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9 popular used cars with dubious reliability

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Old 07-18-14, 12:22 PM   #1
bagwell
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Default 9 popular used cars with dubious reliability

You did everything right when buying your car: Consumer Reports, enthusiast magazines, the big automotive online sites. You even went through the trouble of visiting enthusiast forums that specialized in the exact same car that ended up on your driveway.
So how did you wind up on a first-name basis with your mechanic? This happens more than you might think. Most car buyers will spend anywhere from weeks to several months trying to find a nice daily driver — only to find out that their cherished chariot has turned out to be as rough as a worn-out mop.

New? Used? It doesn't matter. Over time, quality always manages to reveal itself. The tough part for you is that most automotive publications will only test the new stuff, and most quality studies are only focused on first owners and short-term results.

Manufacturers use all of these sources as marketing tools, and some of the most popularized studies are not sound indicators of durability. Long-term reliability studies do a far better job, but they also have an Achilles' heel: Most of them are either captive to their subscribers, or only have the means to survey first owners. This creates a more challenging issue called ownership bias.

Plenty of us have ridden in cars that were barely hanging on for their dear mechanical life thanks to an owner who just didn't know anything about cars. Neglect, abuse, wear issues, and the owner's rose-colored glasses manage to make these surveys flawed.

That's why we decided to do something different: Measure failure. Specifically, nearly 450,000 cases of it. We co-developed a study that focuses on the exact point where the owner says, "No more!" — when they're willing to just throw up their hands and trade in that retail product for a cheap wholesale price.

All of these vehicles were independently inspected and appraised by professional car buyers who are trained to detect mechanical and structural issues, which can be overlooked or unreported by the owners in other industry studies, and are recorded by those who have no owner bias.

What we discovered is that many of the most popular vehicles in today's used-car market have severe long-term reliability issues when it comes to specific powertrains. One engine and transmission combination may do an outstanding job, while another may be truly abysmal.

Which popular cars have specific reliability issues? Here are several surprises.

Honda Accord: The Accord carries a stiff price premium in today's used car market due in large part due to its reputation for reliability. Yet, the flies in the ointment are automatic transmissions for their older six-cylinder models. Honda recalled over a million vehicles way back in 2004. However, there are reports that transmission issues for those recall vehicles still persist, and our survey shows that this issue remains chronic enough to make the Honda Accord just below average in terms of long-term reliability.

Nissan Altima: Nissan Altimas with four-cylinder engines built between 2002 and 2006 experienced excessive oil consumption as a result of improper performance of the piston rings. Catalytic converters on these models also tend to break down during this same period, which scores the cylinder walls of the engine.

Mini Cooper: The Mini Cooper is one of the ten worst vehicles in our survey due to improper shifting of their continuously variable transmissions for the 2002 thru 2006 Mini Cooper and the 2005 thru 2008 Mini Convertible. BMW has recently settled a class action lawsuit, but our survey shows that this issue remains chronic for traded-in vehicles around the country during the last two years.

2008 Ford F-150
Ford F-150: Spark plugs that either blow out of the engine entirely, or break off on Ford F-150 models equipped with the 5.4-liter V-8 engine, have created an extreme spike in trade-ins that exhibit these serious engine problems. Model years 2004 thru 2008 appear to be the primary ones to avoid. However, there is also a recently settled class action lawsuit related to the 6-liter Powerstroke diesel due to engine performance and stalling issues. We believe both engines should be avoided.

Dodge Caliber: The Caliber models equipped with the CVT transmission have chronic shifting issues. This transmission is also shared with the Nissan Altima, and Nissan decided to double the warranty coverage on all model year 2003 to 2010 Nissans with the CVT. This transmission was also shared with the Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, and Mitsubishi Outlander. A few of these models were given lifetime guarantees by Chrysler but unfortunately, they are not transferable to new owners.

Nissan Maxima: In one of the more extreme cases, between model years 2004 and 2006, Nissan coupled the CVT with an engine that offered over 260 hp. This resulted in an extreme spike of defective transmissions and led to the Nissan Maxima becoming the least reliable Nissan product in our study. Manual transmissions and non-CVT models are perfectly fine. However, we would avoid CVT models.

Mazda CX-7: Severe engine issues with the Mazda CX-7 — namely turbos and engine timing chains — has led to a shockingly high defect rate in our study. As with many of the other vehicles already mentioned, the problems have been widespread enough for several CX-7 owners to attempt a class-action lawsuit.

Honda Odyssey: Until recently the Honda Odyssey was the gold standard in the minivan market. Not anymore. From 1999 thru 2006 the Honda Odyssey experienced very high transmission rate failures, and despite earlier attempts to fix the problem, we're finding that the problems are chronic for these model years. The Odyseey is now the worst-performing Honda-built vehicle in our study.

Volkswagens: Specifically, any VW or Audi model that came with the 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo. Engine sludge issues, defective coil packs and inaccurate timing belts all conspired to make a long list of models into paperweights, including the Volkswagen Passat, Beetle, Jetta, and GTI along with the Audi A4, S3 and TT models. (VW settled a class-action over engine sludge in 2011.) Transmission issues are also common for most of these models. However, there is an alternative: If you find one with the 1.9-liter turbodiesel TDI engine and a manual transmission, go for it. Those models have outstanding long-term reliability — so long as you maintain them properly.

https://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motora...164308845.html
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Old 07-18-14, 02:13 PM   #2
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Notice how several of these models have CVTs. It took automakers years to get them reliable enough to take anything more than the meager torque of entry-level 4-cylinder engines, and, while they are generally used even with some relatively powerful V6 engines these days, I still wouldn't feel entirely comfortable buying one. That's one reason why I didn't replace my former Outback with another one.....Subaru started using CVTs from the same supplier that produced the questionable ones from Nissan that got the extended-warranties.
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Old 07-18-14, 02:17 PM   #3
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verdict - CVT sux
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Old 07-18-14, 02:22 PM   #4
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CVT is why we ditched out 2011 Murano LE. I will never buy another car with a CVT. Feel strange AND they break. We went with the 2013 Sienna because Nissans are not as reliable and we got a good old fashioned 6 speed
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Old 07-18-14, 02:22 PM   #5
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Where's the Cobalt/Pursuit/G5?

The Acura MDX fell into the era where the Honda V6/5-speed auto tranny was problematic. My tranny in my 04 MDX was starting to slip at 135K miles (it did it's duty and I wasn't disappointed, but got rid of it right after).
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Old 07-18-14, 02:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corradoMR2 View Post
Where's the Cobalt/Pursuit/G5?
True, the Cobalt and G5 weren't exactly a world-standard (I reviewed a manual-transmission Cobalt SS with a jerky, very hard-to-use clutch). But, reliability and quality-wise, they were still significantly better than their Cavalier/Sunbird predecessors, which were about as solid as overcooked pasta.
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Old 07-18-14, 03:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by I8ABMR View Post
CVT is why we ditched out 2011 Murano LE. I will never buy another car with a CVT. Feel strange AND they break. We went with the 2013 Sienna because Nissans are not as reliable and we got a good old fashioned 6 speed
For what it's worth, have you ever driven a GS450h with the CVT? Feels worlds better IMO than some of the Nissan CVT equipped vehicles I'm sampled
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Old 07-18-14, 06:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hoovey2411 View Post
For what it's worth, have you ever driven a GS450h with the CVT? Feels worlds better IMO than some of the Nissan CVT equipped vehicles I'm sampled
The GS450's CVT also isn't on that list of potentially unreliable used cars. I know Mike had good luck with his. I'd still feel a little uncomfortable about buying one, though. They are mechanically simple, with relatively few moving parts to wear out. But one part (the drive belt) does take a lot of stress.

Eventually, though, I'll probably end up with one, simply because so many vehicles are adopting them. And the longer they are in production, the more reliable they will probably get.
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Old 07-18-14, 06:38 PM   #9
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None of the Toyota/Lexus CVT trannys were listed. I've been very happy with my (now 5 years old) RX450h tranny with 60k on the ODO now.
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The GS450's CVT also isn't on that list of potentially unreliable used cars. I know Mike had good luck with his. I'd still feel a little uncomfortable about buying one, though. They are mechanically simple, with relatively few moving parts to wear out. But one part (the drive belt) does take a lot of stress.

Eventually, though, I'll probably end up with one, simply because so many vehicles are adopting them. And the longer they are in production, the more reliable they will probably get.
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Old 07-18-14, 07:13 PM   #10
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The GS450's CVT also isn't on that list of potentially unreliable used cars. I know Mike had good luck with his. I'd still feel a little uncomfortable about buying one, though. They are mechanically simple, with relatively few moving parts to wear out. But one part (the drive belt) does take a lot of stress.

Eventually, though, I'll probably end up with one, simply because so many vehicles are adopting them. And the longer they are in production, the more reliable they will probably get.
I'll still take a modern auto any day, but my point was not all CVT's are 'that bad', Case in point the GSh which implements it very well. Granted for the price you pay they'd better 'refine' it
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Old 07-18-14, 07:27 PM   #11
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I will agree the honda transmission is not the best.

I should know one of my VIP builds is based off that platform
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Old 07-18-14, 07:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoovey2411 View Post
For what it's worth, have you ever driven a GS450h with the CVT? Feels worlds better IMO than some of the Nissan CVT equipped vehicles I'm sampled
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None of the Toyota/Lexus CVT trannys were listed. I've been very happy with my (now 5 years old) RX450h tranny with 60k on the ODO now.
You cannot compare Nissan's, Subaru's and Audi's continually-variable transmissions with the Electronic CVTs in Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles: They are completely different beasts. The eCVT is nothing like a traditional vehicle transmisson.

Those trouble-prone CVTs in Nissans, Subarus and Audis use a metal belt between two pulleys that do not have gear teeth. If torque is too great, they can slip; and with wear and tear over time, they will start to slip.

The hybrid system eCVTs, however, are not like traditional transmissions at all. There is no mechanical connection between the engine and the driven wheels; it is an electric motor that drives the wheels, and as more power is needed, the engine adds power through a planetary gear system, without actually driving the wheels.

Hybrid system eCVTs are more reliable than most of the CVTs that we are familiar with because they are NOTHING like normal transmissions.
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Old 07-18-14, 09:44 PM   #13
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The hybrid system eCVTs, however, are not like traditional transmissions at all. There is no mechanical connection between the engine and the driven wheels;
Which vehicle has this? The Toyota eCTV most definitely has a direct gear connection between the engine and wheels. The first generation Prius also used a chain between the gear set components and the differential/final drive. This changed in later designs to a gear driven setup.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLNDGUISTYM#t=1360
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Old 07-18-14, 10:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
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The GS450's CVT also isn't on that list of potentially unreliable used cars. I know Mike had good luck with his. I'd still feel a little uncomfortable about buying one, though. They are mechanically simple, with relatively few moving parts to wear out. But one part (the drive belt) does take a lot of stress.

Eventually, though, I'll probably end up with one, simply because so many vehicles are adopting them. And the longer they are in production, the more reliable they will probably get.
I have no problem with CVTs. I would rather have the added benefit of better fuel economy. From my understanding, the Camry will be getting a CVT with the new update for 2015.

Also, I believe CTV can provide superior performance over an automatic as peak power is better utilized.
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Old 07-18-14, 11:05 PM   #15
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I think CVTs are a hit and miss. I had a customer with a 09 Altima with 286,000 miles on the original cvt fluid and the damn thing was flawless.

Flame suit on but I actually like CVTs because they make the car feels like it has much more torque. Driving spiritedly? Not so much.
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