« Back

Used Cars to Avoid

the pitchfork list

The Pitchfork List Represents the Worst Used Cars

Knowing which cars to buy is the first step in my Car Buying Support Guide.
This list shows which used cars to avoid. It is compiled from overall reliability data covering models with below-average reliability. Problems with the expensive to repair components such as engine, engine cooling, transmission, and drive system were weighted more heavily than other problems.

If you are looking for the best used cars to buy, see the Halo List

THE PITCHFORK LIST -  Read it and weep:

Alfa Romeo Giulia - This car couldn't even escape auto reviewers test drives without breaking down. Dismal reliability makes this a top notch failure.

BMW 535i twin turbocharged model - (lemon law sites abound on this otherwise beautiful car)
BMW 7 series - It hurts to lose over 50% of your hard earned money in just 3 years. Unless money is no object, stay away.

Cadillac STS - (google "cadillac STS problems" and pick your year)
Cadillac ATS - Overall poor build quality. Overpriced and under powered brat of a car
Cadillac XTS - Overpriced and under performing. Another walk from GM. They just loaded the bases on shitty cars with this one.

Chevy Suburban - (oil cooler line inside radiator on older models makes a bad combo and expensive brakes) Bad build quality plagued newer models

Dodge Grand Caravan - (2005-2011, the days of Chrysler putting out good minivans are over)
Dodge Dart - There are so many cars better than this. Too bad that Chrysler could not match the reliability with the original Dart with the 225 slant six.
Dodge Durango - all years (you know there's a problem when lawyers advertise for Durango owners)
Dodge Journey - The journey was over before it started on this crude low quality car. It even flunked the small overlap crash test.
Dodge Intrepid 1999-2001 - Built in obsolescence is evident everywhere on this car
Chrysler Sebring 2001-2002 - Same as Intrepid - a money pit of a used car
Chrysler 200. Funny how they stopped building them so quickly. Unrefined in every way. Depreciating dog of a car

Fiat 500L - Just about anything from Fiat is garbage but this is at the top of the trash heap.
Fiat 500X - The Honda HRV or the Hyundai Kona are so much better than this car.

Ford Explorer 2002-2005 Lots of consumer complaints on this SUV
Ford Fiesta - Lack of reliability was nothing to celebrate in the Fiesta. Dismal reliability ratings make this a bad purchase.
Ford Focus - Transmission problems abound on this hapless economy car
Ford Thunderbird - (retro in every way including the quality)
Ford Windstar - Ford makes a "mini" van with "maximum" problems. Anyone have a spare head gasket? Dashboard lights are not only for Christmas anymore.

GMC Canyon (4WD) - (in the canyon is where they generally end up)
GMC Jimmy - (another GM product that was behind the times. Much better suv's out there)
GMC S-15 Sonoma (4WD) -  (2wd not bad but not the 4wd. Look out)
GMC Safari. -  (can GM make a product that doors and handles work?)

Honda Odyssey - (huge transmission problems in 1999-2003)
Honda Civic 2006-2009 - (cracked aluminum engine block results in loss of coolant)

Hyundai Sonata 2010-2014 - engine failures (a black eye on an otherwise stellar car company)

Jeep Cherokee 2014-2015-  (A 4 cylinder that gets 22mpg? C'mon Chrysler. It's cheaply built, unrefined and jittery)
Jeep Compass 2007-2016- (If claustrophobia is a positive word in your vocabulary than this car is for you. It's a sad car all around. Watch for transmission problems and anything electric)
Jeep Patriot 2009-2016- (Slow as a slug and noisy with pathetic built quality)
Jeep Renegade 2015-2017- (Italian built american car? About as unremarkable and unreliable as a wanna be 4 wheel drive car can be)
Jeep Wrangler 2007-2012- (cute, off road capable pile of crap. Nice to have as a 3rd car but not as your primary driver)

Kia Sedona (pre 2006) -  (cheap, cheap, cheap, and fall apart quality)
Kia Sorento 2011-2014- (Kia was still figuring out how to build a quality SUV. This is not one of them. Go for the vastly improved 2015 model)

Land Rover Discovery, LR3 -  (I love England but not these overrated machines)
Land Rover Discovery Sport - Build quality is not up to snuff.

Lincoln Aviator - (environmental and financial nightmare)
Lincoln MKS - Luxury car built on a Taurus platform? Say no more
Lincoln MKT - A rebadged Ford Flex and just about as exciting as a day at the morgue. Oops it also looks like a hearst

Mazda RX-8 - (recall king and for very good reason)

Mercedes-Benz SL- (very, very expensive to maintain but could be worth it if money means nothing)

Mini Cooper 2001-2006. Major mechanical engine and transmission problems (including manual)

Mitsubishi iMiEV - 66 horsepower and 62 miles on a full charge doesn't quite cut it these days.
Mitsubishi Mirage - Ranks at the bottom of Consumer Reports surveys. That hurts.

Nissan Armada - Transmission problems on this overstuffed 13 mpg gas hog.
Nissan Titan (4WD) - (self destructive cheap bumpers - oversize wimp of a car) Also poor quality.
Nissan Pathfinder 2005-2006 - (oil cooler line inside the radiator results in transmission failure)

Nissan Frontier 2005-2006 - (oil cooler line inside the radiator results in transmission failure )

Nissan Xterra 2005-2006 - (oil cooler line inside the radiator results in transmission failure)

Oldsmobile Bravada - (a pitiful SUV overflowing with built-in obsolescence)
Oldsmobile Silhouette - (get another minivan, please get another minivan)
Oldsmobile Alero - (constant wheel bearing problems - things just fall apart on a daily basis)

Pontiac Aztek - (unreliable and most likely the ugliest car ever, and I mean ever, built)
Pontiac G6 - (poorly constructed image vehicle sold to poor image conscious people)
Pontiac Montana, Trans Sport, Montana SV6 -  (much better choices out there, just about anything)

Saturn Relay - (Saturn had some good days but they were clearly over by this time)
Saturn Vue - (can you say "another transmission please?")

Scion iQ - Rear seat? Yes. Rear passengers? God no. Slow as molasses and loud. Not a good combination.

Smart for Two - Just stay away from this poor performing three cylinder Mercedes Benz matchbox.

Subaru Forester - (pre 2003 internal head gasket failure on an otherwise stellar car)
Subaru Impreza - (ditto)
Subaru Legacy - (ditto)
Subaru Outback - (ditto)

Toyota 4runner 1990-1994 (Expensive head gasket failure)
Toyota Prius 2010 (the only bad year in the Prius line-up)

Any Toyota with the 2AZ FE 2.4L engine which was known for oil consumption problems (defective piston ring design)
This includes:
2002–2011 Toyota Camry
2009  Toyota Matrix S (USA)/XR -  (Canada)/XRS
2009–2010 Pontiac Vibe
2009–2010 Toyota Corolla  XRS (2011-2013 built in Mexico)
2007–2008 Toyota Camry Solara
2006-2009 Toyota RAV4
2001–2007 Toyota Highlander
2007–2010 Scion tC
2008–2009 Scion xB

Volkswagen Cabriolet
Volkswagen Tuareg Gas
Volkswagen Tuareg Diesel

Volkswagen Jetta Sedan (turbo)
Volkswagen Jetta Sedan (V6)