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It’s a tempting prospect: a cheap, used luxury car with leather seats and a BMW or Mercedes-Benz badge staring up at you. However, before you jump on that decadent deal, you might want to reconsider a few models and years, like the 2008 BMW 5 Series or the 2011 Audi A4. Per owner complaints, here are four of the least reliable used luxury cars on the market

What are the most unreliable luxury cars?

According to Car Complaints, owners of these four luxury cars have reported many issues, including catastrophic engine problems:

  • 2008 BMW 5 Series
  • 2011 Audi A4
  • 2004 Jaguar XJ
  • 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350
A 2011 Audi A4 used luxury car shows off its reliable, subtle lines and silver paintwork while it poses for a photo shoot.
2011 Audi A4 | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

Of course, most of these models could be reliable with proper care and avid preventive maintenance. However, these models and specific years have an abundance of owner-reported complaints. Still, paying attention to the root causes of each model’s issues could help potential owners avoid a money pit. That, or drivers could stay on top of their used luxury car’s eccentricities and have a pleasant ownership experience. 

Is the 2008 BMW 5 Series reliable?

The BMW 5 Series is a well-engineered luxury sedan with different engine options and comfortable seating for five. However, owners of the 2008 model year reported cooling system and engine issues, including a faulty water pump and stalling. In addition to these issues, some drivers cited fuel pump failures. 

It’s not just the 2008 BMW 5 Series either; RepairPal gave late model BMW 550i models a 1.5 out of 5.0 for reliability. That puts the model in the No. 29 spot out of 30 in the segment. 

A black BMW 5 Series luxury car shows off its sedan proportions on a hill.
BMW 5 Series | Mark Elias, Bloomberg via Getty Images

What are the problems with a 2011 Audi A4?

The 2011 Audi A4 might have a classy aesthetic and an average used value of around $7,534, but the luxury car has a few problems. For instance, Car Complaints reports that the 2011 Audi model exhibits excessive oil consumption at an average of just 65,850 miles. 

Moreover, some owners report that a replacement engine could cost around $6,000. So, while a preowned A4 with optional all-wheel drive (AWD) sounds promising, it has the potential to be problematic. According to RepairPal, the 2011 Audi A4 has an annual average repair cost of $665, lower than a new Ford Mustang. However, some Audi service centers have shop rates of over $200 per hour, so routine work could be costly.

What problems does Jaguar XJ have?

Used Jaguar luxury cars have a bit of a reputation for being unreliable. Unfortunately, the 2004 Jaguar XJ plays that same tune, with Car Complaint’s pick for the marque’s worst model year for owner-reported complaints. Some of XJ’s problems include air suspension issues and unintentional acceleration while braking, a troublesome problem. 

RepairPal says the 2004 Jaguar XJ could experience long-term issues if the cooling system is faulty. Specifically, if an XJ severely overheats, the cylinder walls could suffer damage, and the cars could begin burning oil.

Is the 2006 Mercedes E350 reliable?

The 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350 might wear its handsome fascia well, but its problems could make it more of a headache than a bargain. For instance, many owners complain of balance shaft failure at around 85,000 miles that could require a replacement motor. Unfortunately, it could cost nearly $5,000. 


5 Most Reliable Used Luxury Cars Under $15,000 Will Have You Riding in Style

While a used Mercedes-Benz E350 seems like an effective means to get a posh luxury car for less, but some of its repairs could be prohibitively expensive. For instance, a faulty power seat control module could cost over $1,000 to replace.

Should you avoid these luxury cars? 

All of these cars are promising choices for luxury car fans who want a posh ride for under $15,000. However, the high-dollar remedies in the mix might not be worth your time or money. Moreover, any potential owner who wants a used luxury car should opt for a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) from a professional.