Top 20 Used Cars to Avoid: Consumer Reports

Top 20 Used Cars to Avoid: Consumer Reports

5. MINI Cooper S

The MINI Cooper S may be a fun, stylish compact car, but is also one to avoid purchasing used. There’s no denying its popularity on the market, but the Cooper S isn’t free of troubles. In its current form, the Cooper S is powered by a turbocharged, 1.6-liter engine with 181 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque.

The Cooper S, according to Consumer Reports, has reliability issues with its engine, engine cooling, transmission, and fuel system. Other categories that received poor marks over the years include Climate System (2003), Suspension, Exhaust, Paint and Trim (2008), Squeaks and Rattles, and Body Hardware.

  • Alvil

    80% of the list is American cars… always leading!! USA!! USA!! USA!!

  • P.F. Bruns

    The Dodge Grand Caravan dates back to 1987, when it was simply the longer version of the Caravan. Also, both AutoGuide and Consumer reports could have put the Caravan, Grand Caravan, and Town and Country together as one item; they’re basically the same vehicle but for differences in wheelbase and trim.

  • MistyGreen

    for the record, it was 13, not 16.  still a lot though.

  • Lasaxplayer

    This could have been a great article, if we knew the reasons why each car made the list. The Ford F250’s with 6.0L diesels have turbo and head gasket problems. Mini Coppers have engine & transmission problems. The GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook have power steering issues. The early BMW 7 series had transmission, window motor, and airbag sensor problems. The BMW X5’s have problems with the digital displays (odometer & radio). I think including more specific info would have made this list a lot more helpful for readers.

  • Ryan

    “is the sole vehicle from THE American automaker”, referring to Chevrolet.Not the sole vehicle from AN American auto maker.

  • AgentOO7

    No mention of Acura 01 – 06 MDX’s notorious radiator and transmission issues??  No mention of  04-08 Nissan Titan infamous rear axle issues?  oh wait, by ‘used’ they probably referring to vehicles 2008-2012… :(

  • Joe in DE

    This is a useless article without citing to specific problems each model has encountered with frequency. 

    Personally, given the incredible number of Dodge Caravans sold and how the minivan basically pulled Chrysler out of ruin in the 80’s, I find it hard to believe that all models were failures that are to be avoided at all costs.  In fact, I still own the 1993 Grand Caravan my mom bought new as a spare utility vehicle, still going strong at 178K with the original motor and trans. 

  • Andrew

    I agree. One of the poorest articles I have seen from Auto Guide. They listed the Caravan, Grand Caravan and Town and Country as three different models, but could have easily combined them into one, given they’re practically the same. It’s a little difficult to even believe those three belong on the list though, given how immensely popular they are, and how they pretty much saved Chrysler. 

    Beyond that, they failed to mention why you should avoid them. Seems like a bit of a critical piece of information, if you ask me. 

  • Huggies22

    So you somehow missed the fact that this isn’t AutoGuide’s list? They couldn’t have combined cars into one category, numbnuts. It’s a list released by CR… 

  • thunder eagle

    I’ll stick with my old school 90’s Mercedes sure quirky little annoyances here and there but for longevity and overall build quality I”ll take a Benz.

  • Rschauwecker

    someone really hate dodge / chrysler models here… although styling and driving on audis are top of the line, quality issues are increasing overwhelmingly, maybe to meet demand. even manufacturers with long tradition of quality such as toyota have experienced a decreasing quality… sounds weird, but ford now offers tractor quality at affordable prices, i have a fiesta st, my dad a gt mustang my brother a truck, they never have any sort of quality issues, other than they rattle like old taxi cabs, interior ensamble are quite bad.

  • John McCheap

    That’s funny.

  • Michael Frost

    I am not surprised! I am a CL driver. I was helping a family member look for a slightly used Luxury SUV. Thinking the GL450 would have similar quality to my CL500. The GL 450 was a disappointment at every level. Under powered,poor trim quality and my old Tahoe had a better quality ride and sound insulation..
    Then we went for a drive in a 2011 InfinIti Q56. It had the quality and feel I was expeciting from the GL450. Needless to say,she bought the Infiniti.

  • P.F. Bruns

    Whoops! Good catch. I’m still not sure why they didn’t combine cars that only differed on the surface, though.

  • FordFocusRS29


  • Peter Bernacki

    Let us not forget they are quoting one of the most respected and sometimes controversial C R. Have you ever looked at any used mini van post soccer days? My sister has an older BMW, they are money pits. The PT Cruiser does drive like box with four wheels even the turbo model is a dog it’s the only version I have ever driven and it only took one corner for me to decide not to even to accept one for a rental. But statements regarding the 20 worst cars again these are the people who put 300 pound out riggers on the Suzuki Samurai and then complained it had a tendency to flip, respect C R’s authority, if they say their list is cars you are are simply mistaken.

  • GARY

    I unfortunately own a 2007 Uplander and I wish I didn’t own this money pit. Expensive transmission failure is something you can almost count on not to mention the long list of problems this “junk” has. Thousands of owners are not finished paying for these things before they are into repair bills that are more than the Uplanders worth. If you do not own one, don’t buy a used one, you will be sorry. No wonder GM went to the wall. 

  • Giovanni Vella

    Way to post an photo of the current gen explorer then go on to expalin that the issues only affected late models. dumbass

  • Penis

     What a piece of shit

  • John

    How could someone even think of buying such a crap.

  • Carbuyingvrapshoot

    My mother has a 2001 PT Cruiser and abuses the hell out of it. she has little to no maintenance other than the steering rack 2xs and a clutch once, she has over 200k mi on it now and it still runs strong, I’m sure this car is on the “best used Cars” list someplace.

  • CarExpert

    The BMW 7 Series issues come from the i-drive people couldn’t figure out how to work, and wound up damaging their cars because of it.. BMW recalled the vehicle to make it easier for “Americans” to operate. These cars aren’t a problem in Europe. The owner demographics come greatly into play. typically they have Plenty of Money, No time, and most likely little knowledge of vehicle repairs Therefore:

    1. the dealers are more expensive, and push replacement in stead of repair, for necessary and unnecessary (suggested) maintenance, You know all the things the mechanics say may, could or are close to failing, that most people say no to. these owners say yes and get them fixed…..Every time.

    2. the owners jump and throw money to “replace” things that most people would leave or have “repaired”

    3. the owners complain at every little tick or noise or slight imperfection that most would consider normal. I have actually heard “the air conditioning blowing out of the vents is too loud” and “my directional arrow is too bright can you dim it down” any idea how much it costs to find dimmer interior turn signal bulbs? They eventually put window tint on the back of the instrument cluster. $1500.00 because of the time it took the dash had to be removed. then the customer filed a complaint that the arrow was too bright and cost to repair it should have been covered by warranty. after they requested the repair and were told it wouldn’t be covered..

    4. They offered a 100mi warranty, I’m guessing that was because they knew the issue was fixed and they would come out ahead. not so it would cost them more money and please the customer fixing all the horrible issues, otherwise we would all have 15 year 300k mi warranties.

    This goes for Mercedes, BMW, Audi, any high end or luxury vehicle. The repair shops/dealer assume you fit the demographic above.
    I have owned all of these vehicles in various models and all dealers and most repair shops treat you exactly like that. I even had one dealer tell me my showroom condition Mercedes with uner 150k mi should be “junked” because of the condition it was in.(needed a $500 repair of a valve seal) and I should get a new one. Right because $65,000 and 850/mo payment is a so much better deal than paying $500 for a repair on car that is paid for, in pristine condition otherwise. I have worked for dealers and I am very knowledgeable on Autos and Auto repairs. If I had ever let them talk me into some of the unnecessary repairs and or replacements my service bills would also have been 4-5 times more than what I actually paid to have it fixed. big difference from a Honda or Toyota Dealer.

  • Lexylex

    The mini countryman should be on there …. What a beep of sh*t

  • therealone

    I agree

  • Fu

    Anything from Kia should be on there.
    Most of their junk will develop transmission issues after 100K miles.

  • Matt

    The only vehicle I have personally owned from this list was an Explorer. Sure it had some paint issues and squeaks and rattles but it was a 1994. That thing was plain old reliable. Never had to worry about it leaving me stranded… and I didn’t exactly baby it. I only recently got rid of it because I needed a pickup. Still, I would take CR’s “expert” reviews with a grain of salt. There are many cars that me or my close family and friends have owned that were on this magazine’s “naughty list” that were perfectly reliable for us.

  • Tyrone

    Sorry but you’re wrong

  • Rick S

    You have never driven anything they make past 100K, have you ?
    I have. It’s junk.

  • Learn

    Audi slips past the list…lol at bmw.

  • Joe Blow

    I agree, a weak list – should have made it “20 worst SUVs” since that’s
    mostly all it is anyway, and a model which is poor one year can be good
    the next, so trying to say Model X is a bad used vehicle is a moronic
    oversimplification. And not one Pontiac on the list is laughable.

  • tfortea

    moral of the story is buy japanese..

  • Rich

    I don’t get it with the P/T Cruiser. I have one with just under 200,000 miles on it and it’s still going. OH… wait a minute. I bought mine when Chrysler was offering the Lifetime Powertrain Warrranty. Had to get the engine rebuilt at 125,000 miles (inexcusable!), steering rack wore out at 100,000 miles, had to replace lower control arms TWICE, the drivers sea wore out at 150,000 miles to where I had to have it re-upholstered and restuffed, and gas mileage sucks.

    I guess that’s what they are talking about!

  • Joey P

    Buying a used car usually requires considerable time and effort. If you do a lot of research, you will surely find the right car for you. Remember, knowledge is power. Know the car you intend to buy. Running a VIN check is very important. There are several companies providing car history reports. Carfax is the most popular but also the most expensive. You can use cheap alternatives like VinAudit . It costs $5 but the information is just as good.

  • anoynamouse

    The Vw Toureg is a great SUV. Yes the shaft bearings fail but they are a $90 part and a couple hours of labor at your local indie shop. They fail on the Porsche Ceyanne and you can put the Vw bearing it and save a lot of money too! V8 engine is great…but yes the V10 tdi is a headache and rare like a Yeti

  • anoynamouse

    Terrible styling and crap quality…but it’s on par for the price. Still not sure why 1.5 million were sold but I guess I’m too stylish to understand!

  • anoynamouse

    Unless you can wrench a little on your own. THen I’ll go with the for the $80K european car that sells used for $8K…if I want a go cart or ugly I’ll go Camr/Accord..or worse Acura.

  • anoynamouse

    very untrue. one data point doesn’t make a case.

  • Jon

    My uncle has a Kia with over 180k. I gave him a hard time when he first got it. Its a Kia, they exist to be made fun of. Now I don’t know. Maybe his insane maintenance is the only reason its still on the road.

  • Ken Chamberlain

    the 2002 ford taurus ses. i paid 3000.00 for one used less than 2 years ago, since then i’ve had to have the transmission rebuilt,a blown head gasket,new waterpump, new timing chains, repaired engine cooliong housing,new heater core,new spark plugs twice; and still it has multiple misfires;and gets a crummy 15 miles per gallon, oh i forgot,also 3 new motor mounts. in all ive had to pay about 8000.00 in repairs.

  • iSnark

    I’ve had japanese cars and all of them broke down. so there isn’t a guarantee there either

  • iSnark

    Cause they obviously have something against american cars. they are japanese car worshippers

  • bbigjohnson

    Should have cut your losses a long time ago.

  • Hughson

    What are you expecting from a 12 year old vehicle. Also, who puts that much into a 12 year old Taurus.

  • bigv

    Moral of the story. Buy Japanese.

  • Shane Roeseberg

    And this is why Consumer Reports is literally the most idiotic group of vehicle reviewers in the world, oh, I’m sorry, your Jeep Wrangler 4×4 suffers from a “choppy ride” on the road and too much “road noise.” Because when one buys a Jeep Wrangler, they should expect a luxury vehicle… right. How about it’s performance off-road, Consumer Reports? You know, seeing it an off-road vehicle.

  • Pinga_dulce

    You noticed, right? +100 for you. Many believe if they purchase a German vehicle = quality, think not.

  • Pinga_dulce

    Remember, carfax can only report, what was reported. I have a 2002 Toyota camary. In all those years, the vehicles needs have been: fuel, oil, brakes a couple times, and a radiator, but that was my fault. People complain about them being boring etc. but no one built them like Toyota….Honda my second choice, and then Mazda.

  • Anduha

    Let me sum this list up, don’t buy American.

  • robertrobin10 .

    I learned that lesson 20 years ago!!!

  • yelena aveta

    My experience with one American car maker…Ford, has been absolutely horrible. Never again will I buy Ford. This list is spot-on judging from the same vehicles some of my friends have from this list. Thank you CR for so many years of telling the truth about some of these crappy vehicles.


    Well, I think we would like to know exactly what your experience was. Do you maintain your cars? Was maintenance done to the car? Or are you just another idiot that does not do anything to a car other that putting gas , then when the transmission breaks because you did not do the 30K miles maintenance, you just blame on the brand all together?


    Remember, cars are good to the owners as good as the owners are to the cars.
    People buy cars, not knowing what type of maintenance and when it should be done. Result = Blame on the brand.
    Americans take cars for granted. Go to third world countries, you will see junk cars over 30 years old, still on the road. ( if there is any roads)

  • Callinuab

    I mean you’re right buy Japanese for reliability, but not for comfort. The German’s are 11110000000X passed Japan on that. Acura’s, and Lexus do not compare to Mercedes for comfort, or luxury. Although a Honda and Toyota is obviously more reliable than a BMW or Mercedes. Most likely because they have no up to date technology on their Cars. My 2007 Toyota 4 runner is less technologically advanced than my 2001 BMW 330CI. That’s 6 year difference and the 4 runner barely has some options the BMW does. Toyota = no power seats, 3 washer settings, no Bluetooth call, no heated seats, etc.
    BMW = Power seats, heated seats, automatic windshield washers, blue tooth call, MPG display, lumbar support, etc.

    I guess you could say its up to what you can afford.

  • djtejas

    Are you kidding me…Honda / Acura is a leader in technology…go out actually look at some cars and you will be quite surprised.
    BMWs and Mercedes nickel and dime you to death with extras. Have you ever driven a Lexus or and Infiniti? They come with more standard features than Mercedes or BMW. So what you bought a base standard model 4 Runner and compare it to a BMW…have you looked at one today that is not a base model? Actually, even a base model today has all those things…we looked at some not that long ago. And if you don’t think Japanese have the comfort of German, then obviously you haven’t ridden in a Lexus LS…I’ve even ridden in Korean cars that ride as well as Mercedes….

  • djtejas

    You should never have 100% water in there anytime of the year…that’s on you, not the car. You can completely trash an engine with that kind of (non)maintenance

  • djtejas

    Plenty of Japanese cars here and only one issue ever…the a/c on the Acura. I’ve had 1 Acura, 2 Infintit’s, 1 Nissan, 1 Suzuki, 1 Lexus, 1 Totyota

  • Ken Chamberlain

    thanks for the negative feedback. next time i’ll just drive it off a cliff.

  • Ken Chamberlain

    it was the middle of the summer,you don’t need antifreeze in the coolent bottle until winter.

  • djtejas

    Not true…it works as s coolant too. I’m thinking you should have people work on your cars for you. Now we understand why you have problems with cars.

  • Ken Chamberlain

    hey,i’ll admit the the blown head gasket was my fault;but the fact that the car had a bad transmission;and motor mount issues when i purchaced it from the dealership is’nt right. i should’ve taken the car directly to have a tranny check;but not being a mechanic,i did’nt think there was an issue with it. the car drove fine for about 5 months before i started noticing problems,so i took the car to have a full diagnostic done;and that’s when i found out about the tranny;and motor mounts. the head gasket happened shortly after the rebuit tranny;because of the cold weather;and the fact that i had put water in the coolent bottle during the summer. leifs did’nt even inform me about water in the coolent bottle after the diagnostic;and the fact that the car needed a new heater core. all in all it’s driving fine now with a new heater core;but i now owe about 5000.00 dollars to my credit card for all the repairs.

  • djtejas

    My point is, if someone does not know the basics of engine cooling and coolant/antifreeze, that person should not do their own car maintenance. It should be left to someone with automotive knowledge. 100% water in a combustion engine cooling system will destroy all kinds of things while not benefiting from proper cooling too. The 100% water contributed to your head gasket issue as well as the heater core. 100% will ruin a radiator if it is aluminum and create rust in the engine.


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