Besides your house, the most expensive thing you'll ever own is your car. According to Your Mechanic, Americans spend 5% of their income on buying a car, with yet another 5% going towards maintenance and insurance costs. But when you have a luxury car, those costs go up because of the higher cost to buy them outright and the cost to keep them going on the roadways. The parts are more expensive and the labor is more involved as well. Let's take a look at which luxury cars are the most expensive vs. most affordable to maintain.
Leading the Charge
Luxury imports hailing from Germany tend to be the most expensive overall, with BMW and Mercedes taking top spots, at $17,800 and $12,900 respectively. This is based on average maintenance costs over 10 years. Topping the domestic luxury brands is Cadillac at $12,500, followed by Volvo at the same price. Audi is #5 at $12,400, while Volkswagen comes in at #22 for $7,800. Even though it's not a luxury brand, the lowest car to maintain is Toyota at $5,500.
Yes, luxury cars have the highest price tags in terms of maintenance, but the payoff in terms of performance, appearance and reliability far outweigh those costs — at least according to their owners. The cost of a car certainly changes with age, too. The median annual cost of maintenance typically starts at less than $500 for the first year and increases to nearly $2,500 at year 20. It seems the costs stay relatively low until the 11th and 12th years of age, where they spike dramatically, then level off around year 13 and beyond.
In terms of specific models, BMW 328i earns the #2 spot with maintenance costs over 10 years averaging about $15,600. Mercedes-Benz E350 costs a little less, around $14,700, while Audi A4 Quattro comes in at $12,800. Volkswagen Passat averages 10-year costs of $11,600, with Mini Coopers at $11,200. Keep in mind some of these prices are inflated by the high costs of one-time repairs, such as for a transmission rebuild. Volkswagen Jetta seems to be the most affordable choice in terms of maintenance, at $6,800 over 10 years
What Contributes to Costs
Many car brands fall victim to the same types of failures time and time again, so you can actually track which problems plague which cars. For example, BMW has a high issue frequency with the idler pulley, window regulator and drive belt tensioner; for Mercedes-Benz, it's the crankshaft position sensor.
All of that being said, there's a lot more to maintenance than the outright cost. One owner's luxury car may drain the wallet because he doesn't take care of it, doesn't bring it in for regular service, and drives it hard over long distances. Another owner may put fewer miles on her car, brings it in for regular service like clockwork and takes it easy when driving. No matter what your case ism one thing's for sure: regular maintenance is key to sustaining the life of your luxury car. There's really no getting around it. Is it time to schedule an appointment for YOUR luxury car?