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The 10 Most Unreliable Car Models, According to Consumer Reports

Even when new, these models will have you spending time and money on fixes.

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Women hand pressing the button on the remote to lock or unlock the car

What makes an unreliable car?

It seems simple. We want a car that’ll keep going and not have us stranded on the side of the highway in the middle of the night. It’s easy to think a new car will solve automobile troubles, but this isn’t always the case. Consumer Reports released its 2020 list of the most unreliable cars based on a buyer survey, ranking specific models based on 17 problem areas including:

  • squeaky brakes
  • broken interior trim
  • out-of-warranty transmission repairs
  • trouble with four-wheel-drive

Consumer Reports ranked each area based on severity and then scored the vehicles from there. Since these models are brand new, Consumer Reports relied on feedback from two previous years of models to create a “predicted reliability” score. While some car brands rank lower on customer satisfaction, there are models from makers across the board that will send you back to the dealership for tune-ups more often than you’d like.

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Volvo XC60 seen parked near the Headquarters of Volvo Car...
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10. Volvo XC60

Users noted trouble with this Volvo’s in-car electronics, brakes, power equipment, and emissions system. While experts commended it for its advanced safety features and well-organized interior, they also said the vehicle’s controls are a little stiff. Look out for these 14 signs your car is about to die.

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New York International Auto Show
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9. Ford EcoSport

While the Ford was “surprisingly nimble” on the road, drivers said there were issues with the transmission, as well as with the brakes. Consumer Reports notes that the backseat space is tight and the gas mileage is nothing special. Are you doing any of these things you do to your car that mechanics wouldn’t?

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8. Jeep Wrangler

Though its off-road capabilities are impressive, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is built to excel on trails…and only on trails. “The Wrangler’s on-road behavior is still not on par with that of a modern SUV,” the report warns. Ouch. Problem spots included steering/suspension and in-car electronics.

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Tesla Store In Barcelona
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7. Tesla Model S

For all the company’s hype, it seems the Model S will send you to the auto body shop frequently over repairs to the body system, steering, and in-car electronics. Consumer Reports also predicted issues with the range, especially in the winter. These are the fixes your car absolutely needs in the winter.

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North American International Auto Show 2015 - Press Preview
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6. Chevrolet Colorado

While the diesel engine of this truck is stellar, Consumer Reports claimed that that also causes it to be pretty noisy. They also said it’s a fairly rough ride, and there were issues with the transmission and in-car electronics too.

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7 seater Volvo XC90 Inscription near Chep Lap Kok on Lantau Island. 22JAN15 SCMP/Jonathan Wong
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5. Volvo XC90

Yes, Volvo again. This one boasted a better score—and a snazzy modern design that wowed Consumer Reports—but its gas mileage, brakes, and steering/suspension left something to be desired. Plus, it’s definitely not worth the nearly $60,000 price tag. There are certainly better car options for less than half of this car’s nearly $60,000 price tag.

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2019 Chicago Auto Show Media Preview - Day 2
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4. Jeep Compass

The 2021 Jeep Compass was the lowest-rated small SUV that Consumer Reports ranked, because of its awkward seating configuration, engine noise, drive system and transmission issues, and steep price tag for its class.

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Volkswagen Hosts Fourth Annual Drive-In with Shay
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3. Volkswagen Atlas

This German model scored low due to its engine minor, emissions, exhaust, and more. More concerning, though, is the five recalls that have already been issued on it, for its backup camera, headlights, and more. Maybe skip this one! You’d likely be better off with what Consumer Reports found to be the best cars of last year based on their reliability.

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2017 New York International Auto Show
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2. Subaru Ascent

Major and minor transmission problems, issues with the electronics, and steering are some of the things you may encounter with this Subaru. Its brakes and climate system were also trouble spots.

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra Gives Business Update At Fort Wayne Assembly Plant
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1. Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Users found this car takes the cake when it comes to unreliable vehicles. Its fuel economy is poor, its transmission is iffy, and Consumer Reports predicted issues with the engine and brakes. And it seems they were onto something—the vehicle’s already had a recall issued for sudden loss of air in the tires. Learn more about the Silverado’s low ranking, and skip the trips to the mechanic.


Erin Kayata
Erin Kayata joined Reader’s Digest as an assistant staff writer in March 2019, coming from the Stamford Advocate where she covered education. Prior to this, she was part of a two-year Hearst fellowship program where she covered crime and education in suburban Connecticut. She graduated from Emerson College and spent part of her undergraduate career writing for the Boston Globe. When she’s not writing articles about useful facts and pop culture, you can find Erin enjoying the local theater scene and working toward her goal of reading 50 books a year.