When buying a new car, there are numerous factors to take into consideration: the fuel economy, how it looks, the transmission, the overall performance and more. However, one of the most important considerations is how the car will look in a few years. Basically, we should know if we’re investing in a rust bucket which will require us to fork out money somewhere down the line to keep the rust from affecting the car’s performance.
With time, car manufacturers have gotten pretty good at making rust-proof cars. Today’s cars generally age better than those made 30 or even 20 years ago. However, we still get a few new cars that rust pretty fast, and even if you got them a year or two ago, they might already have some rust on them. These are the cars you should avoid at all costs since they will age quite badly. Their quality is just not up to par with most cars made today.
Conversely, though, there are cars which were manufactured decades ago, yet they have aged so well that you could be mistaken for thinking they are brand-new. These are the cars you should go for if you want a decent machine that will last you many more years. We also feature some of those. For the people looking for a vintage car which still looks good and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, they are definitely worth checking out (provided the car’s engine and other internals have been well-maintained, of course).
20 RUST-BUCKET: NISSAN ALTIMA
The Nissan Altima is a large, powerful sedan built to compete with cars considered more premium, like the offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The car is no slouch, either. It comes with a powerful 3.5-liter engine which allows the car to reach a top speed of 121 mph and go from 0 to 60 mph in a respectable 8.2 seconds. It’s not the fastest car in the world, but it doesn’t have to be.
The one major problem with the Altima, however, is that it rusts seriously fast. Because of this, the car fails to match up with the German sedans it’s trying to compete with.
19 RUST-BUCKET: TOYOTA RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 was the first compact crossover SUV. It was launched in 1994 to give consumers the benefits of an SUV along with the fuel economy of a smaller car. Since its launch, it has been growing bigger and more powerful with time. Currently, the third-generation RAV4 comes with engines around 2.0 liters, with both manual and automatic transmissions. It’s more spacious, looks like a proper SUV, and is economical.
Despite its appearance and the general goodwill towards it, though, the current RAV4 is prone to rusting really fast. This keeps the car from being a good long-term investment.
18 RUST-BUCKET: NISSAN SENTRA
The Nissan Sentra is a practical car at a fair price point. There is plenty of room for passengers, sufficient cargo space, and decent enough looks. However, that’s about it for the good points.
The car’s engine, while not the most powerful, makes the car lag behind nearly every rival; even the version with the turbocharged engine feels sluggish. And according to Edmunds, rivals like the Kia Forte offer more bang for the buck. If that wasn’t enough, the Nissan Sentra is also a rust bucket. Together, all these points make this one of the least attractive cars to buy, with almost no saving grace.
17 RUST-BUCKET: GMC TERRAIN
GMC usually makes decent cars, even if they aren’t as exciting as some rival brands. But the Terrain is an unfortunate exception. It looks good enough, and it performs well, with an option to upgrade to a V6 engine. The backseat is also spacious, and it offers a quiet and comfortable ride, according to Edmunds. If you look at the price, this car seems like a steal.
However, the crossover SUV has one major flaw: it’s seriously prone to corrosion. Unlike the other cars by GMC, it seems like the Terrain did not follow the same quality standards when it came to build quality. The result is a crossover SUV that buyers will quickly sell.
16 RUST-BUCKET: FORD RANGER
The Ford Ranger is one of the most popular pickup trucks in the world, and many buyers get it as a passenger vehicle as much as a truck for hauling things. It’s available in a variety of body styles, from the single cab to the Raptor.
But all these models and types have one unfortunate thing in common: they rust relatively fast. And this starts with the inside sill at the bottom of the doors, and in the tailgate. For an otherwise excellent truck, this is a major letdown. That’s why we recommend the competing pickup trucks over this.
15 RUST-BUCKET: FORD KA
When Ford made the Ka, they intended it to be practical, reliable, and consumers’ go-to car for commuting around the city. It is pretty small in size, so there is not a lot of space for luggage or anything else, and it looks quite bland. The Ka came with a modest 1.3-liter engine, which allowed the car to go from 0 to 60 mph in about 13 seconds. So far, so average.
But one thing took the car from bland to mediocre: the susceptibility to rust. The Ka is a rust bucket which will make you wonder if it’s even worth the low price.
14 RUST-BUCKET: FORD FOCUS
Ford is a juggernaut when it comes to manufacturing pickups and even sports cars. However, we cannot say the same for their sedans, especially the Ford Focus. It’s not just an average-looking car; it’s also one of the least reliable vehicles for the past few years, at least according to Consumer Report.
But lack of reliability isn’t the only problem with the Focus; it also corrodes relatively fast. Even the special editions of the Focus are not worth recommending since it’s fundamentally the same faulty car. Almost any other sedan is a better deal, and if you can get your hands on a Volvo or an Audi, even better.
13 RUST-BUCKET: MINI COOPER
For most people above thirty, their first exposure to the Mini was through the hit TV show, Mr. Bean. The car was tiny, underpowered, and it looked like a relic from the 1960s—and not a good one. So, it gained the unenviable image of being a car any self-respecting person should avoid. That is until it was redesigned.
The new Mini was still small, but now it looked like a modern car, with a sleek design and all the bells and whistles you’d expect. However, this new version is prone to rust, which makes the unattractive old Mini a better deal in the long run.
12 RUST-BUCKET: MAZDA 3
The Mazda 3 is one of the highest-selling cars of the past few years, with its cumulative sales surpassing 6 million units as of January 2019. It’s a compact car which does up to 41 mpg on the highway, with little difference between the sedan and the hatchback. It’s a practical car, with the engine options ranging from 1.5 liters to 2.5 liters.
It would be worthy of its massive audience approval if not for one thing: its susceptibility to rust. Unless the manufacturer changes something about the Mazda 3, this is a car people will avoid over time because of its corrosion problems.
11 RUST-BUCKET: JEEP WRANGLER
Judged purely on face value, the Jeep Wrangler is a decent car. It has the typical Jeep look, flashy color options, and the ride height is high enough that it looks pretty capable off-road. It’s available in both two-door and four-door variants, and the 2018 version is powered by both a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and a 3.6-liter V6 engine.
However, most iterations of the Jeep Wrangler have been susceptible to one thing since its launch in 2006: rust. The car is a massive rust bucket, and this is not good news for anyone who plans on owning it for more than a couple of years.
10 DURABLE: VOLVO V70
For the past few decades, Volvo has gained and maintained a reputation for being reliable. They’ve shown this through cars like the V70, which they made between the years 1996 and 2000.
According to Honest John Classics, the car was available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. It was also solidly built, with a 300 hp engine, and the unique Four C active chassis technology which always compensated for load minimized both oversteer and understeer and calculated the best damping needed, depending on how fast you were turning the steering wheel. It was also pretty durable since it hardly ever showed signs of rust.
9 DURABLE: VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI
In the 1960s and 1970s, cars used to corrode at an alarming rate. In fact, rust was so common that having a car which didn’t rust was considered the exception. The Volkswagen Golf was one of the first cars to employ rust-protection methods straight from the start. And it shows.
For decades, the Golf has been a car which ages well, requiring only the minimal amount of maintenance to keep running. And it helps that the car’s performance has always been decent, making it a worthy investment that has paid for itself countless times.
8 DURABLE: VOLVO 740
In production from 1984 to 1992, the Volvo 740 is one of the most durable cars ever made. Volvo initially launched it with a 2.8-liter engine, which was a version of the Douvrin V6 engine that Renault and Peugeot also used. According to Honest John Classics, the 740 sold well. And since both versions of the car were sold in estate car bodies, Volvo was able to maintain its lead in the estate car sector.
It didn’t hurt that the car was also tough, durable, capable of maintaining massive mileages and had a high survival rate, which has always been typical for Volvo.
7 DURABLE: DODGE RAMCHARGER
The Dodge Ramcharger was made between 1974 and 1993, and it is one of the toughest cars ever made. From the first generation, this rugged SUV has not compromised with durability, and its resistance to rust made it a sweet long-term investment. It’s still attracting buyers who want an SUV to take off-road without worrying about damaging it, and a lot of collectors already have it in their garages.
The Ramcharger was among the final full-size SUVs which came with both a V8 engine and a removable roof. Considering that it was easily better than its rivals at the time—the Ford Bronco, especially—this is a classic SUV better than many modern ones.
6 DURABLE: PORSCHE 911
Porsche is a brand that has always been known for making timeless cars, and they are unique for blending practicality with incredible performance. The Porsche 911 epitomizes all of these, especially the classical versions. These cars had rear-mounted engines whose capacities varied between 2 and 3 liters, massive top speeds, incredible acceleration that helped them keep up with cars that cost twice as much, and durability that makes them decent purchases, even after all these years.
A well-maintained Porsche 911 has little to no rust and still performs as well as it did when new, which is more than we can say for some of today’s cars.
5 DURABLE: DODGE DIPLOMAT
The Dodge Diplomat was, to be honest, a bland-looking car. But that was the extent of the
negativity around it. It was a mid-sized car produced between 1977 and 1989 on Chrysler’s
M platform, and it came with a base six-cylinder engine and the option of an automatic V8
The car wasn’t the fastest—the base model could only manage a top speed of 100 mph, and it went from 0 to 60 mph in 21 seconds, according to Jalopnik—but it was reliable. It didn’t rust or break down, and it was even one of the cars used by the police.
4 DURABLE: CHEVROLET EL CAMINO
Produced between 1964 and 1987, the Chevrolet El Camino was not the average pickup truck; it originally came from a two-door station wagon platform, and it’s classified in the United States as an SUV. The car’s engine options ranged from a 3.2-liter U6 which produced 120 horsepower to the top-of-the-line 7.4-liter V8.
This was not just a unique car; it was also hard to corrode, thanks to Chevrolet’s high build quality. As a result, the El Camino still looks good, if you can find someone who still owns it today. That makes it a worthy car to buy used, if you can find one.
3 DURABLE: DODGE DYNASTY
Introduced in 1987 to replace the Dodge 600, the Dynasty became one of the most popular
K cars of its time. It was based on the Chrysler C K-car platform, so it came as a front-wheel drive with a 2.5-liter inline engine inside the base model that produced a modest 100 horsepower; the V6 was a bit more powerful, churning out 150 horsepower, according to Jalopnik.
The car was designed to be boxy, unlike the other new cars Ford was producing at the time. Even though it was plain and not that powerful, it was quite durable, and it was one of the best-quality K-cars you could find.
2 DURABLE: CHEVROLET LUMINA SEDAN
The Chevrolet Lumina Sedan became popular because it was a good-looking sedan which most people could afford without sacrificing too much. Even now, you can get one for as low as $600. This is one of the reasons why there are still so many Luminas on the road today.
Another reason is that the car is hard to rust. For the price, you get a car that handles well, is comfortable, doesn’t break down if you maintain it often, looks okay and is durable. This is a steal for the price, and much better than many of today’s affordable sedans.
1 DURABLE: AUDI QUATTRO
The Audi Quattro is one of the most important cars of all time, especially for the German manufacturer. According to Evo, it’s the car that established Audi’s reputation for producing well-built, safe, durable, gorgeous and fast cars. After seeing virtually any Audi made since then, we can wholeheartedly agree on that.
But the Quattro had another reason to be famous: it was one of the most iconic rally cars of the 1980s. It used a four-wheel-drive system and was one of the first rally cars to do so. This allowed the car to win consecutive rallying competitions for the two following years.
Sources: Evo, Jalopnik, Honest John Classics