All used cars are not the same, even those of the same year, make, model, and mileage. However, certain models have proven over time to be much less reliable than other similar models.
Consumer Reports magazine publishes its Annual Auto Issue each year in April. In it, they reveal the results of a survey of thousands of car owners who have provided detailed responses to questions about the reliability of their vehicles.
From that data, the magazine’s staff compiles reliability ratings and rankings for nearly every make/model used vehicle for the last 10 years.
The ratings are based on responses to specific questions about problems with the engine, cooling system, transmission, drive system, fuel system, electrical, climate control, suspension, brakes, exhaust, paint/trim, body hardware, power equipment, and electronics.
They not only publish a list of the best used cars, but also a list of those vehicles that represent the worst used cars — the ones that should be avoided.
This year there are 108 vehicles on Consumer Reports‘ Worst Used Car list. Here are samples from that list:
- Acura TLX ’15-16 (model years 2015 and 2016)
- Audi A3 ’16
- Audi A4 ’09-10
- Audi Q7 ’15
- BMW 1 Series ’11
- BMW 3 Series ’08-11
- BMW 4 Series ’14
- BMW 5 Series ’08, ’12
- BMW X3 ’07-08, ’11
- BMW X5 ’11-12
- Buick Enclave ’08-11
- Buick LaCrosse ’07
- Buick Lucerne ’08
Chevrolet has the most models on the list — 15. Ford, GMC, and Volkswagen also have a significant number on the list — 9, 7, and 9 respectively.
Conversely, popular brands such as Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, and Mazda have very few — 2 models or less — on the list. Lexus has none.
It’s significant to note those vehicles on the list that have a string of multiple years of unreliability. The Ford Focus is an example with the years 2012 through 2016 listed as not recommended — 5 straight years of unreliability. The Dodge Grand Caravan also has 5 years noted, as does the Chrysler Town & Country.
The Mini Cooper has 7 model years listed, and the GMC Acadia has 8 models, the most of any make/model.
Several have 4 model years on the unreliability list:
- BMW 3 Series
- Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
- Chevrolet Suburban
- Chevrolet Traverse
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Volkswagen Jetta
In summary, not all used cars are the same. Some are great choices based on actual owner surveys, and some are not. Making the right choice when you buy can save you money and problems in the future.