When I was ready to buy my first car, my father asked if I had enough money. Yes, I assured him, it costs $1,500 and I have $1,650 in the bank. When I asked why he was laughing, he said, “I’m not wondering if you can buy the car, I’m wondering if you can keep the car.”
Ah, the eternal wisdom of Dads. Maintenance costs are too often overlooked when we shop for automobiles. But the cost of oil changes, brake jobs, and alignments can put a big dent in a household budget. (Never mind the cost of a major repair!) In talking with retirees for my book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think, I discovered that the happiest retirees typically own cars with low maintenance costs, usually Asian brands.
If you’re in the market for a car, check out this ranking of average 10-year maintenance costs prepared by YourMechanic.com. You won’t be surprised to see that BMW has the highest cost at $17,800 for 10 years of upkeep, followed by several other luxury brands. Nor will you be shocked to learn Toyota has the lowest cost at $5,500. Lexus, a favorite of my happy retirees, is also a maintenance bargain.
But look closely and do your research – KIA, seemingly a budget vehicle comes in at 1.3 times the average cost of upkeep.