25 Cars That Are Less Than Reliable

a rusted broken down car in a forest to convey the idea of least reliable

The history of the automobile is fascinating. In 1769 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first steam-powered automobile. By 1808, François Isaac de Rivaz designed the first car powered with an internal combustion engine using hydrogen. Later, in 1870, Siegfried Marcus built the first gasoline-power combustion engine. Karl Benz came up with the gasoline-powered automobile in 1885, and the Ford Motor Company came out with the Ford Model T in 1909.

The Model T was the first car to be mass-produced on an assembly line, and the car saw massive success. However, users soon started encountering problems. Little hidden gremlins are not uncommon in any cars, especially the first model or a massively-redesigned version. Some cars were worse than others, and the worst ones were the vehicles that had surprise problems that often ended in flames, such as the Pinto.

When a car is designed well it can be an example of the intelligence and design potential of man. When a car is designed poorly, it often ends up in way too many trips to the repair shop or worse—death. On this list, we’ll be going over 25 of the worst cars that were ever made. These cars are ugly, unreliable, and downright dangerous. How many of these rustbuckets do you recognize—and how many did you own?

Some of these cars sold very well and were only revealed to be lemons after millions of people were driving them on highways. As you can imagine, this never ended well. Keep reading to learn more about 25 of the least reliable cars ever made.

1. 1909 Ford Model T

a red ford model t

Let’s take it back to the beginning of automobile history for this one. The Ford Model T certainly put America on wheels and helped the nation’s economy, but it wasn’t very reliable. The Model T was basically a shiny, fancy hunk of junk. The blacksmithed body, air emissions, and poorly crafted controls made Ford quickly think about a new model.

(image via Facebook)

2. 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia

a blue alfa romeo guilia

The Alfa is a sharp sports sedan that handles corners like a dream, but there are other aspects that can be a nightmare. They’re famous for having problems with no identifiable causes, which can lock the car in standard settings (instead of the speed settings).

(image via Facebook)

3. 2018 Kia Cadenza

a white kia cadenza

No one expected this car to be on the list because its predicted reliability rating was a four out of five, according to Consumer Reports. However, this smooth-riding car had issues with engine cooling, the fuel system, and the climate system.

(image via Facebook)

4. 1970 Ford Pinto

an orange ford pinto

The Pinto might be the most famous failure on this list. It wasn’t the worst car in the world to drive, but it had some pretty terrible features. The Pinto had a tendency to burst into flames after getting rear-ended, which resulted in $50 million paid out to victims of the car’s deadly design.

(image via Facebook)

5. 1958 Lotus Elite

a dark navy lotus elite

Fiberglass was all the rage before carbon fiber because it was tough, light, and affordable. The Lotus Elite was wrapped in fiberglass, which made it a great race car. Unfortunately, the fiberglass didn’t age well, damage from crashes was hard to repair, and the suspension mounts were known to break through the body of the car.

(image via Facebook)

6. 1961 Amphicar

a seafoam green 1961 amphicar

Do you remember this attempt at a car-boat hybrid? The Amphicar was a pretty terrible car and boat, with one major flaw. The car wasn’t watertight! We can’t imagine going out for a scenic drive on the lake and getting waterlogged. If the bilge pump failed to keep water levels down, the car would quickly sink.

(image via Facebook)

7. 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

a typical silver delorean as made famous in the film back to the future

This is going to hurt Back to the Future fans, but the DeLorean is a pretty bad car that was better off as a time machine. The DMC was the one and only model that the DeLorean Motor Company made—and it was an incredible failure. It was slow and overpriced for its performance, build-quality was laughable, and it was extremely unreliable.

(image via Facebook)

8. 2018 Cadillac Escalade

a black cadillac escalade

Other than the safety recall for the seat belts being subpar, the luxury Cadillac Escalade is a fancy lemon. The in-car electronics were shoddy and hard to work, the climate system isn’t that great, and the transmission was unreliable at best.

(image via Facebook)

9. 2018 Tesla Model S

a slate gray 2018 tesla model s

While Tesla produces some of the safest cars on the road, they are by no means the most reliable. According to Business Insider, more than 18,000 car owners identified the Tesla Model S as the least reliable car out of 159 other models. The most common issues include the electrical system malfunctioning, delicate structures that lead to broken parts and dents, bad brakes, and an unreliable battery.

(image via Facebook)

10. 1970 AMC Gremlin

a black amc gremlin

The Gremlin was a horrible redesign of the AMC Hornet, and the car’s performance suffered just as much as its looks. The handling was terrible because the rear end was so short that there was a loss of suspension travel. It rusted easily, guzzled fuel, and had bad emissions control equipment.

(image via Facebook)

11. 1970 Bond Bug Three-Wheeler

an orange bond bug three wheeler

This car retains notoriety and is a novelty collectible for its strange looks. However, many people quickly found out how dangerous this car could be thanks to the unique three-wheel design. The Bond Bug had a terrible tendency to roll over if you took a turn too hard, braked too suddenly, and even coughed too much.

(image via Facebook)

12. 1975 AMC Pacer

a brown amc pacer

Just like AMC’s Gremlin, the AMC Pacer was famously ugly and unreliable. It looked like a fishbowl with asymmetrical doors. Other than being straight-up hideous, this car rusted quickly and used more gas than a car twice its size. Metal parts (like door handles) broke off easily, shoddy brakes, and water pump problems.

(image via Facebook)

13. 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

a white mercedes benz cla class

Consumer Reports 2014 Annual Auto Reliability Survey revealed that the CLA is the worst Mercedes on the market and is also 140% worse than your average car. For a car with a $35,000 price tag, that’s ridiculous. Other than being noisy, cramped, and having bad blind spots, this car suffers from electrical and engine issues.

(image via Facebook)

14. 1980 Chevrolet Citation

a gray chevrolet citation

The Chevy Citation had amazing sales its first year on the market, and supply couldn’t keep up with demand. Then, the sales quickly plummeted as people realized what they were really getting in this car. There were dangerous issues with power steering, losing control while braking,  and bad fuel lines. Now, it’s the most recalled vehicle ever.

(image via Facebook)

15. 1990 Ford Explorer

a red ford explorer

The 1990 Explorer was so bad that it earned itself an unfortunate nickname: The Exploder. Early models came with Firestone tires that had a habit of blowing out at highway speeds. The tall frame on the vehicle also led to many fatal rollover crashes. We’d recommend picking a different car for your next road trip.

(image via Facebook)

16. 1968 Subaru 360

a white subaru 360

Subaru is a company known for safe, reliable cars even if the designs are always very similar (and boring). However, the company hadn’t yet earned this reputation back in its early days. The Subaru 360 handled horribly, the back wheels tended to curl up under the car, and it had one of the worst braking systems of all time.

(image via Facebook)

17. 1974 Jaguar XK-E V12 Series III

a maroon jaguar xke v12

This model was a poor recreation of the beloved ‘61 E-Type. It angered fans of the previous 1961 model because it was now top-heavy, ugly, and no fun to drive. Jaguar decided to discontinue the reliable 4.2-liter for a 5.3-liter V12, making the car impossible to keep in tune.

(image via Facebook)

18. 1980 Ford Fiesta

a black ford fiesta

This car was meant to be an ideal family car, but it ended up being one of the most unsafe lemons of all time. Some of the more famous problems include the car’s tendency to lose power on freeways, suddenly lurch forward at a complete stop, and have horribly flawed transmissions. In fact, Ford is facing a $4 billion lawsuit for selling the cars (which they knew were unsafe.)

(image via Facebook)

19. 1986 Yugo GV

a bronze gold yugo gv

The Yugo was meant to be the cheapest car for sale in the United States when it was brought over by Malcolm Bricklin, the same man who brought us Subaru. Other than being incredibly slow, with a horsepower of 55, the Yugo also shares engine space with the spare tire (and the tire is bigger.) The ride is harsh, steering is poor, and it’s to be expected with a $3,990 price tag.

(image via Facebook)

20. 2002 Hummer H2

a yellow hummer h2

The Hummer H2 was meant to be an affordable daily-driver version of the H1’s military-grade style and offroad capabilities. The H2 turned out to be a pathetic imitation that was a gas-guzzling monster. While it was marketed as an extreme offroad vehicle, it wasn’t that great for actually leaving the road. The quality is absolute garbage, it’s slow, and brakes are a joke.

(image via Wikipedia)

21. 1980 Ferrari Mondial 8

a red ferrari mondial 8

When you think of Ferrari, you would usually picture a beautiful sports car that zips around with ease. The Ferrari Mondial 8 was nothing like that. It was cherry red and was the slowest Ferrari. The Bosch injection system was complicated and prone to problems, and it also had a very faulty gearbox. Save your money and buy a decent sports car instead of this hunk of junk.

(image via Facebook)

22. 1982 Chevrolet Camaro

a white chevy camaro with blue racing stripes

The car was sharp and came from a long line of amazing and fun models. While the outside was gorgeous, the engine was horrifying. The horsepower was lacking, had poor shifting quality, and had a low-tech three-speed slushbox. The Iron Duke engine was dropped in 1986, making room for Chevy to make decent Camaros again.

(image via Facebook)

23. 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage

a silver mitsubishi mirage

The sixth-generation Mitsubishi Mirage underwent serious design changes, aimed at making it more aerodynamic and lightweight, but it was a spectacular failure. The handling was a joke, brakes were unreliable and dangerous, and has bad door hinges. Maybe there wasn’t something so bad with the previous design, after all.

(image via Wikipedia)

24. 1960 Chevrolet Corvair

a light pale green chevrolet corvair

The Corvair was Chevy’s response to the VW Beetle, but it was a poor impression. The swing-axle independent rear suspension made the car way too easy to oversteer, which caused a lot of accidents. The suspension was so bad (and Chevy declined to fix it for a few years) that it led to the creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and mandatory safety testing in the United States.

(image via Facebook)

25. 1970 Chevrolet Vega

a pale denim blue chevy vega

This car had everyone fooled at first—it was Motor Trend’s car of the year in 1971. However, everyone quickly learned how terrible the quality of the Vega was. Other than getting rusty very quickly, it was prone to premature engine failure. It constantly needed oil, valve stem seals were always cracking, overheating caused the aluminum block engine to warp, and engine fires were common.

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