How Much Does Car Maintenance Really Cost?
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For your vehicle to run safely, efficiently, and reliably, it needs routine maintenance.
Regular oil changes ensure proper lubrication for critical engine parts, enhancing performance, fuel economy, and lifespan.
Rotating and replacing tires as needed keeps your car securely fixed to the pavement and increases safety, especially when driving in rough weather.
And brake pad and rotor service ensures you have the stopping power you need to safely navigate all types of roads.
But what's the average yearly cost of regular maintenance?
Let's look at average maintenance costs for vehicles and how much you can expect to spend.
The importance of auto maintenance
Just like your body needs water, food, regular exercise, and rest to function its best, your car needs the proper fluids and maintenance.
Manufacturers specify unique maintenance schedules for replacing wear and tear items on your vehicle, like the engine oil, air filters, spark plugs, and more. Following the guidelines in your owner's manual will help keep your car in excellent running condition.
Motor oil lubricates your engine’s many components, keeping them moving smoothly during high temperatures and demanding driving conditions. Automaker recommendations for oil changes cover a wide range (usually 5,000-10,000 miles). Oil degrades over time, so periodic oil changes will help ensure your engine runs steadily.
Your tires are what make contact with the road, which is why it's crucial for them to always be in good shape. Not only do tires provide traction through varying weather conditions, but they also absorb bumps and, when properly inflated, increase fuel economy. Rotating tires on a routine basis and inflating them to their recommended air pressure helps them work as designed and decreases wear. When tires finally reach the wear bars, installing a new set will renew your car's traction and safety.
There are, of course, other parts that will wear out and need replacing over time. Keep an eye on your car’s brake pads and rotors, various belts, air filters, and wiper blades.
Multipoint inspections identify any possible problem areas on your car so that you can fix or replace specific components. Typical components looked over include the brake pads, hoses, belts, windshield wipers, air filters, and more. You can take your car to a repair shop or, if you feel up to the task, perform a DIY multipoint inspection yourself.
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Average maintenance costs
Car maintenance costs depend on a vehicle's make and model and where you take it for auto repair.
Oil changes run from $20-$100, with luxury and performance cars requiring synthetic oil on the higher end of the scale.
Tire rotations are relatively simple, averaging $20-$50.
The cost of a multipoint inspection varies according to many factors, like the type of car, the repair facility you visit, and how detailed of an assessment you want.
Besides these routine tasks, you also need to replace certain parts from time to time.
Replacing a vehicle's air filter is an economical way to maintain performance and keep your engine healthy. Generally, automakers recommend air filter replacement every 20,000-60,000 miles, usually costing $20-$75.
Wiper blades keep your windshield clear in all sorts of weather, helping you see the road and drive safely. It makes sense to change them every 6-12 months at the cost of $7-$15.
Every time your vehicle stops, the brake pads wear down slightly. Replacing them as needed ensures safety on the road. Typical intervals for brake pad replacement are around 30,000-50,000 miles, at the price of $100-$350.
Cost of car maintenance by brand
Because vehicles differ in design and materials, they have distinct maintenance needs and average maintenance costs.
It’s important to remember the cost of a vehicle’s maintenance can vary substantially depending on the make and model. According to YourMechanic.com, these are the average maintenance costs for specific brands over a 10-year period:
- BMW - $17,800
- Mercedes-Benz - $12,900
- Ford - $9,100
- Kia - $8,800
- Chevrolet - $8,800
- Volkswagen - $7,800
- Honda - $7,200
- Toyota - $5,500
The average cost of car ownership
Besides the manufacturer, different categories of cars have varying yearly expenses.
AAA's 2019 study entitled "Your Driving Costs" looked at nine types of vehicles and calculated their yearly ownership price based on several factors, like fuel expenses, insurance costs, maintenance, fees, car payments, tires, and depreciation.
Based on the study, this is the yearly cost to own these nine types of cars while driving 15,000 miles per year with full coverage car insurance:
- Small sedan - $7,114
- Hybrid - $7,736
- Electric - $8,320
- Small SUV - $8,394
- Medium sedan - $8,634
- Minivan - $10,036
- Medium SUV - $10,625
- Large sedan - $10,403
- Pickup - $10,839
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2019 Dodge Grand Caravan (from $26,950)
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
June 2, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.