Car Reviews

Here are the Cheapest Cars to Maintain

By TheCarzingTeam April 1, 2022 | Car Reviews

Car Reviews

The cost of car ownership extends beyond the monthly car payment, fuel (or electric) and the price for insurance. All cars will need basic upkeep and maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, new air filters and, eventually, new tires, too.

After cars hit certain mileage benchmarks, other parts may need to be repaired and replaced from the wear and tear of driving. Some models are known to be extremely reliable and need fewer trips to the mechanic, but other models can begin to wear down the budget with maintenance costs. Car buyers looking for the cheapest cars to maintain might opt for this list of models highlighted by Autolist.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Are Reliable Cars the Cheapest to Maintain?

Reliability for vehicles can mean different things to each buyer. Some equate reliability to fuel efficiency, as in a reliable commuter car.

For J.D. Power, cars are awarded as the most dependable based on criteria like reliability/quality, driving experience, and resale value. Vehicles receive a score in each category based on drivers’ experience. The reliability/quality score “…is based on problems experienced including defects and malfunctions, or where controls or features are difficult to understand or operate.” Models are reviewed for three years, and the most dependable vehicles in 2021 were all 2018 models.

Reliability for other car experts and car buyers also may simply refer to how often the vehicle needs to be serviced. Is it constantly breaking down? Do drivers notice little noises constantly? 

Unfortunately, some models become notorious for their need for constant trips to a mechanic. Some models also may be known for specific problems in the mechanics—like the clutch, for example.

Drivers may want to find the vehicles that are the cheapest to maintain. Low cost maintenance means less breakdowns and glitches that result in a trip to the local mechanic.

Finding the cheapest vehicles to maintain could take years to identify. Since problems occur during the life of the vehicle, finding the cheapest cars to maintain might often mean compiling a decade of data. If a model is known to be extremely reliable and require few trips to a mechanic, then its successive and newer iterations may fare well, too.

Autolist’s Round-Up of the Least Expensive Cars to Maintain

Autolist compiled its top picks for the models that are fairly inexpensive to maintain. The site noted that compact cars from Japanese brands were often the most reliable and least expensive. These diminutive cars have fewer parts and aren’t built as complex as perhaps their competitors.

Simplicity might save drivers from accruing high bills for maintenance and repairs. Here are the best bets for models that, hopefully, won’t eat up the budget in maintenance costs.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Toyota Corolla

The 2022 Toyota Corolla has a base price of $20,075 and offers 31 miles per gallon (MPG) in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. The 2022 Corolla received a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Honda Fit

Though the Fit is no longer in Honda’s lineup, buyers who want a reliable vehicle that’s cheap to maintain can opt for used/pre-owned models.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Nissan Versa

The 2022 Nissan Versa has a base price of $14,980 and is offered in several different model options (with increasing price points). The Versa can get up to 32 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Toyota Camry

The 2022 Toyota Camry has a base price of $25,395 and gets up to 28 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. The 2022 Camry received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Toyota Prius

The 2022 Toyota Prius has a base price of $24,525 and gets 53 MPG in the city and 58 MPG on the highway.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Honda Civic

The 2022 Honda Civic has a base price $22,350 and gets 31 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway. The 2022 Civic received a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Mitsubishi Mirage

The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage has a base price of $15,645 and gets 35 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway. It is the most fuel efficient small car on the market that isn’t a hybrid.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Kia Soul

The 2022 Kia Soul is offered at a base price of $19,290 and gets up to 28 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway. The Soul also was given a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Toyota Tacoma

One of Toyota’s pickup truck models, the 2022 Toyota Tacoma has a base price of $26,500 and gets up to 18 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway. The Tacoma has a towing capacity of 3,500 to 6,800 pounds.

What are the Most Expensive Vehicles to Maintain?

Motor1 rounded up a list of the most expensive cars to maintain. For buyers who want to avoid frequent trips to the mechanic, these models might be scratched off the must-have list. Here are the top five most expensive vehicles to maintain, including the costs of maintenance:

  • Mercedes-Benz GLA Class

Maintenance cost: $13,911 (over a decade)

  • Dodge Ram 1500

Maintenance cost: $18,072

  •  Jeep Compass

Maintenance cost: $10,127

  • BMW X2

Maintenance cost: $17,764

  • BMW X1

Maintenance cost: $17,691

The list denotes least expensive to most expensive, with the X1 holding the top spot for maintenance costs. However, buyers might look at the list and wonder how the X1 is number one and not the Ram. 

The vehicles were ranked by the cost of the maintenance compared to the original price of the vehicle. Maintenance costs for the X1 represented 44.6 percent of its purchase cost, whereas the Ram’s maintenance costs only represented 40.6 of its original list or purchase price.

Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Use Carzing to Find the Cheapest Cars to Maintain

Buyers can use Carzing to find the cheapest cars to maintain. Carzing lets buyers find vehicles by make/model, price or body type. When searching for the cheapest cars to maintain, buyers can opt for one of the models ranked by Autolist or they can search for all of them and compare prices and options.

Once buyers see their search results, they can decide to select other criteria for their vehicle, too. Use the search tool to the left of the results to select to view only new cars or used models. Buyers also can select other features like drivetrain, equipment, color, fuel type and more.  Sort the results by price, mileage, age, or location, too.

Carzing also lets buyers get pre-qualified for financing once they have discovered their perfect vehicle. Buyers can select the financing that meets their needs based on monthly payment amounts or loan term length. Carzing also helps buyers understand how much they should expect to pay for a down payment.

Buyers can print out the details of their financing and take it to the dealership. By using Carzing to find their car and their financing, buyers can spend their dealership visit focused on completing the credit application, taking a test drive of their vehicle and finalizing the deal.

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