How Much Does Car Maintenance Cost?

ByNathan Paulus
Edited byRae Osborn

Updated: April 26, 2024

ByNathan Paulus
Edited byRae Osborn

Updated: April 26, 2024

Advertising & Editorial Disclosure

The average cost of car maintenance is approximately $1,475 per year or $123 per month, based on AAA's Your Driving Costs data, which calculates expenses at nearly 10 cents per mile over a five-year period covering 75,000 miles. These costs can vary depending on factors such as vehicle type, brand and driving conditions.

Car maintenance costs can be categorized into routine tasks and unexpected repairs. Routine tasks — such as oil changes, brake pad replacements and tire rotations — are more predictable. Unexpected repairs — like fixing a broken transmission or replacing a faulty catalytic converter — can significantly increase your expenses, highlighting the need for an emergency fund. Leveraging car insurance and understanding what it covers can also mitigate some unexpected repair costs.

Car Maintenance Cost by Vehicle Type

Broken down by vehicle type, electric cars stand out as the cheapest choice, with annual maintenance costs of approximately $1,218. Medium sedans incur the highest maintenance costs at $1,628 per year. The table below illustrates maintenance costs across vehicle types based on 15,000 annual miles.

Vehicle Category
Cost Per Mile
Monthly Maintenance Cost
Annual Maintenance Cost

Small Sedan

9.11 cents

$113.88

$1,366.50

Medium Sedan

10.85 cents

$135.62

$1,627.50

Subcompact SUV

9.51 cents

$118.88

$1,426.50

Compact SUV (FWD)

10.39 cents

$129.88

$1,558.50

Medium SUV (4WD)

10.57 cents

$132.12

$1,585.50

10 Cheapest Car Brands to Maintain

The cost of maintaining a car varies significantly across brands, with traditional economy brands like Toyota and Honda leading in affordability. These insights are important for prospective buyers, who should consider the total cost of car ownership in addition to the price of a new car.

CarEdge's analysis of maintenance and repair costs offers insightful data on how popular vehicle brands stack up in terms of upkeep expenses over five years. Here's a summary focusing on the top 10 least expensive car brands to maintain, providing a clearer picture for budget-conscious car owners and buyers.

Rank
Brand
Five-Year Maintenance Cost

1

Toyota

$1,605

2

Mitsubishi

$2,019

3

Honda

$2,090

4

Volkswagen

$2,107

5

Nissan

$2,118

Types of Routine Car Maintenance Costs

Routine car maintenance costs range from $10 for simple windshield wiper blade replacements to over $200 for more complex services like tire replacements. Use your vehicle owner’s manual and maintenance schedule for precise budgeting at recommended service intervals for your car. By proactively budgeting for these routine tasks, you maintain your vehicle's optimal condition and safeguard against unexpected, costly repairs in the future.

Below is a detailed breakdown of common maintenance tasks, providing both the frequency and cost range to help you plan your budget effectively:

Routine Maintenance Service
Frequency
Cost Range

Basic Inspection

Annually

Varies by service provider

Oil Changes

Every 5,000–7,500 miles for conventional oil; every 10,000–15,000 miles for synthetic oil

$35–75 for conventional oil; $65–125 for synthetic oil

Tire Rotation

Every 5,000–8,000 miles

$25–50

Brake Pad Replacement

Every 30,000–70,000 miles

$100–300 per axle

Cabin Air Filter Replacement

Every 15,000 miles

$20–100

Unexpected Car Repair Costs

Even with meticulous maintenance, cars can require sudden and expensive repairs. Unexpected car repair costs can range from as low as $50 for minor issues like flat tires to over $10,000 for major problems such as engine replacements. Having an emergency fund can help you manage these expenses; your insurance and warranty coverages might also mitigate costs.

Shopping around for repair services and choosing high-quality parts can also reduce long-term expenses. Regular service checks and learning basic car maintenance can help prevent minor issues from becoming major.

Here’s a look at common unforeseen repairs to help you manage these costs effectively.

Car Repair Type
Average Cost Range
Explanation

Dead Battery

$50–200

Common especially in cold weather or if the car sits unused for long periods

Flat Tire

$50–150 per tire

Often due to punctures or poor road conditions, necessitating immediate repair or replacement

Wheel Alignment

$75–200

Necessary for ensuring proper vehicle handling and tire wear

Tire Replacement

$100–200 per tire

Includes severe damage from road hazards requiring immediate replacement

Brake Pad Replacement

$100–300 per axle

Essential for safety; wear out with use and need replacement periodically

Using Car Insurance for Maintenance and Repairs

Review your insurance policy to understand what is and isn’t covered so you’re prepared for both routine maintenance and unexpected repairs. For example, comprehensive car insurance covers the cost of repairs or replacements due to non-collision incidents such as theft, vandalism or natural disasters, but it does not cover routine maintenance or wear and tear. Additional coverages like collision coverage, extended warranties and mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) offer further financial protection.

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If your vehicle is not yet covered, shop for car insurance that provides the right coverage to ensure you are adequately protected. Learn more about car insurance with the following MoneyGeek resources:

Additional Resources for Car Owners

We’ve compiled a list of helpful websites, apps and organizations that provide valuable information and tools for car owners:

  1. AAA (American Automobile Association): This offers a wide range of automotive services, including roadside assistance, maintenance advice and repair discounts.

  2. RepairPal: It provides a trusted network of certified repair shops and offers a tool to estimate repair costs based on your location and vehicle type.

  3. Kelley Blue Book: Known for new and used vehicle pricing, Kelley Blue Book also offers car maintenance and repair cost estimates.

  4. CarMD: CarMD offers a device and app that provide diagnostic data and maintenance alerts for your vehicle, helping prevent costly repairs.

  5. YourMechanic: It sends certified mechanics to your home or office to perform routine maintenance and repairs at your convenience.

  6. CarCareKiosk: This provides free video tutorials for car maintenance tasks specifically tailored to your vehicle’s make and model.

About Nathan Paulus


Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the Head of Content Marketing at MoneyGeek, with nearly 10 years of experience researching and creating content related to personal finance and financial literacy.

Paulus has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He enjoys helping people from all walks of life build stronger financial foundations.


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