QOTD: What’s the Most Unreliable Car You’ve Ever Owned?

I had several but two of the worst were BMW’s…

I was intoxicated by the looks of the blue 2002 Z 3 with matching blue hardtop. I had just sold my 06 Corvette purchased new, but sold it 6 years later for seed money for a detached garage. But the Sports Car bug already had me in it’s grasp, so I immediately began looking for a cheap replacement. The Z 3 fit the bill for me, even though it had 90 K miles on the clock. My wife had owned a 2005 E 46 325i Sport and it had been perfect for 5 years before selling it, so I had some BMW ownership experience.

First thing I noticed after shelling out 8600 dollars cash was an oil leak the previous owner said he had fixed. It got so bad I couldn’t drive it without the embarrassing myself at stop lights with the odor of burning oil coming off the exhaust. Finally, I traced the leak to the valve cover, seemingly coming from the lower rear part of the cover. I ordered new parts, including oil filter, oil, gasket and seal assembly, nearly 300 dollars worth of stuff, and changed out the gasket and seals. Thought I had it licked, but only a couple hundred miles later, the same odor struck my nostrils. Thinking perhaps I had screwed up getting the gasket straight, I tore into it again just to see, but nope, gasket had sealed. Replaced the gasket again, inspected the plastic valve cover for cracks, and having found none with the naked eye, put it back together. Same issue…replaced oil pan gasket, same issue. Took it to a friend’s shop who suggested doing a “smoke” test. Smoke test showed a hairline crack in the valve cover. 500 dollars later I had a new valve cover, and oil leak was fixed….but then other issues ensued…fuel delivery, air intake, alternator, right seat air bag glitch, battery replacement, and tires, all within less than 10,000 miles of driving. Had to call AAA twice due to electrical and fuel issue. Had fuel, just wouldn’t pump, so fuel pump replaced. In two years, I barely put 10 K miles on the car, and spent over 2000. I sold it after all was fixed for 7 K dollars. I loved the looks, but my wife and my wallet hated that car.

I sold that car to young man in Murray, KY, and delivered it to him on a trailer from Dallas area. I ate the costs of delivery. While I was delivering that car in KY, I was going to look at a 2009 JCW Mini Cooper with only 64 K miles. Made that trip to Chattanooga pulling my empty trailer. Talked to the older gentleman who owned the car, test drove it, looked it over carefully, made the deal, and loaded it onto the trailer and headed for Dallas. Total trip was right at 2000 miles. Cost of trip, including motel, was approximately 600 dollars. Unfortunately, that Mini Cooper proved to be my second worst ever car…

I sold it after 3 years ownership and driving it less that 5000 miles.I made a trip to Lexington, KY with it a week or so after I bought it, after looking it over, changing the oil and filter, and purchasing new Continental DW performance tires for it. Drove very well on the 940 mile trip, and the subsequent 250 miles after I got there. On the way back to Dallas just as I was exiting I 40 onto I 430 bypass, the check engine light flashed on. I got off at the next exit, and could smell coolant. I went inside the Shell gas station I had pulled into and purchased a gallon of coolant. After it cooled a bit, removed the filler cap and to my surprise, it only took less than a quart to fill it. Fired it up, and the CEL was off…for about 5 miles. Pulled off again after getting on to I 30, again sat there and allowed it to cool for 40 minutes, again topped off with coolant, less than half quart this time, and made it to the Walmart parking lot another 10 miles away, when the CEL had appeared again. I had a tool box with me, so I found my DRB tool, hooked it to the connector and the code was indeed overheating, but did not give me a specific. I assumed it had a failed water pump or worse, head gasket issue, so I called AAA to see how much further they would haul my car. They agreed to take me approximately 120 miles further west to Texarkana. I called a friend, at 8 PM, who agreed to drive 30 miles from his home to mine, pick up my truck and trailer, and make the 200 plus mile trip to pick me up. At midnight we were loading the car onto the trailer, and headed home. Thank God for good friends.

The problem turned out to be not so much of a problem at all. With the proper DRB, it showed the coolant temp sending unit was bad. So I could have driven it home safely enough I suppose. I wish I could say that was the only issues I had with that car, but again, oil leaks, and many mechanical issues later, plus a couple thousand dollars in repairs, it was finally a worthy car. Worthy enough that I sold it to a friend who is still driving it without issues. Given the 9500 I paid for it, and the upwards of 4000 dollars in repairs, some of it maintenance, I got out of it just a few dollars over half of what I paid and spent on it in two years. I had driven it less than 6000 miles in 2.5 years…

I went to my local Ford dealer shortly thereafter and purchased a new 2017 Focus ST base…loving it so far…