These Are the Worst Used Cars You Can Buy With Your Tax Refund
It’s that time of year again, when many of you will file your taxes and get back a bunch of money. Some more than others, of course, and probably not enough to buy the sort of car you probably want, but could it be enough for a down payment? That sounds about right – and, if you’re anything like me, you’re about to make a very bad decision.
Why are you making a bad decision? Because you’ve said the words, “ Why would I buy a new Accord when I could get a used [insert German sports sedan] for the same money?” out loud, and sort of believed it. If only a little.
Or, I dunno. Maybe you’re smart. If you are, sit back, get set for some Schadenfreude, check out some of the ridiculous cars we dumb people will be spending our tax money on/ruining our lives with once the H&R Block check hits.
IMPRESS THE NEIGHBORS
There’s something about that three-pointed star that gets respect from the normies, and something about the “E500” badge that makes enthusiasts of a certain age sit up and take notice.
And, sure – this is wrong 500 E, but most people have no idea that Mercedes’ resale values have been chasing the Russian ruble towards zero for the better part of the millennium, and cars that carried hefty price tags can now be had for – well, if not a song, then certainly less than my “winter” Civic.
The relatively clean-looking 2005 above, with just 102,000 miles on the clock, is no exception. The body looks straight enough, the interior clean enough, and the V8 rumbly enough to turn heads, and that mileage is nothing for a properly maintained E class.
That said, what are the odds that this one has been properly maintained? Almost every W211 E we ever took in on trade at my dealership had a leaking rear main seal, leaks at the front of the engine, and a bad crank position sensor.
I didn’t even have to Google that.
What’s more, the E500 had the same troublesome air suspension that the bigger S and SL class cars have, and they’re just as expensive to replace. Expect a four-figure repair bill every time you whack a pothole, or just from the passage of time – rubber dries out, cracks, and leaks, so if this Benz hasn’t had the airbags swapped out in the last 17 years, it’s probably due. If it needs all four? You might owe your mechanic more than you paid that dealer for the car. And that’s too bad. The Merc deserves better.
IMPRESS THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST
Sure, the normies love the Mercedes, but the B&B knows better. The automotive high point here seems to be the 1995-2000 Lexus LS400, and for good reason. More Teutonic than the Teutons, this big sedan put a hurting on Mercedes’ high-end market share like nothing before or since, and continues to impress people who drive it today.
Alas, all is not well with these cars. They’re getting old, the electronics that drive these cars are delaminating from age, and repair parts (when they’re needed) are getting harder and harder to find. Will the part you need to keep your big Lexus running in two, three, or five years be around?
It’s hard to say – that’s why I’d choose this slightly newer LS. It still has that late 90s German vibe, but has a few more years left in it before something breaks irretrievably, and the car breaks your heart.
Don’t let yourself get hurt, guys. Just keep on scrolling.
THE MID-LIFE CRISIS CONVERTIBLE
I’m a huge fan of the Nissan Z, and have been ever since GI Joe picked up Barbie in one. That said, it feels like every one of these cars has been mercilessly flogged by the type of guy who shifts his automatic like it’s a manual in a Ridge Racer arcade game.
This one looks pretty clean, and these cars are more reliable than most of the mid-life crisis convertibles out there (*cough* Chrysler 200 *cough-cough*), but the back-to-basics sporty car handling that the Z has been famous for in recent years doesn’t lend itself to gentle cruising, and all those years of high-speed antics are sure to catch up with this 2007 Nissan’s next owner, sooner or later.
THE ONE THAT STARTED IT ALL
This isn’t just any Range Rover Sport, it’s the Range Rover Sport that initially inspired this list when one of the guys in the local dad group asked me about it.
With over 140,000 miles on the clock, the list of things that could be wrong with this Range Rover is longer than the list of what’s probably right with it. A quick Google search shows failed air suspension bits, differentials, and a litany of electrical gremlins as “common problems”, but – by some weird coincidence – every single one of these that’s ever crossed my path as a service advisor has had leaking head gaskets and an ABS light.
There is no way this Range Rover Sport doesn’t eat you out of home. A few years back, Doug DeMoro bought a 2006 Range Rover of his own and famously slapped an excellent CarMax warranty on the car. He paid $26,988 for the car, and CarMax ended up paying out a staggering $21,276 in repairs … and this Range Rover Sport? Let’s just say it’s probably not as mechanically sound as the 2006 Doug bought himself in 2012.
That said, the Range Rover Sport has always been a personal favorite of mine, and I don’t drive that much, what with all the pressers and motorcycles. Arlington Heights isn’t that far away …
[Images: Screenshotted by the author, chayanuphol/Shutterstock.com]
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- Pig_Iron Emissions and safety inspections are wholly unnecessary as both systems are designed to last the life of the vehicle. ✌ But they will not be discontinued, because to Marxists/fascists, "There is no truth but power". And for power, you need to control other's lives. It's never really about safety, ecology, gender, race, religion etc. - it's really about control. Happy "Pride Season". 🏳🌈
- Dukeisduke It's at $12,188, with seven bids. Priced out of the average collector's budget.
- Jeff S I don't think safety inspections for most vehicles are necessary. There are so many ways that the system can be cheated and for those who maintain their vehicles and have newer vehicles it is an opportunity for an unscrupulous mechanic to rip them off. Most law enforcement agents will give citations to cars that are really bad and unsafe. As for emissions testing it should be limited to metropolitan areas of a million or more in population. These are my opinions after decades of experience and observation.
- Cprescott My current ride is paid off in December. Hopefully there will be no more car payments ever. So expensive these days and you have to really pay attention as there are so few actual cars being made in the affordable range.
- Jeff S Price seems high but then after Covid it probably isn't. Does appear that the car is complete and is restorable. Agree the seller will get at least that price and possibly more. I remember these early Mustangs well when I was growing up and remember the fastbacks were released in August of 64 as a 65 where the regular hardtop and convertible were released as 64 1/2s April 17, 1964. Brylcreem gave one of these original Mustangs away in a mail in contest.
I'd pick the Z of those listed. It's the HR model w/ the updated higher reving VQ and it seems I see lezz vert Zs driven by the Drifto crowd, so it's probably in decent shape. Regardless parts are dirt cheap for this platform having owned a couple of G's
I finally got my witholding correct this year so I got a pair of nice noise canceling Sony Earbuds for traveling. If you can buy a car with your return you may want to go see HR and look at your witholding