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Report: The car brands that cost the least (and most) to maintain

Turns out Teslas aren't just cheap on fuel

Red Tesla Model 3 Performance facing straight on parked on dark metal plates with a dark wall in the background.
Tesla / Tesla

Buying a car can be expensive, but the costs don’t stop when you drive one off the lot. You also need to spend a significant amount keeping that vehicle in good working order. However, some brands cost less to maintain than others, and it turns out that Tesla produces some of the cheapest vehicles on the road as far as long term expenditure is concerned.

A study by Consumer Reports discovered that Teslas only cost the average owner just over $4,000 in maintenance over a ten-year period. In the first year, maintenance costs are expected to set owners back around $580, while they can expect to have spent around $3,455 keeping their vehicle in good condition after five years. You’re also unlikely to be hit with a heavy repair bill early on as Tesla, like most other manufacturers, has a warranty covering the first few years of a vehicle’s life.

The EV manufacturer may have a bit of an advantage over some other automakers. While electric vehicles do still require some maintenance, they don’t need regular oil changes, nor does the transmission fluid need switching out.

Just behind Tesla were several other domestic American brands, including Buick, Lincoln, Ford, and Chevrolet. Toyota also proved to be pretty economical and placed third with a ten-year cost of $4,900. As for the more expensive end of the scale, it’s pretty much what you would expect.

German cars cost a lot to maintain

Porsche Cayman and Cayman S
718 Cayman und 718 Cayman S Porsche

German vehicles, like Porsches, Mercedes, and BMWs, have a few advantages. In performance terms, they tend to be class-leading. Germany also ranks highly when it comes to luxury vehicles, so if you enjoy a plush interior, then it’s an almost obvious choice. However, the downsides will have a bit of an impact on your bank account.

While German engineering may help with reliability — when something does go wrong and it’s out of warranty, don’t expect a cheap fix. BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche were four of the five most expensive brands on the list. BMW’s 10-year repair bill came in at $9,500, Audi’s was slightly more expensive at $9,890, Mercedes pushed into five figures with $10,505, and supercar manufacturer Porsche was way ahead of the rest with a 10-year average maintenance cost of $14,090. Volkswagen bucked the trend somewhat, and was in the middle of the pack with a repair bill of $6,530 over the decade.

As for the most expensive, Land Rover received that dubious gong with an average maintenance bill of $19,250 over ten years. In the first year, a Land Rover owner can expect to pay $4,250 — or more than a Tesla owner will shell out over a decade. After five years, the bills may total $15,000.

Obviously, repairs and maintenance aren’t the only costs to consider when buying a vehicle. Initial pricing, fuel costs, insurance costs, and potential resale value may also factor in. But with a difference of over $15,000 between the top and bottom of Consumer Reports’ list, car maintenance cost is definitely something that you think about when shopping for a new ride.

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