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Some of the most exciting vehicles on the market have poor reliability ratings. Is that reason enough to avoid them? Here’s why SUVS with low dependability should be a deal-breaker for many drivers.

What are the costs of owning unreliable SUVs?

Mechanic working under a vehicle.
A mechanic is working under a vehicle | SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images.

Unreliable SUVs can cost you a pretty penny in maintenance fees. Vehicles that are prone to major mechanical issues often require frequent visits to the mechanic. Trustworthy, seasoned mechanics can save you big bucks, but repairs can also cost you big bucks. Furthermore, repairing or replacing some of the major components of an SUV (engine, transmission) may cost more than the vehicle is actually worth.

3 reasons drivers should not get an unreliable SUV model

  1. Tendencies to break down/lose mobility completely.
  2. High costs of long-term ownership usually increase with time.
  3. Major safety hazards depending on the mechanical issue.

1. Tendencies to break down/lose mobility completely

If you have ever owned a vehicle with reliability issues, you know that breaking down is one of the most nerve-wracking issues a driver can experience. My old 2004 Nissan Sentra once broke down in the middle lane of a busy highway. In fact, this led me to purchase a newer vehicle with less likelihood of experiencing major mechanical issues. If an SUV has a high likelihood of breaking down regularly/becoming immobile, it may not be worth getting or keeping. Getting an unreliable vehicle can quickly lead to needing another vehicle out of necessity.

2. High costs of long-term ownership that usually increase with time

An SUV is being towed.
An SUV is being towed | Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

There are plenty of costs associated with unreliable SUV ownership. These costs can quickly add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the issue. The older a vehicle gets, the more likely it is to have major mechanical issues, assuming you’re accumulating miles. Repair costs on older vehicles will eventually become so high that drivers consider getting rid of an unreliable vehicle entirely.

3. Major safety hazards depending on the mechanical issue

A vehicle is broken down on the road.
A vehicle is broken down on the road | Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Some unreliable SUVs can be borderline dangerous. An SUV model with engine or transmission issues could leave you stranded in an unsafe situation or worse. Some mechanical issues could even cause vehicle fires that result in injury or property damage. Now that you’re aware of the many risks that come with getting an unreliable SUV, why do some drivers continue to get them?

Factors that lead drivers to get unreliable SUVs

  • Impressive performance specs
  • Attractive exterior and interior designs
  • Affordable pricing (in some instances)

Believe it or not, some drivers don’t mind getting an SUV with low predicted reliability ratings because of factors like performance. Pricing and the exclusivity of an SUV can also persuade consumers to get one despite it having ambiguous long-term dependability.

How to avoid getting an unreliable SUV

A white Tesla Model X midsize SUV is driving.
The Tesla Model X | Tesla
  1. Thoroughly research the make/model and model year using reputable online resources.
  2. Search the SUV’s recalls to see if it regularly experiences major mechanical issues.
  3. Have a professional mechanic inspect an SUV and recommend its purchase before getting it.

A simple Google Search can give you an idea of whether or not an SUV nameplate is reliable. Just 20 minutes of thorough research can tell you everything you need to know about a specific model year. Furthermore, here at, journalists with years of automotive industry experience break down factors like reliability, longevity, and value proposition.

So, do your research. Getting an unreliable SUV can cause you to experience financial woes for years to come.


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