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40 Cars That Break Drivers’ Budgets Just to Maintain

Cameron EittreimMay 2, 2022

Cadillac SRX Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

34: Cadillac SRX

Cadillac deserves credit where credit is due, as the SRX was one of the first mainstream crossover SUVs. The first generation of the SRX was attractive and its performance was above average for an SUV (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

As is the case with most luxury cars, however, the repair costs on the SRX can be expensive. The costliest repair that normally breaks drivers’ budgets is the transmission. The SRX has a transmission with many special features and this is usually an expensive repair.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

33: Subaru Legacy

The Legacy has always been touted as an affordable and reliable car to own. But when repairs are done, the cost can be expensive. Depending on what goes wrong with the car, you will have to spend a pretty penny getting it fixed (via Autolist).

2005 Subaru Legacy - 2009 Subaru Legacy
Photo Credit: Edmunds

Common problems with the Legacy include the all-wheel-drive system and the head gasket failing. These are common to many Subaru models, but the Legacy is among the costliest to repair if you are required to put a Legacy into a shop.

Ford Mustang GT 1994

32: Ford Mustang

The Mustang is an American staple when it comes to the modern pony car. The attractive design and seemingly affordable price make the Mustang a car that anyone can own. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be subject to expensive repairs (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Ford

The Mustang is one of the most expensive cars to repair, and that depends on what exactly is going wrong at the time. The head gasket is expensive to repair, and the transmission tends to fail often on the automatic models.

Photo Credit: Car & Driver

31: Volkswagen Passat

It goes without saying German cars are expensive to repair, but the Passat is a surprising money pit. Depending on the generation of the Passat you decide to purchase, the car can be expensive (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The most common problems are the transmission failing and oil leaking from the turbocharger on the 2.0T model. As with any German car, repairs on this one are costly, oftentimes more than what the car might actually be worth.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

30: Chrysler 200

The Chrysler 200 was one of the most costly investments that Chrysler Corporation ever made. Unfortunately, the car bombed big time, and the sales were far from the company’s expectations. One of the problems with this car was the perceived lack of quality and reliability (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

The Chrysler 200 is known for its head gasket failures as well as transmission failures. The CVT transmission isn’t up to the task of motivating this car. You’ll spend a pretty penny trying to get this repaired and most 200 models are already out of warranty. That makes it far from a good car for drivers’ budgets.

Photo Credit: Car & Driver

29: Mazda 6

Mazda has cultivated a good reputation for quality cars in the last decade. But that doesn’t mean the repairs won’t be expensive when it is time. The Mazda 6 is well known for being a fun-to-drive and attractive sedan, but that fun is only skin deep (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Car & Driver

The main problems for the Mazda 6 revolve around the transmission and cooling system. When these cars overheat, they overheat bad, and the cost to do the repairs is more than what most drivers might be comfortable spending. This unique issue forced the 6 to be rough on drivers’ budgets overall.

Photo Credit: Acura

28: Acura RDX

The Acura RDX was a surprise hit for the brand, as consumers gravitated more toward compact crossover SUV models. The RDX was released on the heels of the massively popular MDX SUV, and it had some notable features (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Acura

But if you are unfortunate enough to have the SH-AWD version, you’re in for costly repairs. This is one of the most expensive all-wheel-drive systems Honda has ever produced, and it will cost a lot to repair.

Photo Credit: Dodge

27: Dodge Ram 1500

In the last decade, the Dodge Ram has become one of the best-selling pickup trucks of all time. Part of that is because the truck has a timeless design and many standard features for the price (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

But older versions of this truck are problematic and expensive to repair. The transmission is the most common failure in the Dodge Ram pickup. This repair will generally set you back around $2400 for a full replacement.

Enclave Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

26: Buick Enclave

After the GM bankruptcy of 2008, the company released many new and innovative vehicles. The Enclave was released alongside the other new crossover models from GM. The luxurious SUV was built on the success Buick had previously with the Rendezvous (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

But with high-class luxury features, there is also an expensive repair bill, and the Enclave is far from immune to that. Many issues tend to go wrong, as this thing racks off the mileage, and repair costs are not cheap.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

25: Chevrolet Traverse

The corporate cousin of the Enclave, the Traverse, has its fair share of expensive repairs that owners will have to tend to. This SUV experiences a lot of overheating issues as time goes on, and this only tends to get worse as the vehicle ages (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

There are also electrical issues that tend to go on relating to the interior of the car. The navigation system is also problematic. You will spend a pretty penny to keep the first-generation Traverse models on the road.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

24: Honda Odyssey

How could a minivan with a Honda badge be expensive to maintain? Well, the Odyssey has its problems with expensive repair costs. The unique thing about the Odyssey is that the van has remained a dominant force in the minivan segment for this long (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The downside of the Odyssey is that it has many defects that are expensive to repair. The transmission fails often in the first generation of the van, and there are also known issues with the valves. This is a common problem Honda has addressed under warranty. But for used models, this, unfortunately, won’t be the case.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

23: Nissan Murano

The Murano was a popular change of scenery for Nissan and one of the first crossover SUV models to hit the market. The first Murano shared a lot of its underpinnings with the Nissan Z sports car so its driving aesthetics were great (via Autolist).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Unfortunately, maintenance is expensive with this car because there are many issues. Reliability is not generally favorable, and the CVT transmission is problematic at best. There has also been a flurry of electrical problems the car suffers from.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

22: Subaru Outback

The Outback is one of the most popular wagons ever to grace the automotive world. In recent years, owning a Subaru has become a sort of status symbol. But with a status symbol car, there is also the price tag of high repairs (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The AWD system in the Outback is not bulletproof and older models are also subject to head gasket failures. That’s not to say the Outback is a bad ride, but you will spend a fair amount of money to keep it going.

Photo Credit: Subaru

21: Subaru Forester

Forester owners face all kinds of problems including head gasket failures and overheating. The Forester is reliable when it has low mileage on the odometer, but as the car ages, these problems tend to spring up (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Subaru

Another problem with the early Forester models is rust, which tends to target the wheel wells of the car. This is another well-known problem Subaru has acknowledged, and it will break drivers’ budgets to get it taken care of.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

20: Chrysler Sebring

The Sebring was long the sweetheart of rental car fleets across the country thanks to its cheap price tag and a seemingly stylish exterior. Sadly, though, the Sebring didn’t have the best build quality, and many of these issues have come to the light (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

The Sebring had a notorious engine failure rate, involving the 2.7L V6. These engines are known to suffer premature engine sludge and worse. The cost of these repairs is astronomical, and thus the Sebring is one of the worst money pits out there.

Photo Credit: GM

19: Chevrolet Suburban

The Suburban is one of the longest-running auto nameplates of all time, it was the original family car. This large cruiser has long been popular in the SUV world, and even more so in the last couple of decades (via Hot Cars).

Suburban Via GM
Photo Credit: GM

But the Suburban isn’t without its faults, and if you own one, there are a few costly repairs that you will encounter. The most common problem with the early Vortec V8 models is that with the spider injectors going out, drivers are left with a repair that will cost upwards of 800 dollars.

Mini Cooper
Photo Credit: Mini

18: Mini Cooper

The Mini Cooper experienced a resurgence when it was revived for the 2001 model year, and since then it has remained a unique option. But the Mini Cooper is a complex car to own and repair costs can be expensive (via Hot Cars).

Mini Cooper
Photo Credit: Mini

Even an oil change in one of these automobiles can break budgets, especially if you are doing it at the dealership. In recent years, its transmission has also been the subject of many problems with owners, and it’s not a cheap fix.

1999 Dodge Caravan
Photo Credit: Dodge

17: Dodge Grand Caravan

The original and arguably the most popular minivan to ever grace the automotive world is also expensive to fix. The Grand Caravan has one of the most stellar sales records of any minivan on the market (via Hot Cars).

Dodge Caravan Via Edmunds
Photo Credit: Edmunds

But there are many reliability issues with the caravan, and many of these issues are expensive to repair. The transmission is the most common, and the timing chain is the second most common failure on the Grand Caravan.

GMC Acadia Via Motor Trend
Photo Credit Motor Trend

16: GMC Acadia

The GMC variant of the GM crossover trio including the Buick Enclave and the Chevy Traverse also had its fair share of reliability issues. These automobiles’ design was rushed to the market and thus there were many shortcomings (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The CVT transmission is problematic, and the cost to replace one of these is expensive. The head gasket has also been known to go out on the earliest models of the Acadia, which leads to frustration when it comes time to pay for the repairs.

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15: Jeep Wrangler

The Wrangler has long been a popular off-road SUV with a lot of potential but recent models have been problematic. It should be expected that any modern SUV will have more expensive repair costs than the classics, but the Wrangler is taking it to the next level (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Wrangler TJ Forum

There have been problems with the seals along the removable top, the engine overheating, and several electrical issues. There have also been issues related to the 4WD system, and these are among the most expensive to fix.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

14: Nissan Maxima

The Maxima is often referred to as one of the most popular Nissan models of all time. This was the first sedan with a talking interior but was even a thing. But the modern Maxima models have started to wane in popularity (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

One of the reasons for this has been the expensive repair costs associated with the car. The Maxima is not cheap to repair, and the most common problem has been associated with the CVT transmission. The head gasket is also an expensive repair that tends to happen on the older Maxima models.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

13: Acura TL

The TL is by far one of the most underrated cars on this list, as it has been a staple of the Acura lineup. With that being said, the car still has its fair share of expensive repairs that tend to cost drivers a lot of money (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

What exactly goes wrong when you own a TL? Well, there are a few things that tend to happen with this car. More recently, these issues have been related to the CVT transmission, and there have also been timing chain issues reported.

Photo Credit: Honda

12: Honda Pilot

For years, the Honda Passport was the only SUV sold in the Honda lineup, or at least the only authentic SUV because there was the CR-V. The passport was sadly nothing more than an Isuzu Rodeo with a different badge on it. When the pilot hit the market, it was an authentic Honda model in every sense of the word (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Honda

The Pilot has had issues with the transmission, rear-end, and even overheating as the mileage gets higher. Many of these issues Honda has rectified with service bulletins, but the warranty doesn’t cover used models, unfortunately.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

11: Jaguar F-Pace

The last couple of decades hasn’t been too pleasant for the Jaguar brand. The F-Pace was designed and built to fix the incredibly tarnished reputation. The crossover has a great driving presence and interior design but there have been costly issues (via Hot Cars).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

There have been coolant leaks reported, and this repair is costly, and there have also been gearbox issues reported. Given the price tag is upwards of $47k, these are just issues that drivers just don’t want to run into.

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

10: Porsche Cayenne

The Cayenne has been on the market for a long time, and with every year, the SUV gets a little better. But that doesn’t mean there have been hiccups along the way, as the SUV has had its faults (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Car Gurus

The Cayenne has had issues with the turbocharger leaking oil as well as the transmission solenoid going out. These are costly repairs on any car, but especially on a Porsche SUV.

Range Rover
Photo Credit: CarDomain

9: Land Rover Range Rover

There was a time when Land Rover was the be-all and end-all of off-road capability. But in recent years, the brand has become more of a status symbol. That doesn’t change the fact that the Range Rover is still one of the most problematic SUVs on the road (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The reliability of the model is questionable at best, and if you get a used model, it will be even worse. The head gasket failures are rampant on these vehicles, and the price to perform that repair will set you back thousands of dollars.

Photo Credit: BMW Life

8: BMW X-Series

When BMW introduced its first SUV model in the early 2000s, it was one of the innovators. There weren’t many luxury SUVs on the market at this time, much less a German offering. However, as is the case with most German luxury vehicles, the repair costs are obscenely high (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

You won’t get away cheap when you take your BMW X-Series in for servicing. Most of the repairs that these vehicles tend to need center around transmission and electrical issues, none of which are cheap to fix.

Foto Credit: GM

7: Chevrolet Impala

The Impala is a noteworthy sedan and one of the longest-running GM nameplates of all time. But there have been many issues with this car in recent years. GM build quality isn’t what it once was, and this is the case with the Impala (via Motor 1).

Impala
Photo Credit: Car Domain

The overheating issues that plague these cars are just one of the most common issues you’ll encounter. There are also issues with the transmission, and more recently a faulty brake system was covered under a recall.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

6: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The Sprinter was a surprise for Mercedes-Benz in the United States, completely changing the delivery van segment as we know it. These big diesel vans aren’t cheap to maintain, and when it comes time to repair, you will spend a large amount of cash (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The most recent incarnations of the Sprinter have suffered from many transmission issues, as well as a fair share of overheating problems. Because this is a Mercedes-Benz product, you will feel that when the repair bill comes.

Photo Credit: Ford

5: Ford Focus

Ford tried for years to stake a claim in the compact car segment, and in 2000 the company finally made some headway with the Focus. The car was incredibly popular, and there was even a rare sport model called the Focus SVT (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

But all that success wasn’t enough to deter the fact that the car still has many reliability problems. The head gaskets would routinely fail in the first-generation models and the timing chain has also been a problem.

Photo Credit: Acura

4: Acura MDX

The MDX was the first official Acura SUV to hit the market since the previous SLX was just a badge-engineered Isuzu Trooper. The MDX brought a lot of great features to the table and the styling was a lot better than you’d expect (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Acura

As the SUV ages, however, there have been many reliability issues. The timing chain tends to go out early, and the engine has also suffered from head gasket issues. The transmission is also problematic and repairing it is not cheap, as the MDX is a luxury vehicle. It’s one that also breaks drivers’ budgets to maintain.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

3: Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Grand Cherokee has been marketed as a luxury SUV since the day it hit the market. With that type of recognition comes a luxury SUV price tag and also expensive repairs (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Grand Cherokee had an especially tough time during the Daimer years, as these vehicles shared many components with Mercedes-Benz. Transmission failure was all too common, and head gasket failure was equally frustrating to owners of these SUVs.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

2: Chevrolet Cobalt

When the Cobalt hit the market, it was the replacement for the long-running Cavalier compact car. The Cavalier had been a great seller for GM and one of the most well-known cars on the road at the time. The Cobalt had some big shoes to fill and for the most part, the car was a decent offering (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

But there were reliability issues with the Cobalt, which makes it an expensive car to own. The coolant system has a lot of faults and it tends to be an expensive repair. The AC system is yet another expensive repair on the Cobalt, making this Chevy model one that wrecks drivers’ budgets to keep on the road.

Photo Credit: Ford

1: Ford Explorer

There is no denying that the Explorer is one of the most influential SUV models that has hit the market. There are millions of them on the road right now and it continues to be a sales success as time goes on (via Motor 1).

Photo Credit: Motor Authority

However, numerous issues happen to the Explorer models as time goes on, and many of these are very expensive to repair. The main issues that happen to the older Explorer models are the suspension going out and the transmission starting to slip. These repairs are crucial to the driving quality of the vehicle.

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