Surprise! Unexpectedly Crappy Cars That Will Probably Break Down and Cost Lots

Every car manufacturer has the potential to squeeze out a lemon. Rushed schedules, government mandates, supplier problems, and major issues can easily go past testing. These cars can leave consumers shaking their heads as they go back to the shop time and time again. These aren't the Yugos and other brands famous for trouble. These are the cars, trucks, and SUVs folks buy with confidence and then realize they're junk.


I've got a Ram 3500, and my truck friends keep looking under the hood and shaking their heads. Is there something I should know?

Your Ram 3500 is a powerful truck, able to tow over 30,000 pounds, but, like Hercules, the engine seems to give up that power. New models and old models are reportedly prone to engine trouble, and owners say they use money like Popeye uses spinach, consuming quantities of it to maintain their truck's strength up to a couple thousand a year. The Ram 3500 is prone to a number of other troubling issues; maybe your mechanic should order the parts now? Good luck!


I love my Volvo XC90 -- it's comfortable, luxurious and a joy to drive. Friends tell me to set aside a trust fund for the transmission, however. Why is that?

Pleasure and pain go together in some vehicles, and the XC90 definitely offers both. While it is a beautiful, luxurious vehicle with lots of potential, certain years have had trouble with the auto-braking system, electrical items including the backup camera, and tire wear issues as well as major transmission trouble. Watch out for a shudder when shifting, and remember this is a company which at one time made cars which went a million miles with only minor repairs.


I have an older GMC Acadia, and my dealer keeps finding things to fix on it that sound strange, like draining water from the mounts. What kind of scam is this?

It could be legit. The GMC Acadia has had some strange-sounding defects, apparently due to some quirky design issues. From its introduction, things went odd, as the engine mounts lacked drainage holes, and over time water accumulated there with detrimental effect. Faulty floor rivets were also an issue, plus transmission shifting and engine operational problems, which are a bit less esoteric but a lot more annoying.


I want to buy a new Camaro. I see them everywhere, usually parked on the side of the road with the hood up like they're at a car show. Should I go for it?

You've got a great driver's spirit, but the horses in the Camaro haven't always been reliable steeds. Some fans can tell the year by the type of problems: electrical on the 2013, mechanical on the 2010, and so on. Surveyed drivers said they dropped around $2,500 annually to keep up with the issues -- wow. But the survey also picked up a positive note: 2018 may be the magic year where drivers are going to be free to roam without so many worries.


I have a 2016 Lincoln MKX and the engine keeps quitting on me. It's very comfortable, and the radio sounds good. What should I do about it?

Besides parking it and enjoying the sound, your Lincoln MKX should be checked for transmission leaks and brought up to date on recalls, according to other drivers. Hopefully, along the way, the engine will get some much-needed updates and get back to work for you.


My Cadillac ATS has great power and is a pleasure to ride in. I found a great mechanic who is able to diagnose and fix each problem the car has as they pop up. Isn't life great?

A competitor for the BMW 3-Series, the Cadillac ATS, somehow got out of the barn with features and looks but apparently not reliability. Remember to drop off a nice holiday gift for your mechanic and enjoy!


My mechanic says that my expensive Chevy Tahoe needs a new cylinder head, and he's been selling me oil by the case to keep it topped up. What else could go wrong?

These are commonly reported Chevrolet Tahoe issues. Overconsumption of oil is reported fairly often, especially in 2009 models, and cylinder head replacement is not a normal maintenance item, but it seems to be a familiar diagnosis for many owners at over $1000. A few specific water leaks, sensor failures, and other annoyances also made the list of reports.


Since my Tesla Model X doesn't have an internal combustion engine and all that nonsense, I feel pretty secure that driving it will be a breeze, right?

Since automobiles have had headlights, mechanics have been scratching their heads over the capricious nature of a car's electrical system with iffy grounds and rusty connections. The Tesla Model X, of course, is all-electric -- old school mechanics would call that a whole bunch of trouble waiting to happen. So far, Tesla is doing pretty well, but the Model X even caught the legendary Elon Musk's attention as one of the more troubling products of his company. But it has cool doors!


My Jeep Cherokee takes me everywhere, but it also leaves me stranded anywhere. Am I the only one walking so much?

Jeep Cherokee has been the right vehicle for many people, especially those who love the outdoors. That's surely why there's such an SUV and crossover boom now. But drivers put up with a lot from their Cherokees, voting the model high up on the list of problem-prone vehicles. The transmission is a repeat offender, needing reprogramming or replacing, and shifting roughly. Oil leaks, powertrain vibrations, ball joint issues, and more say yes, your fellow Cherokee owners probably buy more shoes than most.


I have a stylish Dodge Avenger. What is it avenging, and why against me?

The Dodge Avenger somehow got a second chance from company management, but it just seems like trouble. Not sure why, but owners reported what: cracks in the engine, a heater that feels like AC, quick-wear brakes, and stubborn non-starting.


I have a 2012 Chrysler 200. It seems like 200 miles on the odometer is about the point where it started to go wrong. Why?

While the 300 is legendary, the Chrysler 200 somehow wound up with a "terrible three" set of problems: inconvenient engine failure during the commute, frustrating transmission slipping, and chilly heater malfunctions. Many of the reports involved cars only a few years old.


I have a beautiful Land Rover Discovery. When I get it out of the shop, I like to take it on a nice off-road trip, then bring it back. By the way, what's a 4xflaw?

Like the Volvo Cadillac and Lincoln listed here, the Land Rover Discovery seems marketed to a clientele that doesn't tolerate quality issues very well. Claim numbers reported by Warranty Direct have helped identify problem children in the auto industry, though: 85 percent of their customers who were discerning enough to buy a late model Discovery wound up filing one or more claims about it. It has gained a loyal following, which has surely put it to the test over the last nearly 30 years, so perhaps this is another model with temporary issues? Hopefully, it's not stuck with the "4xflaw" epithet for long.


I've had some annoying problems with my Fiat 500L, especially trying to shift gears. When I bring it in, why do the mechanics talk about software issues?

Software gets into all sorts of systems on modern vehicles. Many even have a computer network running between components. The Fiat 500L was subjected to a recall for transmission software as many drivers found it difficult to get out of park and experienced other shifting problems. For old school drivers, the sluggish response and occasional shutdowns in traffic now became likely software issues as well, new-fangled tech is to blame, right?


I have a nice, basic Ford Focus. I'm making monthly payments on it, which makes it easy to budget. Why am I paying them to my mechanic?

The Ford Focus is basically a nice car, and the electric version is a cool city ride, but lots of drivers reported constant breakdowns, which earned the car a spot high on the trouble list and probably has something to do with your situation.


My Alfa Romeo Giulietta is so beautiful, so wonderful to drive, but she's Italian. Is that why we have such a tempestuous love affair? So many repairs!

Ah, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Console yourself with its beauty, the pleasure of driving it, and, according to statistics, the frequent but lower-cost repairs which it requires. It's high-maintenance but doesn't have expensive tastes, apparently.

Get the latest vehicle news, advice & deals.