Having a car that needs repairing is a major headache. In an effort to lessen this grief, I am listing my top 5 cars in terms of repair costs. In terms of calculating which cars make this list, I am focusing on reliability. Sure, a Porsche will cost a fortune to get repaired since the car itself costs a fortune. However, a less expensive car that needs frequent repairs will soon end up costing more than a pricier one due to accumulation in cost as opposed to the cost of an individual repair. With that in mind, here is my list:
2010 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited: There are so many problems with this vehicle, that I could devote a small book to them, but I will focus on the most common complaint, which has been hauntingly dubbed the “death wobble” by many forum posters. This occurs when the vehicle begins shaking, sometimes violently, for no apparent reason.
Most of the owners describe this problem beginning at around 18,000 to 25,000 miles(1). Many dealership service departments want nothing to do with this ill-designed rolling junkyard, as the “fixes” are always temporary at best. With regard to the death wobble, a steering damper is often the recommended solution, but is only a short-term fix that Jeep hopes will get the vehicle to the end of the warranty period. While the part used in this supposed repair costs roughly $70 at various automotive parts stores, expect to pay around three times that from a mechanic.
This problem will recur and causes all kinds of other problem for your vehicle, including greatly reduced tire life and brake life. It is also quite dangerous, as it makes handling the vehicle quite difficult. Avoid this vehicle at all costs.
2010 Dodge Nitro: Meant to be kind of aggressive-looking and tough, you’ll end up looking like the ultimate clown when you spend more time in the repair shop than on the road. Transmission problems and electrical system problems are the main culprits here. Like the death wobble of the Wrangler, neither of them seems to have any long-term solution. You’ll probably have to get these issues repaired multiple times before you give up in despair.
Like the Wrangler, users are reporting these problems fairly early on the life of the car(2). Symptoms of the transmission problem include harsh shifting, noise when shifting, and the engine dying. The band-aid repair is a torque converter, which often does not work for very long if at all. The electrical system problems include gauges not working and the car simply shutting off. Both of these problems are extremely expensive ($500 or more for each, according to my local mechanic) to fix and can run in the thousands of dollars. If you don’t yet have one, avoid it. If you do, get the extended warranty while you still can!
2010 Chevy Aveo: Watch out for this four-wheeled lemon disguised as an economical car. Users have reported multiple engine problems, instrument problems, rear axle problems, and more(3).Among these repairs, some of the more costly include timing belt problems and catalytic converter failures.
If a timing belt goes while you are driving at a decent speed, say 45 miles per hour or more, you’ll quite likely completely destroy your engine, which will cost thousands to repair. The catalytic converter is not as expensive, but seems to be an ongoing problem with this vehicle. Remember, there is a reason that this vehicle has such a low price!
2010 Hummer H2: Anyone who purchases one of these behemoths is (hopefully) aware that they will get killed on fuel costs and will likely receive dirty looks from environmentalists, but it is the problem with the air conditioning that seems to have many H2 owners hot (pun intended). Symptoms include warm air from the vents or complete failure. This repair costs around $200(4) but doesn’t seem to be a long-term fix, meaning you will likely have to deal with it multiple times.
Another air-related problem with the H2 is the air suspension. This involves the rear suspension dropping without warning. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to why this happens and no good understanding of how to correct it. Expect to be in the shop and frustrated a lot if this occurs on your H2. Also expect to spend a lot of money on it.
2010 Volkswagen CC: Volkswagen’s second attempt at a luxury car (the pricey Phaeton being the first) ends up being a disaster due to major engine problems. The CC coughs, sputters, and shakes both while moving and idling(5). Dealers have not adequately addressed this problem, and it is still unclear exactly what is going with the car.
These sorts of problems can get real expensive real fast when you consider that this is a “luxury” car and will cost more than average cars to fix. Volkswagen’s have suffered from reliability problems lately, but in a car built for the upscale market like the CC, engine problems will likely run into the thousands of dollars to address.
If you have a car that is in the shop, I feel for you. I had a car that was completely shot with $1,800 still left to pay on it. This Mitsubishi Galant essentially became a “driveway weight” that sat there until I was able to pay it off, at which point I had it towed to the junkyard. Research any car purchase carefully and keep your fingers crossed!