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BangShift Question of the Day: What’s the Worst Engine You’ve Ever Owned?

BangShift Question of the Day: What’s the Worst Engine You’ve Ever Owned?

After a couple if years ago after realizing that the horrible engine in our former family truckster 2006 Pacifica consumed motor oil at roughly the same rate it consumed gasoline, I got to thinking about the worst engines I’ve owned in cars. Aside from a 305 powered demolition derby car that threw a rod through the pan while we were attempting to load it on the trailer, the awful, anemic, wheezing, tepid, weak, oil consuming V6 in the Pacifica is the worst internal combustion engine we have ever owned. A close second was the short ownership stint I had with an early Ford 6.0L diesel powered F350.

The more I thought about it, I’ve probably had a lot less opportunity to own a miserable engine than BangShifters who are more, um, experienced. Look, Chad and I have driven little crackerbox rental cars around for an entire weekends locked in first gear at nearly 7,000rpm and not only did they not care, they probably would have done it for a month and not cared.  Try that trick with virtually any engine made 20-35 years ago and you’d have an awesome pile of cast iron and aluminum pieces.

So, what’s the worst engine you’ve ever owned? (If you own a Chrysler Pacifica, we already know the answer.)

It seemed like such a good idea at the time!

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29 thoughts on “BangShift Question of the Day: What’s the Worst Engine You’ve Ever Owned?

  1. Weasel1

    I liked the Vega but the 140 overhead cam sucked the big one! the only other to come close was the Olds 350 diesel

  2. AndyB

    Early 80’s Ford 3.8 V6. Mostly because it wasn’t a 5.0, but also because if the rear main seal leaks at the right place, it sprays oil directly at the exhaust and winds up smoking like a chinese factory.

    Though the Ford 3.0 Vulcan could take the title away from it. When they’re tuned and running well, they make approximately the power of four yoked toddlers.

  3. Patricku

    Love my 6.0 Ford! Honestly, the worst engine I ever had the privelage of owning was my then new 2009 LMM Duramax. Plagued with injector issues, dpf issues and fuel filter housings that would randomly crack.

  4. Roger

    The 2.3L HSC (High Squirrel Content) 4 cylinder in my long gone ’85 Tempo. Didn’t have enough power to drive its way out of a wet paper bag. Didn’t complain tho as I paid only $80.00 for the car 🙂 .

  5. Brendan M

    My 97′ Kia Sephia was the most nutless boat anchor I ever owned. If you turned the a/c on while getting on the highway, I swear to God the thing would stop accelerating! I ended up trading it for a pallet of shingles. I definitely got the better end of that deal!

    1. stacy tettemer

      I rented one of those for a meeting in Los Angeles. It would not maintain 55MPH in the LA hills with 4 adults in it. It would not spin the tires when doing a nutural drop in a wet parking lot.

  6. Brett

    A hand-me-down ’91 Nissan packing a KA24E. Way to complicated and very expensive parts. Had it for a couple years running on only three cylinders and leaving a puddle of oil everywhere it went. Years later Mom admitted that she didn’t expect it to last the summer…
    The next vehicle was a ’79 G10 with a mild 350. Still can’t figure out why people waste time hopping up fours when even a junk V8 will make twice the power at a fraction of the cost.

  7. Gump

    305 that was in an S10. It was swapped in when I bought the truck. Was so gutless I got beat by an 80s v6 Camaro. Would do fair one wheel burnouts though.

  8. DanStokes

    Probably the Vega 4 or maybe the Olds Diesel (sorta) in the C10 pickup. However, both of those were only expected to run long enough to drive them home and get pulled so no big deal. The Vega got a 215CID aluminum Buick and the Chevy got a BBB.


  9. oldguy

    Worst – late 60’s Peugeot 4 cyl -was told they blew oil seals w/ no recovery…
    Then I had the one I had do it – Impressive if you wanted to kill wildlife
    but an interesting car – 4 on the tree , front seat pulled forward , the seat back went flat and the whole interior turned into a flat ‘ bed ‘

    As to the 20xx chryster v6 sludge motor – my wife blew up my 93 Cherokee 4.0 6cyl
    ,sent her shopping for wheels – local dealer I knew has a nice 06 Sebring w/the sludgy v6 for a little more than I wanted to spend – over the phone I had her look him in the eye and tell him I would buy the car IF he’d replaced the motor WHEN it blew , not if . He declined …..

  10. Dave

    1975 dodge 225 slant six. 90 hp downhill with a tailwind. Stalled every time you made a sharp left turn. If it sat out in the rain overnight, it would not start until the weather cleared and the humidity went down. Center cylinders would run okay but outside cylinders were so lean due to long intake runners that they ruined plugs. Center plugs fouled as they were too rich. Passing required a mile long run to build speed. Carb would ice up in the winter as the hear riser was not effective. God, what a pile of crap that was. Took me years of therapy to get over it.

  11. John T

    2 come to mind… we bought a $400 Renault 12 something in the middle of summer cos it had a full length sunroof – after a 30 minute drive it totally shit itself and sounded like somebody had filled the sump with gravel. It died outside a European specialist wrecking yard 3 hours after we bought it and we flogged it for $200. The other one was a Holden 253 V8. Gutless heap that got about 12 mpg and had virtually no power in a panel van…hateful lump of crap.

  12. Mark Crisler

    My current 3.3L v6 in my 6500 lbs nissan crew Cab even supercharged it overheats all summer and goes into limp mode and no one can figure out why?
    But they will run 300k before the bottom end dies. So the winner is the 2000-2004 Dodge 4.7 in the Durango and Dakota. It craps the valve seat down onto the piston causing the valve to bend the connecting rod and toast the motor. I had two do the same thing in a year

  13. John J

    1974 Ford Courier with the 1.8. Timing chain rattled, fixed that then it threw a rod out the side of the block on the freeway, Fixed that motor then I burned the exhaust valve. Maybe part of it was to blame on the 16 year old driver trying to hot rod it. But that motor was the worst I ever had.

  14. Go

    62 ford falcon wagon. The whole car was junk. Rebuilt the engine at 50,000 miles. By 62,000 it was smoking and wheezing again. It’d gone thru 3 transmissions & 2 rear ends.
    I pulled the engine and trans, cut the top off & converted it to a trailer. Used it for years, then the CHP told me it was too ugly & to keep it off the road.
    &. To my horror, they built mustangs on that chassis.

  15. Norse

    Chevy 305
    Mopar 2.2 turbo
    Any aluminum 4 in a Vega
    Olds 350 diesel
    and the Ford 6.0 diesel (any engine that requires the cab lifted off the chassis because the head bolts stretch and require replacement is beyond inexcusable).

  16. c502cid

    260 Olds V-8 In a Cutlass. Made matter worse it had something like 220 rear end gears. I could walk faster.

  17. Donnie

    1985 Ford 351 EFI. Going up a hill pulling the boat I thought I was going to have to get out and push. I’m a Ford guy but what a pile of crap.

  18. Doug

    1970 Pinto \’Barbeque Model\” small rear window. 1600 cc baseline engine….cam in block. 1/4 mile performance 22.50 sec @ 55 mph. with 4 speed shifting at 5000 RPM. . So sad were we…….. cruising..with $5.. $3 dollars in gas…$2 for 2 McDonald French Fires………cursing to pick up chicks. Guess how we did…… 🙂

  19. Casey Moir

    My 1971 Mazda RX-2. Ran smooth but used oil constantly and blew the rotor housing water seals at 32K. Super poor gas mileage too. I mean a tiny first gen toyota corolla size car that gets 17 miles to the gallon? I rebuilt the engine myself at my fraternity and it ran 3 more years! Actually ended up rebuilding 300 of them putting myself thru college. People scrapped the car if it needed engine rebuild #2, that’s why they are so rare now for the enthusiasts.

  20. Danno

    In 1974 my old man purchased a brand new 1974 Mercury Vomit. It was the first year for full on smog controls in US built cars. It had a straight six right out of the 1950’s. I don’t know what the CI it was ’cause it really doesn’t matter. For those old dudes like me you remember that this was the first year for full on smog controls on card in the US. The only way the US mfg’s knew how to meet emissions was to lower compression ratios down to nothing on top of all the new smog controls. If that wasn’t bad enough the old man ordered it with an auto trans, AC, PS and PB cause it was going to be my mother’s car and he was trying to balance his being a tight wad with some semblance of comfort. To call that POS gutless is like saying Dolly Parton has big boobs. I once stopped with back tires in a wet, slime filled gutter and tried power jacking it. Sat there for about a minute with that pig just grunting away. Nothing. Absolutely could not even spin the one 6″ right rear tire (no posi of course).

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