Useful Car Tips

Top 5 Least Reliable Car Brands

September 24, 2020
Just as there are reliable car brands that generally produce vehicles you can depend on to get to 100,000 miles and beyond mostly trouble free, there are simply those that you can’t. Some brands have earned reputations for producing such vehicles and whether deserved or not, these reputations have stuck. Fortunately for everyday car buyers, Consumer Reports publishes an annual list of the most and least reliable car brands sold in the US. When possible, a brand’s entire cache of vehicles is evaluated so as to avoid one or two outliers affecting the overall ranking. This results in accurate ratings that reflect each brand’s holistic reliability; the benefits of which cannot be overstated for consumers. Regardless if you plan to own a car for 10 years or lease it for only three, reliability is likely near the top of your list of requirements for your next car. However, keep in mind that it’s important to consult multiple sources when evaluating what vehicle is right for you. While highly respected in its own right, Consumers Reports is not the only automotive publication that evaluates reliability. Nevertheless, it’s a good starting point to understand the kind of reliability you should expect to see out of a particular brand—even if their findings may surprise you.


As one of only two American manufacturers of luxury cars alongside its competitor Lincoln, Cadillac and its parent company General Motors have been hard at work producing some of the best luxury cars Detroit has to offer. Unfortunately for GM however, that hasn’t translated to success in terms of reliability: Cadillac ranks among the least reliable brands evaluated by Consumer Reports.


Land Rover is perhaps best known for its classic Defender, a four-wheel drive SUV with rugged looks and a charm few other vehicles possess owing to its off-road prowess. However, the Land Rover brand is also just as known for its questionable reliability. Automotive publications and forum posts alike provide numerous horror stories about sudden failures and costly repairs; a reputation even modern-day Land Rover has not quite shaken.


In similar fashion, Jeep is best known for its venerable Wrangler off-road SUV which has been in continuous production through multiple generations since 1986. Historical off-road prowess aside, Consumer Reports rates Jeep quite unfavorably. As of 2020, this FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) marque has the unfortunate distinction of being the most unreliable American vehicle brand.


In recent years, Mitsubishi has all but faded into relative obscurity. Low sales figures aren’t the only issue plaguing this brand however, as Consumers Reports ranks its vehicles as some of the most unreliable in the industry. While fellow Japanese competitors Toyota and Honda enjoy reputations as dependable marques any consumer can rely on, Mitsubishi simply cannot compete in this regard.


Although Jeep has already made it on the list, it is the Fiat brand of FCA that takes spot number one as the least reliable vehicle brand currently sold in the US. Italian cars have never been historically associated with stout reliability and modern-day Fiat is no exception to this rule. Despite this, those wanting distinctive Italian style and flair will perhaps not be dissuaded, especially considering the otherwise stellar 500 Abarth and 124 Spider offerings. CAVEATS As we’ve noted, this list isn’t without its caveats. When shopping for your next car, be it a lease or otherwise, it’s important to consult multiple sources. Different publications use slightly differing parameters when evaluating reliability and ultimately this may result in differences in reliability ratings. That is not to say that Consumer Reports is inaccurate, in fact it’s quite the opposite, but consumers should nevertheless read and watch as many reviews as they can. Even given the benefit of a warranty, reliability issues can mean spending your time at the dealership or mechanic instead of enjoying it on the road. Outside of a warranty period, owning an unreliable vehicle can obviously be a frustrating experience—a time and money sink which may turn you off a brand forever. With this in mind, Consumer Reports is an excellent starting point for evaluating a brand’s relative level of reliability. Our advice? Research, research, and research! At the end of the day, only you can truly evaluate your needs from a vehicle. Doing your research now can naturally save you much time and financial headaches in the future, especially when buying a vehicle without a warranty. With resources like Consumer Reports and your favorite automotive blog Fortem, you’ll be sure to find the perfect vehicle for your individual needs!
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