12 Car Brands You Should Never Buy Used (and Why)

Car Brands to Never Buy Used

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Car Brands to Never Buy Used
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Dude, Where's My [Reliable] Car?

When it comes to cars, not all are made equal. If you're considering buying a used car to save money (you go, savvy shopper!), it's essential to be cautious about certain brands and models to avoid issues like reliability issues, costly repairs, and poor performance history. Some of these brands have specific models that are notorious for problems — and buying them used could lead to hefty and unexpected expenses. 

But fret not. We've compiled a list of 12 car brands and specific models to avoid buying used, so you can save yourself money (and headaches) down the road. 

Graphite Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 2016

1. Jeep Grand Cherokee

Years to avoid: 2007, 2011-2014, and 2016

According to an auto survey by Consumer Reports, this model — particularly the 2007, 2011-2014, and 2016 years — has been criticized for below-average reliability ratings. Key problems include alternator failure, ignition switch malfunctions, electronic shifting issues, and engine stalling while driving. Jeeps are also known for their high fuel consumption, which is likely to drive up your gas bill. 

Related: Why People Are Crazy About Jeeps and Why You'd Be Crazy to Own One

2023 Nissan Pathfinder

2. Nissan Pathfinder

Years to avoid: 2005-2008, and 2013

The Pathfinder — particularly the 2005-2008 and 2013 model years — has been plagued with transmission issues, according to a report by Autolist. Some of its common problems include "problematic hardware, in-car electronics, engine, and body," the study found. The vehicle is also known for the leakage of coolant into the transmission fluid, which can result in costly repairs and replacements. 

2022 Mini Cooper Clubman
BMW Group

3. Mini Cooper

Years to avoid: 2006-2012

While we love the sleekness of a Mini Cooper, these model years have encountered various engine-related problems, according to Autolist, ranging from cooling system issues to complete engine failure. Other issues costumers reported include turbocharger malfunctions, exhaust rattles, clutch slips, and defective tailgates. 

Related: 20 of the Smallest Cars Ever Made

Galati, Romania - September 15, 2021: 2021 Audi Q7
Dragos Iancu/istockphoto

4. Audi Q7

Year to avoid: 2015

While Audi is generally known for making reliable vehicles, the 2015 model year of the Audi Q7 falls short. This model is known for having engine misfires and issues with its knock sensor, especially during cold starts. The problem also tends to worsen over time due to carbon buildup in the cylinders, the Autolist study found. 

Related: 18 Most Reliable Cars You Can Drive Into the Ground

Electric car Fiat 500e on a street

5. Fiat 500

Years to avoid: 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2019

While hugely popular in Europe, these model years of the Fiat are known for various issues including brake, suspension, and power equipment problems. According to a report by Copilot, the 2012 model year is particularly troublesome — with additional concerns like pressure plate failure and a slipping clutch.

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Batumi, Adjara, Georgia. Jaguar X-type Car Parked In Street. X-type Is An Entry-level Luxury Car

6. Jaguar X-Type

Years to avoid: 2001 and 2008

If you're looking for a luxury car that will last for years, be sure to steer clear of these models. These Jaguar X-Type models have been reported for having transmission failures and problems with the front-wheel-drive system. According to Autolist, "the sedan was based on a Ford platform and not in line with Jaguar’s typical build standards," which may have been a contributing factor in the engine issues. 

Related: 10 Things You Should Never Say at a Car Dealership

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

7. Mercedes-Benz GL

Years to avoid: 2013 and 2015 

Listen, my dad has a 2013 Mercedes GL and he's spent thousands of dollars replacing various engine parts. Owners of these model years have reported problems including suspension and engine leaks, which can pose a fire hazard. The general consensus is that these models do not meet the usual standards expected from Mercedes-Benz.

Related: Luxury Cars Under $50K That Are Totally Worth Owning

Sue Thatcher/istockphoto

8. Chrysler Town & Country

Years to avoid: 2008-2012 

While the Chrysler Town & Country is praised by some as the "gold standard of minivans," the main issue with these models is a defective TIPM (totally integrated power module). This can cause the engine to fail to start or to stop unexpectedly while driving. On top of being a costly issue to repair, there are no warning signs with this problem, and the vehicle may suddenly stop working from one day to the other. 

Related: The Best, Worst and Weirdest Minivans of All Time

White Dodge Charger R/T
Brandon Woyshnis/istockphoto

9. Dodge Charger

Years to avoid: 2006-2008, 2011, 2012, and 2014

The Dodge Charger is a popular muscle car with a mixed reputation for reliability, depending on the model year. However, these models have been flagged for having issues, including a "sticky gear shift, premature engine failure, electrical problems with the ignition, and brake issues." The cost of a used Dodge Charger can also vary greatly, with older models starting around $7,000. 

Related: Charger, Challenger and More: Iconic Dodge Vehicles

Kia Sorento crossover SUV

10. Kia Sorrento

Years to avoid: 2004, 2006, 2011-2014, and 2016

These model years of the Kia Sorrento have faced issues ranging from engine failures, electrical issues, to problems with airbags, seat belts, lighting, and body/paint. Notably, engine issues have been of particular concern — especially when vehicles reach around 62,000 miles. Kias are also known as being one of the most commonly stolen cars in the U.S. (thieves were stealing droves of them using just a USB cable!)

Ford F-250 display at a dealership. The Ford F250 is available in XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum models.
BMW X5 xDrive50e Plug-In Hybrid SUV display at a dealership. BMW offers the X5 xDrive50e PHEV as a luxury SUV.

12. BMW X5

Years to avoid: 2007-2013

The BMW X5 — particularly models from 2007 to 2013, prior to the 2014 redesign — have faced various reliability issues. According to Autolist, owners have reported a host of issues. These ranged from minor issues like faulty interior control systems to major problems, including defects in the fuel system, head gasket failures, rod bearing malfunctions, and power steering issues, which can be extremely dangerous. 

Related: Car Expenses That Are Really Worth the Money