These Japanese Cars Will Bankrupt You With Repair Bills

Any advice to choose a JDM car will likely refer to two major reasons. Japanese cars are among the cheapest on the market and are notorious for their legendary reliability. Cheap Japanese cars will make great project cars as they are rarely pieces of junk. It’s easy to build a car with great power and enjoy German-like sports car performance for a thrifty price by going the Japanese route.

Although some sports cars and SUVs from Japan have the highest reliability ratings, there have also been many lemons with record maintenance costs and repair bills. This piece will discuss ten infamous Japanese cars for their unreliability and breaking-down tendencies.

10/10 Honda Prelude – Transmission And Engine Issues

Blue 1997 Honda Prelude Type SH on the driveway
Via Bring A Trailer

Some of the most recurrent issues with the Honda prelude include a sticky clutch pedal that is slow to resume its normal position after application. Minor issues also develop when changing gears. This is usually a result of a worn-out or entirely broken-down clutch master cylinder.

1995 Prelude Si VTEC
Cars and Bids

Automatics from 1997 to 2001 had problematic gearboxes that would completely stop working. New complete gearboxes are not cheap to install. At the same time, the check engine light can come up anytime, asking you to spend a lot more money.

9/10 Mazda’s Rotary Engine Cars – Unreliable Engines, Poor Fuel And Oil Economy

Mazda RX-8 - Side
Via Bring A Trailer

A Mazda RX-8 is a sports car that elicits a unique emotion when driving. At 9000 RPM, it unleashes an intoxicating sound. The car’s handling is sublime and almost unmatched in its segment. However, all this emotion doesn’t come without a hefty cost, as the rotary engine is subject to many unreliability issues.

Related: Everything You Should Ever Know About Rotary Engine Cars

Rotary Engine: The forgotten motor.
via: Car Throttle

The whole engine is an unreliable gas-guzzling machine. Once the rotors wear out, huge investments in repairs are imminent.

8/10 Second Generation Honda Odyssey – Transmission Problems

2002 Honda Odyssey on the road
Via Honda

The second-generation Honda Odyssey was prone to various transmission and body concerns. One moment you are on the highway at cruising speed, but the next, the car starts to slow down, and you can only drag yourself at slow speeds to the nearest mechanic.

1999 Honda Odyssey Specs And Photos | Strongauto

Replacing the transmission will cost more than the car is worth now; thus, it’s not worth the trouble. Other issues, such as a bad primer from Honda, lead to peeling paint and chipping all over the body, sending you back to the paint shop now and then.

7/10 Acura RSX – Problematic Honda’s Manual Transmission

Black 2006 Acura RSX
Via Cars & Bids

Senior enthusiasts will remind you of when the Acura RSX dominated the scene. Decades later, the RSX remains popular among petrolheads due to its JDM panache and impeccable performance. The 2006 model was one of the most popular and still manages to hold its value, and Autopadre estimates it might even appreciate in the coming years.

Red 2005 Acura RSX Type-S
Via Acura

Notwithstanding, the RSX is not a perfect sports car, as it has its fair share of issues, such as compromised braking, leaking engine oil, and failed timing valves. As with most Hondas from this era, these cars are prone to transmission problems that could cost an arm and a leg to maintain and repair.

6/10 Mid 2000s Nissans – Various Electrical Issues

2005 Nissan Sentra Front View In Yellow
Via Nissan

Compared to Toyotas and Hondas, Nissans from these years were unreliable. Some V6 and V8 Nissan engines built by Nissan can be very powerful and reliable. However, some of their four-cylinder variants manufactured through their merger with Renault during this period have many potential issues.


It wasn’t uncommon for these four-cylinder engines to run too rich and eventually smash their catalytic converters. Electrical issues and poor quality control on body panels also plagued most Nissans over the years.

Related: 10 Glaring Problems With Nissan Everyone Ignores

5/10 Second Generation Mitsubishi Eclipse – The Infamous Crankwalk

Eclipse GSX ThatDudeinBlue Front Quarter View
via ThatDudeinBlue

Take a quick Google Search of the term crank walk, and your first sight will be images of the second-generation Mitsubishi Eclipse. The crankshafts in the turbocharged 4G63 old experience bearing play that are notorious for causing spinning bearings that lead to a seizing crank and a totaled engine.

Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX
Via Cars and Bids

The 2001 eclipse was a cause of tremendous headaches for most owners. The only reliable way to get out of this mess is to swap with a different engine.

4/10 First-Gen Honda Civic – Rust Problems

first generation honda civic
via NetCarShow

Fanatics love the Honda Civic for its solid reputation throughout many generations. These cars are durable and economical. However, a few Honda Civics, such as the 2001 version, might be more expensive than average to maintain.

A Blue First Generation Honda Civic
Via: Car Advice

The first-generation Civic is over four decades old and can be heavy on maintenance costs. Even when it was on sale, these cars received over multiple recalls for chronic rust issues. Rust plagued the body and suspension components deeming these cars downright unsafe.

3/10 1991 – 1999 Subaru SVX – Transmission Problems, Poor Wheel Bearings

Red Subaru SVX parked
Via Bring A Trailer

The SVX was Subaru’s attempt to save the struggling Subaru XT nameplate. Unfortunately, the SVX inherited major troubles that were the cause of failure for the XT.

White and Black 1994 Subaru SVX Parked - Frontview
Via: YouTube

The transmission is a major concern as even low mileage SVXs would suffer a complete transmission failure due to heat. The wheel bearings on these models were also terminally bad and are a pain in the back to replace. You also have brake rotors that tend to warp and open up a whole catalog of brake problems.

Related: 10 Reasons Why The Subaru XT Coupe Deserves More Attention

2/10 1990 – 1998 Eagle Talon – Excessive Oil Consumption, Electrical Faults

Red 1993 Eagle Talon
Via Mecum Auctions

Chrysler and Mitsubishi collaborated to build a JDM killer and came up with the Eagle Talon. During these years, Chrysler was not at its best and underwent a bad production run. This car was a reliability disaster from the onset to the end of its problematic run in 1998.

A 1994 Blue Eagle Talon TSi 

Recurrent issues such as electrical faults and excessive oil consumption will leave you spending way more than the average on repairs and maintenance. The occasional lack of power, engine stalling, hesitation, shakiness, and roughness are recipes for Endless headaches for the owner.

Related: This Eagle Talon Spreads Its Wings On The Track

1/10 Honda Del Sol CRX – Poor Build Quality, Prone To Water Leakage

Hond Del Sol CRX 1992
via Wallpaper Cave

The Honda del sol had big shoes to fill under the CRX nameplate. Needless to say, this lukewarm creation was a disappointment in replacing the outgoing JDM icon. It lacked sportiness but didn’t bother making up for its build quality or reliability.

Mecum Auctions

The poorly built Targa roof was subject to leaks which then caused rust issues in the body panels. Thinking that Honda intended this car to be the formidable Mazda Miata’s direct competitor is disappointing.