What's The Worst Thing You've Ever Left In Your Car?

Being a forgetful driver is mostly harmless, but you'd be surprised what gets left behind

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Photo: Jalopnik / José Rodríguez Jr.

I admit that I’m a forgetful person. I get easily distracted, and that affects me as a driver. When I’m parking my car, I cut the ignition, shift into first, and pull my e-brake. The task leads me to forget about my belongings sometimes, and I’ll leave the odd item in the front seat. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever left behind in your car?


I’ve left my wallet in the car at the H-E-B, so that I look like an idiot when I go to pay and the milk gets warm. I’ve left sunglasses in my car, which means I can’t put them on immediately after coming back in, because the glasses are too hot. I’ve even left my keys in there overnight, but was lucky that my car is too old to lock itself when it’s shut off and the driver exits.

My leave-behind situations have been pretty average so far, but some folks are a lot more forgetful. Like for instance, the case of the woman who left a rifle in the back seat of a rental car. The woman, Lauren Tannehill, reportedly left an AR-15 in the back seat of a Nissan Rogue. Whoops!

You may know the woman as the wife of NFL player Ryan Tannehill, who was with the Miami Dolphins at the time, according to the New York Post. Tannehill had rented the Nissan and then returned it after a couple of hours because it was too small, but she “just spaced out and didn’t take the weapon with her,” per to the report.

I don’t know how someone leaves behind a $2,000 rifle so casually. But, it’s Florida.

To top it off, the rifle wasn’t even found by the employees of the EZ Rent-A-Car, but by the driver that rented the Nissan Rogue after Tannehill returned it. A woman and her daughter had the car for two whole days before they noticed the case hidden in the back seat. Out of sight, out of mind? The Post said, they “didn’t notice the gun, which was in a case on the rear seat but hidden because the seatbacks were down.” Apparently, the women didn’t know they were in a Coen Brothers movie.

That’s one of the wildest leave-behind cases I know of, but this is about you and your stories. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever left in your car?



When I lived in Reno back in the day, I once left a 5-lb flat of chicken wings in the back of my 280z. I went looking for them in the house and peeked in the car for them and didn’t see the bag, so I figured I left them at the store or something.

Little did I know, they had slid out of the bag and found their way to a hidden spot in the side of the hatch. It was the tail end of winter and I didn’t always drive that car, so they probably stayed frozen a few weeks.

Then the temps suddenly jumped up to the 80s. First day I jumped in the car with my roommate, and was like, damn dude, you stink! Go take a shower or something, ya nasty bastard. The next day, I opened up the door in the afternoon and the smell damn near blew me across the street. Having forgotten about the wings, I was sure something crawled into the car and died. A quick investigation found a fetid, leaky, multi-colored rotting mess pooling in the corner of the hatch that was once the mysteriously disappeared flat of chicken wings. It smelled like a thousand raccoons rotting in the sun. I barfed several times while hauling the mess out of the car, disposing of the carpet, a bunch of insulation, and other miscellaneous that could never be washed or saved. It took several bleachings before I could get anywhere near the car again and it still had a piquant twinge about it for the whole summer. 

The worst part was, I couldn’t stomach eating chicken for about a decade after that!