The 10 Least Reliable Used Car Brands

2006 Mercedes-Benz GL 320
OSX/Wikimedia Commons

With the average cost of a new car approaching $35,000, it may make sense to buy a used car instead. But not all car brands are created equal, and reliability varies widely among used models. Consumer Reports, a leading product, and consumer information publication, rates hundreds of new cars on an annual basis based on rigorous hands-on testing. They also survey thousands of vehicle owners to determine the most and least reliable brands. This list is based on data from their 2018 vehicle survey.

1. Cadillac

General Motors' luxury division, but according to Consumer Reports, no brand has a worse reliability record. In general, Cadillac sedans are more reliable than their SUVs, and editors say the Escalade is particularly trouble-prone. The brand's tech-heavy Cue entertainment systems are frustrating to use for many owners.

2. GMC

Another General Motors division, GMC produces trucks and SUVs. But there's little to differentiate these models from the Chevrolet vehicles they're based on, apart from higher-end finishes and options and a bigger price tag. Owners say the Acadia SUV is particularly unreliable.

3. Ram

Ram used to be the truck and van division of Dodge, but it's now a standalone brand under parent corporation Fiat. Reviewers praise the ride quality of Ram trucks, and their V-6 engine offers excellent fuel economy for its class. But poor reliability is cited frequently in owner surveys, especially for the 3500 truck, and Ram designs are older than competing trucks.

4. Dodge

Another brand under the Fiat umbrella, Dodge gets mixed reviews from experts and owners. While the Durango SUV gets positive reviews in tests, other models like the Journey and Dart fail to impress. The flagship Grand Caravan minivan has average reliability, but it's dated design can't compete with newer models from rivals.

5. Volvo

Although Volvo has a reputation for safety and security, it also has a reputation as less reliable than other luxury brands like Audi, according to owner surveys. Reviewers also complain that Volvo's vehicle infotainment systems can be hard to understand. The XC90 is cited as the brand's least reliable model.

6. Lincoln

Ford's luxury division produces a couple models that have impressed owners and experts alike, namely the MKZ sedan and MKX SUV. But the large MKC, their crossover vehicle, earns poor reviews in surveys, and reliability across the brand is frequently an issue.

7. Tesla

Independent manufacturer Tesla has earned a cult-like devotion for its electric sedans and SUVs. And while experts say the Model S sedan is solid, speedy, and fairly reliable, the same can't be said for the Tesla Model X. That car made Consumer Reports' list of the 10 least-reliable car models for its poor finish quality and glitchy climate system.

8. Jeep

Despite fierce owner loyalty, Jeep has been consistently dogged by quality issues in Consumer Reports' annual owner surveys. Quality, fuel efficiency, and interior fit and finish are cited frequently by owners as major complaints. 

9. Acura

Honda's luxury division is more reliable than some competitors, but it's the worst among Japanese brands. In reliability surveys, owners cite transmission issues and say infotainment systems can be hard to use. Reviewers like the MDX SUV and TLX sedan, but other models are less impressive.

10. Chevrolet

Chevy has made strides in quality over the past several years, and models like the Malibu and Cruze perform well in tests. But build quality on the Camaro, another model on Consumer Reports' 10-worst list, is poor. Transmission and electrical issues are frequently cited in owner surveys.