10 New Cars Most Often Given Up Within A Year Of Ownership

Apr 04, 2019 at 4:09pm

Luxury automakers absolutely dominate this list.

Buying a new car can be an exciting experience. Once that initial excitement wears off, however, buyer’s remorse can sometimes hit hard. A fresh iSeeCars study seeks to chronicle that heartbreak through a report that reveals the new cars most often sold, dropped, or otherwise bailed out of within the first 12 months of ownership.

The study looked at over 46 million new car and SUV sales to come up with the data for this list, but interpreting the information is a bit tricky. The numbers don’t differentiate between purchases and lease vehicles, so it’s possible some of the data could include short-term leases of one year wrapping up. There’s also the possibility of data reflecting early termination of two-year lease deals. The researchers at iSeeCars took a closer look at the figures for us and found the percentages were fairly even between 4 and 12 months, suggesting one-year lease deals or early termination of two-year leases have little consequence on the data. Still, it's important to keep that in mind for this list.

What other factors push people to give up their new cars so quickly? Reliability can be an issue – the study points out that eight of the vehicles on the list come from luxury brands, some of which have below-average reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. In some cases, the vehicles themselves might simply be terrifically disappointing.

Only 3.4 percent of all new car buyers bail out of their purchase in the first year, so this isn’t a big trend by any means. Still, it’s interesting to see how individual models fare through that initial period. Our slide show above counts down the top ten, with the percentage representing how many cars were given up compared to how many were sold. You will notice some clear trends this time around.

Source: iSeeCars.com


10. Nissan Versa: 8.7 Percent

Nissan has a new Versa on the horizon which should offer more standard features, so perhaps buyers will be interested in sticking with the subcompact a bit longer. As it was, 8.7 percent of new Versa sales saw the owners bail out after just a year.

9. Jaguar XF: 8.8 Percent

The XF is a handsome sedan, but it can be a bit pricey to maintain. Warranty coverage handles breakdowns, but scheduled maintenance intervals can still have some surprising costs. Only 8.8 percent of XF buyers were upset enough to drop the car after the first year, however, which is a far cry from the top vehicle on this list.

8. Nissan Versa Note: 9.0 Percent

Yes, Nissan is the only non-luxury manufacturer on the list, and the Versa once again is in the crosshairs. This time it’s the Versa Note, a rather unloved model that is thin on equipment. A new Versa is expected soon, which could help win over dissatisfied buyers.

7. BMW X3: 9.0 Percent

Sorry BMW fans, but this isn’t the only time your favorite automaker will make the list. Tied with the Versa Note at 9 percent, the X3 is popular but does have some sketchy reliability ratings. The study also points out that some dealerships buy vehicles such as this to use as loaner cars, which are then resold on the lot as used vehicles for a discount. The study attempts to take that into account by excluding vehicles with less than 1,000 miles on the odometer, but some could still factor into the X3’s percentage.

6. BMW X1: 10.4 Percent

The same dealer-purchase theory for the X3 could also hold true on the X1, especially with it being classified as an entry-level SUV. It’s also quite possible that, after a year of ownership, 10.4 percent of buyers realized an X2 might’ve been a better choice.

5. Mini Cooper Clubman: 10.7 Percent

Three BMW vehicles are on this list, though you might consider the Mini Clubman a fourth model since it hails from Munich. We often see Mini buyers smitten with their purchases, but the Clubman holds an awkward position of being too small for many crossover buyers and too big for those seeing the nimble Mini experience. It’s also not very good on gas and is quite expensive to boot. Though it’s midway on the list at 10.7 percent, we can see it being the buyer’s remorse champion.

4. Range Rover Evoque: 10.9 Percent

Land Rover vehicles have a colorful history when it comes to both maintenance costs and reliability. That could be why 10.9 percent of Range Rover Evoque buyers bail out within the first 12 months of ownership. It’s also possible Evoque buyers soon discover they would’ve preferred a Land Rover Discovery.

3. Land Rover Discovery Sport: 11.8 Percent

Yeah, apparently we were wrong on Evoque owners wanting a Discovery Sport instead. Bailout sales for the Disco in the first year are 11.8 percent – nearly a full percentage point above the Range Rover. Again, iSeeCars points to poor reliability ratings as the reason why buyers might be so dissatisfied with the purchase after just 12 months.

2. BMW 3 Series: 11.8 Percent

The last BMW on the list ties with the Discovery at 11.8 percent. Given the popularity of the 3 Series it’s rather surprising to see it near the top, but as with the X1 and X3, it’s possible that dealer-owned Bimmer shuttle cars could be woven into the data. It’s also no secret that the 3 Series tends to depreciate rather quickly due to reliability concerns and maintenance costs.

1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 12.4 Percent

This comes as quite a surprise to us. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a popular car for sure, but we often spend our time focused on the higher-end models and AMG variants. As with BMW, it’s possible some of that list-topping 12.4 percent is attributable to dealer-purchased models, but that alone doesn’t explain why the C-Class has three times the average dropouts within the first year of ownership. Perhaps lower-end C-Class buyers seek an upgrade, or maybe reliability is an issue. In any case, it’s sad to see the mighty Merc headlining this study.