10 cheap SUVs that will ruin you with maintenance bills and repairs
The SUV market today has no shortage of options. Some of them emphasize sportiness, others focus on utility, while others focus on draining your pockets with heavy maintenance and repair costs.
A new SUV is always an exciting purchase, as is a used SUV that offers good value for money in the long run. The whole point of buying a cheap used SUV is to get reliability out of that SUV and not worry about spending a fortune on maintenance. Buying a used SUV gives you the advantage of knowing the types of problems and the type of vehicle to avoid. If you buy one of the following ten unreliable SUVs, you could find yourself in a very expensive situation.
ten 2007-2009 and 2011-2012 Chevy Suburban ($7,000)
Major engine problems are a cause for concern for most 2011 and 2012 Chevy Suburban owners. Sometimes a timing belt change will be enough to fix the problem, while others require a complete rebuild. The 2011 model also suffered from a poor drive system and brake issues.
The 2012 model encountered problems with the transmission and the climate system. Suspension issues have also been reported. You’d have to avoid those years of Chevy Suburbans or end up paying a premium to fix those issues.
9 2016 and 2018 Dodge Durango ($16,000)
These two Durangos are synonymous with poor reliability ratings. The 2016 Dodge Durango had many customers complaining on major and minor engine problems. Problems such as engine cooling and faults in the electrical system were common.
The 2018 version was no better as it had various issues with the fuel system faulty suspension and brakes. In addition, the climate system was defective for these two model years. Stay away from those two years to avoid hefty repair and parts bills.
8 2011 Ford Explorer ($6,000)
Ford Explorers have long been among the most popular SUVs on the market. However, some Explorer models are best avoided if you don’t want to end up with huge repair bills. While you can find a Ford Explorer from 2011 for an affordable price of $6,000, it could be more expensive in the future because owning it requires heavy maintenance and repairs.
The transmission and drive system of this model was problematic and prone to failure, thus requiring expensive repairs. Additionally, poor body integrity and a faulty exhaust system are reasons to stay away from this Ford Explorer model.
seven 2014-2017 GMC Yukon ($15,000)
These Four GMC Yukon Models Don’t Score High on Reliability. You will likely experience major engine issues if you own a 2015 Yukon. The 2017 model has many minor engine issues. 2016 and 2017 are facing major issues with the transmission and drive system.
These issues are just the surface of what could go wrong with these four model years. Although these few years have been unreliable, there are still excellent models for the Yukon. It will be great for your pocket if you can avoid those years of lower reliability.
6 2015-2017 Buick Encore ($8,000)
A Buick Encore is an affordable option for a midsize SUV. However, you should try as much as possible to avoid 2015 to 2017 models as they will lead you down a rabbit hole of repairs and maintenance. Engine issues will cause your check light engine to stay on constantly while the brake pedal assembly is shoddy.
The braking system is far from good, with poor performance due to a faulty master cylinder. A common problem is the brakes wearing out sooner than expected. You can also expect failures with the air conditioning system where refrigerant could leak, or a general electrical failure could develop.
5 2012-2013 Audi Q5 ($9,000)
As a rule of thumb, an Audi SUV that’s less than ten years old and looks very cheap should be a red flag. The 2012 Audi Q5 got poor reliability ratings due to major and minor engine issues. Engine cooling also tends to be problematic and sometimes insufficient.
The 2013 model was no better as it had the same engine issues and had a poor drive system. The suspension was out of whack on this model. Additionally, these model years suffered from poor body integrity, faulty air conditioning systems, and on-board electronics. Since aftermarket Audi SUVs are expensive, these models are best avoided.
4 2020 Acura MDX ($30,000)
You wouldn’t expect a newer SUV from one of the world’s most trusted automakers to appear on this list. Nevertheless, the Acura MDX is not very reliable, even though it is the most expensive car on this list. According to consumer reportsthe bodywork is of poor quality and they tend to develop minor transmission problems even on low mileage.
Other transmission problems involve leaks, transmission sensor failure, rough shifting, and a slippery transmission. The original paint is prone to chalking, fading, peeling or cracking. At the same time, rust is not an uncommon problem for this MDX model. Repairs and maintenance of these problems could cost you dearly. so it’s best to avoid MDX 2020 altogether.
3 2009-2012 Dodge Journey ($4,000)
The Dodge Journey has been known to develop a few issues, including a remote keyless entry system that may not work. There have also been reports of water leaking into the cabin leading to dampness. Another common problem that would lead to costly maintenance costs is the engine prone to overheating – engine overheating results from the cylinder head cooling port trapping debris.
The power steering pump can also develop problems and reduce noise when cornering. The calibration of the brake system is sometimes faulty and can vibrate on application.
2 2002 Pontiac Aztek ($4,000)
Similarly, the Toyota Prius comes to mind whenever you think of hybrid cars, and the Pontiac Aztek comes to mind whenever the topic is which SUVs to avoid. Unless you’re Walter White from Breaking Bad, this car belongs in the junkyard. The car is mundane and not as cool as GM tried to make it look in its early days.
Fast forward many years later, and owners will let you in on their countless frustrations with this car. It has undergone several recalls, warning of impending repairs and maintenance awaiting any unwary new owner of a used Aztek.
1 2004 Porsche Cayenne ($6,000)
If you want to buy a used Porsche, you can expect to pay a bit more than other SUVs if you plan to get something reliable. According to Copilotsearch, the 2004 Porsche Cayenne is the most problematic. Therefore, you will find them sold at very low prices. But with a little research, you’ll know why to stay away from them.
Common plagues range from engine problems to transmission problems and cooling system problems. Add to that the already expensive serving parts, and you have a money pit that will eventually put you out of business.