Among car enthusiasts and mechanics, there is a consensus that you should never buy a car in the first year of its production. You are likely to run into problems that mostly get fixed on the second or third year after the release.
And even if you stick by this rule, proper maintenance is the ultimate determinant of your car’s lifespan.
But there are brands that have been identified to be troublesome right off the bat. Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep are some of the biggest names found in this category. Claims are aplenty that cars from these companies are trash vehicles that will see you spending more time in the garage than on the driver’s seat.
Other brands that have been criticized are Audis, most Rovers, GM (General Motors) cars, and a good number of Ford economy cars. A company like GM, for instance, has been continuously accused of producing vehicles that have been poorly engineered, have a low resale value, and have no reliability.
Anything German is too expensive to fix. German brands will pauperize you and are not as well engineered as you have been made to believe. The Volkswagen, for example, is not hated because it is a shoddy car, but because of how it has been built. The car is so hard to fix that mechanics will literally be left chasing their tails for the life of your vehicle. One biggest complaint is that European cars are over engineered.
Time has managed to sort the men from the boys and has exposed the real rubbish from the slightly mediocre. It has exposed those manufacturers that have been consistently producing cars that don’t last because they are so crappy.
We want to pay attention to those cars and some that we have already mentioned.
Here are the greatest lemons in the automotive industry:
15. SUBARU TRIBECA
Subarus are great cars, but the Subaru Tribeca is an exception.
The 2009 version has had the most complains, and the most common one is that the car shakes while driving. This is especially common during acceleration. There have also been several complains about the remote start system.
Around November 2008, there was a recall for some Subaru Tribecas that had been manufactured between 2007 and 2009. The reason was that the front lateral link in their rear suspension could crack and eventually break if left unchecked. This increased the chances of a deadly accident.
In December of the same year, there was another recall for the Subaru B9 Tribecas manufactured from February 2008. The recall was because the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) G sensor had been installed incorrectly. This meant the vehicles were unstable.
There were more recalls afterwards.
For example, there was a recall for 2010 models because of some interference between latch cables and regulators that would cause the doors to open unexpectedly. In some models from 2007-2014, the bonnets would open while driving and would significantly impair the driver’s vision. Some models from 2007-2013 were recalled because their airbags had issues and would absorb moisture over time. Those are enough reasons to stay away from the Tribeca, at least for now.
14. ISUZU RODEO
The Isuzu Rodeo was built and sold in the United States from 1991 to 2004. The earliest versions of this car had various transmission problems.
Sometimes the car experiences failure in the force motor. This causes problems when shifting gears since this component is vital to that process. The problem was common in models manufactured from 1991 to 1995. It was specific to vehicles with the four-speed automatic transmission, which had been made by General Motors.
The 1994 and the 2000 model were notorious for engine failures while the 2001 model had its rear suspension separating from the frame. The 2000 model has the most complaints. The reported incidents were mostly transmission issues, problems with the engine cooling system, failure of the braking system, failure of the fuel pump, and varnish build-up on the valve train. The vehicle could sometimes stall after running for extended periods.
Some mechanics have confirmed that the Isuzu Rodeo can develop holes and leaks in its fuel pump system, which may lead to loss of power during acceleration. This may release smoke on the exhaust or give inconsistent fuel gauge readings.
13. 2016-2018 TOYOTA TACOMAS
Tacomas have been a reliable brand for the longest time because of their high performance and good resale value.
However, those manufactured from 2016 (with automatic transmission) seem a little bit off. For example, drivers have revealed that one may feel as if the car is ‘hunting’ for gears while driving. This is also the case when the vehicle is on a slight incline.
In addition, the cruising RPMs are a bit higher than one would expect, and occasionally, there is delayed shifting when engaging from Park to Drive, or Reverse. Some drivers have also reported slipping transmission and skipped shifts.
Sometimes when you try shifting from Reverse to Drive, the transmission will fail to engage until the engine has been revved past a certain RPM; then it engages abruptly and can cause the truck to lunge forward.
12. FORD FIESTA OR FOCUS (AUTOMATICS) FROM 2012-2016
Their power-steering is terrible, their transmission is pathetic, and they both have a class action lawsuit. Former or current owners or lessees of any 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta or 2012-2016 Ford Focus – that are installed with a PowerShift Transmission – are likely affected and should follow up on the suit.
The PowerShift Dual Clutch was a replacement of the traditional automatic setup and is comprised of two clutches. It was supposed to shift faster and efficiently, but it failed. Instead, drivers have been left with severe rattling and grinding noises.
In the end, a good number of Ford Focus cars (automatics) visit service centers on a regular for shuddering issues that are caused when changing gears. These vehicles have a faulty dual-clutch transmission that is prone to jerking, bucking, slipping, and hesitation when shifting gears.
In some instances, the driver will experience a sudden or delayed acceleration or delays in downshifting. The most annoying thing is that when you take either car for repair, a sub-par part will be used as a replacement and you will return for repairs after 2-3 months.
11. THE NISSAN TSURU
People love it because it has a remarkable gas mileage and it has cheap parts. The Nissan Tsuru has survived because it is affordable and practical. For plenty of families, cab drivers, and businesses, this 1992 Sentra got the job done and was cheap to maintain.
However, the Nissan Tsuru is a death trap with wheels that have 0 stars for safety. The car is responsible for thousands of deaths in Mexico. Between 2007 and 2012 alone, the Nissan Tsuru was responsible for the deaths of more than 4,000 people in Mexico.
10. JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE / CHEROKEE
Older Jeep Grand Cherokees and Cherokees XJ/ZJ are reliable and absolutely bulletproof. However, newer versions are a disgrace.
The most reported problems are transmission issues, crashing of computer systems, and alternators dying. These complications have been reported by owners of the newer versions who have barely had their cars for more than a year. They claim their hardware is breaking, and they experience a wide range of electrical problems.
The WK2 Grand Cherokee, for instance, is prone to issues like jerking, hesitation, and rough shifting. Generally, the car has a poor transmission, and this is especially common in the 2015 models.
Similarly, the KL Cherokee is also troublesome. Some of its transmission concerns are software related and have sometimes been fixed by software updates. In fact, some drivers have reported that the engine seems to have less power.
9. TESLA MODEL X
Tesla’s Model X has been plagued by quality problems. The issues range from daytime running lights that do not work, 2nd and 3rd row seats breaking when you move or fold them for the first time, weatherstripping peel offs, and squeaking of the falcon wing doors.
Customers have repeatedly complained about the functionality of the falcon-wing doors that have sensor problems and tend to overhang. The doors were over-complicated and had seal issues.
Then there was also the rear seat issue that led to the recall of some 2,700 cars. The seats on the third row would fail in a crash and one of Tesla’s supplier, Futuris, was reported to be responsible for the mistake.
The very first Model X cars were prone to these problems. In fact, Consumer Reports ranked Model X among the least reliable vehicles because it was ‘more showy than practical.’ Due to the quality flaws, Tesla has had to deal with several lawsuits that mostly revolve around design flaws. The Model S would be a much better choice.
8. JAGUAR X-TYPE
It is a money pit that some folks in Europe call “Mondeo with leather interior.” First, the interiors break occasionally because they are made out of mediocre materials. Second, fixing this Jaguar is a major headache. If you encounter a clutch problem, for example, you will be forced to pay a considerable sum because the entire engine needs to be taken out, including the front axle.
Some experts believe it was the first failure by Jaguar under Ford ownership. Jaguar needed a car that would compete against the Mercedes-Benz C-class and the BMW 3-series. But in its attempt to turn the front-drive into an all-wheel drive, Jaguar ran into engineering problems. On models built between 2001 and 2002, there have been numerous complains about the indicator. Those manufactured in 2004 are mostly prone to sensor problems that may at times cause unexpected application of brakes.
There were also reports about brake problems that would cause the Jaguar X-Type to roll away when parked on an incline. Other models had short circuit problems while those built between 2005 and 2010 had cruise control errors.
7. VOLKSWAGEN NEW BEETLES
The VW Beetle is one of the world’s most loved car. However, the Volkswagen New Beetle is a headache, and a good example is the 2012 VW Beetle. First of all, the car is difficult to fix. If for instance, you need a new radiator on your new VW, the whole front end needs to come off. Most users have complained about its windows being ‘possessed.’ The windows will open or close randomly while you are driving. There have also been reports about the car not braking as expected.
Some users insist their check engine light is always on and sometimes their cars will refuse to turn on even when their batteries are fine. Owners of the VW New Beetle have confessed that they have to take their vehicles for checkups on a regular basis because there is always something that needs fixing. Some users have complained about their radios dying mysteriously due to lack of power. This is mostly caused by short circuits that occur somewhere in the electrical system.
6. CHRYSLER SEBRING
The V6 one is the biggest culprit. It was hailed during its launch, and it has earned the highest honor from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the car has mostly failed to live up to the hype. The suspension is noisy, the 3.5-liter V6 engine is rough, and the steering feels numb.
Several owners have criticized its interiors, claiming it is horrible because it is just a combination of harsh plastic.
The car also comes in a convertible version that Jeremy Clarkson once tested and named the worst car in the world. Since its debut, the Chrysler Sebring has continuously received negative ratings in everything from its engine to the interior. Most critics agree that this Chrysler model is poorly made and horrible to drive.
The car also has a history of bad engines. Other complaints are about its cooling systems, suspension, and computer. The automatic transmission is also prone to problems like delayed gear engagement, rough shifting, or erratic shifting.
5. CHEVY AVEOS
The car was first produced in 2002 by GM. Apparently, it started as a Daewoo Kalos but has been marketed under different brands. The vehicle had space for five and a new one could go for under $10K, but those were the only good things about it.
GM, like most American car manufacturers, has constantly been accused of sub-par engineering. For example, earlier versions of the Chevy Aveos had problems with leaking oil as a result of a faulty drain plug. These previous models also experienced misfires as a result of defective valves.
Apparently, most of the Aveos have serious build issues. Most of them have electrical problems, and their parts just seem to fall off. In fact, the Chevy Aveos is so substandard that car rental companies avoid them like the plague. Mechanics also hate them with a passion.
There have been several reports that the automatic transmission shifter may sometimes fail and this may cause the ignition key to get stuck in the ignition lock. Other times, the turn signal switch may malfunction. In other cases, the check engine light will remain on due to a worn out or loose gas cap. It is also important to note that this can be a noisy car, especially on rough roads where the steering wheel vibrates vigorously. Some owners claim the timing belts can barely go past 50,000 miles.
4. PONTIAC SUNFIRE
To perform a simple oil change on a Pontiac Sunfire, you have to take the front wheel off because the car has an awful design.
Occasionally, the signals will fail to work because the signal switch has malfunctioned. The window will also jam because the window motor has a defect. Surprisingly, the window will resume working after the motor has cooled off.
The Pontiac Sunfire was manufactured between 1995 and 2005, and it was initially available in three versions: sedan, coupe, and convertible. Even though the car was available in both automatic and manual transmissions, the car has always been prone to problems.
The automatic version, for example, is prone to leakages as a result of a faulty pass-thru connector. The torque-converter clutch also causes acceleration problems, and these issues are common in the 2000 and 2001 models. For the manual version, former owners reported grinding noises while shifting gears, and the 2001 model was the main culprit.
The car regularly overheats. This results when a fan is faulty or when you have a broken thermostat. In some cases, the overheating could be the result of the radiator filler neck. The 2003 Pontiac Sunfire is no exception, just like its predecessors, errors are its second name.
3. HUMMER H2 (2003)
The Hummer H2 was introduced shortly after the 9/11 attack. It looked like a military car because it was ‘muscled’ and arrogantly enormous. But it was a disaster for GM who at the time was allegedly repossessing and dismantling the available EV1 electric cars.
This overfed monster was supposed to clean the name of the H1 and to woo America’s middle class. But it came with its fair share of misgivings. First, the interior felt confined and cramped. Then the car has a horrible fuel mileage, probably because it was supposed to use a diesel engine, but it ended up with a petrol engine. This is further worsened by the fact that the car carries lots of unnecessary weight that makes it very heavy.
The Hummer H2 has a large engine but is pretty slow, and to make things worse, too loud. Some owners have admitted that it is uncomfortable and tends to shake so much from all its parts. This car is a pinnacle of the early 2000s excess. It just went too far and is a great symbol of America’s extreme consumerism.
2. PT CRUISERS
The PT Cruiser debuted in 2000, and just like its bizarre design, the car has been a constant headache. Maybe the fact that it was affordable was the only good thing.
Most PT Cruisers have several electrical problems while some tend to vibrate continuously because of the lousy design of the engine mounting. A typical PT Cruiser will continue to vibrate even after you replace all the mounts and the shifter cables.
When the PT Cruiser was launched, it was praised as a unique achievement in modern car design. It came in an interesting retro shape and was an improved version of the Dodge Neon. But Chrysler has done very little to improve its status over the years. The convertible version that came later did not make things better, unfortunately.
The interior of this car is so cramped and looks miserable. In fact, the PT Cruiser has been compared to a prison cell, but with wheels. It is almost as if this car has no suspension, and this is likely because it was being marketed to older people. Other horrible things about this gremlin of a vehicle are its handling, acceleration, and speed.
Yugo probably has the best gas mileage on the planet.
It was a hatchback that came to the U.S. – from Yugoslavia – from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. It was supposed to be the cheapest car in the United States, and indeed, it was. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst cars.
The inside is exceptionally cheap as everything is made from crappy plastic. The car only has two air vents that are both in the center, and you would think the dashboard and the center console are one unit. The car is slow because it is powered by a small engine and the steering and handling are terrible.
Generally, it is poorly engineered, ugly, and cheap with everything about it just hilarious. For the longest time, it has been a punch line for comedians more than it has been a vehicle and it has topped several worst-car listimets.
Do. Not. Get. One.
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