Many of us at some point have purchased a used vehicle with issues. The fact is, every manufacturer has problem prone vehicles. 
Kenny Martin of Competition Cars and Classics Used Auto Sales, will go over a few of these flaws with you. 

General Motors made a great looking vehicle in the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. All of these vehicles shared the same engine and transmission and were available in front wheel drive or all wheel drive.
Overall the perfect size SUV to many with third row seating. But  there is a problem all share. Released in 2007, this platform has sold tons of vehicles. However, each and every one from 2007-2010 has or will eventually suffer a transmission failure due to a failed waveplate in the transmission. This waveplate was not properly heat treated during the manufacturing process and the cycles of heat and cold make this part become brittle and eventually break. Many will occur in the 60,000 mile to 100,000 mile range. GM came out with an extended warranty coverage on this transmission and offered to replace if their was waveplate failure for 10 years or 120,000 miles. Unfortunately, most of these vehicles on the road have surpassed the age requirement and GM is about clear of the repair responsibility. Another issue these vehicles do share is the 3.8 engine is prone to timing chain failure. If considering one of these vehicles, it is in your best interest to pull a carfax report yourself, and see if the transmission replacement shows on the report. If not, stay far away.

Next in the Nissan line, we have the Frontier, Xterra and Pathfinder transmission issues. All three are made with the same frame, engine and automatic transmission. The 2005-2009 models (possibly more) have the transmission cooler running through the bottom of the radiator. The only thing separating engine coolant from transmission fluid is a layer of plastic. This plastic deteriorates with heat cycles and will begin to fail. When the plastic cracks, it allows coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. When the coolant travels through the transmission lines, it will eventually get to the tcm, or transmission control module, and failure is soon to follow. These transmissions are very expensive to rebuild ($4,000-$5,000) and fetch big money ($1800-$2,500) on the used market. To make matters worse, 2004 and 2005 are both a one year only transmission. As far as my research, 2006-2012 transmissions on these Nissans can be interchanged regardless if 4x4, 4x2 or with any package. 

Honda is not immune to problems as well. Many of the earlier 2002-2005 Civic models are prone to transmission failure. Also in the Honda lineup, many later model CRV's are prone to a very loud start up condition due to lack of oil pressure. There is a valve or solenoid that tends to fail that is supposed to maintain oil in the upper engine. 

Toyota too? Yes. Toyota makes a great car but they too have had issues. The Matrix, and Pontiac Vibe (made by Toyota) tend to have transmission failures in the 2009 model year (possibly others). Many of the mid 2000's Camry's have been know to develop engine knock and require engine replacement. 

Chrysler has many as well. Almost and engine ending in .7 is problem prone. The 2.7L, 3.7L, and 4.7L are known to have some of the highest failure rates of any engines. The Hemi 5.7 is a bit more reliable, and you will read many that swear by that engine, and many that swear at it. 

Ford has a long list but we will mention the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, and Ford Escape. These vehicles in the 2012 model year and up, have an extremely high transmission failure rate! Ford has extended coverage on this transmission, but the failure rate of the replacement is just as high. Many failing under 50,000 miles. 

Hyundai and Kia have gained acceptance as being much better vehicles than in the past. However, many 2009-2015 models develop an engine tick that just won't go away. Both manufacturers do have an open recall on many models for potential metal shavings left in the engine during the manufacturing process, that will eventually cause engine failure. They will replace these engines free of charge but you must verify your vehicle is part of this recall. 

I have left out a ton of problem vehicles in this list, as this is only a few worth mentioning. The best advice is to research any vehicle you are considering and know the risk, know the known issues, and get the vehicle checked by your mechanic first. If you purchase one of these vehicles from your Used Car Dealer, understand that they have most likely went over the vehicle to be sure it is road ready, however any vehicle on this list could show it's known issue at any time. You may consider trying to purchase an extended service contract on any of the above. It may be the best money you ever spent. 
Shop at a Dealer that will tell you what to look for. 
Kenny Martin
Competition Cars and Classics Used Auto Sales
Salem, Va.