What's The Worst Thing About Owning A Car?

Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock
Photo: Jalopnik / Elizabeth Blackstock

In my driveway, right now, I have four cars. If you combined them all together, I’d probably have the equivalent of one good, decently functioning vehicle — but even then, I doubt I’d have functional brakes. For me, that never-ending maintenance cycle is probably the worst thing about vehicle ownership; right when I think I’ve got one vehicle all sorted, the next one farts out. Today, I want us all to revel in the horrors of car ownership. Jalopnik readers, what do you find to be the worst part about owning a car?

The photo heading this story is of my beautiful 1996 Chevy Suburban. I love that beast to bits — and it has continually been a very big headache. When I first bought it, I ended up having to take it in for a full, very expensive suspension replacement. The husband and I managed to drive it across the entire United States and back, but in Texarkana, the starter died. We got it fixed, but then the battery just kept draining out. A year and a half later, the suspension got screwed up again.

Once the ‘Burb was all fixed up, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Thank the lord, I am finally done with auto maintenance.


And then my Mazda 2 started to fall apart. Thanks to the horrifying conditions of Texas’ eternally-under-construction I-35, I blew three of the four shocks just traveling at regular highway speed. In the process of replacing the brakes, my husband messed up the suspension. Then we realized that in order to fix that problem, we’d need to literally take the entire car apart — so we had to bring it into the shop for that. After dropping $700, I still couldn’t drive the damn thing because I got it home, looked at my tires, and realized I was rapidly approaching “racing slicks” territory. I finally just got the tires replaced, but now a new problem has come to the fore: I need new brakes, badly. But I can’t drive the Suburban in the meantime, because my battery has died (again), and I also need to take the damn thing in for its yearly registration renewal.

The never-ending, Sisyphean cycle of maintenance. That is the thing I hate most about owning a vehicle.

But Jalopnik readers, I know you all have great answers to this question, too. I know you’ve bought yourself a vehicle, only to discover the misery that is car ownership. Maybe you had one specific machine that was always prone to mechanical gremlins, or maybe no one told you how much it would realistically cost to drive your car of choice. Let us know all about your most heinous ownership experiences in the comments.

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