With choice at an all-time high for great cars in the used market today – not least because even base car models continue to enjoy ever-greater standard features – there’s always a great opportunity to pick up a bargain. However, some deals may seem a little too good, and that’s when you realise that you may have been sucked in by a cheap price for a car that could only cost you more money down the line.
Here are five cars that, in our experience or according to the experts, are well worth avoiding if you’re looking to get yourself a cheap motor in 2016.
Mazda RX8 (2003 – 2010)
Don’t let those suicide doors fool you – this admittedly beautiful car boasts a rotary engine that is nothing but trouble. A number of factors count heavily against it: its terrible miles to the gallon ratio (often as low as 15 or 16); its incredibly expensive cost of repair (occasionally touching the £3,000 mark, if it’s an engine problem); and, one of the main reasons it’s so cheap is because it just keeps depreciating. In some cases, drivers have bought this second-hand for £17,000+ and sold it a year or two later for £4,000. Avoid!
Fiat 500L (2013 – present)
While its cost of running is relatively cheap (you can get nearly 50mpg in good conditions), this admittedly ugly big brother of the Fiat 500 shares its family genetics of being incredibly unreliable. From complaints about fault air conditioning to poor reviews across the board (especially in the US), the 500L may only present more problems that naturally pick up around the three to four-year-old mark.
Renault Megane (2002 – 2009)
French cars haven’t historically enjoyed good press, and the likes of the Megane have contributed to this stereotype, whether the wider issue is true or not. Electrical problems have pushed this sporty hatchback into Warranty Direct’s list of the least reliable second-hand cars in 2015, with claims that the highest claim on this model has been a whopping £2,250. What’s more, it’s estimated that the Megane has a 57 per cent incident rate.
Land Rover Discovery mark III (2004 – 2009)
While this may be out of most people’s price range anyway, the Discovery mark III has been plagued with so many reliability issues that it came rock bottom in a survey of the UK’s most popular 200 car models with Auto Express, with its sister the Range Rover mark III coming in 199.
Smart Fortwo (2007 – 2014)
While the much talked-about “Smart car” has certain unarguable benefits – fuel economy particularly, as well as ease of parking – its lack of stability not only makes it quite unsafe, but it’s also known for being quite a nightmare to drive on motorways. What’s more, its depreciation isn’t what you’d expect for models of a similar age; you’re paying a little above the odds in order to get the immediate benefits of this model.