The Ford Motor Company has been around since 1908, when the Model T was introduced and revolutionized the world. However, even with the long tenure that the brand has had throughout the years, it isn’t without many different flaws that have riddled their cars in every decade since.
There have been some extremely bad examples of Ford vehicles that have been built throughout the years and today we are going to look into 25 of the worst Ford vehicles that will end up in the junkyard. Each of these has had numerous problems which range from simple engine failure to transmission problems, to brakes and much more.
You can’t have a Ford vehicle on this list without mentioning occasional unintended acceleration, as well. Each of these problems has made these cars more prone to be in the junkyard rather than driving on the street, which gives us a stronger look into the quality of cars that Ford has produced.
However, there are a few surprises on this list that you might not expect, including some extremely iconic cars that we’ve deemed are more junkyard-worthy due to the nature of the problems that they commonly have. While you might not expect these, each of the cars that have been selected for our list of 25 of the worst cars built by Ford that will end up in the junkyard has had problems that have spanned many generations of Ford automobiles, starting from the beginning of the brand.
The Ford Gran Torino Elite was a car that essentially was created as a higher trim of the regular Gran Torino. However, this one wasn’t without its flaws. From low gas mileage to the lack of safety equipment, you were more likely to end up crashing than to be happily driving down the road. Along with a slew of other problems like motor failure, this car never was roadworthy but rather was junkyard-worthy, which lands it on our list.
In 1993, Ford decided it was going to be a good idea to partner with both Mazda and Kia to release a compact car for the US. Where the design for the Ford Aspire wasn’t original at all, the Mazda and Kia counterparts equally had issues with nearly every aspect of the cars. From lackluster styling to reliability problems with the motor, the Ford Aspire was more worthy for the junkyard. However, Ford quickly learned and discontinued the car shortly after its negative response.
Where the Ford Edsel might seem like an iconic car of the era when it was produced, it actually was one of the worst cars produced by Ford during the time period. Keep in mind, this was the era that landed Ford among the worst of this country's auto manufacturers, even though they were one of the only ones in the US. However, the Edsel was nothing more than a Lincoln. This attempted to add the luxury of the Lincoln brand but it solely ended up being a money pit for the two brands, causing this car to not sell at all.
Now here is an interesting car: the Ford Probe. It is a little-known fact that the Probe was supposed to be the replacement for the Mustang. Where Ford fell on its face was in trying to replace the Mustang, in general. From the styling errors that the Probe had to a lack of performance, the car quickly dissipated as Ford cut production of the model line in 1997. However, the cars stopped being seen on the road as common problems rendered them unable to work any more. This gave the junkyards more of these to go around.
The Ford Mustang II was the attempt at continuing a legacy that the original Mustang created for the Ford brand. But like many cars that they have produced, it wasn’t without many flaws. The main problem was that it shared designs and a similar platform with the equally bad Ford Pinto. Now, the Pinto we will get into a bit later, however, the Mustang II wasn’t powerful like the original, and came with the common problems from Ford at the time, including engine failure, transmission failure, and more. Even during their time, these weren’t sought after like a classic Mustang by buyers wanting performance.
The Pinto is a car that has been the joke of the Ford Motor Company since its inception in 1971. This car was, by far, one of the worst cars ever made by Ford. Not only did it has very bland styling but the car ran with more problems than any mechanic would ever want to see. This car would randomly catch fire. The sole source of this problem wasn’t known for the longest time, however, a combination of faulty wiring and poor design were the most likely culprits for this junkyard machine. Even today, the Pinto is considered one of the worst cars ever built by any brand.
During the 1990s Ford had slowly been turning itself around as a brand. They were innovating and working to create cars that would last longer. However, one car was a big miss when it came to this thought process: the Ford Explorer. Keep in mind that this was one of the first SUVs that was made by Ford in a long time, however, it continued to have problems. From being too top heavy to having problems with tires exploding and even being based on a truck design, this SUV wasn’t on the road long during the decade. In fact, it wasn’t until a major redesign during the early 2000s that these problems somewhat halted.
Ford, as you can see, has not been doing the best with their cars over the years. And the Ford Fairmont, unfortunately, isn’t much different. This one, designed and produced from 1978 to 1983, was nothing short than a junkyard car. From its dull design to poor fuel economy and the common Ford problems, this car was one that never truly made it off the showroom floor. When you start finding common problems with all of the cars that are being made, then it is time to start stepping away because yours will probably end up in the junkyard too.
The Ford Thunderbird has always been a car that we wanted to love due to its original model. However, since its inception, the models that followed never have been very good. The 1980-1982 model was a perfect example of this. In general, the car was basically a Fairmont, which already was a huge drawback since that one already has made our list earlier. However, with very few updated styling pieces and the same problems that the Fairmont had, the Thunderbird was a car that never caught on, which led to its slow demise in the junkyards around the country.
During the 1980s, Ford was trying to establish an identity as an automaker. However, that led to many different experiments into what would work in the US market for auto buyers. One of those attempts was the Ford EXP. This car was meant to be a small compact car that had futuristic styling which Ford hoped would attract buyers. However, this car was also paired with an extremely small and weak engine, poor design, and weak sales. When you get weak sales, you always end up finding more of these in junkyards than on the showroom floor, especially since this car was meant to be Ford’s solution for the oil crisis of the time, as well.
The original Ford Tempo was a car that, again, was built while Ford still was trying to find who they were as a brand. This car had so many problems right off the showroom floor that it wasn’t long until the car was cut out completely. From problems like major recalls to unintended acceleration, faulty ignition, and, oftentimes, fires, the Tempo had a Ford Pinto feel because there were so many issues that were completely unsafe for the general public. Plus, during this time, all of the automakers were trying to find an edge over each other and Ford missed the mark with this.
In 1996, Ford introduced another car to its lineup, the Ford Taurus. Where this wasn’t the original version of the car, it surely was new to the lineup that Ford offered. However, this Taurus was riddled with a slew of problems. Like other manufacturers in the 1990s, Ford used many plastic components in the interior of the cars. In the Taurus, these would even start breaking when the car was still considered brand new. This led to weakened sales and less trust in the brand than ever before, with the quality slowly falling further.
Where some might think the 1990s Ford Escort was an iconic car, there are a few flaws with the base model that landed them in the junkyards. The 1990 model, specifically, was one that never really caught traction with US-based buyers. This car had a ton of noise problems in the interior and it was as if the car wasn’t fully finished being designed when it was released. This left us with an unrefined version of a car that ultimately became another one of the brand's forgotten vehicles of the 1990s.
The 1984 Ford Bronco II was yet another attempt at coming out with a car that was already proven. The original Bronco was an SUV that ended up being extremely iconic. However, with the release of the Bronco II, there were many issues that plagued the owners of this SUV. To start, the ability for the SUV to roll over quite easily led to accidents, leading to serious injuries. This not only sent those cars to the junkyard but led other owners of the vehicle to abandon ship and get out while they were already ahead.
By far, one of the most iconic cars that Ford ever produced was the Ford Model T. It paved the way for a new era of the automobile in the States. Not only did it change the country, but it helped usher us into the industrial revolution as well. However, as iconic of a car as it is, the Model T actually wasn’t a great car. There were very few things that made the car safe at all. In fact, the Model T didn’t have front brakes, at all. This led to a ton of accidents and injuries, which led to the beginning of junkyards in the US.
Stepping forward nearly a century, we have the 2010 Ford Flex. This car was one of the worst cars that the brand built, from the standpoint of mechanical reliability. These cars, outside of the styling issues that they had, had a number of engine and transmission problems. The most common was when the engine would fail at 73,000 miles and the transmission would fail at 97,000 miles. During an era where you have cars reaching well over 200,000 miles on the original engine and transmission, this was absolutely unacceptable and made these worthy of the junkyard.
The Ford F-150 has been one of the best-selling pickup trucks in the entire world for many years. However, this does not make it the most reliable truck ever built. In fact, during the 2004-2005 model year, the truck was one of the least reliable vehicles in the world. During this time, the truck had a slew of problems that landed them in the junkyards around the country. Problems like the spark plugs breaking into the head, power window failure, and the most common one, transmission failure. This gave the best-selling truck the reputation of being extremely unreliable when it comes to vehicles of the time.
Continuing on with Ford trucks, the F-250 during the 2006-2008 model years was another one that ended up having more problems than most cars of the time. Similar to the issues that the F-150 had during the same model years, there were some catastrophic differences that made the F-250 extremely unreliable. This truck had issues that were much more related to safety than the F-150, from unintended acceleration to premature braking, and even engine failure. These gave the F-250 a less than roadworthy appearance in the world of automobiles.
The 2006 Ford Escape was another one of the SUVs and trucks of that Ford produced that wasn’t very good at all. This car, believe it or not, shared almost the same platform as the others, which led to having many similar issues that the others had during the time. Transmission and engine failure were a few of the problems that plagued the first version of the Ford Escape during its first production run. These alone attributed to many of the Ford Escape models ending up in the junkyard for mechanical reasons.
Ford never was known for making minivans, however, in 2003, they began production on the Windstar. This was their attempt at stepping into the minivan game and competing with the likes of Dodge and other manufacturers who had dominated that market. However, the Windstar never was a van that made a ton of sense. Small issues like the common transmission failure landed these in the junkyard versus on the road. Finding that the issues of these far outweighed the attempts that Ford was making, the minivan was soon cut from production.
Especially today, the Ford Focus is a car that we’ve all started to accept as a pretty good car. However, that was not the case in 2000. The Ford Focus was a car that wasn’t necessarily good from the factory during the time. Where they had the ST and RS models, those never landed on US soil in the early years. Given the cheap interior that the cars actually had, plus an unreliable four-cylinder engine, these cars ended up being in the shop much more than they were actually on the road. Unfortunately, these are some of the cars you rarely see anymore due to these issues.
Another car that was quite strange during the time was the Ford Contour. This car actually was a mix between an Escort and a Focus. Styling that was tied into both, even from the start, made this car quite confusing for the US buyer of the time. However, this car had an extremely common problem which we have seen with a lot of Ford vehicles on the list. The engine was almost guaranteed to fail by 73,000 miles. With this problem being quite common for the Ford vehicles, it isn’t surprising that we see these only in the junkyard now.
Another one of the Ford Tempo models made it to our list today. This time, it is the 1990 model year, which we have touched on slightly earlier. However, the 1990 model of the Ford Tempo ran with a number of issues that similar cars that Ford produced in that era had. From interior pieces breaking right off on the showroom floor to various handling and safety problems, this Tempo was one that was seemingly made to head to the junkyard. Unfortunately, this was the demise of the car, as Ford never produced another Tempo afterward.
During the 2000s, Ford was slowly working on getting their act together with regards to the reliability of the vehicles that they release to the public. However, then came one of the strangest attempts at a successful SUV in the history of automakers. The Ford Excursion was an SUV that was absolutely massive. Keep in mind, this SUV was nearly 19 feet long and weighed a whopping 7,000 pounds. This alone led to many issues with all three engine types that were offered: the V8, V10, and turbo diesel. This also was an issue for many shops as their lifts, unless you had a super heavy duty one, wouldn’t hold the SUV up in order to service it.
Rounding off our list is a car that we never ended up getting in the States during the time. However, this was the Ford Fiesta of 1978-1980. This car was absolutely tiny, yet another attempt at Ford producing a compact car for markets outside of the US. However, due to many issues, especially with the 54-hp engine, this car never even made it to the US. Where many cars actually have been reliable that Ford has made outside of the States, they didn’t fare too well with the Fiesta. Unfortunately, we were left with the junkyards around the world being filled with them.
Sources: The Truth About Cars, Roadkill, Autoweek, and Junkyard Collection.