Avoid Getting a Lemon – Here Are the Best Cars for Reliability

In the market for a new car? When it comes to assessing a vehicle’s overall value, the sticker price isn’t the only thing to think about. One of the largest costs associated with owning and operating a car is the maintenance bills you’ll need to pay as it ages.

The cost to keep a car running varies by make and model, and not just by a little. Some cars can be maintained for the entire first five years of ownership for less than $2,000. Others are triple that.

Which brands have the lowest costs?
Overall, vehicle reliability is much better than it was 20 years ago, but there are a select few brands that rise to the top. YourMechanic, a mobile car repair service, recently reported data on the cars it has serviced, to rank the brands that cost the most to maintain.

The German luxury imports, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, were the most expensive cars to maintain over a decade, according to the data. Toyota, on the other hand, had the top ranking for maintenance, at about $10,000 less expensive.

Scion and Lexus, the second and third-most inexpensive brands, are both made by Toyota. Together, all three are 10% below the average cost.

Most domestic brands, like Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler, are in the middle of the pack.

What models are best?
Take a look at the chart below for the breakdown of costs by model. Keep in mind that a small vehicle’s replacement and labor costs are generally lower than that of a larger vehicle.

In general, Toyota and other Asian imports head up the low-cost leaderboard. Surprising to many, it’s not the Lexus or Nissan models that cost more to maintain. It’s Toyota Prius and the Kia Soul that came in first and second.

The Camry, one of the best-selling cars for years, ranks third, with other Toyota models not far behind.

Honda, which did not rank well on the brands list, still had three vehicles place well for maintenance costs—the Fit, The Civic and the Accord.

Repair costs also don’t necessarily come out of consumers’ pockets, as many vehicles are still under manufacturer warranty. To find out how your car ranks, and to see more detail on how costs change over time, go to the full report.

Data Source: YourMechanic