How Car Maintenance Costs Increase With Age

  • By Lea Naiz
  • 26 Jun, 2017
If you own a vehicle, you are probably well aware of the two major factors that eventually lead to a trade-in: declining value and escalating costs. The ratio varies according to make, model, driving conditions, and a whole host of individual factors. However, many people find that their cars are no longer worth fixing by the time they reach 100,000 miles, and the vast majority of vehicle owners trade in their cars before they reach 200,000 miles. If you are considering the long-term prognosis for your car, here is what to expect as it ages.
Woman shocked when finding out what's wrong with her car

Average Maintenance Costs by Mileage
Costs vary dramatically between cars and, as you might expect, luxury vehicles are more expensive to maintain than economy cars. When averaged over a wide range of vehicles, though, it is possible to get a generalized estimate of how maintenance costs escalate over time.

According to a study performed by Popular Mechanics, the first 25,000 miles cost an average of $1,400 in maintenance. Costs steadily rise until a vehicle hits 100,000 miles, at which point those last 25,000 miles have cost an average of $3,900. Interestingly, though, maintenance costs tend to level off after that, climbing by only a few hundred dollars per 25,000 miles. At 200,000 miles, the end of the average vehicle’s lifespan, the last 25,000 miles only cost an average of $5,000.

Again, these are only averages. Total maintenance costs for the first 75,000 miles combined tend to reach less than $4,500 for entry-level brands such as Kia, Hyundai, and Toyota, but could exceed $10,000 for such luxury brands as Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. By the time your car hits 150,000 miles, you will likely have spent $15,000 or less in maintenance on an entry-level car, but upwards of $25,000 for a luxury vehicle. Of course, luxury vehicles also maintain a higher resale value, changing the cost-value curve significantly.

Most Common Problems by Mileage
In the early days of a car’s life, you are highly unlikely to run into any maintenance issues beyond standard oil changes, tire rotations, and the like. By the time a vehicle hits 50,000 miles, though, the most common issue is its brake pads. Even if you don’t need them at 50,000 miles, your brake pads will eventually wear out, so that remains a common problem for the next 100,000 miles. By the time your car hits 150,000 miles, you will almost certainly have had them replaced, so the probability of needing new ones drops off.

Both the spark plugs and the nonspecific “check engine light” spike in likelihood just before 100,000 miles. While the spark plugs are easily replaced, leveling off the chances of issues occurring in older cars, the probability of the check engine light coming on continues to rise sharply throughout the remainder of the car’s lifespan.

The battery could go at any time. Therefore, the likelihood of needing a new battery remains at between 10 and 20% from early in the car’s life throughout its entire life cycle.

In older cars, though, the number one issue is the car not starting, which could be indicative of many different problems. The chance of this occurring hovers at around 10 to 15% for the first 50,000 miles, and then begins to escalate sharply. By the time your car hits 100,000 miles, the probability is around 30%, spiking to a whopping 75% by the end of its lifespan.

There is no reason to be afraid of an older vehicle, and many perform just fine to 200,000 miles or beyond. Still, it is important to understand the statistics in order to make informed planning decisions. The last thing you want is to be relying on your car to last another 50,000 miles, only to suddenly need a repair that would cost double the value of the vehicle. If your car is getting older, talk to your auto technician about what to realistically expect from your specific make and model, and be sure to stay informed of the car’s value.

If you are tired of getting the runaround and being treated like you haven’t got a clue, we invite you to try  Colchin Automotive  instead. Give us a call at 303-431-5421 for all of your automotive needs!

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