Anyway you look at it people are going to have their Year/Make/Model preferences for cars. However, mechanics are dishing out the details of which vehicles are taken to the shop most and the least. If you’re in the market,maybe take their words of caution and advice with you to the dealership! And let me tell you, there are some common themes here for the best and worst cars. Take notes! Content edited for clarity.
From The Professional
“Auto tech here, I would have to say Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep are the worst new or used. Constant electrical problems due to their genius idea of a ‘Totally Integrated Power Module.’ Basically it’s the fuse block under the hood with nonreplaceable relays. If your left headlight doesn’t work, that will be $700. Even worse is their PT Cruiser; electrical problems galore, control arm bushings go bad, bad design of the engine mounting so the car vibrates constantly even after replacing all the mounts, shifter cables stick so can’t pull it out of gear. Plus bad seat belt sensors that when ordered new from the dealer are bad.
Now on to bad used cars (out of warranty): Stay away from European cars(BMW, Mercedes, VW, Audi, SAAB) what I see with them is mostly previous owner neglect. Sludged motors, cracking vacuum hoses, worn-out brakes and struts, expensive parts, and repairs.
All manufacturers build some turds but these are the ones that stick out most because I deal with over 100 cars a week by all the manufacturers at my job. One thing Japanese manufacturers have over the rest, and why I think their cars are/seem more reliable, is they got into the customer that maintenance is key! Most of the new cars today use ‘Variable Valve Timing’ which is run off of oil pressure and if you don’t change the oil regularly it will clog up this system and there is at least a 1k repair if not a whole engine.
Basically Do Regular Maintenance!!! It will save you in the long run. My 2003 Chevy Truck has 315,000 and never has had problem.”
“Three of my good friends are mechanics, so I just mass texted them, and got pretty much the same answers. I myself have been into cars since I was about 20. So here’s what they say:
Most reliable- Honda by far. The 90’s Hondas and ones still made in Japan are the best of the best. Excellent resale value, even ’91-93 models still sell for $4000 if they are in good shape. Just change the oil and change the timing belt, and they will run forever.
Toyota- darn near as good, just aren’t fun to drive. They are old people cars mostly, though Scion is trying to change this.
Nissan/Subaru-only minor things break and have good/great performance. If you have a Honda/Toyota as your to/from work car, then you want a Scooby/Nissan for your weekend fun car.
Worst Japanese Car-Mitsubishi. The Lancer Evos are like Jet fighters, super performance, but need constant maintenance. All their other models are budget garbage for people who can’t afford better.
Worst Car Company- GM, even beating out Dodge. Bad engineering, poor reliability, poor resale. They have had cars with 20,000 miles on them and had complete engine failure. That’s not even considered ‘broken in’ on a Honda. (One of my buddies has a guy come in with his ’88 Prelude that needed a new clutch, original engine with 786,000 miles, no oil leaks runs great).
Best American Car-New Ford models, they are so much better than their 80s-90s models.
Most improved Car- Hyundai, getting more reliable and some have good performance.
Best Car for the least amount of money- Honda Fit
Worst Car for the least amount of Money- Chevy Spark (or Sonic, the low-end models are awful Korean Daewoo cars that sold so poorly here in the States that GM decided to buy them. Well what did you expect?).
European Cars are just slightly worse than American cars as far as reliability but generally have better performance. Overpriced and often over-engineered.”
The Tried And True
“When my last car (Saturn) pooped out on me for good, I asked the mechanic which cars he recommends, and he said:
‘The cars coming into the shop the least are Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, and their luxury brands (Lexus, Acura, Infiniti).’
Three years later and I’ve never had a problem with my Honda CR-V or my wife’s Corolla.”
Consistency Is Key
“I bought a Passat Wagon when my daughter was born. I was warned by a mechanic, ‘At 60,000 miles you’re gonna start paying for a whole of problems.’
And sure enough, just past 60,000 miles, I was putting at least a couple of grand into fixing it each year.
Finally gave it up and bought a Honda CR-V. It’s at 138,000 and going strong!”
They Run Forever
‘”97 Honda. I collided with another vehicle in 2009 during a heavy rainstorm. The vehicle in front of me slammed on its brakes quite suddenly due to a flipped SUV in the middle of the lane. I hit the brakes but it wasn’t good enough and I ended up hydroplaning into the back of the car.
After some extensive repairs that I did with my old man, the car was running again. I have driven this car daily since I got it in 2007. It’s been through a major accident and has over 270,000 miles on it. It has broken down a whopping ONE time.
Don’t be silly kids, invest in a Honda. Junkyards actually turn away Honda’s because nobody ever needs parts for them, because they run forever!”
Minivan Major Problem
“When it comes to a Dodge Carivan, I can tell before even opening the hood that you’re going to need a new transmission solenoid.
It is a common problem on that particular transmission (not to like, talk shop too much, I just know a lot about these darn things). The 41TE transmission, which is otherwise a decent tranny, always had a problem with the solenoids. Plus, that transmission is in all kinds of Chrysler vehicles, mid 90’s to 07 minivans, Neons, Sebrings, PT Cruisers. There are literally millions of those transmissions out there.
But like I said, the transmission itself is by and large okay, its just you have to replace the solenoid pack occasionally.
The solenoid will leak and get transmission fluid everywhere. I bet that creaking noise though is because of the serp belt tensioner, those are liable to go bad in the V6 Chrysler minivans.”
Years Do Make A Difference
“Take care of your Subaru and it will take care of you. There’s an entire Pinterest board dedicated to high-mileage Subarus. The late 90s/early 00s Subarus with the 2.5L engine had bad head gaskets, and their turbos have a tendency to eat themselves but aside from that, they’re rock solid.
My ’03 Outback made it to 107,000 miles and still ran like new (and then I totaled it, but it easily had another 100,000 miles left in it.”
Don’t Buy It Because It Is Cool
“Never buy a Landrover unless you like to burn money. Newer Mercedes and BMW are good cars, they last a long time, but when they break you will feel the hurt. anything exotic is a no-no unless you are wealthy.
Even a ‘cheap’ Ferrari, which may seem cool, hey, Magnum PI drove one right? Good luck. It takes a good tech 21 hours to pull the motor, and you will pull it often if you try to drive that car like an animal ever, or daily it at all.”
Across The Pond
“I know a guy that runs a relatively small shop in London, specializing in German cars.
The car he sees most often: BMW e46, in all its various forms.
The car plus repair combination that he sees most often: Mercedes A-Class (W168) – gearbox replacement.”