Ultimate Guide To Car Maintenance Costs

Chloe Murphy 5 minutes Published: 21/07/2021

It’s an unfortunate reality that when you buy a car, the price tag in the showroom isn’t the only cost to consider.

For even the most careful of drivers, car maintenance costs can be a huge addition to your monthly expenditure. 

In this guide to car maintenance costs, we guide you through how much you can expect to spend per year, and how you can reduce your costs.

How much does car maintenance cost?

Car maintenance costs can sometimes come as an unexpected surprise. You’ve just paid out for the actual car, and now you’ve got to fork out for a bunch of other things. Particularly if you’re buying your first car, the number of expenses included can be overwhelming.

According to data sourced from Kwik Fit, car owners spend an average of almost £500 per year on maintenance

While it might seem marginal in the grand scheme of things, adding this on to other car running costs such as fuel, insurance, road tax and finance can really have your monthly costs starting to snowball. 

So what comprises the cost of maintenance?

Maintenance Cost
Routine maintenance and servicing £15.95
Unexpected repairs and breakdowns £13.26
Breakdown cover £6.96
Cleaning £4.15

Though the average repair cost amounts to only £159.12 a year, cars can be unpredictable. It’s almost impossible to gauge how much you could end up spending to replace or repair parts should something go wrong. 

Experts in all things car repairs, Haynes detailed some of the most expensive car parts to replace:

  • Catalytic converter - £2200 

Coming in at the top stop, a catalytic converter replacement is fairly bad news for your wallet. Though most will last the life of your car, physical damage or an engine burning too much oil can cause real issues. 

  • Clutch assembly replacement - £1200

New clutch parts can come at a high cost, but an entire replacement can be avoided by driving smoothly and using the clutch in moderation.

  • Electronic Control Unit (ECU) replacement - £1200

Technically, your ECU should last as long as the car’s running, but things don’t always go like we imagine. Unfortunately the majority of the cost of your ECU replacement consists of the parts, so you won’t save much by fitting it yourself.

While replacing parts like the radiator, starter, and water pump all came in slightly lower at around £540, it’s clear that replacements aren’t a cost you should underestimate! 

Lease car maintenance cost

Just as much as a car you own, lease car maintenance is incredibly important. As lease car drivers are never the owner of the vehicle, lease car maintenance isn’t optional - you need to keep the car in good condition. 

Fortunately, most lease companies offer maintenance packages that you can include in your monthly payments. You won’t have to worry about the hassle or cost of servicing your leased car, as services, routine maintenance, and the cost of your MOT (for lease deals over 3 years) are all included.

If you’re taking out a lease deal and swaying over whether lease car maintenance is worth it, we’d definitely recommend it. Though you’re covered by lease car warranty provided your deal is 3 years or less, maintenance packages help keep your car in its best condition. You’ll be far less likely to end up paying up for any unexpected issues, and avoid the chance of excess wear fines when you return it.

How to reduce car maintenance costs

Though the obvious way to reduce your car maintenance costs might seem to be to do less maintenance, this unfortunately has the opposite effect. 

By avoiding maintenance to save some cash, you’ll only end up missing issues that could’ve been spotted earlier. Most problems will worsen if left to their own devices, and leave you with a hefty repair or replacement bill. 

To make the most of your car and your budget, here’s our roundup of the best way to reduce your car maintenance costs:

  • Drive an electric car - Since there are less moving parts, electric car maintenance costs tend to be lower than ICE cars.
  • Clean the car yourself - Taking your car into the garage for a quick wash or detail might be convenient, but you could end up saving hundreds per year just by washing yourself. You can even check out our tips on how to wash a car.
  • Get regular servicing - Regular services are one of the best ways to get a health check up on your car and pick up any issues before they become costly repairs. (how often should you service your car)
  • Regular maintenance - Doing maintenance might feel like a drag, but it really doesn’t have to be. With our car maintenance checklist you can quickly run through all the parts of the car that can be assessed without a mechanic. You can even use the assistance of some handy car maintenance apps to get reminders when you need to do it.
  • Drive smoothly - You’ve probably heard it time and time again, but driving carefully and smoothly is the best way to avoid wearing down your car parts. Gentle braking will help avoid any unnecessary brake wear, and using your clutch only when needed will keep it in good condition.

Car maintenance costs by brand

If you haven’t got your hands on a car yet, you may well be re-considering your choice of car. Car maintenance and car running costs can be an expensive addition to your monthly budget, and one you might not have considered in your initial calculations.

But one of the biggest influences on your maintenance costs will be the make and model of the car. 

Whilst buying a used car is likely to save you a chunk on the actual car cost, the maintenance could drive up your overall expenses. Older and higher mileage cars tend to face more issues, so you might end up paying just as much over time in order to cover replacement parts. 

If you’re looking for the best makes to keep your maintenance costs low, Wyatt Auto Services calculated some of the lowest costs:

  1. Ford - For a car with the lowest expenses, Ford is a good bet with an average repair cost of just £223.
  2. Suzuki - Loved for their reliability, Suzuki came in close at an average repair cost of £234.
  3. Peugeot - Affordable upfront costs and maintenance make Peugeot a great deal with average repair cost of £251.

For comparison, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the average BMW repair runs up to almost £600! 

Conclusion

Though it’s difficult to plan for unexpected car maintenance costs, it’s an important factor to consider when budgeting for a car.

It might seem an unnecessary additional cost, but maintaining your car is well worth the effort. In addition to a smoother running car, you'll save money in the long run picking up on any pesky issues as they arise.

To make the most of your budget, keep on top of your maintenance with our car maintenance checklist. We include all the things you can do yourself between your annual MOT and service to have it running its best.