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Add me to the VW list: a 1989 Jetta GLI 5spd manual. Base model (meaning manual windows, manual door locks, manual sunroof even). My wife hated the seats, the head gasket leaked (multiple attempts to fix at dealer and independent VW specialist), and when if it was a bad leak, the oil leaked into the manual transmission which caused the clutch to slip and eventually burn out. By the way the independent VW place was cash only - ouch.
1969 Ford Thunderbird. Now granted, it was 40 years old when I got it, but I never had nearly as many problems with any other old car as I did this one. Something always blowing up under the hood. And the hydraulic windshield wipers were a nightmare.
Now keep in mind, she was gorgeous and thoroughly inspected and any obvious issues corrected by a long trusted mechanic. But when she blew the power steering line, in my driveway, I was so tempted to just throw a match into the engine bay.
I’ve only owned four cars so I don’t have a ton of history. As much as the lackluster manual transmission is annoying on my Genesis Coupe, my first Maxima was the worst.
It was a 1991 Maxima SE with a rare 5 speed manual. Great to drive, roomy, and now classic styling. The bad? It ate fuel injectors at an alarming rate. I’d guess that car went through 40 injectors in its lifetime. Sometimes just turning on the car would be frightful knowing what was likely coming at some point.
I had an 85 RX7 that I bought in 1994. The igniters were always going bad and the car would just not start about 50% of the time.
My first car was an 81 Aires (bought in 90). I replaced the starter twice. Luckily, it was a manual and I always knew to park on a hill. The clutch was also terrible and the synchronizer for 2nd gear was bad so it always grinded into 2nd. Don't think it would go faster than 60 full out.
Needless to say that I was in HS for Aires and college for RX7. I never had two nickels to rub together to fix the things.
Most unreliable car i ever owned was a '89 Pontiac Firebird. I never made it through a full 15 to 24 hour endurance road race once without something going wrong. It also brought me some of the most fun I have ever had.
My 73 MGB was a fix something every weekend car. Our Audi 5000 had many known issues but it drove so nice. The 89 Jeep Grand Wagoneer was a challenge to get through emissions every year. Our most reliable vehicles have been 2 Avalons, my MB 300E, and all our Fords. Love driving my 98 F150 with 300,000 miles on the odo. The Tourx is my first GM product.
The Tucson I traded for the TourX. Leftover with lot rot that began in the form of bad front rotors. Fixed those. Then the bad vibes started. Some kind of vibration from the front. Tires? Drivetrain? Nobody knew. Seemed like every month I was taking out one of the dealer's 10-year-old loaners for a week. Had to get Hyundai USA involved, and it took their tech 4 hours to figure out the tires were barely in spec for lateral runout. Hyundai goodwilled me a set of new tires, which helped a little but didn't take away the problem completely. Didn't do much to solve the complaints I had against the service department either, basically telling me they can run how they want. Basically I traded the car to get rid of the dealer (and didn't feel like saddling another dealer with problems caused by the first one). But hey, I went from a Hyundai to a Buick for only $15 more a month!
started with a 71 Ford Mustang=bullet proof, never had any issues with her; then I had a 89 Honda Accord again bullet proof; 89 Audi 5000 great driver when she actually ran, overheated, widows kept breaking, ps rack went out so I traded her in for a 91 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS again bullet proof; then 91 Mercury Capri cool little car but overheated; next 99 Mitsubishi Diamante loved the car and it was bullet proof; 04 Mazda 3S manual it was the best car I ever owned; next Jaguar s-type V8 POS; Maserati Q solid engine but body build quality was shit; the Buick was a replacement for the M;
My worst car was my '91 Ford Exploder. I loved it when it was working, but it had some issues. Two manual transmissions failed, a failed fuel pressure regulator, had to swap the front 4WD hubs for manual ones to get them reliable, and the motor sounded terrible in its last few years. The car was well taken care of. My father bought it new and sold it to me. My best car ever is a '99 Saturn I bought new and still own, though my son drives it. My Buick is a 2000 Century that my other son drives. It has been a good car in the 5 months we've owned it but will need some serious rust repair if he wants to keep it going long term.
This is a tough call. Was it the 1973 AMC Gremlin that spun on black ice because the steering damper allowed a positive feedback loop? (Fortunately, no one was coming in the other lane so when I ended up facing the wrong way, I had no witnesses and could continue on my journey at a much reduced speed.) It also had this corrugated hose between the engine block and air cleaner that always come loose every 100 miles or so and it affected cold weather operation until I reattached the hose.
No, I have to save my worse car was my 1982 Audi Coupé. The bullet fuses were the Achilles heel here, as well as the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. My Audi overheated when the electric fan fuse melted the fuse block (made out of thermoplastic instead of something more stable). Same thing happened to the rear defroster. The fix for both issues was replacing the fuse block circuit with glass in-line fuses.
Another electric gremlin (not the AMC kind) was the ECU in the glove box. I was driving at speed on I-94 outside of Ann Arbor when I went over an aggressive expansion joint and the engine cut out. So I'm coasting trying to figure what happened and hit another bump, restoring the engine to full power. I needed to get to my destination and fortunately, it didn't happen again on the trip. But it did happen later, same kind of sudden bump killed the engine. I was able to track it down to the connecter for the ECU and this one wire connector that was not fully locked into the connector block. After I inserted it, I never had a repeat of this condition.
Every time I took the car to the Audi Porsche dealer I would come out with a $500-$600 bill. Adjusting the valves required removing and inserting shims between the valve stem cap and the cam, a very labor-intensive process. I finally found a small town mechanic who knew how to caress the K-Jetronic system and got my Coupé running better than it had since new, and only cost $120. Unfortunately, this condition lasted about 500 miles and the power response slowly slipped away. That was the way of this 5-cylinder 2.1 liter engine, it ran fabulously when it was constantly fiddled with, but it was an expensive experience.
Of course, it was my best driving experience of any car I've owned, the most precise handling, even if it kept on running up the bills after I paid it off. 121,000 miles and 6.5 years later, I sold it to another small-town mechanic who could keep it running. But that was the last Audi/VW/Porsche I owned.
I should mention my 1988 Ford F150. Only because of its anti-lock braking system.
Ford, in its infinite wisdom, put anti-locks only on the rear wheels. This may have been ok for dry or wet conditions, but for snow, it was nearly a killer for us.
In moderate snow, when approaching a light, the front tires would lock up, negating any steering ability, while the rear tires would continue to drive the vehicle forward. The only safe and reliable way to stop was to put the automatic into neutral at every red light. Gad, what a horrible design.