Most people think about the price tag on a car when they're thinking about cost. But the cost of a car is so much more than that. You have to think about:
Depending on what kind of car you purchase, these costs will vary. Repairs may be cheaper on an inexpensive car because parts will be inexpensive and easier to find. Gas may be cheaper for a newer car because it's more fuel-efficient.
No matter which car you choose, maintenance costs and car insurance are something to consider.
What Are the Most Common Maintenance Expenses?
Used car dealerships typically enroll all vehicles in a "maintenance reminder" program. This may include letters, notifications by email, or even notifications by your car's control panel.
Here's a list of just a few of the maintenance expenses you can expect to pay for a used car:
- Oil changes
- Spark plugs
- Transmission service
- Coolant service
- Smog checks
Keep in mind that these are just the beginning. Any number of issues can come up, and you need to be prepared to pay for them all. This should factor into any car you purchase. You can research what people typically have to repair or replace on a car, and you can expect to face similar issues.
Factors That Make a Car Cheaper to Maintain
When you're looking at vehicles - whether on this list or otherwise - there are multiple factors that you should consider. Technicians aren't the final authority on how much the costs will be. However, as the professionals working on your car, here's what these experts say makes a difference:
- Unobstructed access under the hood: If certain parts are difficult to get to, it will increase labor costs. Ample room under the hood is a plus.
- Simple technology: The simpler the technology, the quicker and easier a car will be to repair. Newer cars are more complicated than older cars.
- Accessible replacement parts: Common, standardized replacement parts mean your repairs will be cheaper (and probably quicker).
This isn't an exhaustive list. However, it should give you a way to guess how much you might spend on car maintenance.
8 of the Cheapest Cars to Maintain
The following is a list of the eight cheapest cars to maintain. It'll show you a few makes and models that can help save your budget and your vehicle from major repair costs.
Technicians weighed in to put together this list. And, as the people who see cars getting fixed day in and day out, they know which are best.
1. Chevrolet Silverado, 2003 to 2007
With room around the engine, Silverados are easy to work on, so labor is cheaper. The technology itself is also straightforward, leading to even cheaper labor. Parts are easy to come by. This is the perfect storm for a cheap-to- maintain car, and it's true for both the V6 and V8 models of this particular car.
2. Honda CR-V, 1996 to 2016
Honda's cars are durable and hold their value, and the CR-V is no exception. The 1996 to 2016 CR-V had the lowest frequency of "check engine light" repairs among all vehicles from the same date range. Fewer problems, in addition to the brand's expected durability, makes this a no-brainer to add to the list.
3. Honda Civic, 2001 to 2016
Speaking of Hondas, the Civic is high on the list of cheap-to-maintain vehicles, too. The replacement parts aren't hard to come by, parts are readily available when you need them, and the car's design makes most repairs easy to perform.
As the model years progressed, Honda abandoned certain parts with known replacement periods, like timing belts. This means the car lasts longer, with less maintenance: win-win.
4. Honda Accord, 2003 to 2014
As the last Honda on the list, we can't emphasize more just how reliable these cars can be. Models before the 2003 model year were made with a timing belt. Since 2003 models onward, the timing belt has been done away with.
The height of Accord reliability was in the 2011 and 2012 model years. However, the Honda name practically guarantees that you'll get reliable, efficient performance.
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5. Toyota Corolla, 1998 to 2017
The Toyota Corolla is one of the most widely sold cars ever. 44.1 million Corollas have been sold since it launched in 1966. Most of them are still on the road, too.
As one of the most reliable cars you can purchase, the Corolla's popularity, and widespread availability of parts, makes it another car to watch when you're looking for cheap maintenance.
6. Toyota Camry, 2008 to 2015
Speaking of Toyotas, the Camry is another great option. Known for many of the same benefits as the Corolla, the Camry's four-cylinder model is easy to repair and thus, cheaper to maintain.
And, when combined with the Camry's reliability ratings, which as of 2017 was a perfect 5/5 from J.D. Power, the Camry is a classic low-maintenance favorite.
7. Jeep Wrangler, 2007 to 2017
Jeep Wranglers are easy and cheap to maintain because while the engine is modern, the drivetrain and suspension are simple. The traditional layout of the internal components means labor doesn't take long, either.
Though newer models aren't as spacious near the engine as the older ones, it's still a cheap car to maintain.
8. Nissan Altima, 2008 to 2015
Nissan's 36-month/36,000-mile limited vehicle coverage and 5-year/60,000-mile limited power train coverage make them competitive with other brands. The Altima is easy to service when issues come up, too.
Known for its strong engine and reliability, the Altima will stand the test of time and be cheap to fix if something goes wrong.
Cheap to Maintain Doesn't Mean "Cheap"
When it comes to maintaining a car, cheap isn't always best. While changing your own oil and checking the air pressure in your tires may be tempting, use a warranty if you have one. Be wary of extra services offered at the dealership, however, as these can typically be done by another shop (or by you) for much less.
If you're buying a used car from a dealership, they may offer you an extended warranty of some type. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you're getting a good deal. Some extended warranties cover as little as two oil changes and two multi-point inspections.
It isn't difficult to perform some routine services on your own, either. You may want to:
- Check tire pressure
- Monitor and maintain fluid levels
- Replace windshield wipers
- Replace the cabin air filter
Long story short: Read the fine print on any warranty before purchasing it.
Car Insurance Decreases Maintenance Costs, Too
If you're looking for other ways to add value to your car and protect your bottom line, the right car insurance coverage can be a big help.
Independent insurance agents can help you get the best coverage for the best value by showing you several quotes for coverage before you buy. Our agents are ready to help you.
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