First cars and their quirks

Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
663
Location
Idaho
I know a lot of people have beaters as their first cars and beaters often come with their own quirks. I wanted to share my own stories and hear some of yours.

My first car was a 2007 Honda CR-V, I got it with 193K miles and totalled it at 230K. The insurance check plus a bit of my savings is what I ended up using as the down payment on my Pathfinder.

Here's some quirks it had:
1) The check engine light could be turned both on or off by driving through a pothole.
2) It burned so much oil that it threw lean codes constantly. If I drove it long enough the whole tailgate would have an oily sheen all over it.
3) Two of the lock actuators failed even after having them all replaced during a recall
4) I took out the group 51R battery and put in a group 24F. The posts were shimmed with bent pennies and the tie down was a wood board.
5) I'm like 90% sure the front brakes didn't even work and it had like 6 different ABS codes IIRC to support that theory
6) In it's 230,000 miles of life, it went through 5 A/C compressors, two of those being during the couple years I owned it

God I miss that car sometimes lol.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
1,022
Location
Massachusetts
My first car was a 2008 Saturn Aura. Front speakers didn't work, rear window was peeling. At 80,000 miles the cat clogged so badly I couldn't drive faster than 20mph, at around 90k the transmission bricked itself without warning and a very loud bang. Car was a steaming pile of 💩 that didn't even make it to 100k. Barely got 25k out of the car before it blew up, and despite have over 170hp was very slow compared to my Accent. Horrendous gas mileage, like 24mpg on the highway downhill with a tail wind.

I definitely do not miss that car, I hope it was crushed and put out of it's miserable existence.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
14,930
Location
ROCHESTER, NY
My first car was a '68 Buick LeSabre 2dr w/Buick 350cid. Not much to go wrong in this car. It needed the typical tune-up, belts, hoses, a coil, battery, some brake work and exhaust parts. That's all any of my old cars needed really. Their largest problem was carb's & rust.

They were all hard to start and didn't run well until they were warm especially in the winter. You'd always hear someone say..."Pump it, Pump it"!
Some of my old cars started well when cold, others started well once they were warm and they'd restart easily all day long.

I had a '73 Chrysler NewPort 2dr w/Mopar 400cid that started, Mmmm OK when it was cold but hated to restart once the engine was hot. And don't drive it through a puddle of water; she'd quit on ya' and took forever to restart.

Sadly, I couldn't get past 90K-100K miles with some of these older cars as they'd quickly turn to junk and rust so badly the structures became unsafe for public roads and every steel line needed to be replaced. And the engines ran poorly and needed new carbs. In most of these older cars, the tranny's were OK though even w/o much maintenance. Strong too, I'll give'em that!
 
Joined
Aug 14, 2021
Messages
645
Location
NH
My first car was a red 1988 Hyundai Excel GS. A stylish 2 door hatchback loaded with a digital clock, tachometer, 5 speed manual transmission and a 1.5L carbureted Mitsubishi engine delivering an impressive 68 horsepower and lively 14 second 0-60.

What a great car! I bought it for $500 and it had 88,000 miles on it. I drove that thing everywhere and beat the crap out of it. The transmission lost 5th gear around 110k miles and I put a junkyard tr*nny in it. Around 130k the speedometer broke and shortly after I lost 5th gear again. After that, I sold it to my friend for $100 and he put another transmission in it and it lived on for quite a while after.
 
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Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
13,412
Location
Suburban Washington DC
'72 Mercury Marquis bought in 1978 for $650. Leaked a quart of transmission fluid every 50 miles. Sold it a few months later for $1,000 which got me started on this addiction.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2004
Messages
2,751
Location
Illinois
My first car was a '71 Nova I inherited from my Grandma. It had too many quirks to even remember them all. I'll just list a few I remember.

The car was a 250 straight-six with 3-on-the-tree. The carburator was equipped with an idle-stop solenoid, supposedly to prevent run-on or "dieseling" when you shut off the car. The trouble was, the solenoid didn't work so the car would run on forever after you turn the key off, creating clouds of foul-smelling smoke. My "fix" was to stall the engine with the clutch while simultaneously turning off the key.

There were various wiring issues and the brake lights never worked. Not only that, but the turn signals didn't flash; they'd just come on steady. My "fix" was to manually flash the turn signal in the direction I wanted to go. And when I wanted to stop, I'd just turn on one of the turn signals constant. People following me just thought I had a taillight out! Once in awhile someone would come up to me at a light and tell me I had a taillight out, but I never got a ticket for it.

The column-mounted stick shift could be finicky at times and was very unforgiving of lazy or careless shifts. You had to be certain it was engaged all the way, or else it would make a bang and kick the car out of gear when you tried to let in the clutch. Once in a while I would get the whole linkage messed up such that I would have to open the hood, reach down, and un-jam itself by hand. This happened once on a really long, slow bumpy railroad crassing (like 6 tracks) and I had to stop right in the middle of the tracks to open the hood!

As it turned out, the car had severe rust issues. Grandma lived way back in the woods and I don't think the car ever saw sunshine. The trunk was becoming increasingly less-useful as rust holes grew in both size and number. And one day, I was driving along after a severe storm and I ran over a small branch on the road. The wheel kicked it up and the end of the branch poked up right through the passenger's side floorboard! In the end, I finally had to retire the car when the rear spring shackles punched through their mounts into the trunk. There was no longer any sheetmetal left to attach to.
 
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Joined
Jun 8, 2016
Messages
2,762
Location
Texas, USA
1978 Monza. A few months into ownership, we thought the clutch was failing, as it became very hard to get into 1st gear at a standstill. I had to engage reverse (which would grind sitting still) and quickly engage first. Turned out to be a rusted clutch cable mount in the firewall. The sheet metal had broken and was flexing as I pushed in the clutch, keeping the clutch from fully disengaging. The shop had to cut the mount out and weld in a steel plate. Eventually replaced the clutch, as it was worn.

Driving over a set of train tracks would turn on, and turn off the alternator light. It was a while before I figured out that the red wire had corroded and pulled loose from the plastic connector. It wasn't visually obvious, and wasn't found until I started tugging on wires in search of the problem.

I bought the car just in time for the radiator and heater core to start leaking. This is where I cut my teeth on air handler removal, and never desire to do it again.

Not really a quirk, because all old 2-door Chevy's did this, but the driver's door perpetually sagged. Got the bushings replaced, and 6 months later, the sagging started again. Door striker had a deep gash in it by the time I got rid of it 2 years later.
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2003
Messages
25,924
Location
Apple Valley, California
The column-mounted stick shift could be finicky at times and was very unforgiving of lazy or careless shifts. You had to be certain it was engaged all the way, or else it would make a bang and kick the car out of gear when you tried to let in the clutch. Once in a while I would get the whole linkage messed up such that I would have to open the hood, reach down, and un-jam itself by hand.
My 69 chevelle would do that! I figured out that I could do counter clockwise circles with the shifter and 90% of the time I could unjam it that way.
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2021
Messages
178
Location
Dripping Springs, TX
My first car (in 1998) was a $500 1986 Ford Escort with a 4-speed manual. It had a leaky gas tank, so only $5-10 worth of gas at a time. I also had to flick the turn signal stalk up and down when turning left. Pioneer radio worked, but not the cassette player.
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2004
Messages
28,582
Location
CA
My sister's first car:


- Exhaust leak that is being "fixed" with Ultra Copper RTV
- Rough idle that is unresolved despite installing a new hydraulic engine mount
- Slight lean condition at idle that is unresolved despite smoke-testing for intake/exhaust leaks, having injectors cleaned and updated manifold gaskets installed.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2003
Messages
38,582
Location
ME
1989 mazda 323.

Had it at college and was going to come home for xmas break, so I filled the tank and loaded my gear. There was a puddle of gas underneath and more dripping from above. Solution was to never fill the tank all the way ever again.

Parked it on a hill in -7'F weather. Turned the key and the starter made a sad noise then never did anything again. Got me interested in motor oil, dad's mechanic put dino 10w30 in everything. I roll started the thing in 2nd gear (should have used 3rd) and learned how to roll start on-the-spot. I had the starter changed at my mechanic for $200+ in 1997 money, ouch. They padded their bill with a $20 "electrical diagnosis."

Car developed a chattering clutch. Hindsight suggests the rear main seal was getting oil on it. A redneck told me to set the parking brake, idle in first, then just jump off the clutch. It felt weird but it worked... for a day.
 

AutoMechanic

Site Donor 2023
Joined
Aug 10, 2020
Messages
9,619
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Roanoke Virginia
My first car was a 1989 Mazda B2200. Still have it. I thought I had bought a lemon driving it home because it quit on us at just about every stop. When we filled it up with gas it didn’t want to start back up at all it ended up being a fuel pump and I drove it like that for months to school and back and didn’t bother fixing it until it completely died on me in the school parking lot. Luckily Advance Auto seems to stock all the parts I need for the thing lol. The clutch slave cylinder failed on me at the end of our street and I was stuck in the middle of the road that was fun. I went ahead and replaced the clutch master cylinder too then as a preventative measure. Other than that it’s been a great truck. The transmission survived me learning manual lol. Everyone told me those trucks are bulletproof and I believe them now. Now my 1990 on the other hand…. Yeah that’s a whole different ball park there lol.
 
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
15,621
Location
Canada
1985 Buick Skyhawk 4-door.
Dummy I was, bought it as-is, figuring I could keep it going being ‘selective’ about repairs. Nope.
Bought the sellers line that the steering will be fine, it is only stiff when cold…until the rack fails.
The seatbelt buzzer shorted out and never stopped going off. Drove like that for a while, until it was draining the battery every couple of hours. A sympathetic mechanic tore the chime out of the dash for nothing.
The wires in the drivers seat bolsters broke, and came through the seat to the point they were cutting my leg up badly. Tried putting layers of duct tape over them, but they cut through that. Had to spend an entire afternoon with a set of wire cutters cutting all the wires out of the seat after cutting the bolster open, and tape the bolster back together.
Leaked so much oil through a failed VC gasket that the engine block glowed red from smouldering oil, and passengers used to feel sick after being in my car. Miracle it didn’t ignite.
After I traded it, a mechanic fixed all the issues, and a young college girl who happened to live near me drove it every day for another couple of years. I don’t know how I resisted the urge to run the thing off the road.
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
8,998
Location
FL, USA
My first car was a 1995 Honda Accord with the 2.7 V6 and 4 speed auto.

It had a few quirks, the first being on hot summer days the very first shift was lazy. It would rev to 4000 before shifting. After that initial shift all was good.

The a/c worked, but barely.

Also, some of the door lock actuators were bad, resulting in a loud buzzing sound upon activation. My now wife (girlfriend at the time) called it the game show car because of that.

Sold it with around 230K. LOVED that car and still wish I had it. Have owned all Honda Accords since!
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
3,489
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
My first car was a '71 Nova I inherited from my Grandma. It had too many quirks to even remember them all. I'll just list a few I remember.

The car was a 250 straight-six with 3-on-the-tree. The carburator was equipped with an idle-stop solenoid, supposedly to prevent run-on or "dieseling" when you shut off the car. The trouble was, the solenoid didn't work so the car would run on forever after you turn the key off, creating clouds of foul-smelling smoke. My "fix" was to stall the engine with the clutch while simultaneously turning off the key.

There were various wiring issues and the brake lights never worked. Not only that, but the turn signals didn't flash; they'd just come on steady. My "fix" was to manually flash the turn signal in the direction I wanted to go. And when I wanted to stop, I'd just turn on one of the turn signals constant. People following me just thought I had a taillight out! Once in awhile someone would come up to me at a light and tell me I had a taillight out, but I never got a ticket for it.

The column-mounted stick shift could be finicky at times and was very unforgiving of lazy or careless shifts. You had to be certain it was engaged all the way, or else it would make a bang and kick the car out of gear when you tried to let in the clutch. Once in a while I would get the whole linkage messed up such that I would have to open the hood, reach down, and un-jam itself by hand. This happened once on a really long, slow bumpy railroad crassing (like 6 tracks) and I had to stop right in the middle of the tracks to open the hood!

As it turned out, the car had severe rust issues. Grandma lived way back in the woods and I don't think the car ever saw sunshine. The trunk was becoming increasingly less-useful as rust holes grew in both size and number. And one day, I was driving along after a severe storm and I ran over a small branch on the road. The wheel kicked it up and the end of the branch poked up right through the passenger's side floorboard! In the end, I finally had to retire the car when the rear spring shackles punched through their mounts into the trunk. There was no longer any sheetmetal left to attach to.
My first car was a '63 Biscayne wagon that the dealer was unwilling to take in trade in 1972 when Dad bought a '67 Newport. It sat in the garage for a couple of years until I got my licence. Like yours, it had a straight-6 (230?) and 3-on-the-tree. And like yours, it used to hang up in 2nd gear when the linkage jammed. It also had rust issues. Good to see that GM made such progress between 1963 and 1971. :unsure:

Mine was too early to have the anti-dieseling solenoid, but I remember them well. '71 may have been the first year for them. I saw a lot of them adjusted incorrectly when working as a tune-up tech in 1980. And yes, you had the solution correct - shift into 3rd, foot firmly on the brake, and let out the clutch.
 

OVERKILL

$100 Site Donor 2021
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Messages
53,776
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Ontario, Canada
My first car was a 1974 Olds Cutlass Supreme. It was my grandmother's car. Only had it for about a year. We moved out east and it stayed at their farm and my grandfather in his infinite alcoholic wisdom sent it to the wreckers because he somehow got it into his head that I wasn't going to come back for it, despite me clearly indicating that I would. Came back the following summer and it was gone. I was not happy.

Car needed some body work but ran like a top. I had used Canadian Tire branded synthetic oil in it for its first oil change, which, at the time in the mid 90's would have been an Imperial Oil product (Esso, later part of ExxonMobil). It was silver with a black top. The vinyl had been removed so it was just shiny black with all black interior.

Looked very much like this one:
1974-olds-cutlass-supreme-2-door-coupe-84xx-miles-no-reserve-2.JPG
 
Joined
May 19, 2004
Messages
1,667
Location
Germantown, MD
1992 Saturn SC. Had the DOHC engine, for that initial model year they only sold the coupe that way so it didn't have the 1 or 2 in the model name that Saturn used over the years. Pretty fast, great 5 speed manual, comfortable, nice interior.

Excellent car, bought it for $6,500 in 1998 with about 50k miles, drove it until the clutch went around 185k in 2003. Drove a lot back in those days.

Weird feature was the manual roll up driver's window and power passenger window. Made a certain amount of sense.

jeff
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
Messages
3,586
Location
Western S.C.
My first was the '54 Chevy in my signature, a hand-me-down from my parents when they bought a new car and needed to unload the elderly car. They bought it new, and had commuted in it for years in all kinds of weather including deep snow, alternately dusty and muddy dirt roads, and floods up to the bottom of the doors. After its "ring job" at ~72k miles, valve adjustment had been neglected for about 40k miles, with the result that an exhaust valve burned soon before they gave it to me. A valve job, including one new valve, grinding the others, and a new heater hose cost me about $40, including labor.

An alignment shop refused to align it for me, citing worn king pins and inner A-arm hinges. (This car predated ball joints.) I replaced those myself---and was lucky the car didn't fall off the jack on me. Other than that, it was boring during the ~8000 miles I owned it, compared to some of the horror stories in this thread. I moved everything owned in it from northwestern Kentucky to northwestern Jersey, where local kids cracked a rear window with a BB gun. I got $35 for it in trade for a new Subaru. I wish I'd kept the owner's manual.

Occasionally the shift linkage jammed, as others have described above on later Chevrolets. Other brands of old 3-speed manual cars did that too, including my parents' 1959 Rambler.
 
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