What is the riskiest used car to buy?

Robert Kraft recommends something less flashy than his bright blue Rolls Royce. A gold Camry would be a lot more discreet.
I have seen a discreet burgundy and black two-tone Camry with gilded emblems, license plate frames, and muffler tips parked in front of the Tope Lounge.
So I have been looking a little at Chevrolet Volts recently. I'm starting to think that a Gen 1 (2011-2015) Volt is one of the riskiest used car buys, here's why:

  • They didn't make many of them, so there's not a ton of junkyard parts out there. Also, not a lot of knowledge on how to fix them.
  • The battery is really expensive to replace - around $6-10k for a "refurbished" one.
  • There is no new battery available, and the refurbished options only offer a short warranty.
  • The health of the battery is hard to tell from a test drive, most of the 1st gens may be getting close to the end of battery life, but is that six years or six weeks away?
  • They aren't that cheap. The bottom of the market seems like it's $5-6k for the oldest, highest mileage gen 1s and close to $15k for the newest models in this generation.
What about you? Can you think of a used car that is a bigger roll of the dice?
Any car that was bought and driven by a teenager on their own funds
Range Rover is always the wrong choice.
A friend picks them up dirt cheap with problem someone does not want to fix , fixed them in his driveway and they seems to work pretty well and amazingly nice vehicle.

They seem fixable and he is not a mechanic by trade.
Here's the whole story. That Volt was hands down the most reliable and inexpensive car we ever owned (until it wasn't). It is also the only car that has ever left us stranded (albeit, at home). Volty led a sheltered life. At home, it lived in a heated and cooled garage, and at work, an underground garage. It looked brand new.

Then, one morning, my wife got in the trusty Volt to go to work. She pushed the start button and... everything looked normal, but the check engine light was on and there was a cryptic error message on the display. The gear shifter was locked and the car wouldn't move. It was DRT. I put her in our gas-powered Toyota and sent her off to work.

It took a while to figure out what had happened. There is a circuit inside the battery case that runs a routine at startup to make sure there is no high voltage "leaking" to ground. This is a safety check to ensure the high voltage system is isolated. It permanently disconnects the battery if the check fails. The circuit failed, and by default, disconnected the battery. Replacement requires pulling the battery and cracking it open. I was unable to find the part and didn't really want to work around a 400 volt battery anyway, so I swapped the whole thing. The battery itself was in great shape. I sold it to a guy that was setting up an off-grid power supply.

The Volt is incredibly well engineered, but also incredibly complex. It will not run on just the engine. The battery and high voltage system must be operational.

If your Volt was originally sold in California, it should have a 10 year 150k mile warranty on the battery and maybe other related (Voltec) components. If that is the case, you should be good to go for a couple of more years (but don't keep it out of warranty).

I wish you the best of luck with it.
Thank you for the detailed info. That sounds really frustrating... EVs/partial EVs are definitely not good from a user repair perspective sadly. As for the California extended battery warranty, I'm super confused on that. So many conflicting sources. And I registered my car with GM's website and it shows out of warranty on everything.
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That’s sad to hear. Hope my 15’s battery makes it all the way through my 72 month loan haha. What was the failure? Did it just run the ICE all the time? Less range? Or undriveable?
Hard to say. Most hybrids do not make it past 15 years on their original packs. The good news is, the Volt's pack is field-serviceable so sections can be replaced.
It's always risky to buy a used car that mechanics in your particular area have no experience working on. In general, some European cars often require a mechanic with a background in that particular manufacturer line. Sometimes you'll encounter a shop that claims they can work on "anything", be cautious. My vote would be a well maintained domestic (coming from a Toyota owner), you'll save money up front and parts availability should be good.
I know two people with older LR3's that have had fairly few problems and they have owned them for a while.
the lr3 is a good design and well built. the stuff that came later is not so good.

of course the diesel americans never got and the ford 4.0 were both turds but the 4.4 jag v8 is very good.
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How about a used EVO or WRX, where the kid who owned it previously made all sorts of various "mods" and then later removed them when the car had to go in for warranty work, or didn't disclose them when selling the car? I've seen a few videos where various "surprises" pop up when the new owner digs into the car trying to chase what started as a minor issue.
My school teacher had one. I remember him saying it was broken down in the Ames department store parking lot for two weeks.

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Here’s one that sold for $7500
Had a Ferrari red one with "natural" interior.. One of my top Five Fun cars over over 70 vehicles owned over 52 years of driving.

David E. Davis of C&D then Automobile fame bought one for his daughter.

Had problems with the Ford sourced parts on it. My main problem was the heater coolant flow valve. Ford.

It just a Fiat 2 door - a fun handling car. The quintessential Ferrari master engine designer developed that engine.

Not mine but similar. I still have a spare set of keys -

Any older Avalon. I've never owned or driven one but I've heard a few fifth-hand horror stories.
That makes me a Certified BITOG Expert on that make and model.