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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

11 Terrible Automotive Engineering Decisions

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11 Terrible Automotive Engineering Decisions

The world of cars is full of mistakes — nasty ones, dumb ones, even fun ones. Bangshift's Matt Cramer assembled this list of eleven of the worst automotive technological and engineering disasters.

Some bad designs are not immediately apparent. A material that works in the lab may take a couple of years to show to fail in the real world, or a safety flaw may only be obvious when a car gets crashed in a very specific way and catches fire. But sometimes, automotive designers come up with an idea so harebrained that you have to wonder how it didn't get nixed the first time it was shown to a boss, a coworker, or even a five-year-old kid. Here are eleven of the craziest designs to make it into production.

link:

http://jalopnik.com/5570865/11-terrible-automotive-engineering-decisions/gallery/

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SAmadei    224

Actually, that's one of the better lists I've seen lately. Can't argue with any of them or really add anything offhand.

Well, maybe in the future, heated windshield washer fluid might be looked back as one, considering the recall and fires its caused.

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Intrepidation    846

I can add one. An engine with a chain driven waterpump that's designed to leak into the crank case when its tarts to fail, thereby contaminating the oil and causing sludge. The 2.7

Also with the 2nd Gen LH cars: battery mounted in the fender well, below the air intake. First gens had it in a visible part of the the engine bay like a normal car.

First gens had an access panel for fuel pumps so you didn't have to drop the tank to get it out, 2nd gens lack this feature.

There is no air filter for the HVAC system, so crud gets into it and settles in the evaporator core box. Over time this debris causes the evaporator core to rot and leak, making your a/c system top holding a charge. Replacing it requires taking the entire dash out. Ever wonder why many Intrepids, Concordes, LHS, and 300Ms have their windows down in the warm weather? Now you know.

Any car maker who used rivets instead of bolts...I'm looking at you Ford.

Ford for using stupid plastic nut things that require a special tool to get off. These are used to secure the headlights. Why not just use...oh I don't know...a bolt?!

Companies that build interference engines so if the timing belt goes so does your engine.

VW for building this type of engine and timing belt tensioner that is prone to snap without warning in last gen Jettas.

VW for anything having to do with electronics.

Germans for anything to do with electronics

Britain for anything to do with reliability

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SAmadei    224

I can add one. An engine with a chain driven waterpump that's designed to leak into the crank case when its tarts to fail, thereby contaminating the oil and causing sludge. The 2.7

That makes me think that you could add the Dexcool problems GM had on the 3800. But thats more of a "Perfect Storm" problem...

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Blake Noble    146

The later generation F-Bodies have some glaring flaws.

  • Putting the damn fuel pump on the top side of the gas tank making the only means of access either through a hacked off piece of sheetmetal or by dropping the rear axle down. This is just as bad as the RX mentioned.
  • Making the tank a sort-of V-shape so that the fuel guage never reads right.
  • Here's a weird one: both my Firebird and the Camaro had/has a strange smell in the interior. I don't know what it is or how to really describe it. I first noticed the smell after a half naked drunk chick who puked every ten minutes rode in the backseat my Firebird once. I always attributed the smell to that until I started getting whiffs of it again in the Camaro. To this date, no partially nude, vomiting, intoxicating women have rode in the Camaro, so I don't know what decomposing chemical in what piece of plastic in the interior is responsible. Even more bizarre, second-generation F-Body cars have a similar stench.
  • Noisy power windows that always fail. Always. If it isn't the motor, it's the switches. It's a common problem to these cars. Who knows why the same power window motor that worked so well in the Chevy Astro works like shit on the F-Body cars.
  • Coil packs that always set off the "Oh, shit! Check yer engine" light. They're also not cheap to replace and sometimes they can fail no matter how brand new they are. The coil packs on the 3800-Series equipped F-Bodies always have a tendency to go bad because cooling to the back of the engine, where the packs are located, is very poor, more so on the Camaro than the Firebird due to it's bottom breather catfish mouth. You can help things a lot on the '98 and up 3.8 Camaros by popping out the plastic grille insert, which it looks better without anyway if you can ignore the holes (it even reads Camaro under there, so I'm inclined to believe the '98 Camaro was designed with that pop-in grille as an afterthought).

Then you have general GM flaws in general, like stock radios that always lose their backlighting.

Edited by whiteknight
  • Upvote 1

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SAmadei    224

The later generation F-Bodies have some glaring flaws.

Putting the damn fuel pump on the top side of the gas tank making the only means of access either through a hacked off piece of sheetmetal or by dropping the rear axle down. This is just as bad as the RX mentioned.

This is actually a very common GM problem in the FI era. Wasn't until 2000 or so that GM made access panels to get to the fuel pump common. Luckily, fuel pumps usually last longer than filters.

Noisy power windows that always fail. Always. If it isn't the motor, it's the switches. It's a common problem to these cars. Who knows why the same power window motor that worked so well in the Chevy Astro works like $h! on the F-Body cars.

The Astro vans I've looked at buying have had lots of malfunctioning window motors...

Anyway, this is pretty common in any 10+ year old GM car. The '88 Safari, '86 Buick LeSabre Estate, '98 Sunfire, '99 Bonneville, '81 Bonneville and both 3rd gen F-birds ('91 and '92) have needed power window help at some point or another. Only car that didn't... '95 Caprice... because its manual... but its binding up, so it'll break on day, too. LOL.

Then you have general GM flaws in general, like stock radios that always lose their backlighting.

Which isn't all that hard to fix, as long as you are handy with a soldering iron. ;-) Radio Shack stocks the bulbs.

Problem is, none of these things are in the realm of terrible. Throwing a rod might seem like a terrible engineering defect, if its on your car, requiring replacing virtually the entire engine... but it happens from time to time after enough mileage. The stuff in this list caused common or massive failure in less than 5-10 years.

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Blake Noble    146

This is actually a very common GM problem in the FI era. Wasn't until 2000 or so that GM made access panels to get to the fuel pump common. Luckily, fuel pumps usually last longer than filters.

Not in my case.

The Astro vans I've looked at buying have had lots of malfunctioning window motors...

Anyway, this is pretty common in any 10+ year old GM car. The '88 Safari, '86 Buick LeSabre Estate, '98 Sunfire, '99 Bonneville, '81 Bonneville and both 3rd gen F-birds ('91 and '92) have needed power window help at some point or another. Only car that didn't... '95 Caprice... because its manual... but its binding up, so it'll break on day, too. LOL.

Huh. I've yet to see an Astro without functioning power windows.

Which isn't all that hard to fix, as long as you are handy with a soldering iron. ;-) Radio Shack stocks the bulbs.

Ah, I don't think it's worth it in my case. The thing will barely read a CD anymore and I've tried cleaning it.

Problem is, none of these things are in the realm of terrible. Throwing a rod might seem like a terrible engineering defect, if its on your car, requiring replacing virtually the entire engine... but it happens from time to time after enough mileage. The stuff in this list caused common or massive failure in less than 5-10 years.

I didn't mean to imply that they were catastrophically terrible, but they are either very annoying or not cheap to repair or both.

Also, I didn't agree with the Rocket Fuel feature making the list. That one was due to owner neglect, not due to faulty engineering. I think the difference matters here.

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SAmadei    224

Also, I didn't agree with the Rocket Fuel feature making the list. That one was due to owner neglect, not due to faulty engineering. I think the difference matters here.

I somewhat agree, but I'm giving them a pass on that. The Jalopnik lists have been so atrocious lately, I feel getting one 91% on target is good.

As for the Rocket Fuel... well, later on GM was able to turbocharge without water injection. They could have turned the boost down early turbos and not required the Rocket Fuel... but then the turbo likely wouldn't have made enough of a difference in power for people to buy it. Classic technology before it was really ready for prime time.

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Cory Wolfe    263

VW for anything having to do with electronics.

Just to note, I've, personally, had far more electrical problems with GM vehicles than I have had with VW's. Most of VW's issues, atleast in Mk3's, are specific to certain parts. Sensors, window regulators, fuel pumps, timing chains, etc.

If I had to pick an example of poor engineering on my Mk3 Golf, it would be the thermostat and cooling system. The only way to drain and flush the coolant is the remove the thermostat. To remove the thermostat, you have to remove the water pump and to remove that, you have to remove all the belts.

One thing that isn't really specific to any certain manufacturer or model; Vehicles that require you to remove the headlight and alot of times, other parts just to change a bulb.

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fightingbee    2

Vehicles that require you to remove the headlight and alot of times, other parts just to change a bulb.

That one is only getting worse. I worked at a Saturn retailer when the Aura and Outlook were fairly new. I saw firsthand that they require the front fascia/bumper cover (Aura) or wheelhouse liner (Outlook) to be pulled loose to access the lamps.

The current Malibu and like some other newer GMs are geting that way also AFAIK. They seem to definately be off that 90's kick of trying to have many of those simple things easily doable and not needing tools.

Edited by fightingbee

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