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What cars are cheap maintenance?

Tesla and Lexus are the Cheapest Car Brands To Maintain Over a 10-Year Period

A new study found that Tesla is the cheapest car brand to maintain across the industry, while Toyota is the champion among conventional car brands. The study analyzed the maintenance costs over a 10-year period relative to the average value of the cars.

Tesla is the cheapest car brand to maintain

Photo: Tesla

Tesla lineup

Buying a car involves many calculations beyond the fact that you like the brand or the color. Wise people take into account fuel efficiency, safety, and price, but sometimes this is only the tip of the iceberg. Having a reliable car is equally important. Even when nothing breaks, regular maintenance can be expensive. This is where the ClunkerJunker study can offer useful insight into the cost of repairs.

The company analyzed maintenance cost data from the last 10 years for 185 popular and luxury cars sold in the U.S. The study takes into account the absolute value of repairs, as well as their percentage relative to the original purchase price. The latter measure might be skewed because more expensive vehicles appear cheaper to maintain. That’s because the maintenance costs represent a smaller proportion of the original price. To alleviate that, ClunkerJunker has divided the study into popular and luxury brands.

Based on this study, Toyota is the cheapest popular car brand to maintain, with maintenance costs representing 13.41% of the purchase price. The Japanese carmaker had eight of the top ten cheapest cars to maintain, with Land Cruiser (7.29%), Sequoia (8.5%), and Supra (8.56%) in the lead. Meanwhile, Dodge and its truck spin-off Ram offer some of the most expensive vehicles to keep running.

In the luxury car segment, Tesla dominates the results, being even cheaper than Toyota to maintain. Keeping Tesla cars up and running costs an average of 7.1% of the car’s value. Lexus placed second, with 12.3%, thanks to its legendary reliability. Porsche was in the third position, at 17.3%, although other German car brands didn’t fare as well in the study. BMW, for instance, came in last, with maintenance costs totaling over a quarter of the car’s value over a 10-year period.

BMW also had the most expensive individual models to maintain, with the X1 (42%), X2 (40%), and X3 (34.5%) costing considerable chunks of their original value to keep running over a 10-year period. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Tesla Model S costs just 4.6% of its value to maintain over a decade, and the Model X is quite close, at 5.1%. Based on the same metrics, several expensive models like the Audi S8 or Chevrolet Corvette appear to be among the least costly to repair. This is, of course, not quite true, and is so because their purchase price dwarfs the maintenance costs, lowering the percentage.

The study was based on data sourced via CarEdge in September 2022 and did not contain information about newer brands like Rivian or Lucid Motors due to the small sample size. The maintenance costs are calculated for a period of 10 years for each model as a percentage of the average price of a new car. Data on the average price for new models also came from CarEdge.

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Top 5 car brands with the lowest maintenance cost

The cost of maintaining your car is just as important as its price. It is one of the core considerations we have to take into account when purchasing the vehicle.

The cost of maintaining your car is just as important as its price. It is one of the core considerations we have to take into account when purchasing the vehicle.

That said, what metrics determine these maintenance costs? How do we tell which vehicle has an ‘acceptable’ maintenance budget and which one doesn’t?

Firstly, the purchase price for the brand new car from a given model line is a good indicator in some cases. Naturally, a vehicle that costs an arm and a leg is likely to attract hefty costs when it comes to its maintenance.

Just as necessary is the cost of spare parts, service, repairs, and insurance

Some cars tend to suffer from spare part availability depending on the geographical location that one is based. That impacts your ease of repair and service, making that car a bit of a headache to have.

Still, on service matters, low maintenance cars mean the ready availability of knowledgeable mechanics and technicians who can handle your repair and service requirements.

In some countries, incredibly pricey vehicles run into insurance issues as some insurers are hesitant to offer cover for some car brands. It is thus advisable to look into that too before acquiring a new model.
Without further ado, here are the top five car brands known to carry the lowest maintenance costs.

Arguably, Toyota has the lowest maintenance costs compared to other car brands.
According to RepairPal, the average cost for maintaining a Toyota stands at $441 per annum.
Compared to the annual industry average of $652, the Toyota badge comes with pretty manageable maintenance figures.
And that’s not all; for new vehicles, Toyota, through its ToyotaCare setup, offers free maintenance for the first two years of purchase or the first 25,000 miles.

That offer stays with the car and is even transferable to new owners, provided the vehicle is within the warranty period. Some of the popular Toyota cars with low maintenance cost include Toyota Harrier, Toyota Probox, Rush, Prius, Corolla, and Vitz.
After the initial two-year period, the maintenance costs will typically range between $100 to $200 for minor service and $200- $500 for heavy service.

Minor service, in this case, might include things such as oil change and wheel alignment, while major service may involve things such as wheel or headlight replacement.

Toyota’s trusted service care centers are spread across the world. In the Gulf region, there are a total of 14 centers. Dubai alone boasts of four, while Abu Dhabi has three. The rest are evenly peppered out across the rest of the region.

Mazda has an average repair cost of $286, according to CarMD.
The brand has authorized collision and repair centers. These offer professional service and repair for all Mazda models.
The technicians are specifically trained to diagnose all manner of issues that may afflict your beloved Mazda.
Besides, during the warranty period, the company offers a loaner vehicle for your use during the repair or service period.
However, the loaner vehicle is only availed to customers whose service is expected to take four hours or more.
Mazda models’ basic service charges are consistently low across all its models compared to other car brands. An oil change for a Mazda Miata, for example, stands at approximately $81.
The company recommends checking in your Mazda for minor service every 12 months or after 10,000 Kms for smaller cars and 15,000 Kms for the larger models.

On average, servicing a Honda vehicle costs $428 annually.
However, this is a ballpark figure as the actual cost may be slightly higher or lower depending on the handling of the car and your driving habits.

The lowest service charge on the Honda line is for a Honda Accord, which ranges between $107- $138 inclusive of parts and labor.
Meanwhile, a Honda CR-V carries an annual maintenance cost of approximately $965.
The car manufacturers provide comprehensive guidelines in respect of each of their Honda models.
For every model, you receive a service guideline to tell you when the car will be due for service.
With each model, there is a guideline for severe driving and normal driving conditions.
These are meant to accurately inform car owners of the best way to maintain their vehicles based on their driving habits.
To further reduce your maintenance costs, the company advises car owners/ drivers to use unleaded fuel, avoid sudden stops and starts, and avoid driving short distances or on uneven roads.

Hyundai is perhaps the best performer when it comes to warranties and after-sales service. That has a direct impact on lowering the buyer’s car maintenance costs.

Hyundai has offered a ten-year warranty period or coverage for the first 100,000 miles on its cars’ powertrain in the past.
But that’s not all; the cars would also come with a 5-year or 60,000-mile warranty.
So far, it has been one of the brands with the most aggressive and attractive warranties in recent years.
However, in early 2020, the company bumped things up even higher by adding another 3-year or 36,000-mile complimentary warranty onto its already massive warranty program.
These warranties go a long way in alleviating your maintenance costs, particularly if you purchase a new car.
On average, the Hyundai accent maintenance stands at approximately $50 while that of Hyundai Sonata is $294.

With proper handling of your brand new KIA, you can expect it to run well without much financial impact on your part for ten years.
The car carries a ten-year warranty on its powertrain, meaning that the company will sort out any mechanical issues for the first ten years, provided your handling is consistent with the warranty terms. The cheapest maintenance cost within the KIA range goes to the KIA Rio, whose annual maintenance is estimated at approximately $434.

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