Skip to main content

It’s tempting to snap up a good deal on a used SUV. Prices for new ones are higher than ever. But sometimes, used SUVs are a bargain because they’re really not. What? We mean that they may be cheap to buy, but become a bottomless money pit to maintain. Your best bet is always to look at related forums, as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration complaints. 

2004 Porsche Cayenne 

2004 Porsche Cayenne
2004 Porsche Cayenne | Porsche

Let’s be honest, the Porsche Cayenne is highly desirable because of the aura that revolves around the marque. And these SUVs maintain a reputation for great performance, handling, and style. But one year, 2004, is a year to keep away from. 

We’re talking about catastrophic engine failures, drive train, and cooling system problems too. Premature tire wear and failed fuel pumps are common complaints. Also, this year Cayenne tends to grind through brakes sooner than it should. Try skipping this year for an alternative that might cost more, but not in the long run.

2009 to 2012 Dodge Journey

A black 2010 Dodge Journey parked in front of window with an American flag in the window.
2010 Dodge Journey | Getty Images Photographed by Jim R. Bounds

The internet has not been too kind to the Dodge Journey. Forums relate complaints from early on, but these deal mostly with lackluster performance and a certain blandness and cheapness about it. But costly problems haunt the Journey as well. 

The most costly are engines that tend to overheat. This comes from coolant trapping debris in the cylinder head. The obstruction affects flow which leads to overheating, which itself can lead to worse problems. Bad power steering pumps are known to lead to vibrating steering wheels. It’s best to cross off the Journey for your used SUV needs.

2020 Acura MDX

2020 Acura MDX
2020 Acura MDX SUV | Honda

Because it is newer than the rest of the used cars in this post, you expect it to have technology on its side. But reliability largely escapes the 2020 MDX. Transmission problems early in the MDX life are one major problem. These include leaking, sensor failures, abrupt shifting between gears, and transmission slippage. 

Surprisingly, many owners complain about poor bodywork and door gaps. The paint is known to become cloudy, chalky, crack and peel. Another surprise is early evidence of rust problems. Your best bet is to seek out MDX SUVs on either side of 2020 or find some other SUV. 

2012 to 2013 Audi Q5

Audi Q5
2012 Audi Q5 SUV | Audi

According to Hot Cars, stay away from 10-year or more Audi SUVs that are selling for cheap prices. Poor quality ratings are attributed to major engine problems. Its cooling system can also have issues which can lead to other problems. While it was hoped these known problems would mostly have been corrected for 2013 models. Unfortunately, they were not. 

The 2013 Q5 had suspension issues, and body panels that would oil can or pop under certain conditions. Also, the HVAC systems had issues, along with some of the SUV’s electronics. Avoid these two Q5 years unless you have both time and money to deal with them.

2015 to 2017 Buick Encore

2017 Buick Encore
2017 Buick Encore | GM

There is both quality and cheapness that can be found in this era of Buick Encore. While offering a fairly upgraded feel inside, these years of Encore experience an abundance of engine issues that will cause you many trips to the dealership. And things like the brake pedal seem like it’s hanging by a thread. 

Bad master cylinders are another problem affecting the brakes. Added to that brakes wear prematurely. Leaking air conditioning lines require replacement, and electrical issues affect different electronics and controls.