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Stay Away From These 5 Car Brands With The Highest Maintenance Costs, You’ve Been Warned

Which car brands have the highest maintenance costs? If you said the German brands, you'd be right. Check out the five highest and the one brand higher than the Germans. 

I recently covered Subaru's maintenance costs, which are among the ten highest among all car brands. But which car brands have the highest maintenance costs? Here is the latest information from Consumer Reports

Which car brands are notorious for having high maintenance costs? If you guessed the German brands, you are right. But there is an automaker that has even higher costs of ownership when you go get service than the German brands. 

The five car brands with the highest maintenance costs from bad to the worst.

5. BMW 1-5 year cost is $1,700, 6-10 year cost is $7,800, and the total ten year cost is $9,500

4. Audi's 1-5 year cost is $1,900, 6-10 year cost is $7,990, and the total ten-year cost is $9,890

3. Mercedes-Benz 1-5 year cost is $2,850, 6-10 year cost is $7,675, and the total ten-year cost is $10,525

2. Porsche 1-5 year cost is $4,000, 6-10 year cost is $10,090, and the total ten year cost is $14,090

1. Land Rover 1-5 year cost is $4,250, 6-10 year cost is $15,000, and the total ten-year cost is $19,250

Consumer Reports says, "When comparing cumulative costs by brand for years one through five and six through 10, we found that Tesla had the lowest maintenance costs. At the opposite end of the rankings, several German automakers are clustered as the most expensive brands, namely Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche."

"If you are considering a luxury model, it may be wise to purchase one from a domestic brand with lower maintenance and repair costs," says Elek. "For example, over ten years, Mercedes-Benz models are more than double the cost to maintain and repair as those from Lincoln."

What are the least expensive car brands to maintain?

The ten cheapest car brands to maintain are:

  1. Tesla, with a total 10-year cost, is $4,035
  2. Buick's total 10-year cost is $4,900
  3. Toyota's total 10-year cost is $4,900
  4. Lincoln's total 10-year cost is $4,900
  5. Ford's total 10-year cost is $5,400
  6. Chevrolet's total 10-year cost is $5,550
  7. Hyundai's total 10-year cost is $5,640
  8. Nissan's total 10-year cost is $5,700
  9. Mazda's total 10-year cost is $5,800
  10. Honda's total 10-year cost is $5,835

"The difference in maintaining a car on average between some brands can be thousands over a 10-year time frame," says Steven Elek, Consumer Reports' program leader for auto data analytics. "Also, expensive luxury vehicles are often quite expensive to maintain over time."

Over my twenty years of test-driving vehicles, I've owned an Audi brand and driven all the German cars. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz cars are fun to drive and have the best driving dynamics of any automaker, but you pay a high price to own one. 

Are You thinking of buying an electric vehicle? 

If you buy an electric German car, get ready for a shock. According to CarEdge, the actual value of new electric cars is significantly lower than their starting MSRPs. Take, for example, this BMW i4 that is currently for sale. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $64,740. The dealer's CarEdge Target Discount is 8% off MSRP, which is $59,561.

But when you drive off the lot, the car loses more than half its value. CarEdge says with just 500 miles entered on the odometer, the highest cash offer is $28,370 from CarGurus. "That is an astounding 56% loss of value the moment you drive the car off the lot!"

CarEdge says, "Things get even worse when you look at the Mercedes-Benz EQS. This 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $156,170. The CarEdge Target Discount is 15% off of MSRP, leading to a selling price of $132,745. 15% off of a Mercedes seems like an excellent deal!"

With 500 miles, you get an instant cash offer from CarGurus of $67,000. Again, a 57% loss in value.

So, be careful when buying an expensive German car because the maintenance costs are the highest of all automakers. If you can afford it, you'll love the car. But if you can't, it will be an Albatros around your neck for many years. 

And be even more careful if you're buying a German electric vehicle. CarEdge advises new EV buyers: "The only folks who should be buying new EVs right now are those who plan to keep them for a long time." 


Do you regret purchasing a German car because of the high maintenance costs? If so, click the Add New Comment link below and let us know.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this new German car maintenance story. See you tomorrow for my latest report.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News and Subaru reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blog, X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time - It’s called the “Subaru Report.” Check back daily for my expert Subaru analysis!

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Mark (not verified)    April 25, 2024 - 10:39AM

If Tesla has such low cost of ownership how did they cost the Hertz CEO his job due to excessive repair expenses of their Tesla rental fleet? How is a car with only one supplier of parts and labor the cheapest to service? I think you need to examine your sources a little more carefully.

JRue (not verified)    April 25, 2024 - 2:29PM

In reply to by Mark (not verified)

The issue Hertz had with their Tesla fleet is high collision repair costs and depreciation due to Tesla's price reductions. Maintenance and repair costs will be lower because EVs have fewer moving parts (no starters, spark plugs, coils, emissions systems, etc.).

Toyotaismobetter (not verified)    April 25, 2024 - 4:30PM

Toyota is tied for second cheapest to maintain and is also close to number one in reliability. Seems like a no-brainer to go with Toyota.

Kenya Sanchez (not verified)    April 25, 2024 - 9:36PM

I had an Audi TT for 14 years. It was fairly low maintenance with the only major issue a new alternator. But, I was on a Audi TT Forum and did a lot of the little repairs dealing with sensors and electrical gremlins with the help of other members. I'd say if you want to have a European car for several years, get with a online group to help you with minor issues and be ready to get your hands dirty.

jim (not verified)    April 26, 2024 - 4:17PM

Let me say great article .... that being said
I just bought a 2021 Audi A5 Convertible Certified Pre Owned from an Audi dealer.. Anticipating exactly what you wrote about i bought directly
a "10 year Vehicle Service contract" directly from Audi with a ZERO deductible, free road side assistance, loaner car. I did it for peace of mind.

Yoda50 (not verified)    April 29, 2024 - 7:51AM

I own a 2015 Mercedes E550 Cabriolet. Wonderful car to drive and is a lot of fun with the top down. You can perform a lot of the schedule A & B maintenance yourself if you so desire to keep costs down. For our daily driver we have a 2015 Lexus RX-350
which is absolutely marvelous. Low maintenance costs and unbelievably comfortable. Just use your vehicles in the manner that they were built for and you’ll have years of enjoyment at reasonable cost.