15 Worst Car Brands if You Hate To Spend Money on Maintenance

Buckle up for a ride through the 15 maintenance nightmares on four wheels.

mechanic checking car engine oil
Updated June 6, 2024
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Cars are expensive to purchase, but the costs don’t stop there. The bills can continue to pile up if you spend a lot to maintain and repair your car.

Consumer Reports recently used member surveys to gauge the repair and maintenance performance of hundreds of thousands of cars on a score of zero to 100, with 100 representing the most reliable.

If you're trying to get ahead financially and avoid costly maintenance and repairs, you might want to avoid the following 15 car brands.

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Cadillac

wolterke/Adobe cadillac logo on front grill

Reliability score: 45

Cadillac is a luxury brand now jumping into the world of electric vehicles with models such as the Lyriq and Celestiq.

However, Cadillac doesn't get top marks for reliability.

One way to offset the high maintenance and repair costs for a Cadillac or any other brand on this list is to shop around and try to save money on car insurance.

Nissan

Ievgen Skrypko/Adobe nissan logo on steering wheel

Reliability score: 45

Nissan offers a wide variety of sedans, SUVs, and trucks. However, Consumer Reports notes that reliability varies widely from vehicle to vehicle in its lineup.

That lack of consistency should be a factor when deciding which Nissan to buy.

Genesis

Roman/Adobe genesis logo on car steering wheel

Reliability score: 44

Genesis — which is Hyundai’s luxury brand — is something of a “mixed bag” when it comes to reliability, according to Consumer Reports.

The publication also says controls in newer Genesis cars have become overly complicated.

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Audi

kucheruk/Adobe audi logo on front bumper grill

Reliability score: 43

Audi is a luxury brand known for styling, performance, and cutting-edge technology across its fleet of sedans and SUVs.

However, as with brands like Cadillac, it is not safe to assume that luxury automatically translates to reliability.

Chevrolet

oasisamuel/Adobe chevrolet logo on front bumper

Reliability score: 43

Chevrolet offers everything from SUVs and trucks to its famous Corvette. The brand also sells a mix of traditional gas-powered vehicles and electric vehicles.

Sadly, the automaker doesn't earn great scores in terms of reliability.

Dodge

OlekAdobe/Adobe dodge logo on truck hood

Reliability score: 42

Dodge is now down to two SUVs — the Hornet and Durango. Both the Challenger and Charger models have been discontinued.

Although reliability rankings are not great, there is one reason for excitement: Dodge plans to roll out an electric muscle car at some point in the future.

Ford

Arcansél/Adobe ford logo on blue car

Reliability score: 40

Aside from the beloved Mustang, Ford is moving away from cars and focusing on SUVs and pickup trucks.

Consumer Reports member surveys indicate that the reliability of Fords is below average.

Lincoln

Robert/Adobe lincoln logo on front bumper

Reliability score: 38

Lincoln was once known for its luxury sedans, but the brand now offers only SUVs.

The brand’s models appear to share some of the same reliability issues as the Ford models they’re based on.

GMC

EdNurg/Adobe gmc logo on front car bumper

Reliability score: 36

Consumer Reports refers to GMC vehicles as "rebadged, slightly more upscale twins to Chevrolet’s SUVs and trucks."

Unfortunately, the brand’s models have many of the same reliability issues as Chevrolets.

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Volvo

BGStock72/Adobe volvo logo at car front

Reliability score: 28

Volvo is well-known for its safety features. However, its gas-powered models are getting a bit long in the tooth.

In addition, Volvo’s reliability ratings are nothing great.

Jeep

pixarno/Adobe Jeep logo on car front bumper

Reliability score: 26

The Jeep brand has deep consumer loyalty thanks to its rugged design. The brand includes the iconic Jeep Wrangler and SUVs like Cherokee and Wagoneer.

Unfortunately, according to Consumer Reports, fuel economy and reliability issues have dragged the brand’s score lower.

Volkswagen

Joaquin Corbalan/Adobe volkswagen logo on hood of car

Reliability score: 26

Consumer Reports cites Volkswagen’s controls on its vehicles as a potential issue. The publication notes that such controls have gone from being some of the best in the industry to some of the worst in recent models.

In addition, Consumer Reports describes reliability as “mostly below par.”

Rivian

trongnguyen/Adobe rivian logo on car door

Reliability score: 24

Rivian is the youngest brand on this list. The fact that it released its only two models in 2021 may be a factor in maintenance and repair costs as the company goes through potential growing pains.

Rivian’s two models on the market include the R1T electric pickup truck and the R1S electric SUV.

Mercedes-Benz

Lightspruch/Adobe mercedes benz logo on metallic surface

Reliability score: 23

Consumer Reports says Mercedes-Benz vehicles perform well on many tests. That's the good news.

Unfortunately, the brand lags badly when it comes to reliability.

Chrysler

Alexandr Blinov/Adobe chrysler car logo

Reliability score: 18

Chrysler finishes last when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

The brand — which is owned by automaker Stellantis — is down to just one vehicle, the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. According to Consumer Reports, the model’s plug-in hybrid version is the source of reliability concerns.

Bottom line

Mr. Music/Adobe mechanic examining car suspensions at workshop

It's difficult to keep more money in the back if you're saddled with a vehicle that requires you to constantly shell out money to pay for costly maintenance and repairs.

So, you might want to think twice before purchasing the cars on this list. Even if you get a good deal on the purchase price, those savings can quickly evaporate if you're always running to the nearest mechanic for fixes.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.