Home Cars 25 Cars That Are Dangerous To Drive

25 Cars That Are Dangerous To Drive

Vukasin Herbez November 21, 2017

14. Ford Explorer

As one of the first popular SUV models, Explorer from early the ’90s was the typical example of the concept. Big, powerful, luxurious, and capable, it could carry its passengers with ease over any terrain. Or, at least it looked like it could. Despite its popularity, the alarming reports of instability and tendencies to roll over plagued the market and the car public.

Apparently, the Explorer was unstable stable at sharp turns and high speeds, causing numerous crashes, deaths and injuries. The story slowly unfolded and Ford admitted they had concerns regarding stability and road holding. However, Firestone, Ford’s tire manufacturer, ensured that they could solve the problem by deflating the tires below the recommended limit. Ford did that, but the situation got even worse, evolving into a major scandal with Ford and Firestone as the main culprits

The aftermath of this scandal was a massive recall of Ford Explorers and a sharp decline in the stock prices of both companies. They also faced big penalties, lawsuits and a loss of reputation. Sadly, drivers didn’t need to drive fast for the Explorer to be dangerous. Even at low speeds, it was unstable when drivers attempted to turn.

13. Volkswagen Beetle

You must think that we are joking, but we aren’t. The VW Beetle could easily kill you despite the fact it only has a 34 horsepower flat-four engine. The trick with the Beetle is not in speed or power since the car has none of it. It is the suspension and construction. Drivers need to know they are dealing with 1930’s technology in the case of the VW Beetle.

The first problem is the swing-axle suspension. It is durable and tough, but it also has a lot of tire travel. Also, it is sensitive to high-speed cornering, change of direction and even crosswinds. When you drive the Beetle, you can feel the body roll. Even worse, if you are forced to change direction suddenly, chances are you will lose control and crash.

The second problem is the weight distribution as the majority of the Beetle’s weight is located in the back where the engine and the gearbox are. The front of the car is light, especially when the fuel tank is empty. This means the Beetle has less grip on the front wheels, which can cause understeer issues on slippery surfaces.

12. Toyota MR2

The third generation of Toyota’s legendary mid-engine convertible entered the car market in 1999. It immediately became one of the best small and affordable sports cars on the market. The technical layout was the same. The MR2 had compact dimensions, a mid-positioned engine, rear-wheel drive and sharp handling. However, despite the efforts of the engineers, the third generation MR2 was a handful to drive at high speeds. It soon earned the nickname “widowmaker.”

The MR2 was lightweight and came with a 1.8-liter, 140 HP engine. This may not sound like a big deal today, but 20 years ago, it was a decent power figure. The MR2 even managed to get from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds which is fast for a small car.

Unfortunately, when driving at the speed limit, the rear end had a tendency to step out into sharp oversteer. This caught many drivers by surprise. Also, since the MR2 was an open-top car without a roll bar and modern electronic aids, the rollover could be fatal for passengers.

11. Yugo GV

Back in the late ’80s, the ex-Yugoslav car manufacturer, Crvena Zastava attempted to enter the American market with their compact model, the Yugo. The Yugo was an attractive three-door hatchback they built on a Fiat 127 base. But it also came with some improvements in design and technology. Under the hood was a 1.1-liter four-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection. But for the U.S. market, the buyers got better equipment, a radio, and even AC as an option.

From today’s standpoint, the Yugo was a basic and even a primitive car. However, for the middle of the ’80s, it was a decent proposition and a solution to the economy car dilemma. The Fiat mechanics were relatively common in the U.S. since Fiat has just left the American marketplace in the early ’80s. So, why did the Yugo receive such bad reviews from Consumer Reports back in the day?

The reason was simple: driving dynamics and quality. Both were horrible, even by the standards of the day. The engine sent 65 HP to the front wheels over a badly assembled five-speed manual gearbox. The performance was painfully slow, but that is not the worst thing. Also, the fit and finish were bad.

And to make things worse, Yugo importer, Malcolm Bricklin didn’t import enough spare parts. So, if your Yugo broke down, and eventually they all did, the spare parts traveled for months from Yugoslavia to America. Despite that, the Yugo was somewhat of a sales success because they sold over 40,000 of them. The $4,000 price tag was one of the reasons. The Yugo was the most affordable automobile for sale in America when they introduced it.

10. Cadillac 8-6-4 Engine

Back in the early ’80s when fuel efficiency and cost savings were imperatives in the car game, manufacturers experimented with various engines and drivetrains. So, Oldsmobile went the diesel route by introducing the notoriously bad 4.3-liter V8 and then the slightly better 5.7-liter V8. However, Cadillac decided to install fancy electronic cylinder deactivation systems on their gasoline V8s.

The idea was like today’s modern systems in many models with big engines. When cruising around town, the car used only four cylinders and the rest deactivated electronically. This stopped the fuel delivery and shut down the spark plugs. When the driver needed more power, two more cylinders activated, making the engine a V6. And when the throttle was pushed to the end, all eight would fire up to deliver full power.

Everything worked great on paper, at least, so their customers were interested. However, as soon as they delivered the first cars, the problems started. Simply, the electronic system was terribly unreliable, so the engine tended to get stuck in one mode, often as a four-cylinder. After a few years on the market, Cadillac discontinued this option. It took them a long time to recover from their lost reputation.

9. Oldsmobile Cutlass Diesel

In the late ’70s, American manufacturers were all about fuel efficiency and downsizing. The era of big cruisers and powerful gasoline engines of the ’60s was gone. Everybody was trying to find a way to introduce new, innovative technologies. Oldsmobile was at the forefront of this new trend with the introduction of the diesel engine in passenger cars. In those days, American buyers were unaware they could use diesel fuel for their cars.

European customers already had a couple of diesel cars on the market, but for the U.S., this was new. Oldsmobile introduced the 4.3-liter V8 diesel engine as an option for the Cutlass line. Soon this model was subject to enormous amounts of recalls and engine swaps. Simply, the 4.3-liter had the tendency to explode and shatter during normal driving.

The passengers weren’t hurt, but the car was unusable and good only for scrap. Oldsmobile later introduced the 5.7-liter diesel, which was somewhat better and more durable. However, most people consider the 4.3-liter to be the worst diesel engine in history.

8. Chevrolet Corvair

In the late ’50s, Chevrolet presented the Corvair, a revolutionary compact car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled, flat-six engine. This was a big step for Chevrolet since the Corvair sat totally opposite of other cars from the company. It featured a different concept, technology and design. However, for a couple of years, it looked like everything was okay with the Corvair. The sales were good until the book, Unsafe at Any Speed, hit bookstores across the country, causing big problems for GM.

The book’s author, Ralph Nader, was a consumer advocate who found classified documents showing the Corvair was the reason for many car accidents, some even with fatal outcomes. Apparently, the engine in the back of the car caused the Corvair to have problematic handling. Chevrolet was aware of the issues but didn’t want to invest money in additional stabilizer bars and suspension modifications. Soon, the book gained attention, so the public demanded answers while drivers continued to report crashes with the Corvair.

Later, Chevrolet was involved in government hearings where they admitted their executives knew something about the matter. They ended up paying a settlement and promising to invest money in safety research. In the end, Corvair sales were non-existent, so they discontinued the model in 1969.

7. Audi 5000

Today, Audi is one of the leading luxury brands in the American market. But in the late ’80s, the company was almost gone from U.S. shores. This was due to the news of unintended acceleration and numerous crashes with the Audi 5000. But, in 1986, the popular CBS TV show, 60 Minutes, ran a feature about the unintended acceleration with the 5000 models.

What the viewers didn’t see was that they rigged the car. The acceleration they featured in the show wasn’t genuine. After the show aired, the car community was buzzing, badly damaging Audi’s reputation. Audi responded by publishing numerous tests and videos showing the only way unintended acceleration occurred was if the driver’s foot slipped from the brake to the accelerator pedal.

However, that didn’t help, so their sales hit rock bottom. Despite the fact 60 Minutes published a false story and they proved Audi didn’t have acceleration problems, the damage was done. It took the company two decades to recover. It is still unclear why CBS did that feature. Many people wonder if another rival car company was behind it.

6. Car Equipped with Takata Airbags

The Takata case is still open and it could be the biggest recall case in the history of the car industry. From 2000 to 2008, the Japanese company, Takata produced at least 17 million airbags for millions of cars. In fact, Takata supplied 10 of the biggest car companies in the world, which made things even worse.

The problem with the airbags was that under specific circumstances like moisture or heat, they could suddenly deploy, causing a small explosion inside the car. Since the airbag is in a metal container, pieces could injure or even kill passengers when something like this happens. All 10 of the world’s biggest carmakers are working together to resolve the issue. However, experts say that over 30 million cars could be affected.

5. Porsche 930 Turbo

The 930 Turbo gets 260 HP from its 3.0-liter flat-six, along with its signature air cooling, big rear wing and wider rear track. However, it is notorious for its ill-handling capabilities. But, it delivered an exhilarating performance in a time when performance cars were almost banned.

Also, the 930 Turbo launched a legendary breed of lighting fast Porsches. Yes, it’s an iconic car for sure, but do you want it in the hands of a novice driver? That would be scary.

4. Chevrolet Aveo

So far you are probably thinking that young drivers should drive slow, boring and affordable cars and you are somewhat right. However, the Chevrolet Aveo as a small, inexpensive and slow car is not the answer. The reasons are simple.

The Chevrolet Aveo is too slow, so it is dangerous. It is also poorly equipped, terribly put together and doesn’t handle that well. So, if you going to put your young driver into an economy car, make it a good one at least.

3. Mitsubishi Mirage

It is no secret the Mitsubishi car company has been in financial trouble for years. Their lineup of models is outdated, so some of their models have fallen out of fashion. They haven’t introduced anything new or interesting in decades. Long gone are the days when Mitsubishi was one of the most popular, active Japanese brands on the global market.

The Renault-Nissan corporation bought a significant percentage of the company. But they may only use the plants for their own products and will probably not invest in reviving the Mitsubishi name. However, one of the recent introductions is a sub-compact model they call the Mirage. Available as a five-door hatchback or a compact four-door sedan, the Mirage is affordable, starting just above $13,000.

But, for that kind of money, you can’t expect much, so the Mirage comes with limited equipment and a slow three-cylinder engine. The transmission choice is between a manual and a slow-shifting automatic, and the power goes to the front wheels. Although the Mirage is basic transportation, so nobody should expect much, Consumer Reports disliked its interior design and materials, as well as its painfully slow performance and quality.

2. Suzuki Samurai

Suzuki’s compact and capable off-roader, the Samurai, was an inexpensive alternative to bigger, more expensive terrain vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler. Suzuki introduced this vehicle in 1985. The Samurai was a strong seller until Consumer Reports discovered one fatal design flaw. It even caused a big recall and hurt the reputation of the brand.

Apparently, due to its short wheelbase and high center of gravity, the Samurai was prone to rolling over at high speeds. This caused many crashes, injuries and even fatal outcomes. Consumer Reports claimed the Samurai’s stability was alarmingly below average. So, Suzuki responded by recalling over 150,000 vehicles.

Several lawsuits were filed against the carmaker, some of which lasted until 2004. Eventually, they settled the matter, but Suzuki lost its position on the U.S. market. Sadly, they stopped selling cars in America back in 2012.

1. AMC Ambassador

In the late 60s, the American Motors Company was doing well. This was despite being the only independent domestic manufacturer under attack from Detroit’s Big Three: GM, Ford and Chrysler. Their economy car lineup was doing well on the market. And, AMC even entered the lucrative muscle car segment with the Javelin and the AMX.

However, the new Ambassador model was highly anticipated since AMC promised a modern design and powerful engines. They also offered a high level of standard equipment. In fact, the 1968 Ambassador was the first car to offer air conditioning as standard equipment. This was a big deal for the late ’60s. The future looked great for AMC until Consumer Reports tested the car and found several alarming things.

First, the quality was terrible. The body panels were loose-fitting and the interior looked like it would fall apart. Second, the poorly-installed fuel filler neck spilled gasoline all over the car and the road under heavy braking. Consumer Reports finally concluded the testing, finding the quality so poor the car was unsafe to drive. AMC responded by fixing the quality, but the problems lasted until the end of the company in the mid-80s.


All the cars on this list represent a good idea gone bad. They were dangerous – and even deadly. If you see one of these on your local used car lot, run for the hills.

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