Buying used cars can be a great way to get yourself an automotive bargain, but it is also a process that can be fraught with danger. How much can motorists know about the history of the car they are planning to buy, or its previous owners?
Checking the car’s service history is a must, as is taking the vehicle out for a test drive or even to your own mechanic to get an independent assessment; if the dealership has nothing to hide, they shouldn’t have a problem with any of these precautions.
It is also important to know which cars have a good record when it comes to staying on the road for a long time – and which have a reputation for falling apart after a few thousand miles.
20 Built To Crumble - Chrysler Sebring
In production between 1995 and 2007, the Chrysler Sebring was a terrible vehicle when it was brand new, so it is hardly surprising that it is one to be avoided when buying second hand.
Top Speed named the Sebring the worst car of the decade in 2010, and Jeremy Clarkson went on better, describing the convertible version as the worst car in the world.
19 Built To Crumble - Mercedes-Benz W124
Many auto aficionados will be surprised to see a Mercedes-Benz on this list; after all, German car manufacturers tend to be known for their reliability as much as for their luxurious features.
However, the W124 or E-Class has not aged well since the 1990s and should be avoided despite the temptingly low price tag.
18 Built To Crumble - Dodge Caravan
Minivans have fallen out of fashion since their heyday in the 90s, which does mean there are some great bargains out there if you’re willing to sacrifices style.
The Dodge Caravan and its big brother the Dodge Grand Caravan should not be top of your shopping list, however, as both vehicles have been subject to more than their fair share of recalls.
17 Built To Crumble - Volvo XC90
Volvos have a reputation for safety, but even these well-crafted machines don’t look their best after a few years on the road.
The Volvo XC90 is a mid-size crossover that was first made by the Swedish company in 2002, and which doesn’t quite offer the same high-reliability standards offered by other Volvo vehicles.
16 Built To Crumble - Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta may be one of the company’s biggest selling small cars, especially in the UK where it hugely popular but older models – of which there are many still around – are simply not worth the gamble, with owners reporting issues with the transmission after just a few thousand miles.
15 Built To Crumble- Fiat 500
The fun and sporty Fiat 500 has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years thanks to the vehicle’s radical redesign, which saw Fiat return to the car’s retro styling.
The car may look good, but it seems to experience a lot of mechanical issues, even when it has only a few thousand miles on the clock.
14 Built To Crumble - Jeep Commander
Originally, jeeps were army vehicles which simply had to keep going, no matter the conditions, as they were often deployed in war zones.
The Jeep company’s vehicles, including the Commander SUV, do not always live up to these exacting standards, and is a particularly bad buy for those drivers who want to improve their fuel efficiency!
13 Built To Crumble - Chrysler Town & Country
The name of the Chrysler Town & County was supposed to describe its versatility, but this clunky minivan was anything but. Production eventually ended on this Chrysler car in 2016, but there are still plenty of used models for sale.
Given that the Town & Country came out bottom in Consumer Reports used minivan category, however, motorists should probably look elsewhere.
12 Built To Crumble - Dodge Neon
The Neon was sold under the Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth badges, but it is the Dodge Neon which most motorists remember – and not always for positive reasons!
This small car was built and sold cheaply, which means that older models are on their last legs by the time they reach the used car dealership.
11 Built To Crumble - Porsche Boxster
The Porsche Boxster may be a stylish sports car, but that doesn’t mean that a cheap second-hand model is always going to be a good buy.
Yes, there are some bargain used Porsches available, but most have been driven hard by previous owners and have little life left in hem by the time they get to the car lot.
10 Built To Last - Ford F-150
There are some used cars, however, that are a pretty safe bet for drivers looking for a bargain – although even the vehicles on this list should be checked carefully in case they have had a less than careful owner!
It would take some work to damage a Ford F-150 pickup truck, though, which explains why there are still plenty of 20-year-old models still on the road.
9 Built To Last - Toyota Celica
Deriving its name for the Latin word for heavenly, the Toyota Celica was certainly a star for the last thirty years of the 20th century – and that reliable foreign engineering means that second-hand models are still going strong today and can be picked up for just a few thousand dollars.
8 Built To Last - BMW 5 Series
German car makes are also renowned for their reliability, and the BMW 5-Series, while not as cheap as the Toyota Celica, is another long-lasting model.
This executive car has been made by BMW since 1972, and second-hand models are a much cheaper way for drivers to get a bit of German engineering expertise at their fingertips.
7 Built To Last - Buick LeSabre
The Buick LeSabre enjoyed a long and successful history before production finally came to an end in 2005.
It may not have been the most stylish vehicle, but this full-size car remains a popular choice at second-hand car lots, thanks to its dogged reliability and downright refusal to die.
6 Built To Last - Jeep Cherokee
The Jeep Commander SUV may be a bad buy at the used car lot, but the same company has managed to create a reliable and perennially popular vehicle in the shape of the Jeep Cherokee.
Some years are better than others, but this compact crossover SUV can be a great buy for second-hand shoppers.
5 Built To Last - Honda Accord
Japan-made cars in the 90s had a great reputation for reliability, and the Honda Accord is no exception.
Although vehicles bearing the Honda Accord name have been made since the 1950s, it is the four-door sedan first built in 1989 which motorists in the US are more familiar with, and which is a dependable option when buying second-hand.
4 Built To Last - Ford Crown Victoria
Like the Buick LeSabre, the chunky and often unwieldy Ford Crown Victoria is never going to win any prizes in the fashion stakes.
However, there must be a reason why so many police forces and taxi fleets chose this model, and one of the most important was their long-term reliability.
3 Built To Last - Chevy Suburban
The Chevy Suburban started life as a station wagon truck in 1935 and has been through various incarnations before becoming the full-size SUV you can buy today.
Vintage models may look good but are going to put a serious dent in your finances, so best to stick to the late-90s and 2000s models which are a lot cheaper!
2 Built To Last - Honda Ridgeline
Honda’s sedans and saloons aren’t the only second-hand vehicles which remain a great option for motorists looking for a reliable bargain; the auto company also makes the Ridgeline, their interpretation of the all-US pickup truck which was first sold in 2006 and more than holds its own against US competitors.
1 Built To Last- Volkswagen Jetta
German auto reliability isn’t just about BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi; Volkswagen cars are a lot cheaper than those luxury models but still offer drivers long-term dependability. The Volkswagen Jetta is a fun and sporty car, without being as expensive as an actual sports car, which is a real second-hand bargain.
Sources - The Drive, Motor Biscuit, Edmunds, Top Speed, Car Scoops