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Popular Cars That Seem Cheap But Actually Burn Up Drivers’ Cash

Cameron EittreimJuly 7, 2022

Photo Credit: Ford Motor

13: Lincoln Aviator

The same goes for the Aviator, which is basically a rebadged Ford Explorer. Because the Aviator had a lot of technology, there’s a chance it will fail. The Aviator, much like the Navigator, also had an air-ride suspension, and when this goes out, it can be costly. The V8 engine is shared with the Mustang Mach and it also has reliability issues (via Readers Digest).

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Between timing chain failures, valve jobs, and misfires, this SUV is a pain to keep on the road. Coupled with the relatively limited resale value, you won’t get a good deal on the Aviator. There are better options that are much more reliable and offer more bang for the buck when it comes to driving.

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12: Lincoln Zephyr

This interesting sedan was a breath of fresh air for Lincoln in 2006, but after the initial beauty wore off, you could tell that the Zephyr was nothing special. The look and feel of the car are two benefits of driving one, but the reliability is shaky at best. The engine has many issues with the head gaskets and timing chain (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Zephyr has also been known to have premature fuel pump failures that are expensive to repair. You won’t find this car on any of the most reliable comparisons and that’s because maintenance on this car is expensive. That’s before drivers consider the fuses and interior items that tend to burn out as well.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

11: Dodge Dart

The Dart is a relatively new car even though it has been around for about five years. But this car was one of the biggest failures ever at Chrysler. The engine was notoriously unreliable but even worse is its CVT transmission. These cars are known to have transmission failures around 20,000 miles (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

The Dart is generally out of warranty by now, and the fact that the car has these kinds of failures only exemplifies the poor craftsmanship. Other issues with the Dart included the electrical components shorting out. There were better compact cars for the price and the Dart is unfortunately not one of them.

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10: Dodge Journey

There’s no doubt that the Journey is a car long in the tooth. It was one of the first crossover vehicles to hit the market. But the craftsmanship and build quality on the Journey was also quite questionable. The crossover had many reliability issues and the main one centered around the CVT transmission (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Dodge

These CVT transmissions have not been proven long enough in the automotive industry and most drivers like to avoid them altogether. Not only are they unreliable, but the repair costs are more than the average transmission used to be. The Journey also had many issues with the timing chain and engine cooling system.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

9: Dodge Neon

By now, the Neon is about a 30-year-old car getting up in age. But the Neon is also one of the most affordable cars drivers can get their hands on. The car has many issues and the main issues relate to the drivetrain. The engine is notorious for snapping the timing chain, and once that happens, repairs are nearly impossible (via Readers Digest).

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On top of all that, the Neon also has a checkered past with transmission failures. You might find a Neon for a reasonable price, but after you deal with the transmission failure or the timing chain snapping, you’ll be stuck with a lemon. The Neon just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to the reliability drivers need.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

8: Chrysler Aspen

The Aspen has been attracting more attention lately, as consumers flock to the used car market. For those who don’t remember, the Aspen was a large luxury SUV that hit the market in the middle of the 2008 recession. This was far from great timing by Chrysler and even worse was that it was just an outdated Dodge Durango (via Readers Digest).

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The Aspen had many faults but reliability is the biggest problem as the engine is prone to timing chain failure and the oil pump going out. The transmission on these SUVs is also trash as you can bet that you will be taking this to the transmission shop more than once.

Dodge Nitro - Dodge
Photo Credit: Dodge

7: Dodge Nitro

The Nitro was another compact SUV Chrysler released over the last decade. The Nitro had an upright look and it seemingly caught on with consumers. The problem is that the Nitro was also one of the more unreliable offerings. The transmission was the main problem as it is with most Dodge products (via Readers Digest).

Dodge Nitro via Chrysler Corporation
Photo Credit: Chrysler Corporation

If you were unlucky, then you’d have the transmission fail early in the ownership of the car. The reliability of the Nitro is also questionable at best. The head gasket tends to blow from time to time and the cooling system also fails.

Photo Credit: GM

6: Hummer H3

The H3 is a compact SUV released at the end of the Hummer brand’s lifespan. It had a lot going for it, other than the fact that there was a recession going on. This meant consumers didn’t want Hummers anymore. Another problem with the H3 was that it used the five-cylinder Isuzu engine as the base engine (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

This is one of the most faulty engines ever to enter a GM product. The engine is known for having an intermediate misfire that occurs from a defect in the air intake gaskets. This is not a cheap fix, and generally, once this happens, you’ll need a whole new engine.

Chevrolet Uplander
Photo Credit: GM

5: Chevrolet Uplander

The upright SUV-style minivans sold by GM in the mid-2000s have started to pique the interest of buyers lately. These vans never sold well when they were new, so it doesn’t make sense why consumers want these. The engines were notably unreliable and the vans had many issues that made them questionable (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The Uplander was a van with a faulty V6 engine. When it was running right, the overheating problem would arise. And if you could skip those problems, the transmission probably would fail on you. The Uplander was not the best-looking van and didn’t stand out from the crowd.

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4: Honda Odyssey

Honda products have the reputation for being reliable. And while the Odyssey was popular, the van did have an expensive defect. The first and second-generation models of the Odyssey are widely known to have faulty transmission. The transmissions in these vans can fail at any time and will cost an arm and a leg to repair (via Readers Digest).

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Another problem that the Odyssey is common for is the need for a valve job, which can happen at odd periods throughout the van’s life. The problem is that only a certified Honda professional can do this, and the repair is expensive. Needless to say, these early-model Odysseys might have been nice but repairs were pricey.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

3: Chrysler 200

Like the Dodge Dart, Chrysler had invested over a billion dollars in the design of this car. The 200 was supposed to be the next-generation sedan that changed the industry. Instead, consumers were critical of the car’s small size and high price tag. The Chrysler 200 didn’t do anything well, and its reliability was highly questionable (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

The CVT transmission was panned from day one, and it caused consumers to flock to other car brands. The sales for the Chrysler 200 were incredibly poor, and you find them on the used car market all the time.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

2: Volvo XC60

The Volvo XC60 is perhaps another well-known compact SUV that has been popular with drivers lately. But if you know about Volvo products, then you know that this SUV is not as reliable either. The XC60 has many electrical issues that make the SUV inoperable. The transmission is also finicky and can need repairs early on (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Because the XC60 is such an advanced vehicle, there are many electrical components throughout the car. You’ll have to have a professional make these repairs, and that can be costly and something that most consumers don’t want to do. The XC60 is a vehicle that should be avoided by the common consumer.

Photo Credit: Ford

1: Ford Bronco

Consumers and the automotive press have panned the new Bronco for catastrophic engine failures. The Bronco is not reliable by any means, and when you open the hood, you are exposed to hoses and wires. There’s no doubt that the Bronco was simply rushed together and then pushed onto the market (via Readers Digest).

Photo Credit: Ford

Consumers have also complained about issues with the automatic transmission. Luckily, a lot of these issues are still under warranty, but once that warranty expires, these repairs will be expensive. Bronco loyalists are disappointed because the Bronco was traditionally an easy-to-repair rig with great styling.

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