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Some SUVs are just real stinkers from the start! Even though modern sport utility vehicles tend to have fewer problems, that isn’t always the case. The worst SUVs that can cost a fortune in repairs and sometimes can’t be fixed are rare misses for Ford, Toyota, and Jeep. It might be worth finding a similar vehicle that doesn’t have as many issues.

One of the worst SUVs that can cost a fortune is the 2002 Ford Explorer

Car Complaints reviews many vehicles and compiles comments from drivers about vehicles that might be worth avoiding. The 2002 Ford Explorer is more than 20 years old at this point, but it snagged the number one spot of worst SUVs that can cost a fortune. With over 8,000 complaints, this Ford SUV is worth skipping over.

The 2002 Ford Explorer earned the “avoid it like the plague” award thanks to its large amount of transmission problems, body/paint issues, and various other complaints. Transmission failure is pretty standard, which can cost around $2,800 to fix. A slipping transmission, clunking, and an overdrive light are common.

The NHTSA also lists 3,615 complaints about the 2002 Explorer from drivers. Airbags, engine issues, lock problems, and even problems with the body of the SUV have countless complaints. Thanks to these issues, there are 14 recalls for this year of the SUV alone. These range from vehicle fire risks, increased probability of a crash, and other problems that most potential owners want to avoid.

Toyota’s 2019 RAV4 is another one of the worst SUVs that can cost a fortune

Even though the 2019 Toyota RAV4 is barely three years old, it landed on the list of worst SUVs that can cost a fortune. It has 783 complaints already, most of which are related to the transmission. Drivers report that the RAV4 lurches and hesitates at low speeds, shifting roughly throughout the gears.

The hesitation and rough idle issue has a typical repair cost of $10,000 or more, depending on what the problem is. One driver reported that the NHTSA Technical Service Bulletin T-SB-0107-19 addresses the issue. This bulletin says the Engine Control Module/ECM or Powertrain Control Module/PCM needs to be repaired or replaced to solve the problem.

The NHTSA hosts another 507 complaints from drivers, along with seven recalls. Some recalls relate to the fuel pump failing, a loss of power steering, and even the engine coolant leaking. Overall, this new SUV is definitely worth skipping.

Skip the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee for a newer version

This Jeep is one of the worst SUVs that can cost a fortune
A 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee | Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Grand Cherokee’s fourth generation was having a good run until this year. For the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, electrical problems run rampant. Some report the Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) needs replacement, which can cost over $1,100. This can be an annoyance if the TIPM goes bad and the engine cannot start or turn over.

Other drivers report that the engine stalls or shuts down while driving, and the engine light turning on is pretty common. Total engine failure is also on the books. One other issue noted by owners is the leather dashboard needs replacement. While this isn’t necessary to keep the SUV running, it can be a costly annoyance.

On the NHTSA website, another 1,567 complaints cover a variety of issues. The nine posted recalls include the fuel pump relay to the vanity lamp wiring, potentially causing a fire if the wiring shorts. While this 2011 Jeep is one of the worst SUVs that can cost a fortune, newer versions have a better reputation.

Even though some of these issues have been remedied by a recall, it doesn’t always fix the problem. Sometimes, certain vehicles impacted can even be excluded from a recall. At the end of the day, it might be worth skipping over the worst SUVs that can cost a fortune listed here.


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