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5 Used Vehicles You Shouldn't Consider Buying, According to a Seasoned Mechanic

If acquiring a brand-new vehicle is out of reach, or you just don't want to deal with new cars available in your area right now, the secondary market is where you will likely browse for a ride. But it would help if you exercise caution. Some repairs can be very costly. A well-known mechanic who amassed a large following on the world's most popular social media platform points out which used models one should avoid. Here are the vehicles he calls the "biggest money pits."
Junkyard 11 photos
Photo: sydney Rae on Unsplash | Edited
Audi S6Audi S6BMW X5BMW X5Chevrolet CruzeChevrolet CruzeFord EdgeFord EdgeRAM 1500RAM 1500
This year has been quite interesting for everyone involved in the automotive industry. Tesla dealt an initial blow by cutting prices across the board. As legacy brands found one or two ways of keeping up with the EV maker and the supply chains returned to normal activity, UAW workers started striking.

Meanwhile, buyers still had to deal with high prices, delivery delays, and dealer inconsistencies. Even as I write these words, some prospective customers of certain vehicles in more than a few states have to deal with markups that are either communicated too late in the buying process or so absurd that it turn them away to other brands.

But if we are to be honest for a second, it's the used car market where things went haywire and caught most of us off-guard. Owners looking to sell their wheels figured out that new cars were getting costlier each week and acted nearly as fast as automakers by putting their units up for grabs at higher prices. But now that the dust has settled and we have almost returned to some sort of normalcy, it's essential to tread carefully while exploring secondary market offerings.

Scotty Kilmer is a mechanic-turned-YouTuber known for not avoiding certain topics and having a knack for vehicles with a simpler build. It's why he likes Japanese-made cars so much. Let's see what he would like shoppers to avoid.

BMW X5
Photo: BMW

1. 2016 BMW X5 (F15)

BMW owners who are not in the habit of gatekeeping will tell you that the most dependable vehicles this marque manufactures are usually the ones that were produced one year before a new generation arrives. However, that's more of a popular belief than a fact.

If you find an X5 that piques your interest, you should first and foremost take into account that it could have been a family SUV. If it was the only vehicle to serve a household before ending up on the used market, you should take a good look at the upholstery, the door cards, the trim, and the many switches available to the driver and passengers. Fixing power seat functions can cost hundreds of dollars.

Although all X5s are manufactured in Spartanburg, South Carolina, reports from around the world vary regarding the reliability of this Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV). Australians consider it dependable, while the British say it's not wallet-friendly. J.D. Power gave it a subpar individual rating in the US, but it fared as "good" in its class.

Scotty Kilmer uses a customer's car as an example and points out that they bought it used and with around 47,000 miles on the odo. It cost them about $28,000. However, this particular BMW owner ensured he had access to a good mechanic who knew their way around these vehicles. That's something Kilmer considers essential. Otherwise, you could pay a lot for random fixes.

This person, for example, had to replace the A/C compressor and condenser, which set them back $3,100, and a charge air line hose for $410. That's just what they paid for parts.

The mechanic also points out that prospective buyers should be aware of the pricey run-flat tires and the suggested maintenance schedule. However, one thing that cannot be taken from BMW is that it makes great six-cylinder engines. The more recent ones are dependable and serve as a great basis for tuning.

So, Kilmer's verdict is to avoid the X5 if you can't or don't want to deal with costly parts and servicing. Otherwise, it's a great machine to own until we all sit in battery-electric or fuel-cell vehicles.

RAM 1500
Photo: RAM

2. 2019 RAM 1500

Hiding a very capable and trustworthy 5.7-liter HEMI V8 under the humongous hood, this pickup truck has often been cataloged as the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class of trucks. It's easy to see why. The exterior looks great, the interior is nice and spacious and features useful tech, and it can put down a lot of power.

However, customers have reported problems with the start/stop function, the steering, flickering lights, water leaks, and electrical suspension. Consumer Reports, for example, noticed premature wear issues with the braking system. That's understandable, considering buyers had to determine which of the 25 recalls applied to their vehicle. Some were more serious than others, but at least RAM did its job and fixed the issues affecting more units.

Kilmer's main worry about this pickup truck is that it can cause problems for owners living in states where emissions testing is a thing. If the "check engine light" stays on, you could be looking at costly repairs for the anti-pollution assembly. He also points out that the alternator might need replacing more often than on other similar vehicles.

The mechanic also claims that people who like fixing their own stuff will have a hard time figuring out quickly and easily what's wrong with the vehicle. He says he wouldn't buy a RAM because accessing all the vehicle data is complicated and may require extra spending.

But maybe that's for the best. Newer cars blended the analog and digital realms, and not anyone can figure out exactly what to do.

It's also worth pointing out that an OBD2 reader can and will display error codes.

Audi S6
Photo: Audi

3. 2007 Audi S6 (C6)

A V10-powered family sedan for just $8,900? That sounds like such a sweet deal! Especially when you realize that it's a Lamborghini engine! But you might already suspect that such a powerful car can bring some hefty repair bills.

However, Kilmer isn't that worried about reliability. He points out that the car lost much of its value, and that's where the problem is with "one of the biggest money pits" he has stumbled upon. The vehicle originally had a sticker price of $79,000. The mechanic even underlines that the Audi is a good car because it cost its driver approximately $2,500 to maintain since they bought it.

If you're interested in one of these Audis, be advised that there could be issues with the ignition coil pack, the timing chain tensioner, and the intake manifold. You might also have to deal with carbon buildup.

What's great about the V10-powered A6 (C6) is that the mechanical beating heart and transmission are dependable. It's the electronics and auxiliaries you should pay attention to. But it's such a great driver's car that's also useful for everyday responsibilities. At this price point, it's hard to ignore.

Chevrolet Cruze
Photo: Chevrolet

4. 2011 Chevrolet Cruze

A simple, affordable sedan powered by a sensible 1.8-liter four-pot seems like the right buy for someone careful with their finances. After all, the car is supposed to take from A to B and back. You don't need a large powerplant or who knows what engineering trickery to keep you on the road as long as you stick to the posted speed limits and respect traffic rules.

However, Kilmer says one of his customers had to go through three transmissions during ownership. He explicitly says he would not buy the little Cruze. The mechanic advises existing owners to regularly change the oil and treat their affordable Chevys with care. Kilmer also believes that the sedan powered by the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is even worse but doesn't explain why.

Fortunately, other owners have reported issues with the electrical system, acceleration, and intake manifold. If you're someone who doesn't take very good care of their ride, it could be a good idea to look elsewhere for a used car. This one will require your undivided attention for a while, to say the least.

A used Hyundai Elantra from the same year could be the better buy.

Ford Edge
Photo: Ford

5. 2007 Ford Edge

With prices ranging from $4,500 to $8,000, the crossover SUV can be a good acquisition for those interested in a commuting appliance that can comfortably double as a family grocery-getter. However, Kilmer says you should be aware of troubles with the all-wheel-drive transfer case, commonly known as the power transfer unit (PTU).

The mechanic gives as an example the issues of a couple who bought an all-wheel-drive first-generation Ford Edge and had to deal with the traction system failing. But the vehicle was nice in all other aspects. That prompted them to remain in the Blue Oval family, and they just got another crossover SUV but with front-wheel drive this time around.

The problems other Edge owners had to face confirmed that the all-wheel drive system isn't the best and also revealed that other issues like the transmission computer, the rough shifting, and fluid leaks can be somewhat common.

The good news is that the V6 found under the hood is dependable. If you want to buy one, ensure it is in good condition and check if all the recall procedures have been performed.

At the end of the day, any car not coming from a trustworthy selling party can have hidden issues that will surface later during ownership. You can avoid most of the costlier issues by requesting a pre-purchase inspection at an independent or licensed service center. If the car has minor faults, you can negotiate a better price to cover the possible repairs.

If you don't intend to deal with all the issues associated with car ownership, leasing might suit you better. An EV eligible for the federal EV tax credit, like the non-facelifted Tesla Model 3, will set you back as low as $329 before taxes and fees.

Spend some time researching, and you may score a great deal! Good luck!

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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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