Most of us will always remember the cars we regret selling, but what about the cars we possibly regret owning? It could be memories of just annoying querks or electrical gremlins of what was otherwise “a great car”, or maybe the more frustrating, constant reliability issues that culminated into a proverbial money pit. We put the question out there to our Facebook readers and asked, “The worst car you have owned, and why?” Here’s a selection of what they had to say…
Our own Paul ‘Gus’ Cronin started the conversation with a list of niggling problems he experienced with his XF Falcon back in the day (pictured above):
Gus Bought it as a trade in at the Ford dealer I was working at. It drove superbly (whilst reminding me of all those late night cab trips home from Hindley Street in the 90s) but every Monday morning on the way to work something would fail spectacularly! Welsh plugs fell out, coil lead caught fire, radiator exploded, transmission blew, shifter snapped, starter motor fell out, just one weird thing after another. Great car but out of the 40-plus cars I’ve owned, definitely the worst.
Some of our Facebook readers could relate, but not everyone agreed…
Greg Barton Owned two XF’s (wagon and sedan) and can confirm everything you said. Nice, but unreliable cars.
Phil Stacey Funnily enough, XF Fairmont Ghia. Found ways to breakdown that hadn’t even been invented yet. Actually, it’s probably a toss up between that and a PJ Ranger. At least the XF never finished up on a tow truck. Three times.
Andrew Cook Had an XD Falcon back in ’92. The rear vision mirror fell off constantly, door handles kept breaking, ignition would work now and then…The headlights kept cutting out and a lot of the time all l had was the right side light stuck on high beam. After a blowout on the rear left l discovered the tyre was a 175/14 while the others were 194/14.
Mark Giorgio You must of had a dud…usually people report about how reliable those things are. I had an XF ute as an electrician driving around all day for three years and it was fantastic, it got flogged and kept going.
Vern Falconxr I had an XF for over 10 years as a workhorse. It was a good car. Worst car I’ve had was a VF V8 valiant.
Gordon Hodgson I’ve always driven an XF. I reckon it will never stop. I keep the maintenance up too it and it always just works.
Russell Davies I had an 1985 Monza Red XF S-Pak as my first car. Over the four years I owned it, I replaces the cylinder head clutch and radiator. I loved it. Can’t wait for my mid life crisis, I’m so getting another one to do a restoration on.
And then, there’s the doorhandles…
Silke Purdie You forgot the door handles!
Gordon Hodgson So many door handles.
Justin Lawlor Only real issue I ever had with all my XFs (have owed 6) was goddamn door handles every other week.
Richard Flanagan XD.XE.XF. Always changing handles, hinges, seats and water pumps.
Nathan J Parsons Had a ’92 XF ute for over 11 years, relatively no problems besides general wear and tear (and the odd door handle) ;) Most reliable work horse I’ve had, must’ve done well over 550k by the time I sold it.
Jakey Jacobson Yeah the XF kept breaking door handles, and diffs, and engines, and my wallet.
Jeka Bayside XE Ford Falcon, effing door handles! ??
Jimmy Sales Red XF. A few door handles, door hinges sagging badly and shifter on the old 4-speed manual would pop out of its little nylon bush/locknut thingo when smashing the gears.
John Olds Owned a dunger $700 XF ute for over 2 years, did basic maintenance and thrashed it, but it was a reliable vehicle overall. Yes, I did replace 2 door handles.
Paul Robbo Robson The door handles have a design flaw, which is easily fixed by bending the pin in the back of the handle to stop it jumping out.
Jeff Hogan My old XF S-PAC, daily driver for over 10 years, nothing ever fell off it, took us on holidays every year, and apart from normal maintenances and services, never broke anything either, same door handles on it the day I sold it. You know there is a ‘proper’ way to use XF door handles, hey? Most people have no idea how to use them. Anyway, it was an awesome frigging car. I truly do miss it.
Here’s some more readers’ experiences with their ‘worst’ cars, and a few differences of opinion…
Moe Moe Maurici [AU Falcon] No words needed.
Liam Wilson My worst was an AU ute, I know exactly what you are talking about.
Ben Saville I’ve had two AU Falcons, both bullet-proof.
Andrew Draper We have had three AUs, all with 300+ km on the clock. Best cars we have ever owned never had any dramas with them.
Glen Scholz LC Torana. Glorified Pommy rot. Feet pointing one way, steering wheel offset the other way. Worked but gutless 202. Would cut out when cornering hard (can’t remember which way, I blame the Holley). Butter-soft steering rack that bent in a motorkhana. Looked ok I guess.
Adrian Jarrett If you spent the money fixing it you’d have had an awesome car with decent coin now. Wish I never sold mine.
Glen Scholz Went ok I guess. YT S4 head, Holley, extractors, cam. Still slower than my 12A extend port RX7 and on-par with my 2L Escort. Worth decent money, but overall they’re still a nugget. This had neat paint, clean custom blue and black velour interior. There was no ‘fixing’ (other than the cornering issue) to be done. Not the type of car I have any interest in owning again…
Simon Koch I couldn’t get over how far offset the steering wheel was in my mate’s old LC GTR. I went from liking them to hating them as soon as I sat in the driver’s seat.
Dallas ‘Maggot’ Allison XF would be the best Goddamn car ever built, wrong pic to be using for this! Worst car I ever owned was my old 304 Commodore wagon (above).
Shannon Edwards My current daily. Everything is falling apart faster than I can fix it, interior sucks, gearbox constantly goes into limp mode (bought another box for it), runs on gas but the switch to change it over burnt out so it only runs on fuel now. The only things I like about it is the 302, the exhaust and the XR6 LSD diff I put in that has 3:45s. Sits on ultra lows all-around. Considering getting rid of it as a donor or a skidpig.
Gavin David Drogemuller Of all the cars I’ve owned, both the most fun to drive but also the MOST problematical, was an ’85 model 300ZX. It seemed to spend as much time off the road as it did on, I bought it for a song but onsold it after it caught on fire (fuel injector ruptured spitting fuel all through the engine bay).
Alan Daly Yep! I had the later “Californian version.” My experience reads much like Gavins!
Damien Michael EF Falcon sedan… caught fire, consistently broke down and had transmission issues. Worst.
Dan McFly Miles Best and worst…1995 VS Clubsport 5.0 Manual. Its slow, rattly, poorly-built and shits itself a lot…which are also all of the things that make it so hard to live without, it has so much character, sounds phenomenal, looks unreal.
Jon Gercama This is my nemesis. New engine, new trans. Has killed 3 starters, 2 Dizzies, a carb, the reconditioned radiator, the lock out bearing on the gear selector in the trans. Rear brake locked up yesterday. It’s only been registered 13 months.
Adrian Fogarty Cleanest in and out but spent thousands on it at different mechanics etc, only to find the motor itself is stuffed. Looks like the one 80-year-old owner traded it in at the perfect time. A so called “mate” ripped me off knowing what was wrong with it in the first place, but couldn’t give a … Now I have nothing whatsoever, this one is being sold as is, where is, or wrecked.
Catherine Rose Rookyard A hand-painted gold Mazda 323 hatch, similar to this. It had bog everywhere, holes in the floor and a hatch that opened spontaneously once you reached 90-100kph. Couldn’t get rid of it quick enough!
Mark T Burnett Wheels would just work their way off once on the highway. My back wheel passed me, “Look someone lost a wheel…crunch…oh, its mine.”
Alex Johnson ’81 Datsun 310. On cold days, blinkers and lights wouldn’t work for the first 20 mins.
Brendan De Vulder My first car, 1996 VS Commodore. Bought a lemon and did not know any better at the time. I just wanted a car, still got it, but almost three years on and I’ve spent just under $5000 to have it on the road. No mods, just to keep it roadworthy. Any dreams I had will never happen on this one, but I’m looking at a new car soon.
Darcy Atlantis XG Ford. What a lemon! Given me nothing but grief.
Jacob-Phillip Hornery My wife’s VX. If it didn’t break down twice a month I got worried.
Trevor Zickefoose ’91 Pathfinder. Always had problems with that thing.
Rod Campbell 1976 celica. Bought from auction in Perth to drive home to Melbourne. No first gear. No reverse. Went to check the spare. No boot floor. Chucked some chip board down. Packed it and made it all the way to Melton in Melb and it died. Fuel was boiling in the carby. Best $600 I ever spent but worst car I ever had. Traded it for $900.
Rod Maberly Had a VK Commy SL six. This car was a lemon since new. Travelling to Wagga in the heat, aircon cranked. All of a sudden a bang went off and there was a hole in the bonnet. The air conditioner blew up and a piece of the casing shot through the bonnet! The engine overall was crap. It was in the workshop more times than I can remember. Funny thing is, I still love VKs!
Kieth Blackwell 3-cylinder Daihatsu Charade. Coz I’m really stupid. Could feel myself getting older climbing hills.
Terry Lee HB Torana, sold it to my mum’s friend who lived next door. It was ok for my 1st car….the lady drove it to Ardrossen, about 200km from where we live and the tailshaft fell out of the gearbox end, stuck into the road and ripped the whole back axle/diff off. Had to mow her lawns and baby sit her kids for free for years.
Craig Parker Owned a number of Aussie, Yank, Japaneses and Pommy cars – all caused me no end of pain. But like children, loved them all dearly – right ’til the bitter end. (Read about Craig’s TUFFXY Fairmont here)
Chris East EA Falcon. Had to have been built on a Monday morning or Friday arvo, the bonnet was opened more often than the doors.
Jason Mold Datto 200B. Gear shift came straight out as I was changing from 2nd to 3rd. Tied it back on with wire and was good to go.
Robert Orosz VH SL/E V8, auto was sluggish, V8 was powerless, had it all of a day and half, got it for nothing, sold it for $8500.
Mark Willard VB Commodore 4.2 litre automatic. My previous car, a mildly worked 180B would have flogged it. It used twice the fuel of the 180B. It broke down all the time. After that I had a 1986 Celica, first of the front drivers. It would have been in a different state before the VB left the lights. I decided then and there that Toyota’s were for me.
Steven Foley LH Torana. Bought off a guy who new everything about cars – turns out just had no idea how to fix them $$$. VH Commie, I should have known when I open the hood. You don’t put red motor parts on a black motor (so I hold my hand up for that one).
Tony Pearson I was gonna say a Sigma station wagon then I remembered the ’09 Dodge Journey RT diesel. It was possessed and knew when you had money in your pocket then made you spend it on expensive things
Greg Anderson Back in 1989 my first car, XB Falcon, 6-cylinder, 3-speed column auto, more bog in the body than metal. To get it into reverse I had to hold my foot on the brake and rev the crap out of it until the gear took. Got a $2k trade on it for a VC Commodore!
Lincoln Tutt CL Val ute, paid $200 for it and it lasted 1/2 a day. I was going around a roundabout, the three-on-the-tree selector fell off, the gearbox mount broke, and the diff blew… I got $250 from the wreckers.
Tony Purcell So many come to mind but the worst ones were an EA falcon. It was reliably unreliable. A VR Commodore ute, very thirsty and the motor used to lock up for no apparent reason. You would go to start it and it would crank then lock solid. Couldn’t even turn it with a breaker bar. Came back 10 minutes later and it would start straight up.
Raymond Collins In 1998 I traded in my ’73 ZF Fairlane for an ’82 XE Falcon X-Pac wagon. I went from the best car I ever had to the worst. The Falcon had plastic dashboard knobs that broke off, the drivers door handle snapped and the entire thing rusted out as I stood and looked at it. I kept patching it up until it rusted around the tailgate hinges and then I called the wreckers to come and get it out of my hair.
Grant Meadows HQ Holden, first car. Was under that thing more than I was in it.
Jon Brooks VP Commodore executive. Bought it second-hand in 1996 with 40,000km on the clock from a Holden dealer. The faults were many, including tail lights that would fill with water and slosh around filled with dead bugs like an evil snow dome. The car caught fire thanks to an electrical fault less than 12 months later. We used the insurance to buy a Mazda 626 that’s still going.
Noel Grumball Mitsubishi Scorpion. Something new would go wrong with it every week.
Ben Byrne 2000 Subaru WRX. It used to eat 2nd gear almost as often as you put fuel in it. Three gearboxes in three years, then after I had a full gearbox rebuild, the diffs started to go; first the rear, then the centre. Cost more on drivetrain repairs than it did on petrol in three years. Traded it for a VX SS and never looked back. Currently on a VF2 GTS and love it.
Karl Chamberlin 9-sec 1984 Mustang with Vortech-blown 347 Windsor. Bought it in from the USA and it took four years for it to sell. The three Chevs I brought in all sold within eight months.
Brett Nicholson 1999 Holden Jackaroo Turbo Diesel. It suffered an ongoing list of electrical faults and rough running. It spent more time being repaired than driven. Finally it caught fire 11 months after purchase. Burnt out the engine bay and was written off. I was glad to see the back of it!
Damien Boyd ’74 Datto 120Y wagon! I thrashed it and still couldn’t kill the bloody thing.