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The Cheapest Cars to Maintain, Ranked (Plus, the Most Expensive)

Updated July 18, 2016
by Dana Sitar
Contributor


For some people, a car is an extension of their personality. For the rest of us, though, it’s just a necessity — and it can be a costly one.

“On average, Americans spend 5% of their income on purchasing a car and another 5% towards on-going vehicle maintenance and insurance costs,” reports YourMechanic.

To help you find the best deal, YourMechanic compared dozens of vehicle brands and models to find those with the highest and lowest maintenance costs over 10 years.

Here’s what they found.

1. All Cars Cost More as They Get Older

There’s a shockingly clear correlation between the age of a car and its rising annual maintenance cost.

If you’re driving a beater, you’ll want to weigh your long-term cost of maintaining an old car versus buying a new one. Even if you take a hit upfront, you could save thousands of dollars over the life of your car.

Cheapest car

2. These 3 Car Models Cost the MOST to Maintain

The most expensive models to maintain aren’t always the cheapest to buy new. Several imports and luxury models make the list.

Topping the chart are the Chrysler Sebring, BMW 328i and Nissan Murano.

Cheapest car

3. These 3 Car Models Cost the LEAST to Maintain

The least expensive models to maintain are:

  • Toyota Prius, which costs $25,035 to buy new.
  • Kia Soul, which costs $16,750 to buy new.
  • Toyota Camry, which costs $23,905 to buy new.

These manufacturers’ suggested retail prices are approximate, as vehicle prices vary depending on features.

Cheapest car

4. This Car is the Best Deal Overall

So where do you get the most bang for your buck in the end?

When you look at the lowest cost to buy, combined with the lowest maintenance cost over 10 years of ownership, the winner is the Kia Soul.

Even though it’s one of the cheapest to buy new, data shows the vehicle to be reliable and cost-effective over time.

You can buy a 2016 Kia Soul and drive it for 10 years for just $21,450, according to YourMechanic.

Even when you take into account that the hybrid Prius gets almost double the gas mileage of the Soul, you may still prefer Kia’s crossover.

With gas figured in (at the current price of $2.28 and average mileage each year), the Soul will cost you $32,830 over 10 years, and the Prius will cost $35,244.

The Soul’s lower cost and more ample space means the vehicle could be a better choice, especially for a family on a tight budget. The lower purchase price could also mean a smaller auto loan, which could save you money in interest payments over the years.

A lot of factors weigh in your choice of vehicle. But maybe these numbers will help relieve some hesitance about buying that family-friendly vehicle if it’s the right choice for you.

Your Turn: Where is your car on the lemon index?

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

by Dana Sitar
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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