To a lot of people, buying a used car can just be as exciting as buying a brand new one. Still, the process can be a complicated nightmare if you don't know how to go about it. There are some certain things you should always keep in mind before you decide to buy a used car.
The first thing you need to do is to figure out your budget. Having a budget makes it easy to narrow down on cars that might be of particular interest. Having a budget will also help you to keep your expectations are in check.
Another factor you should be looking at what you'll be needing the car for. Is this going to be your everyday vehicle, or something for special occasions? There are some brands that are known to be reliable and can go for over 10 years with just minimum maintenance, but according to dmv.org, second-tier vehicles form the biggest chunk of the used car market.
You should also be checking for hidden costs behind the used vehicle. Factors such as depreciation, insurance, cost of maintenance, taxes can have a huge impact on the general cost of the vehicle.
Having said all that, here are 20 used cars you should never buy, period.
20 Fiat 500
It is very hard to narrow down to a model or a year because the Fiat 500 has been pretty consistently unreliable. Car and Driver gave the new model a 2.5-star rating.
Despite the price being dropped to $15,990 in 2017 in a bid to keep consumers hooked, AutoExpress still criticized the basic specs that are available on entry models.
According to Auto Insurance, the Fiat depreciates by 40% in two years. According to Car Buyer, the Fiat 500 received a below average rating in terms of reliability. For the 2017 model, more than 11% of owners complained more than once of experiencing problems with the car, with the main issue being the suspension.
19 Mini Cooper
According to a study conducted by J.D Power in 2016, there were 127 problems reported for every 100 new Mini Coopers sold. This is a worrying statistic for anyone who wants to buy a used Mini Cooper. According to Consumer Affairs, the most common problems reported with the Mini Cooper include body integrity, cooling system, engine cooling, minor and major engine problems.
There are over 17 known major issues with the Mini Cooper according to Consumer Reports. The car might be inexpensive but the costs of maintaining it are likely to become unbearable in the long run. You should at least stay away from the first and second-year models if you do insist on buying a used Mini Cooper.
18 Mercedes-Benz GL
The Mercedes-Benz GL was first launched in 2006. It was meant to compete in the luxury SUV segment, though many observers felt it was late to the party. According to Wikipedia, it was the first German 3-row 7-passenger vehicle to be available in the United States.
According to Repair Pal, one of the most common problems with the Mercedes-Benz GL is that the shifting starts to get rough after only a few years of use. The brake pads and rotors are made of soft materials and will need replacing after roughly every 10,000 miles. Another problem that has been reported by several owners of the car on Repair Pal is oil leakage from the vent housing. The car doesn't come cheap even for a used one, which is another reason why you should probably avoid it.
17 Dodge Nitro
The Dodge Nitro was on the assembly line from 2007 until 2012. According to Wikipedia, the Nitro shared the same platform with the Dodge Liberty. Jalopnik noted that the Dodge Nitro shared a couple of crippling problems with some of its Chrysler cousins.
The two major problems with the vehicle are an underwhelming interior and a below par powertrain. Under the hood is a 3.7-liter V6 engine which can produce up to 210HP. The first year was great for the car, as Dodge was able to sell 70,000 units, but sales started dropping by 20,000 every year until it was no longer viable to produce the car.
16 Jaguar S-Type
The Jaguar S-Type was produced from 1999 to 2007. Some might see finding a good condition used S-Type for sale as the perfect opportunity to finally own a Jaguar. For others, car has a dated exterior which can be off-putting. There are also cramped rear seats which means that this is not an ideal vehicle for families.
According to Jaguar Forum, there have been 212 reported problems per 100 cars, though they admitted that the sample size might be small, which is reasonable considering that the car is no longer in production. If you are buying a used Jaguar S-Type, you should be ready to take it to the garage at least a couple of times per year.
15 Chrysler Town & Country
You've probably seen memes of people making fun of the Chrysler Town & Country. The car was first introduced to the mass market in 1990 and was in production right up until 2016. It is estimated that there were 12 million copies of the Chrysler Town & Country sold during the time it was in production.
The fact that it is possible to find these vehicles for a low price might be a tempting enough reason to buy one, but keep in mind that the car received a 1.5 star rating on Consumer affairs with a myriad of problems reported, Tthe main one seemingly being with the transmission. There was even one reviewer who claimed that he had to call 911 because his Chrysler Town & Country caught fire with flames shooting out from under the passenger door.
14 Range Rover
The Ranger Rover is one of the UK's most iconic vehicles, though people seem to have a love-hate relationship it. One thing is for certain, people don't buy this thing because of its reliability. The car was first launched in 1970 and is currently in its 4th generation.
According to Wikipedia, the first generation Range Rover was not designed to be a luxury vehicle. It was basic with a utilitarian interior design. The new generation models sharply contrast this, as the company has seemingly decided to focus on interior quality. In terms of reliability, there have been numerous complaints over the years. Some of the main problems involve the suspension, electrical failures, and oil leaks.
13 Chrysler PT Cruiser
Chrysler, it seems, has a quality issue with some of their cars. The Chrysler PT Cruiser was on the assembly line from 2000 until 2010. The car had a unique exterior design and was a dramatic departure from the standard Chrysler exterior.
According to Wikipedia, the car producer only managed to sell 1.35 million units of the car during the 10 years that it was in production. In a 2002 Euro NCAP safety test, the car received a three star rating.
It wouldn't be wise to go for the early models no matter how affordable they are. According to Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, the 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser did not offer even the standard safety features that were available even in small cars at that time.
12 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer
The Chevrolet S-10 Blazer was in production from 1982 to 2005 under different nameplates. There is a Brazilian variant that is still in production. Chevrolet S-10 Blazer experienced explosive growth during its first decade, but that had everything to do with America's obsession with big cars.
You can currently find this car for less than $5,000, but there is always more than meets the eye. According to Car Gurus, there have been numerous problems reported with rust. The truck is also underpowered and might not be the best choice if you are looking for something punchy. Some owners have also reported that the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer tips over easily despite being a truck. The interior has also not aged well.
11 Chrysler Sebring
The Sebring was one of the longest running vehicles from Chrysler. It was in production from 1995 all the way up until 2007. You can currently find a used Chrysler Sebring for as low as $3,000 if you look hard enough.
The Chrysler Sebring was voted by Top Speed as being one of the worst cars of the decade. The convertible variant has been heavily criticized for lacking both in terms of aesthetics and performance.
The hard top had weak reinforcement which made it a safety hazard. The first model had a V6 engine which could produce up to 172Hp. The producers at Top Speed had to be coerced into doing a review for the car. In an episode of Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson described the Chrysler Sebring convertible as the worst car in the entire world.
10 Chevrolet Aveo
The Chevrolet Aveo is still in production, and has been since 2002. According to Wikipedia, the car is currently being marketed in over 120 countries across 7 brands. The car has a 1.5 star reliability rating on Consumers Affairs. There have been problems documented with the coolant and even some instances of bursting.
According to the Consumer Affairs, the 2007 model can't make a two hour trip without experiencing any problems, even on units with low mileage.
Another common problem you are likely to experience is overheating, and the thermostat and the radiator will eventually need replacing, given the numerous complaints documented online. The car also loses power over time and it would be highly unadvisable to buy a used one.
9 Cadillac STS
The Cadillac STS was on the assembly line from 2004 until 2011. They are quite affordable; you can find a 2011 model for as low as $7,000. The car's performance was its main selling point when it first launched. The 2011 model came with a V8 engine which could produce up to 302HP.
According to Car Surveys, the catalytic converters tend to get clogged after a while. This can be a problem if the car is not under warranty.
There have also been problems with shifting, which can become a nuisance if you drive the car on a daily basis. The tech can also become buggy which in turn results in a series of electrical failures. One owner noted that the appearance was the vehicle's only redeeming quality.
8 BMW X5
The X5 is mid-size luxury SUV from BMW that has been in production since 1999. According to BMW, the X5 is more tailored as a Sports Activity Vehicle than an SUV. The sales have been kind of hit or miss with, 40,000 units sold on average every year.
According to Repair Pal, the most common problem reported is the air suspension which can cost up to $3000 to fix.
You are also likely to experience problems with the thermostat and the water pump. There are reportedly persistent problems with oil leaks for the older models. The main problem with the BMW X5 is repairs don't come cheap even though it is a great car to drive.
7 Chevrolet Camaro
Here's yet another American car. The Chevrolet Camaro was first introduced to the mass market in 1966. The first generation featured everything you'd ever want in a vehicle but the same can't be said of all the generations and models.
According to CarComplaints, the 2010 model has the highest number of complaints followed by 2013. The most common problem has to do with the engine.
Another common problem that is experienced by Chevy Camaro owners is the premature timing chain wear, which costs an average of$2,000 to fix. There have been also numerous issues reported with the key getting stuck in the ignition switch which can cost up to $300 to fix.
6 Volkswagen Touareg
This German automobile has been in production since 2002. The car is named after the nomadic people from North Africa who are known to explore the desert. According to Car Complaints, the 2007 model is the one that has had the highest number of problems and complaints, although there were problems reported with the 2012 model as well.
The biggest problem with the Volkswagen Touareg is the EPC warning light which can cost over $5,000 to fix. This is not a cost you'd want to incur, especially if you are buying a used vehicle. The second most commonly reported problem has to do with fuel pump failure which will set you back around $11,000 for the newer models. Unless you have a lot of money in the bank, this is not a vehicle you should be buying second hand.
5 Infiniti Q50
The Infiniti Q50 is a luxury compact car that first hit the assembly line in 2013. It has all the aesthetic appeal that would make it attractive given that it is a recent car. According to Car Complaints, 2014 is the worst model year for the car.
The most common problem with the Infiniti Q50 is the pump seal failure and the master cylinder. This costs about $2,000 to repair. Another common problem reported is the premature tire wear which can be a big cost in the long run. The third most common problem according to Car Complaints is premature brake wear which will set you back around $400.
4 Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler looks good and has aged gracefully. It is the perfect machine for off-road executions. It has a detachable roof and doors, making it also ideal for summer driving. The price for a basic trim is reasonable, and it's easy enough to find good condition models on the second hand market.
There are over 1,655 issues that have been raised about the Jeep Wrangler on Car Complaints. You should steer very clear of the 2008 model as it is the one that has garnered the highest number of complaints.
The most common problem experienced by Jeep owners is TIPM failure which can happen after around 47,000 miles. The cost of this particular repair is $1,300. Another problem is the death wobble which costs roughly $800 to fix.
3 Audi Q5
This compact luxury crossover has been in production since 2009. Audi has always been a class leader when it comes to the interior and the consistency is evident even in the newer models of the Q5. When looking for a used car, you should avoid the 2012 model as it is the one with the highest number of mechanical problems and failures.
The most common complaint according to Car Complaints is the steering completely locking up. This happens at just 8,000 miles and there is no way of escaping it if you are buying a used one.
It costs around $3,300 to fix the problem. Another common problem with the Audi Q5 is excessive oil consumption which is a recurring problem that costs $900 to fix.
2 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer is currently in its 5th generation and has been in production since 1991. It was meant to be the successor of the Ford Bronco II and came in either a 2-door or a 4-door model.
There are over 12,000 complaints of the Ford Explorer on CarComplaints.com. 2004 has to be the worst year for the car manufacturer. Car Complaints noted that needing to avoid this car like the plague was putting it lightly. There have been over 600 reported cases involving the transmission of the Ford Explorer. The interior accessories were also subpar and did not age well, which is unfortunate for a vehicle of this class. There have been 182 NHTSA complaints involving the engine of the Ford Explorer.
1 Nissan Pathfinder
The Pathfinder is a midsize SUV that has been in production since 1990. Nissan sold 150,000 copies of the Pathfinder between 2013 and 2014. According to Car Complaints, the 2005 model should be avoided at all costs as it was the year with the most problems. There have been over 600 complaints for that model year, with transmission failure being the major one.
There have been 9 recalls for the 2013 model, all at different times.
According to cars.com, the first recall had an issue to do with the loss of transmission fluids. This meant that the acceleration of the car was so faulty that it left the driver at high risk of being involved in a crash.
Sources: carcomplaints.com; consumeraffairs.com; consumerreports.com; wikipedia.org