The cost of owning a car is not limited to making your monthly payments. There are fuel costs and maintenance to consider, too. And some cars cost more than others to keep tuned-up and running smoothly. Over a period of 10 years, which 10 cars are the cheapest to maintain while still offering a comfortable ride?
In the U.S., YourMechanic.com provides a traveling auto maintenance and repair service where, from coast to coast, mechanics make house calls to service cars. Consequently, the company has a massive dataset tracking the types of maintenance and repairs different makes and models require. In 2016, YourMechanic decided to mine the data and compile a list of the most and least expensive cars to maintain. Obviously, our Ontario winters are very long and very cold compared to Florida or California winters, but winter is a pretty harsh season in a majority of the United States so we at Ontario Cars feel confident that the data is representative of our Canadian reality.
As part of its analysis, YourMechanic also calculated the median cost by brand for 30 manufacturers. These results show that BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars were the most expensive to maintain over the first 10 years of a car’s life. In contrast, Toyota cars were the most economical to maintain in the same period.
The upshot is that, these 10 car models have the lowest maintenance costs based on the total costs over 10 years. Let’s get on with the countdown.
10. Kia Optima
Kicking off the countdown in 10th place, the Kia Optima costs $6,400 US to maintain over 10 years. The Korean manufacturer ranked 14 out of 30 overall with a cost of $8,800 US when all years and all models of Kia cars were grouped to calculate the median cost of 10-year maintenance for the brand.
9. Scion xB
New Scion cars are no longer being manufactured, but existing cars are still affordable to maintain. As a result, the Scion xB earns 9th place by costing $6,300 US to maintain over 10 years while, overall, the brand ranked 29 out of 30 with an average cost of $6,400 US.
8. Toyota Yaris
As mentioned in the introduction, overall Toyota cars are the most economical when it comes to maintenance, so it comes as no surprise that the Toyota Yaris sits in 8th place on this list. With a maintenance cost of $6,100 US over 10 years, the Yaris is actually one of Toyota’s more expensive cars. The automaker as a whole, though, is the least expensive overall, costing just $5,500 US on average for a decade of maintenance.
7. Nissan Versa
The cost of maintenance over 10 years for a Nissan Versa is $5,900 US, while Nissan itself ranks 23 out of 30 with a median cost of $7,600 US for the brand. Affordable and reliable, the Versa also offers plenty of passenger room, making it one of the few subcompacts in which four adults truly do ride in comfort.
6. Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling cars of all time. Toyota claims to have sold 43 million Corollas in the last 50 years. Part of its popularity has to do with the Corolla’s comfortable ride, spacious and quiet interior, secure handling, and safety feature. The fact that it costs $5,800 US to maintain over 10 years also factors into its popularity.
5. Toyota Tacoma
Even a pickup truck built by Toyota is easy to maintain. The Toyota Tacoma provides the proof by costing $5,800 US over 10 years for maintenance. That lands the Tacoma right in the middle of this top 10 countdown and earns it 5th place.
4. Honda Fit
The Honda Fit is the Japanese carmaker’s most economical vehicle to maintain at $5,500 US over 10. Other Honda models are among the 20 cheapest cars to maintain, but only the Fit makes the Top 10, coming in 4th. Honda as a brand ranks 27 out of 30 with an average cost of $7,200 US.
3. Toyota Camry
The Toyota Camry is a best seller thanks to its satisfying performance and great fuel economy for a mid-size. Over 10 years, maintenance costs total $5,200 US, earning the Camry 3rd place. The automaker thus solidifies its reputation for building reliable and affordable cars.
2. Kia Soul
The Kia Soul offers abundant interior space, chairlike seats, and large windows. Essentially a boxy hatchback, it can also function as an SUV. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest cars to maintain over 10 years at $4,700 US. The Soul sits at 2nd place in this countdown.
1. Toyota Prius
Sitting in first place is the Toyota Prius. Yes, a hybrid! Toyota wins the top spot because the Prius costs just $4,300 US to maintain over 10 years. Fuel economy and low maintenance costs come together perfectly in this car.
Keeping track of maintenance costs
If you’d like to stay updated on car-related data, CarMD publishes Vehicle Health Index reports three times a year. Reliability rankings are put online in December, the December 2017 Make & Model Reliability Reliability Rankings being the most recent at the time of writing this blog. The rankings are based on the frequency of check engine light problems and the average cost of repairs.CarMD specializes in software that reads and delivers information on the health and scheduled maintenance of vehicles.
According to the CAA (Canadian Automobile Association), the average costs of vehicle maintenance and repair are just over $1,000 per year or $0.07 per kilometer for a mid-size car driven 18,000 km annually. The CAA also provides an online Driving Costs Calculator to help you calculate all the ongoing costs of owning a car. You can even get a cost estimate tailored to the specifics of your car and driving habits.