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Predict High Auto Maintenance Cost – Gage Your Car’s Fun Factor””

Brian England, Tue, Feb 12, 2013

Not long ago, I came across an article on automotive.com, Highest Maintenance Cost Cars.  I thought about it a bit, and realized, there is a really easy test you can do to determine which cars will be expensive to maintain.  Simply ask yourself, “How fun is this car to drive?”

 My rule of thumb: The more fun the car is to drive, the more expensive it will be to maintain. 

Mercedes can be expensive to maintain

Both sports sedans and off-road vehicles can fall into this category of being “fun to drive” and “costly to maintain”.

To start with, higher maintenance cost can be driven by the cost of replacement parts.  For example, low profile tires used on sports sedans and large tires for off-road use cost twice as much as traditional tires.  You’ll find these types of tires on cars like Cadillacs, BMWs, Audis, Jaguars, Corvettes, Mazdas and Land Rovers.

Some people think that low profile tires actually don’t last as long as regular tires, but tire life is really driven by a number of different factors, including the owner’s driving habits.  If you’re taking full advantage of that sports car, chances are you’ll be experiencing a bit more wear than someone in a family sedan.

The cost of maintaining a car can also be driven up if your car requires more frequent maintenance.  For example, turbo charged engines, like those you might find on a Volkswagen, require more oil changes, and this translates to higher maintenance cost.  Also, let’s back-up to the tire discussion for a moment — if you’re actually taking your off-road vehicle, off the road, chances are you’ll experience rougher terrain resulting in the need for more frequent maintenance.

Another thing that can increase maintenance cost is fitting the car’s mechanical components into a really tight space.  This can increase labor costs because it’s going to require a lot more time for the auto technician to get to and to repair the problem.  You see this with cars like the Mini Cooper as well as on Subarus.

Considering all of the above, when you look at the list of higher maintenance vehicles, European cars are definitely overrepresented.  It’s not that there aren’t Asian vehicles out there that perform just as good as or even better than some of their European counterparts.  It’s just that they tend not to be as much fun to drive.  Also, many of the Asian vehicles seem to compromise looks for other efficiencies, so they aren’t as appealing to look at either.  And then of course there is the pedigree!  You may find an Asian equivalent, but it won’t be a BMW! 

These vehicles do more than just take you to work. They are fun luxury products that do so much more!

But…there’s a surcharge on fun. It’s gonna cost you to keep your “toy” well maintained.

What value do you put on having FUN???

 “And she’ll have FUN, FUN, FUN, ’til her daddy takes the T-Bird away” 

I wonder if it was because it was costing her daddy so much to maintain that T- Bird???

And lastly, the sticker price of the car can be a predictor too.  But then, if you’re paying $180,000 for a Ferrari, it’s a non-issue, right?




photo courtesy of Erik Daniel Drost’s photostream


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About Brian England


Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care) got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in the northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD, and a few years later, started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. A big believer in preventive auto maintenance, Brian's philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of adhering to a regular maintenance plan.