There are enough regrets in life without buying the wrong used car. Even for great models, there can be bad production years. The problems can lead to topping off the oil every few days, transmission trouble, or having to drop thousands when a known defect finally shows up. Sure, you can get a great deal on a classy car, even a Caddy or a BMW, but there's one important reason people lower the selling price of a used car: because you'll be paying more later, too.
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When BMW took on the Mini brand, it put Bavarian engineering into it. Unfortunately, for the first several production years this German Mini suffered a dual curse: engine, cooling, transmission, and other significant issues, and BMW-level price tags for out-of-warranty repairs. Consumer Reports found Mini the least reliable car brand on the U.S. market in 2014.
An adventure of a car with frequent problems including radiator and cooling issues and loss of engine power. Drivers hold their breath on anything but a local errand, it seems. Some failures are dramatic such as cooling components bursting and leaving drivers stranded. This car is still in production and appears in about 120 countries under many brands. Given the likelihood of cooling system issues, buyers should be prepared to pay.
The STS is a luxurious, well-appointed car which might seem like a great find. The used price tends to be very affordable for a recent-model Cadillac, but issues reported include shorts in the technology systems, transmission shifting problems and clogged catalytic converters. The converter problem can result in a large repair bill or performance problems and failure to pass required emissions tests.
Over a quarter century of Chrysler Town and Country minivan production brought twelve million of these to market under various model names. Ownership for some was a love-hate relationship. There have been specific problems such as transmission issues and power window motor and regular failures which keep cropping up in a variety of model years. In particular, for recent models, Consumer Reports lists the 2008-2011 years as the ones to avoid, and other years should have any Technical Service Bulletin issues tended to.
Who doesn't like a cool BMW crossover at a used car price? Be careful. The air suspension is the key concern for this SUV-styled vehicle which has been on the market since 1999. It can cost thousands to address the suspension problems, and along with them, there are thermostat, water pump, and oil leak issues which have been known to arise, especially in the older models. Climate control system issues, fuel system defects, and engine issues have cost owners considerable amounts of money and time. From 2011 to the redesign in 2014, the word is to anticipate problems and avoid taking the risk.
Two problems have plagued this luxury crossover: the steering wheel locking up with a "steering defective" message, and excessive oil consumption. The oil problem is apparently a $900 fix, and the steering wheel lockup, actually caused by a steering rack malfunction, costs a bit over $3,000 to fix. 2012 and 2013 owners have reported the steering problem, with reports saying it occurred when starting up and also en route which could be dangerous. The 2012 model generally had high repair frequency ratings as well.
In this SUV from VW, buyers should beware of the EPC (electronic power control) warning light indications and fuel pump problems. That and, of course, the "dieselgate" issues regarding emissions which only affect models with diesel engines. Fuel pump problems can result in around a $1,000 repair bill, while EPC-related issues depend on the code, just like the "check engine" light on other vehicles. In some cases, the EPC itself has required replacement, which owners report costs nearly $2,000 for the part, plus labor. The 2012 model has been singled out as particularly expensive to own, so beware.
The Ford Explorer has been on the market since 1991 with five generations to consider as used vehicles. 2004 stands out as particularly troublesome, but a large number of transmission and engine complaints over the production years suggest that this vehicle is a particularly big used car gamble. It was also part of the 2009 "cash for clunkers" government fuel efficiency program, so owners had their chance to let go of them then.
Nissan Pathfinder problems over it's over 30-year production (1986-present) include some serious recent transmission problems and even transmission failure. The years 2013-2014 are flagged by Consumer Reports as model years to avoid, with transmission fluid loss and driveability problems risking both financial costs and accidents. Nissan replaced the CVT or continuously variable transmission used in both 2013 and 2014 in some vehicles. There were nine recalls for 2013 alone, consuming owner time even if the repairs were covered.
Engine complaints plague the 2010 and 2013 model years of the long-lived Camaro line. Premature timing chain wear is one expensive problem which owners report, with a $2,000 repair cost. Another $300 bill may arise due to a stuck ignition key in some vehicles. Consumer Reports also suggests avoiding the 2016-2017 model years -- one report says that owners are experiencing an undefined "exhaust rattle" which causes concern and might be a reason to sell on the used market.
This classic Italian people's car was produced from 1957 to 1975 and emerged again as a fiftieth anniversary 2007 model in retro style, much like the Mini. It continues in production to the present. In 2017, the model made Consumer Reports' list of ten least reliable cars. Reports confirm owner dissatisfaction, especially about the suspension and poor resale values, but many also grow to enjoy their little cars and find repairs inconvenient but inexpensive.