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Six Vehicles with Fatal Engines or Transmissions to Avoid

After working on cars for over 20 years, this mechanic lists and discusses six vehicles with fatal engines or transmissions that virtually destroys the value of the vehicle and your car budget.


Don’t Walk---RUN from These Vehicles Listed

Here is some need-to-know info in a “Do Not Buy” video on specific models with engines and transmissions recently posted on the Car Wizard YouTube channel that the host advises potential buyers not to just walk away…but run away from any model carrying his list of fatal engines and transmissions.

Relates article: Used Car Transmission Problem Options You Need To Know

Here is a summary of the makes and models carrying the engines and transmissions the Car Wizard highly recommends car buyers to avoid based on his years of experience that are the ones new and used car shoppers should stay away from.

Related article: Vehicles Rated Most Likely to Need Repairs the First 12 Months After Buying

Related article: One Fatal Flaw That is Destroying Vehicles with Ford Engines

1. Any of the Ford F-150, F-250, E-150, E-250 Expedition or Excursion models with the 5.4L 3-valve Triton motor: blocked oil passages and cam phase problems that the host says "...if there 10 on a lot---3-4 of them will have at least one of these problems that will run you $7,000 to fix"---but only temporarily. There’s no true fix for these motors.

2. Any year Nissan Q, Maxima, Altima, Rogue, Sentra models from 2006-2010 that came with the CVT transmission. “These transmissions are absolutely 100% intolerant of any skipped maintenance” says the host adding that the oil and filter MUST be changed regularly every 30-40K miles or they are guaranteed to fail…even though they are advertised as “sealed for life” transmissions never needing any maintenance! One fun fact from the Car Wizard is that “No one rebuilds these transmissions.” Instead, it’s a $7,000-8,000 replacement in your vehicle.

Related article: The Sealed Transmission White Lie

3. Any cars that have the 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine such as the Buick Encore, Chevy Sonic, Chevy Trax, and Chevy Cruise. According to the host, these engines fail so often that there are no replacement engines to be expected available until 2024. That’s how backlogged repairs are on vehicles with this problematic engine with turbo issues, oil burning rings and other internal engine issues. “They are so cheaply made, they will fall apart very fast,” says the Car Wizard.

4. Any GM vehicle with the 3.6L V6-cylinder engine such as the larger GM vehicles: the Buick Enclave, the GM Arcadia, the Chevrolet Traverse, the Cadillac ATS, CTS, and CT6--- that the Car Wizard states “These engines are trash. They have timing chain problems, timing guide problems….” If you see a check engine light come on indicating that there is a timing related problem, you have to have the engine serviced immediately for repair or will have the experience of your engine grenading on you as the timing chain breaks and the pistons slam against the valves.

Related article: The First Thing to Check with a Check Engine Light Warning

Related article: Timing Chain and Timing Belt Problems and Repair Demonstrated by Mechanics

5. Fiat-made 3.6L engines that are notorious for cracked cylinder heads found in the Dodge Caravan, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Journey, Chrysler Town and Country, and the Jeep Wrangler. They are typically diagnosed with blown head gasket and engine overheating problems…among sundry problems too numerous to mention.

Related article: Consumer Reports Mechanics Advise Avoiding These Models Known for Blowing a Gasket

6. Nissan Titan, Nissan Armada, Infinity QX56 or the QX80 with the 5.6L V8 engine. Oddly enough, the engine problems these vehicles have is not the engine itself, but the catalytic converters falling apart inside and the debris getting sucked into the engine resulting in a horrible sound as your engine grenades on you into total destruction. The problem too, has to do with owners who get a catalytic converter warning and/or some exhaust rattling noise and fail to take immediate action and wait until it is too late.

In addition, these engines are gas guzzlers that get only 10-12 miles per gallon at best and have a significant number of other system problems with failing components. “They are scrap metal on four wheels,” says the Car Wizard.

The Must-Watch Video That Will Save You Money and Headaches

For more detailed information on just why these engines and transmissions have proven themselves to be the worst, here is the video in its entirety that is sure to make you rethink any of the listed vehicles before buying one that looks like a great deal on the lot or in an ad. Caveat Emptor and all that!

Never, EVER buy these Engines/Transmissions according to 20+ years CAR WIZARD mechanic experience!

And finally…

For additional articles about the Car Wizard, here are two popular ones posted in the past:

The Best Used Car Deals Mechanics Recommend Against Buying

Engine Swapping Expert Reveals the Realities About Engine Replacement

COMING UP NEXT: Good Morning Monday, Car Repair Humor

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

Image Source: Pixabay


Clayton Miles (not verified)    March 19, 2022 - 10:40PM

How does an exhaust component such as a catalytic converter disentergration cause debris to be "sucked" into the engine??? This is an exhaust component and disentergrated particles will be expended out of the tailpipe or become lodged within the muffler.

Timothy Boyer    March 21, 2022 - 10:45AM

In reply to by Clayton Miles (not verified)

Honestly, that one had me wondering the same question too with the reasoning you gave. However, I am not familiar with this engine, but I could buy that there might be some emissions rerouting that would make this possible---there have been a lot of strange emissions setups over the years that are hard to understand the why's of. The host could have mis-spoke too; and or, may have been thinking about cases where the cat converter disintegrates, clogs up the exhaust resulting in high engine temp, valve burning, blown head gasket, etc. followed by engine damage secondary to the cat converter breakdown. Good question. Anyone out there have an answer regarding this engine type?

Josh (not verified)    May 26, 2022 - 3:29PM

In reply to by Dave Coots (not verified)

Not a word about the GM lifter problems
With the years 2014/2021 all silverado tahou and other model
With engine 6.2 look like you got paid not to say anything about those vehicle.

Bj (not verified)    March 21, 2022 - 3:01PM

The Titan is tried and true. The cat issue is solely the owners fault with maintenance neglect and doesn't happen often. Instead rarely. This doesn't justify the truck as "scrap metal" then continue to say "other component failures" without validation. These reviews are trash. I see first gen Titans still on the road 400k+ but rarely a 04-10 Ford, Chevy dodge in good shape. Most underrated truck ever.

JayC (not verified)    March 22, 2022 - 9:44AM

As an engineer in the auto industry for over 35 years reverse engineering factory parts to improve upon them for aftermarket replacements...I can say with certainty this list is a crock of horseshit. Yeah, there's some truth to it...just enough to seem believable and that's it. For instance. Ford 3v engines:. Cam phaser eliminator kit. $109.00 and $ 800-$1000 labor and it's fixed for good. Next! GM 3.6. The GM LF/LG v6 is actually one of the better engines! Every manufacturer has some issues, period. That v6 has many many examples living well into the 200,000 mile and beyond range.

Close coupled cats reversion into the combustion chamber. Uh, no. That issue was solved over 20 years ago in all manufactured vehicles. Thanks for the fake boogyman though.

Gary (not verified)    April 1, 2022 - 10:59PM

In reply to by JayC (not verified)

Well I can say for certain, we have had the Arcadia, 3.6 v-6, no problems whatsoever ever, & currently have an 2019 Armada , & I put vehicles thru their test limits, I drive 75-85 all the time, & have smoked some mustangs & Dodges with the 5.6 a running ass motor for sure, only thing beat me was we was running a scat pac at 140mph & thought I could hang, till he mashed it & left us standing still Lol at 140 mph, he left like you punched a car at 60mph! Hats off to the scat pack, but we are for sure trading for the 2022 Armada, I love it, a sleeper for sure on the highway.

B.S . (not verified)    December 2, 2022 - 2:18PM

In reply to by JayC (not verified)

The Ford 5.4l 3 valve does have another major issue. The rockers under the overhead cam are prone to breaking and spitting metal pieces into engine. It happened to mine and while researching on internet, is an issue. Major issue with 3v engine!

ROBERT G BOLAM (not verified)    March 22, 2022 - 7:50PM

My 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Eco has 365,000 miles on it. All original including turbo and clutch. Some oil leaks as expected for a car with this mileage.

Paul (not verified)    March 23, 2022 - 1:19AM

The Wizard lives in a small area of Kansas so what he sees is not the definitive authority on vehicles. He quoted outrageous prices for repairs and insane problems nobody else reports. I even doubt he is a real mechanic sometimes. I just see him prattling on about how great his opinions are and how stupid you are for owning the vehicle you own. Just a windbag.

Ron Cork (not verified)    March 23, 2022 - 6:08PM

I have owned two Nissan Maximas and never a single be problem with either. The first only started to show signs of wear and age after 130,000km. The 2nd is up to 60000km and is still like new. These warnings are too general.

Mike G (not verified)    March 24, 2022 - 4:11PM

The 3.6 in the traverse was a huge pos, I know I had one, had the engine replaced under warranty because it jumped timing and blew the motor. To the auto engineer below, you should go back to school because you don't know wtf your talking about, this list isn't too far off, in the cloud but we will passages on the Triton motors were for people skipping oil changes for multiple thousands of miles which was a huge problem for some used vehicles, no mention of that, dude is a tool bag

Randall (not verified)    March 25, 2022 - 12:29AM

Hmm so like the fact that I personally know 4 people who had Kia SUV's that blew up when they still had that new car smell and we're not gonna talk about that? I literally know one single person with a Kia that is happy with it after a couple years of ownership and she finally happily traded in her Kia Soul just 2 weeks ago after completely paying it off.
Oh and I know 5 people with a Ford focus, 3 with new transmissions and 2 with new engines. But hey the one is at 160k miles now! Sucks for the guy that has a new engine and transmission prior to 60k miles but I will say the guy that's finally got 30k miles on his with absolutely no issues loves his!
I will say my GMC Acadia with 180k miles did just need a new torque converter clutch just recently so maybe he's got a point on that car. I know someone with an 08 which was one of the first problematic years that needed to do a timing chain and transmission rebuild by 150k miles but that's normal with a lot of cars in the first year of production to have an extra high number of issues. Another friend just sold his 2012 with 160k miles and never a problem, and a neighbor that absolutely loves theirs and says they have never had a problem with it. So I guess don't get the first year they made them and expect some extra maintenance when they get high miles, just like any other car.

Kevin Yancey (not verified)    March 26, 2022 - 12:08PM

Having worked on the GM 3.6L V6, in a Cadillac ATS, I can tell you first hand about the timing chains, tensioners, and guides. First off, the labor to change them is 19.2 hrs! There's three chains and tensioners, two double geared sprockets, and a handful of nylon guides. I was able to acquire the timing set for about a third of dealer price from the parts store near me, and start to finish labor was 10 hours. All that from one bad tensioner!

Jerry Alan Larson (not verified)    April 10, 2022 - 8:42PM

The Ford 5.3 oiling problem is caused due to too small of oil passages along with owners not changing the oil often enough. GM lifter problems are caused by the inferior materials being used by the manufacturers who GM buys them from.