Hooniverse Asks: What's the Worst Thing You've Ever Accidentally Left in a Car? (Don't Say a Baby)

Do you remember that clams and linguini your had that time at the Olive Garden? Sure you remember it – at least now – because you originally forgot it in your car turning it into the olfactory equivalent of a punch in the face.
I think the worst thing that was ever left in one of my cars was a package of crayons on the fabric upholstery of my old Dodge Neon. It was a hot day and eventually Strawberry Red merged with Cadet Blue and Carbon Black to make a new color that had yet to be named. That was a fun clean up.
What about you, have you ever accidentally left something important in your car, with calamitous results?
Image: Roosevelt

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  1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    rice pudding.
    on a 95F day.

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      So, nothing of value (or deliciousness*) was lost.
      *confirmed hater of rice pudding here.

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    Road trip to Mexico with 3 others as a teen to take advantage of a different set of drinking laws, somebody had an unopened bottle of hooch break in the cargo section of the hatchback. The car stunk like Otis the Drunk for a month afterwards, including when we passed through Customs.

  3. Vavon Avatar

    A smelly cheese… In the scorching sun..

  4. Maymar Avatar

    The keys.
    In the ignition.
    While the car was running.
    Multiple times.
    In my defense, I think most of those incidences happened with cars with screwy locks, or over-active autolocking I was unaware of.
    I did also leave a growler of beer in the trunk, in Lake Placid, in December. Thankfully I had a plastic mat back there, but I mourned the loss of the beer.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I have left the keys in the ignition or the door many times myself. Fortunately, I have no self-locking car. But it is weird to get back to the car, fumbling for my keys, and…”are they in the f* door?”. Just luck that I live in a full employment area were everybody is too busy to steal cars.

    2. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

      I’ve left my keys in the door of my house, shut the door, locked it and gone to bed, only to search desperately for my keys in the morning trying to get to work.
      I am blonde though.

    3. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Locked myself out of a running car? Yep. Only did it once, but it was in 1980, before anybody had cell phones.
      The bad news was it was in the middle of the street.
      The good news was it was on a lightly-trafficked back road at 12:30 AM.
      …Wait, that’s not really good news, is it?

      1. irishzombieman Avatar

        The other not-good good news was how cheap windows were back in the day.

        1. Tanshanomi Avatar

          I actually left the car (running, with the lights on) and walked a couple of miles back to my girlfriend’s house to borrow a coat hanger.
          …back when hangers were wire, and would easily open a car door.

          1. irishzombieman Avatar

            HA! Makes us all wonder why you stopped in the middle of both the night and the road (though I’ve got a pretty good guess).
            Locked my keys in the truck (96 Chevy) while camping last summer. I never do this unless I’m at least ten miles help. I was seriously considering which window would be easiest to replace.
            Long story truncated, we got the passenger door open through the driver’s-side extended cab window using a tent pole and paracord rigged through the passenger grab bar. Took two hours to come up with that solution.
            Now I’ve got a Slim Jim hidden in the frame with hard-drive magnets, because if that back pop-out window hadn’t been open, it would’ve been smash time.

          2. Tanshanomi Avatar

            Actually, I was headed home from my girlfriend’s house (alone) and came upon a fallen limb blocking the road. I got out to move it and and was in the habit of slapping the lock button before shutting the door on my ’72 Chevelle…

          3. Vairship Avatar

            Ha, I did something similar: I’d been out backpacking with a group and was the last one to leave. On the about one hour drive on the dirt road in the Sierra Nevada back to the highway, there was a beautiful view so i jumped out to take a picture. I left the engine running and simply closed (but didn’t lock) the door behind me. Unfortunately, the seatbelt buckle got caught in the closing door and jammed it enough that the outside handle was completely unable to budge the door. Of course the passenger side door and hatch were locked. Eventually I managed to worm my hand through the window that was open just a bit (never seen car glass bend that far), and pulling on the inside door handle opened the door. I guess the inside door handle had just that bit more leverage to jar the mechanism free.

  5. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    I camped in the infield at Lime Rock in 2009 for the ALMS weekend. It rained in biblical proportions. Thankfully my tent remained watertight, but it had felt like we were on a water bed from the water that was beneath us.
    In the middle of the night I had gotten out of my tent to make sure we weren’t going to float away. In the process I got drenched to the bone. Rather than strip and bring soaking wet clothes into the tent, i threw them in the hatch of my tC.
    The next day was easily 85 degrees in some of the brightest sun I have ever seen in Connecticut.
    When we got back from watching the race all of my windows were steamed over and a hot, gross, wet film covering everything inside.
    It was a great race though.
    Side note: We had it much better than people down the hill from us. A few groups had water in their cars, others were 7-8″ under water, so their tents filled and all of their clothes had to be hung out to dry. It was a real mess.

  6. uhoh! Avatar

    my underwear. I took them off because it was hot and they were clingy. then I forgot about them. teehee

  7. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    I’ve had the exact opposite of the top picture happen with similar results. On particularly hot, sunny day, a can of Lipton Brisk exploded in the Maxima that I had at the time.

  8. Sjalabais Avatar

    Camping in Norther Norway, close to the Lofoten. Illustration:
    We happened to park the car with camping gear at the bottom, freshly bought food on top and all kinds of stuff thrown around outside a restaurant. We were to eat like civilised people for the last time in a week. Well…when we came back, the sun had come out. A 500g package of butter had melted completely, floated out of its paper package and the plastic bag it was lying on top of, over a backpack, into the wee tiny space between window and plastic interior, as well as on the carpet in the boot. Got to say, I’m happy it was not my car.

    1. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

      On the positive side, that plastic trim piece will never squeak.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        That’s the exact same thing my comrade said back then. Also, with the soap running into the frame and doors, I guess his old Mazda got some sort of accidental rust-proofing right there.

  9. Hiroshi Avatar

    Not me, but my ex-wife left her delicious Pepsi in a cup in our SUV. I went out to grab something from it when she got home from work and took a sip of said delicious Pepsi. Then I gagged when I realized she’d ashed her cigarette in the cup. Yuck!

  10. quattrovalvole Avatar

    I never left anything in my car that made me regret it, but that’s only because I learn from my Dad’s past mistake.
    This is what he once left in his car for an afternoon, in SE Asia where it’s freaking hot AND humid.
    The car ended up staying for a few nights in a detailing shop after that

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      He left a martian reptile monster brain in his car?

      1. quattrovalvole Avatar

        It certainly smelled like that

    2. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

      Durian should never be in a car in the first place. So that was the first mistake.

    3. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Doesn’t that smell like a mix between rotten cheese and sweaty feet even when it’s “good”?

      1. irishzombieman Avatar

        And yet, if you can get it past your nose and into your mouth, it’s kinda good.

        1. Tanshanomi Avatar

          “…kinda good.” Now that’s a ringing endorsement if I ever head one!

          1. quattrovalvole Avatar

            Having eaten a copious amount of it over my life time, I can attest that it’s “pretty good”

        2. Andrew Avatar

          I dunno. On a trip to the Philippines, I was able to eat everything including balut (mostly developed, boiled duck egg), but almost lost my cookies at the durian. I would love to know the thought process of the first person who tried that stuff… it’s gotta be right up there with the first guy who tried cow milk.

    4. Vairship Avatar

      I had a colleague once who brought some durian to the office after a vacation. It did NOT go over well…

  11. Citric Avatar

    Fun fact: In very hot temperatures, anti-antiperspirant can melt. Luckily, it melted all over the floor mats and not something important.

  12. Batshitbox Avatar

    My passport.Left overnight in an un-locked (indeed, not lockable) Scout in my messenger bag in the sorta rough neighborhood I live in. That was dumb.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Still have it?

      1. Batshitbox Avatar

        Oh, yeah, it was there the next morning. It was in the passenger floorboard, and I had the top on the truck, so you had to look in the window to see the bag. After a few years of parking on my street, I think no one bothered looking in the truck anymore, ’cause it never had anything in it.

  13. irishzombieman Avatar

    So I don’t drive my truck every day. But it is the vehicle I generally take fishing. Left stinkin’, rotten-smellin’ catfish bait (in a sealed bag) on the floor of the passenger side after a summertime outing. The next day, truck got hot, heated up the bag and expanded it until the ziplock seal popped.
    I didn’t use the truck all week.
    The truck smelled like cat food and dead mice for months.

    1. irishzombieman Avatar

      Also, you know that warning on shaving cream cans that says don’t store at temperatures above 120° F? Not my pic, but imagine something similar inside a 1979 Toyota pickup.

      1. Batshitbox Avatar

        There’s actually a prank you can play where you freeze a can of gel shaving cream (like Edge) then cut the top off before it thaws. Anywhere you leave that can, at room temperature, there will be an astounding volume of shaving cream within a few hours.
        That’s nothing compared to what an open tube of superglue will do to the plastic parts overnight.

        1. irishzombieman Avatar

          Hmmm. Science fair time. . . .

  14. Ray Vacca Avatar
    Ray Vacca

    Remnants of a night swilling down too much alcohol. My older brother barfed all over the inside of his car. He was too screwed up to deal with it that night and too hung over the next day. A few days later he was able to deal with it. The sunbaked aroma of barf permeated the car for months

  15. Drzhivago138 Avatar

    I guess I’m lucky, since the only thing ever accidentally left in my car was a minifridge that had been hastily disconnected and not allowed to defrost properly–or I should say, allowed to defrost on the 6 hour trip home. I say lucky because the original owner of my car saw fit to buy the factory plastic cargo area liner, and cleaning up the resultant mess was just a matter of sopping up standing water with an old towel rather than replacing carpet.

  16. mzszsm Avatar

    Oh man, this just reminded me, I have a Taco Bell bean burrito I left in the car for lunch today, thanks(?) Rob!

  17. Ted Avatar

    Raw shrimp. For… a week. 2006 Audi A3. It smelled like cat piss for a couple years. I gave it to my brother and bought an ’84 Landcruiser so I wouldn’t have to smell it.

  18. Andrew Avatar

    I left a bottle of rain-x type product in the car once and most of it spilled. Whatever the evaporative agent is in that stuff, it’s powerful and made me feel quite light-headed for a while even after opening the windows.

  19. Tank Avatar

    A gallon jug of Iced Tea. I had left it in my extended cab pickup all day and forgotten about it on a warm summer day. Luckily when it exploded I was driving it home in my not so great neighborhood. The cap even shot me in the back of the head, feeling the wetness I thought I had been shot until I noticed the smell of fermented Iced Tea

  20. salguod Avatar

    My wife flipped half of the 3rd row of our Saturn Outlook down to load groceries. On the way home, a gallon of milk rolled into the seat that was still up and not noticed. It was late winter and still single digit temps so no harm done for several days. At some point, the seat got folded and the jug punctured.
    Then suddenly warm spring temps and sunshine. The stench was amazing.
    I ended up having to remove the 3rd row seat and all the cargo area trim to clean it up. I pulled the seat covers back and doused the seat with hot water followed by Odo Ban. After I put it all together I hung a few pine tree air fresheners in back. The car smelled like someone vomited in a pine forest for a few weeks.

  21. salguod Avatar

    Not really left in the car, but heart breaking still.
    A coworker placed a can of white spray paint in the back seat floor of his Turbo Beetle. He slid the seat back and punctured the can. By the time he got to it and tossed it out of the car, the were white specs on every interior panel. The insurance company totaled it.

  22. Marshall Loveday Avatar
    Marshall Loveday

    Fruit Salad. On a warm Friday afternoon in June, I picked up my kids (and one of their friends) from school in my company car PT Cruiser. Parked the car in the driveway and didn’t use it all weekend. Get in it to go to work Monday morning, and there’s this sickly-sweet putrid smell wafting throughout the vehicle. I open the hatch to find a loosley-covered container of fruit salad had been sitting in the car, doing its business all weekend, forgotten by my kids’ friend. The kids’ friend is still around – good kid, too. Never did get the smell out.

  23. PIGBOY Avatar

    closest i come is leaving the lid off my ice coffee milk bottle,then while driving me 200B coupe i shaked the bottle….milk everywhere

  24. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    Back in 1996, I left my still puppy-like, but year-old and large, purebred golden retriever in my ’73 Coupe deVille.
    Was June, plenty warm, but I had the car running, A/C cranked, he was happy as could be.
    Had to take him to the vet for regular a regular checkup, forgot to close the garage door (no opener, but you could just reach inside and hit the switch), so I got out, car running, had to close the door to get past said five feet of door 70’s B-body goodness, closed the garage, and super-happy puppy bounded over to greet me at the door.
    As I reached for the handle, WHAM, I heard the unmistakable sound of the power door locks locking him in, and me out.
    It was afternoon…Texas…June, so upper-90’s Fahrenheit. But…um… Well, I’ll just hop the fence, break through the back door of the garage (gently), and grab something to unlock it. I’ve got 3/4 of a tank of gasoline, so he’ll be just fine in there for hours, if that happens.
    This is mostly pre-mobile telephones, and I keep all the keys on one ring, so I was locked out of the house, proper, too.
    I finally found a few things, though the ultimate tool, a so-called Slim Jim, was in the trunk (nothing nefarious, just used to have a GF who locked herself out of her car on multiple occasions). No matter, I’m creative.
    30 minutes later, I’m down to trying to push on the power lock switch with a hanger I found. Nope!
    Then trying to coax my 75 lb. puppy over there to step on the switch, again, hoping it’d go backward, this time.
    Eventually, I managed to hook under the lock knob (they went down against the door panel really tightly, and weren’t easy to raise manually, either), and get the beast open.
    At one point, I had to grab the garden hose and spray down the radiator for a few minutes, as I thought I saw one of the two TEMPERATURE lights come on.
    What kills me about this is I KNEW at least this one chassis had the feature, it was in the owner’s manual, of being able to remove the ignition key with the engine running, so you could open the trunk, or whatever.
    Lesson learned.
    Boy, was he happy to be next to me! Me as happy to be in A/C comfort, too.

  25. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
    Dean Bigglesworth

    A 2kg bag of potatoes. Don’t know how long it was there for, but when we found it driving to a track-day it was the middle of summer and the bag was full of sprouts and liquefied potatoes. Yummy.