buying car

Buying a Car: Models That are Prone to Problems

Not all car models are the same because some have particular weaknesses that lead to problems sooner than other models. If you are planning to buy a car soon, you must keep yourself informed to be able to make a wise choice. Consumer Reports has provided data on these brand models to avoid.

Car Models Prone to Air Conditioning Issues

According to Consumer Reports, a car’s air conditioning system must be reliable for at least 100,000 miles. As cars age, though, it is normal for problems to appear, such as a leaking refrigerant, a fault in the condenser, or a malfunctioning blower motor.

You will eventually need the help of an auto AC repair specialist.

For the 10 models listed below, though, consumers reported that air conditioning problems appeared even before they reached 25,000 miles and these problems recurred outside warranty. Users experienced issues that were complicated and required expensive repairs of up to $1,000. They also needed repairs that took several days, leaving drivers car-less.

The worst model in the list is the 2016 model Mazda CX-3, followed by the Honda Civic of 2016, and the Chevrolet Traverse of 2014. Fourth to sixth place are the Kia Sportage of 2016, the Buick Enclave of 2013, and the Hyundai Santa Fe of 2014. In seventh to tenth place are the GMC Acadia of 2015, the BMW X5 of 2013, the Nissan Altima of 2014, and the Ford Fiesta of 2014.

Car Models Prone to Head Gasket Issues

The head gasket tightly seals the engine cylinder head from the block. It can fail due to age deterioration, overheating of the engine, faulty installation, or an inherent flaw in the design. Even if the problem is caught early on, head gasket replacement can cost $2,000 or more. If left unaddressed, the coolant or the motor oil will leak down to the engine or drain outside the engine. Repairing issues stemming from this can cost $3,000 to $4,000. An owner of a BMW X1 had to pay $7,500 for repairs.

The model that needs the earliest head gasket replacement is the Chevrolet Cruze of 2011, followed by the BMW 3 Series of 2011 and the BMW X1 of 2014. In fourth place is the Buick Lucerne of 2011 followed by the Subaru Impreza of 2011 and the BMW 5 Series of 2012. In seventh place is the BMW X3 of 2012 followed by the Mini Cooper or Mini Clubman of 2013, and the Buick Encore of 2015.

Car Models Prone to Transmission Issues


Consumer Reports states that cars these days can go 200,000 miles with only routine maintenance plus minimal repair for worn-out parts. An owner of a Forte, however, experienced transmission problems at only 4,300 miles. Transmission replacement took 44 days, leaving him inconvenienced. Replacement is also expensive, with an owner of a Murano spending $5,000.

The model that needs transmission replacement earliest is the Nissan Sentra of 2013, followed by the Nissan Pathfinder of 2014, and the Ford Focus of 2014. At the fourth to sixth places are the Kia Forte of 2019, the Nissan Murano of 2013, and the Ford Fiesta of 2011. In seventh place is the Infiniti QX60 of 2014, the Nissan Rogue of 2011, the Nissan Altima of 2016, and the Chevrolet Traverse of 2013.

Car Models Prone to Engine Issues

Engine failure is also one of the most expensive to repair, and among the most inconvenient auto problems due to the time it takes to do the rebuild. Often, the engine is replaced with a remanufactured one instead.

Consumer Reports states that engines fail when worn-out piston rings cause low compression. This leads to excessive consumption of oil, misfiring, and loss of power. It can also result in failure in the crankshaft, creating a knock.

The model that needs the earliest engine rebuild is the Kia Optima of 2014, followed by the Kia Sorento of 2013, and the Hyundai Santa Fe of 2013. In fourth to sixth place are the Hyundai Sonata of 2011, the Subaru Forester of 2012, and the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport of 2013. In seventh place is the Audi A4 of 2011, followed by the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain of 2011, the Ford Mustang of 2015, the BMW X3 of 2013, and Volvo XC60 of 2015.

Buy a Car to Last

Anyone buying a car wants it to last, and here are the top brands that are the most reliable according to the 2021 Brand Report Card of Consumer Reports. It determines the rankings by anonymously buying vehicles from dealerships and road testing these for safety, braking, handling, fuel economy, comfort, and convenience. It also considers in the rankings the results from surveys it conducts among its subscribers.

At the top of the most reliable list is Mazda. Second on the list is BMW, followed by Subaru. In fourth place is Porsche, and in fifth place is Honda.

These five brands also have lemons, though. Stay away from the models with weaknesses mentioned previously. Mazda has one, BMW has six, Subaru has two, and Honda has one. Significantly, Porsche has none.

The least reliable brand in the list, with poor road-test performance, is Alfa Romeo. Also at the bottom are Mitsubishi and Land Rover so stay away from these, as well.

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