Most retirees live on relatively fixed incomes that don’t allow for much flexibility in terms of financial emergencies. This is why it’s important as a retiree to steer away from any potential money pits — like picking the wrong car.
While you’ll never know for sure if a car is going to conk out on you, resulting in pricey fixes, there are certain makes and models that have shown a tendency to be more expensive for owners over time. These types of cars — along with ones that come with a high MSRP to begin with — are best avoided for most retirees.
The Mini Cooper has no lack of charm and style, but it’s missing a few things that make it a good car for a new retiree. First, it can be somewhat impractical. Retirees often lose flexibility and mobility over time, and the small size of the Mini Cooper can make it hard to get into and out of.
But that’s not all. According to Jacob Carter, the owner of the Engine Rev Up blog, the Mini Cooper line is plagued by mechanical problems ranging from oil leaks and turbo failures to electrical and suspension problems.
Also See: 7 Sports Cars To Stay Away From Buying
The Fiat 500 suffers from some of the same problems as the Mini Cooper when it comes to cars for retirees. While the car’s small size is part of its Italian charm, it can be a difficult car to own for mobility-limited seniors.
But the line also has its share of mechanical problems to worry about, which can drive up its cost of ownership. Specifically, the Fiat 500 is known for engine problems and oil leaks, and its tiny profile can make it harder to work on.
BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 series is one of the most popular car lines in history, and it comes from a storied manufacturer. Unfortunately, “the ultimate driving machine” is expensive to buy when new, and its maintenance costs often cause headaches for long-term owners.
According to Carter, a large number of 3 Series vehicles run into trouble around the 100,000-mile mark, requiring electrical or even engine repairs. Other websites, such as BMWSite.com, support the contention that problems like oil leaks, power window and battery issues are relatively common among BMWs.
Excessive oil consumption is a common problem with the Chrysler 200, along with more serious issues such as transmission, engine and electrical repairs needed at relatively low mileage levels. This is according to various sites ranging from the Engine Rev Up blog to chryslerproblems.com and carparts.com.
Dodge Grand Caravan
U.S. News and World Report has some harsh words for the Dodge Grand Caravan, particularly for its 2013-16 models. According to the publication, “The Grand Caravan [from 2013 to 2016] has a low-reliability score, falling far short of class leaders.”
It also sports “low safety scores … [and] cheap upholstery and plastics” that show the vehicle’s age prematurely.
Whether you’re looking for a safe vehicle, a well-built interior or overall reliability, the 2013-16 Dodge Grand Caravan doesn’t seem to measure up. The Dodge Caravan was discontinued in 2020; so, if you’re sold on the car, look at the 2019 and 2020 model years instead.
Saab was a Swedish car company that was at one point quite popular. Unfortunately, the last official Saab vehicle was produced back in 2011. This means that even the youngest Saab vehicles are more than a decade old.
Even worse, it can be difficult or simply impossible to find parts or even a mechanic who knows how to service a Saab, making the car a poor choice for a retiree in need of reliable transportation.
New Luxury Vehicles
For the most part, luxury vehicle buyers suffer mightily from depreciation in the first few years of ownership. Cars with high prices have more room to fall, and their reliability ratings, which are often middling to poor, tend to shave even more money off their resale values.
Take the Maserati Quattroporte, for example. According to Matas Buzelis, automotive expert at carVertical, the car’s “performance numbers are poor, many materials are cheap and overall build quality is pathetic, so the Quattroporte is extremely overpriced.” Business Insider backs his contention, noting the 2019 model year lost a whopping 72.2% of its value in just three years.
The Quattroporte is far from alone, however. As of 2023, the BMW 7 Series, Maserati Ghibli, Jaguar XF and Cadillac Escalade ESV are just some of the luxury vehicles showing depreciation of more than 50% after three years, according to U.S. News and World Report.
All of these would make poor values for new retirees — unless perhaps you picked them up after they have already depreciated.
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