Cars and Drivers

8 Worst American-made Car Brands

Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Though reports aren’t yet available for the worst American-made car brands of 2024, the 2023 reports are out and the news is mostly good. American automakers generally produce vehicles that are considered safe and reliable. Though in the past some U.S. automakers have faced criticism for issues related to build quality and reliability, the vast majority of currently reported issues are related to cosmetic concerns and infotainment system errors, issues that are not limited to American automakers, to be sure. The good news is that infotainment system glitches, software updates, and cosmetic complaints, don’t affect the safety or reliability of your ride. There’s always the possibility that you’ll get stuck with a lemon, (That day Phyllis fell asleep on the assembly line…)  and there’s the occasional off-year for a specific model, but by and large, even the 8 worst American-made car brands aren’t all that bad. 

Our criteria for determining which American-made car brands were preponderance and severity of performance issues, and the average annual cost of ownership. In the current inflationary climate, in which every dollar counts, the cost of car ownership is a valid concern. The average U.S. car owner spends $652.00 yearly on car maintenance and repairs, so with those metrics in mind, we have ranked the cars on the 24/7 Wall St. list by their annual maintenance costs. Continue reading to see how your car fares.

8. Chrysler

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: Stellantis North America
  • established: 1925 (Chrysler); 2021 (Stellantis)
  • average annual maintenance: $608.00

Down to One

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Chrysler has been around just shy of a century, so they know a thing or two about the car biz. However, as of 2024, the brand produces only one consumer model, the Pacifica. The Chrysler Pacifica is a stylish, upscale minivan offering a range of amenities, including advanced infotainment systems. The days of counting cows and looking for out-of-state plates are long gone.

Generation Alpha watches the latest releases on their way to Grandma’s. So, while infotainment issues don’t affect the performance of your stylish minivan, they do affect the performance of your toddler. Beyond the inconsequential infotainment malfunctions, the Pacifica suffers from transmission problems that affect the powertrain, and electrical problems with the cruise control. And as of January 2024, a lawsuit has been filed against the brand citing that their voluntary recall was not sufficient in that their hybrid plug-in Pacifica continues to be prone to burst into flames spontaneously. 

7. Volkswagen

Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: Volkswagen Group
  • established: 1937
  • average annual maintenance: $676.00

Pardon Me, Is that the Chattanooga VW Production Plant?

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Though Volkswagen is a German automaker, since 2011 VW has had an assembly facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee that assembles the VW Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, and the ID.4. Volkswagen has spent the last few years outrunning the Dieselgate (2015) in which it was revealed that VW had installed software in its diesel vehicles designed to cheat emissions tests. The scandal resulted in widespread legal action, fines, and reputational damage for the brand. Let’s hope they learned from their debacle. The Atlas is plagued by electrical issues and ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) failure, along with shattering sunroofs. With average annual maintenance costs hovering around the national average, the VW Atlas is reasonable.

6. Volvo

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images

  • parent/owner: Volvo/Geely
  • established: 1927 (Volvo); 1986 ( Geely)
  • average annual maintenance: $746.00

Volvo has Found a Home in South Carolina

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

A Swedish car company on a list of American-made cars? Well, Volvo operates 12 manufacturing facilities in seven U.S. states, with over 17k employees. The first and principal U.S. Volvo plant, located in Ridgeville, South Carolina, broke ground in 2015 and began production (assemblage) in 2017. The plant is focused on the S60, and as of 2023, the EX90, a fully electric SUV. ABS and strut mount failures are among the S60’s most common concerns, along with false warning lights and power-steering fluid leakage. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the Volvo S60 as good overall, but higher-than-average maintenance costs drag the Volvo down. 

5. Ford 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: Ford Motor Company/Ford Family
  • established: 1903
  • average annual maintenance: $775.00

Escape to the Edge

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Ford Motor Company is about as American as you can get. ord Motor Founded in 1903 by Henry Ford, the automaker has had a profound effect on the global automotive industry. Popularizing assembly line manufacturing, Ford played a pivotal role in making automobiles accessible to the mass market. Ford continues to evolve with advancements in technology and a commitment to sustainability. Issues with the transmission, including engine failure in the Ford Ecoboost engines, which is the result of a faulty valve. Those in the know suggest Ford’s mid-size SUVs, including the Escape and the Edge are their most reliable models. 

4. Tesla 

Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: Elon Musk
  • established: 2003 (Tesla Motors, Inc.); 2008 (Elon Musk)
  • average annual maintenance: $832.00

What’s that Musky Odor? 

Source: greggjerdingen / Flickr

Tesla, Tesla, Tesla… The Tesla brand has generated one of the more polarizing responses to a car in recent history. While many Tesla owners praise the company for its innovation, performance, and commitment to sustainable transportation, others express criticism and skepticism on various fronts, including concerns about the safety and reliability of Tesla’s Autopilot feature. Many of these concerns result from misconceptions regarding the actual abilities and limits of the system. Other problems include premature failure of suspension and steering columns, range inflation, and issues with the battery. Higher-than-average maintenance costs, coupled with these common issues make the Tesla one of the 8 worst American-made car brands. 

3. Lincoln

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: Ford Motor Company
  • established: 1917 (Lincoln Motor Company); 1922 (Ford Motor Company)
  • average annual maintenance: $879.00

Lincoln Was Founded by a Warmonger

Source: Chris Hondros / Getty Images

When the then head of General Motors, Billy Durant, a pacifist, refused to allow Cadillac to build the 400-horsepower Liberty V-12 engines that would power military warplanes, Henry Leland, Cadillac’s founder quit, founding the company he named after Abraham Lincoln, to produce aircraft engines during World War I The Lincoln Motor Company transitioned to manufacturing automobiles after the war. Acquired by Ford in 1922. the Lincoln brand is synonymous with luxury and style. In the 21st century, Lincoln manufactures 4 models: the Navigator, the Aviator, the Nautilus, and the Corsair. Across all models, the common problems that arise include power steering fluid leakage, airbag recalls, faulty sensor lights, and janky transmissions. With average maintenance fees that are a quarter of a thousand dollars above the national norm, Lincolns are among the worst, honest Abe. 

2. Mercedes-Benz

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: Mercedes-Benz Group 
  • established: 1926 (Mercedes-Benz); 2022 (Mercedes Benz Group)  
  • average annual maintenance: $908.00

In Alabama the Tusks are Looser

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Mercedes-Benz, American, you ask with a raised eyebrow. I feel ya, but the German car manufacturer has assembled cars in Tuscaloosa, Alabama since the mid-1990s. The Alabama facility currently produces the GLE, GLE Coupé, and GLS Maybach models. Since 2022, the two all-electric models EQS SUV and EQE SUV have also been manufactured in Tuscaloosa. Some issues these models have experienced include unintentional detachable window trim (GLE), while leaks, transmission problems, and airbag failures plague the Maybach. The EQS and EQE can reportedly lose power thanks to a software error, an exceptionally dangerous proposition, especially in high-traffic situations. With repair costs approaching 1k, Mercedes-Benz are expensive to keep. 

1. BMW

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

  • parent/owner: The BMW Group
  • established: 1916
  • average annual maintenance: $968.00

American Made Since 1994

Source: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

BMW has been manufacturing cars in the U.S. for 30 years. There Spartanburg (Greer), South Carolina has the highest production rate for BMW, producing upwards of 1.5k/day. The BMW modes produced in South Carolina are the X3, X4, X5, X6, X7, and the XM SUV. Bmers have also sorts of problems from oil leaks to cooling system failures. Faulty ignition coils, transmission irregularities, and electrical issues are part and parcel to BMWs’ extravagant maintenance costs. 

Buffett Missed These Two…

Warren Buffett loves dividend stocks, and has stuffed Berkshire with some of his favorites.

But he overlooked two dividend legends that continue to print checks on a new level, they’re nowhere in his portfolio.

Unlock the two dividend legends Buffett missed in this new free report.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.