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10 Cheap Sedans That Will Bankrupt You With Maintenance Bills And Repairs

Jul 17, 2023Jul 17, 2023

These used sedans may seem like massive bargains, but keeping them running will cost you a fortune.

Manufacturers these days focus on making highly reliable cars that only need routine care and maintenance to run forever. However, there are some cars in the used market that are significantly unreliable. While their cheap prices may seem like a bargain, these cars will put you in a trap to pay a heavy price on repairs and maintenance as they break down too often.

It's not all wrong to buy a used car because you can save a lot of money once it has hit its maximum depreciation. For that, you should consider finding the most reliable used cars on the market. Make sure to read through to the end to discover which cheap sedans to avoid, as they will bankrupt you with maintenance bills and repair costs.

The 2002 to 2006 Nissan Altima had an infamous QR25 2.5 l 4-cylinder engine. These engines were also present in Nissan Sentra SE-R. These cars handled well, and the four-cylinder engine's power was good for the sedans.

Related: The Redesigned 2023 Nissan Altima Offers Unadulterated Fun In An Alluring Package

However, the engines suffered from a chronic head gasket issue. The engines consisted of an aluminum cylinder head and aluminum cylinder block, which is a soft metal that warps easily due to overheating. The issue is recurrent even after replacing the gaskets, but the labor required each time is also expensive.

These cars came with an Ecotec 2.2 Saturn engine that was okay for most of the part. But the transmission equipped in these vehicles was a sad attempt at making a CVT transmission. The car was plagued with durability concerns regarding the transmission system.

Although the 2.2-L engine put out good power, getting an Ion from this year's is courting trouble. It would lead you to drown in expenses and bankruptcy.

Related: The 10 Best Cars Saturn Ever Made, Ranked

Coming in at number eight for a double whammy is another product by Nissan. The Nissan Maxima between 2004 and 2007 is a far cry from the reputable Nissan lineup. Up to 2003, Nissan Maximas were highly reliable.

After 2004 a lot of transmission issues plagued these cars. Not only is the transmission a piece of expensive work, but the engine also develops major issues from a defective timing chain tensioner.

Any Kia that came with a 2.4-L theta-two engine was prone to developing an infamous rod knock. Regardless of whether the owner takes meticulous care of the engine and does timely oil changes with the correct oil, these engines will still knock.

Even worse, it's not unheard of for these engines to throw a rod right through a cylinder block going at highway speeds. Such an incident will not only lead to a complete loss of power but is potentially hazardous at highway speeds.

Related: A Look Back At The 2017 Kia Optima

Like the Kia Optima, the Hyundai Sonata developed rod knocks despite owners taking good care of the car. In addition, issues such as faulty parking lights and problems with the timing chain tensioner were common in these years' range of the Sonata.

The 5th generation of the Hyundai Sonata faced more issues, including peeling paint, poor electronics, and poor build quality throughout the interior. Avoid these vehicles to stay away from astronomical repair bills and headaches.

The Acura TL from 1999 to 2003 is best avoided as it came with a catalog of problems. Issues such as airbag failure, electrical system faults, and failed ignition were common. Gearheads might love the 3.2-L V6 VTEC engine onboard as it's pretty reliable and has enough power for fun driving.

However, these cars’ transmission system is terrible and unreliable. The crappy technology in building these transmissions will leave you digging deep in your pockets for your last penny in the hopes of saving the car.

The Sebring and Concorde shared the 2.7-L V6 engine, whose major issue was engine sludge and oil contamination.

Related: This Is What Makes Chrysler Sebring One Of The Most Expensive Cars To Maintain

Although Chrysler issued a report claiming that this problem resulted from the PCV system, the water pump that came with the engines also had a defective head gasket. If the seal failed on these water pumps, coolant could find itself on the inside of the engine or at the crankcase. It's as though Chrysler wanted to design the most unreliable engine they could with this one.

The Dodge Intrepid and Dodge Stratus shared the same engine as the Sebring from 2001 to 2004. As a result, many of the issues with engine sludge and coolant leaks are consistent with these cars.

In addition, these sedans were notorious for poor suspension. They also had water leakage issues due to poor AC drainage. Expect minor transmission issues due to electrical component failure and problems starting up due to a defective cam/crankshaft sensor.

Cars featuring this engine include; Cadillac Eldorado, Cadillac Seville, and Cadillac DeVille. One of the most popular illnesses of these sedans is head gasket failure. The main reason for this failure is the weak torque to yield bolts GM used on their cylinder heads.

At the same time, the engine design has a low tolerance for overheating, which leaves the head gasket prone to blowing in case of overheating. In that situation, you will need a new engine or spend an arm and a leg on repair costs.

It's no secret that most BMWs are endless money pits. However, if it's cheap enough, and you want a toy, there are excellent BMW cars that make great projects. But as they age, they cost a fortune to fix, the parts are expensive, and you will often need a special computer to reprogram just about everything.

The 328i is prone to oil leaks and coolant leaks from the water pump. The power steering could also fail, leading to expensive repair bills.

K. N'njagi has been a writer in the auto industry since 2017 and keeps getting okay at it. A staff writer with a taste for high mileage, rusted-out projects, and amateur endurance racing.

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