, or anything. It gave just enough. Same with braking. And, everything else. It didn’t do anything bad, but it didn’t do anything well, either.
And, for the next two weeks driving it, that was all that repeated in my head. “Everything about this car is so mediocre. It doesn’t do anything bad per se, but it doesn’t do anything well, either.” The driving characteristics were as gray as the paint. There was just no feeling or reaction the car gave me. Usually, you give me about 30 minutes in a car, and I can decide if I like it, or not. It’s been over 10 years, and I still can’t decide how I feel about that Avenger.
It was like mediocrity suddenly became tangible and you could drive it. That was the Dodge Avenger.
That’s why it’s the “Worst” in my opinion. Cars should give you something. Either you like it, or you don’t. There’s always something you can point out as a positive or negative about a car. The styling, the power, the handling, etc. But, this car had NOTHING. Nothing stood out, one way or another, and made me feel nothing. That’s the worst sin a car can make, in my opinion.
The Avenger is such a nothing vehicle. I struggle to keep it in my memory other than the fact I know it has one of the worst interiors known to man.
Submitted by: Knyte
16 / 18
My dad’s Buick Regal, no idea what year. The sad thing is the extremely different lenses through which we saw it...
Me: “Shit, dad, is there a road down there somewhere?”
Dad: “I know! The suspension is like you are on a cloud!”
Me: “No... that’s... not good. This steering wheel feels like I am giving the car optional suggestions on the direction I want to go.”
Dad: “Nah, you just gotta point it down the road and you’ll get there.”
Me: “Yeah, but when we get there, where in the third circle of dueling banjo monkey hell do we park this boat?”
Dad: “Just pull in from across the parking lot near the back. That way no one else parks near it.”
Fenders that I am 90% sure were made out of fiberglass, broken in La-Z-Boy seats, and that mid-nineties smell of upholstery glue and dust. Ugh.
But, sure; the 3800 was stout. You can claim that with your dying breath as you failed to keep it on the road due to its awful handling.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that this vehicle was some shade of beige.
Submitted by: Krymdog
17 / 18
I volunteered to drive some out of town friends who were borrowing their parent’s newish Rendezvous for the day.
While I wasn’t expecting much, I thought it would least handle somewhat similar to the many Chrysler minivans I had driven.
Nope. I couldn’t be more wrong. Never have I experienced such poor roll stiffness and spectacularly horrible understeer in a modern vehicle.
It was as if the front suspension was made of equal parts Jello and rubber bands. I even stopped to check the tire inflation to be sure I wasn’t running around with 12 psi. Eww, I wasn’t.
I get that old people don’t want to be jostled about, but damn, this pig was absolutely channeling a mid-sixties Detroit barge, except worse.
I cannot and will not explain why, but when I was a child, the Rendezvous was one of my favorite cars. I feel very brave for sharing that with you all.