Think of car maintenance cost when buying

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With owners keeping their cars longer than in the past, maintenance costs are playing a larger role in the car’s overall cost long-term and should be factored in when making a new car purchase.

For new car buyers who are looking to drive their autos for as long as possible, car maintenance costs can figure prominently into their decision-making process. Buyers who want to be able to trade their cars in after a few years also need to consider another large factor in ownership costs — depreciation — since a brand that has a higher resale value will help offset any additional maintenance costs.

Recently, auto research website looked at the car maintenance costs for the top 10 best-selling autos and found some surprising results.

Repair/Maintenance Costs for Top 10 Best-Selling Vehicles
Sales rank Make/Model Scheduled maintenance

to 75K miles

Scheduled maintenance

to 100K miles

1 Toyota Camry $2,028 $2,821
2 Honda Accord $1,177 $1,520
3 Ford F-150 $1,102 $1,781
4 Honda Civic $1,163 $1,498
5 Toyota Corolla $2,008 $2,802
6 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $1,369 $2,336
7 Nissan Altima $1,093 $1,490
8 Honda CR-V $973 $1,610
9 Chevrolet Impala $997 $1,740
10 Ford Fusion $1,294 $1,738

The study looked at the national average costs for regularly scheduled car maintenance at 75,000 and 100,000 miles, or about 6.3 years and 8.3 years respectively, based on the average of 12,000 miles of driving annually. Of the 10 best-selling cars studied, costs ranged from $973 to $2,028 for 75,000 miles and $1,490 to $2,821 for 100,000 miles. Even with the wide range of costs, the dollar figures are still relatively low since cars are built to last these days and can easily exceed 100,000 miles without major repairs.

While the two Toyotas on the top 10 list of best-selling vehicles, Camry and Corolla, took the first and second spots respectively as the highest cost to maintain to 75,000 miles as well as 100,000 miles, the data dispelled the myth that import brands are more expensive to maintain than domestics. At both mileage marks, the imports and domestics were mixed.

Among the five sedans on the list, the cheapest car to maintain to 75,000 miles was the Chevrolet Impala, with a cost of just $997 in regularly scheduled car maintenance. Yet costs go up for 100,000 miles with an estimated $1,740, ranking it sixth least expensive to maintain.

Who cares how much it costs to maintain your car? You should. While today’s cars can go 5,000 miles or more between regularly scheduled maintenance visits, it’s a bad idea to stretch the time between car service visits to save a few dollars on car maintenance costs. Owners should always follow the manufacturer’s car maintenance schedule to get maximum life out of their autos and to ensure the manufacturer can’t void your new car warranty. This schedule is found only in the owner’s manual for your car.

To ensure you’re not paying for maintenance you don’t need, always compare your mechanic or dealer’s recommendations to the items listed in the car maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. You can safely say no to any service that is not recommended by the manufacturer.

Finally, make sure your receipt details each and every service that was performed to your car as well as the date and mileage on the car. Keeping these receipts will help you should you ever find yourself in a warranty claim situation with the manufacturer. It can also help your car sell quicker since it shows any future buyer how well you’ve taken proper care of your car.

Ask the adviser

If you have a car question, e-mail it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.

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