What's The Most Unreliable Car You've Ever Owned?

Illustration for article titled What's The Most Unreliable Car You've Ever Owned?

Car ownership can be a mixed bag. One day it's about the wind in your hair, singing an off-pitch rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, while the next can be wasted sitting in an oily mechanic's waiting room looking at the 2005 Babes And Bolt-Ons calendar, wondering if alternators really do cost $300.


(Photo by Andrij Bulba on Flickr)

The question I pose to my car-loving (and perhaps auto-curious) audience is:

What's the most unreliable car you've ever owned?

I ask because I'd like to compile a list of real-world experiences with cars that may or may not be considered unreliable, like a very unscientific experiment. Please include the year, make and model of the car, a picture if possible, and make sure it's one you (or someone in your household) owned, not something you heard from a friend, owned by a grandparent that you saw twice a year, or read on the internet. We do have standards, y'know.

I'll start it off by mentioning my mother's 2000 Kia Sportage, which she bought brand new. Although the engine was sound, the car frequently had suspension issues due to a horrid design that went through bushings like Kobayashi goes through hot dogs, and it almost rolled over twice on off-ramps at regular speed. The horn stopped working, the radio would randomly go to full volume, it would overheat with no visible coolant leaks, while having full coolant levels and new temp sensors. The heater core exploded thereafter, sending thick coolant fumes through the vents. It eventually died on the side of the road and I had it junked for $300.

Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. I bought it new, and have since sold it for obvious reasons. I'll likely never buy a VW again.

I'll list the main things that needed replacing in order of severity. There were small replacements, too, but I've forgotten about them:

1. DSG Transmission (The whole thing. Without a warranty, it would have been $8,400)

2. Turbo

3. Stereo Headunit

4. Part of the sunroof motor/rails

5. Wheelwell fender (Front left)

6. Foglight housing

The car had 78,000kms (less than 50,000 miles) by the time I sold it. The electrics were starting to die, it was only going to be an issue after the warranty ended. On to better things, now.