A new car’s routine maintenance and repairs cost an average of 9.68 cents per mile, according to AAA. If you drive an average number of miles in a year — 13,476 per Federal Highway Administration data — you could shell out around $1,304 for car maintenance annually.
But if you own a vehicle, car maintenance isn’t an option — it’s a necessity. Without it, you may compromise your safety and increase your risk of costly repairs. Regular maintenance is essential if you’d like to protect yourself and your passengers and increase your vehicle’s value and lifespan.
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Basic car maintenance costs
Basic car maintenance involves inspecting or replacing various parts of your vehicle. It can help identify and prevent issues early on and ensure your car runs as smoothly as possible. To determine how often you should perform basic car maintenance, check your owner’s manual. Depending on your vehicle, you may also receive maintenance reminders on your dashboard.
Since the costs to maintain your vehicle can add up quickly, it’s a good idea to budget for maintenance in advance. You can always open and add to a dedicated bank account for car maintenance and repairs.
Car maintenance costs depend on a variety of factors, like car make, model, and age. On average, car owners with a 5-year-old model spent $208 to maintain their vehicles over a 12-month period. Drivers with 10-year-old models reported an average of $406 in auto maintenance costs for a year.
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Oil and filter changes
Oil keeps engine parts lubricated and prevents the wear and tear of crucial components. Over time, oil becomes dirty as a result of dirt, dust, and debris. Since dirty engine oil is a hazard that can take a toll on your vehicle, regular oil and filter changes are important.
Oil and filter changes protect your engine from corrosion, cool the engine parts, clean your engine, and extend its lifespan. While the vehicle’s age, oil type, and your driving habits influence how often you should change your oil and filter, most vehicles require them every 3,000 to 7,500 miles.
|Company||Price of Oil and Filter Change|
|Take 5 Oil Change||$49.99–$81.99|
Cabin air filter changes
The cabin air filter is designed to clean the air that enters the vehicle’s interior through the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. It catches pollen, dust, and other pollutants that can lead to an unpleasant ride, especially if you or a passenger has allergies or other respiratory issues. Most manufacturers recommend that you change your cabin air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles..
|Company||Price of Cabin Filter Change|
|Take 5 Oil Change||$48.99|
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A tire rotation involves moving vehicle tires from one position on the car to another. Where the tire moves depends on the vehicle, but a standard tire rotation will move tires from front to rear, sometimes crossing sides. Vehicles with different tire sizes or one-directional tread patterns will have different tire rotation patterns.
Tire rotations reduce the risk of uneven tire wear, which often occurs when the front of your vehicle is heavier than its rear. It can help you achieve a smoother ride, improve fuel efficiency, and enhance safety. The general rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 6,000 miles, according to Goodyear.
|Company||Price of Tire Rotation|
|Goodyear||$5.00 for non-Goodyear tires, complimentary for Goodyear tires|
Multipoint inspections are checkups for your vehicle. Through these inspections, you can find out how your vehicle is performing and initiate maintenance or repairs that will help you avoid headaches and costly issues down the road.
While it’s a good idea to get a multipoint inspection every 5,000 miles or every six months, you may also want to get one before a long road trip. A typical multipoint inspection involves an examination of engine coolant, transmission fluid, brake pads, calipers, fuel lines, wiper blades, and more.
|Company||Price of Inspection|
Windshield wiper replacement
The windshield wipers on your vehicle are crucial as they wipe away rain, dust, and other things that land there.
Unfortunately, windshield wipers don’t last forever and need to be replaced every six to 12 months. If you notice your windshield wipers are leaving streaks on your windshield or they squeak while they wipe, then it’s probably time to replace them.
|Wiper Brand||Price of Replacement|
A battery powers all the electrical systems in your vehicle. Over time, your battery will weaken and need a replacement. Sluggish engine performance, flickering headlights, and damage on the battery case are all signs that you need a new battery. In most cases, your car will be due for a new battery every three to six years. Depending on your vehicle make and model, as well as the size and power of the battery, you can expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $250 for a battery replacement.
How to prepare for car maintenance
Keep these tips in mind to prepare for car maintenance:
Create a budget. Out-of-pocket vehicle maintenance costs can easily wreak havoc on your finances. That’s why it’s wise to create a budget and stick to it. The budget should consider the age of your vehicle, its make and model, and the recommended routine maintenance outlined in your owner’s manual.
Account for inventory shortages. Inventory shortages can make it difficult to maintain your car the way you want to. Be proactive about vehicle maintenance and schedule services that require parts sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you may have to wait weeks or months to complete an important maintenance task.
Unexpected car repair costs
Car repair costs vary greatly. The amount you pay to repair your vehicle will depend on its make and model and the damage it sustained after an accident, vandalism, theft, or weather-related event. Generally it’s cheaper to repair a car after a minor fender bender than after a serious head-on accident. Fortunately, car insurance may help with some of the repair costs, depending on your situation.
|New tire||$50–$150 per tire|
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Car maintenance FAQs
Here are answers to several frequently asked questions about vehicle maintenance.
Full-car maintenance is key if you’d like to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. It involves regularly scheduled preventive measures and diagnostic tests. Preventive measures involve checking your vehicle’s components, like brakes, lights, and fluids, to identify issues before they become serious, and diagnostic tests involve performing tests to pinpoint problems with your car’s engine or performance.
Routine maintenance refers to services that are performed at regular intervals to maintain your vehicle. Several examples of these services include oil changes, tire rotations, wheel alignments, and windshield wiper replacements. Each vehicle has its own unique maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual.
The average cost of car maintenance depends on the vehicle make and model. However, AAA found that a new car’s routine maintenance and repairs cost an average of 9.68 cents per mile.
If you find that the cost to repair your used vehicle exceeds its value, it’s a good idea to replace it instead. You’ll likely save money if you go this route. You might also want to invest in a new car if you notice that your repairs are becoming more frequent or your car frequently puts you in dangerous situations.
Due to the way they’re built and the parts they involve, luxury car brands are usually more expensive to maintain. Cadillac, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz are among the most expensive cars to maintain, according to AAA.
- AAA. "Your Driving Costs 2022." Accessed February 21, 2023
- Federal Highway Administration. "Average Annual Miles per Driver by Age Group." Accessed February 28, 2023
- Consumer Reports. "The Cost of Car Ownership Over Time." Accessed February 21, 2023
- Kelley Blue Book. "How Often Should I Change My Oil?." Accessed February 21, 2023
- Cars.com. "What's a Cabin Air Filter and When Should You Replace It?." Accessed February 22, 2023
- Goodyear. "What is a tire rotation?." Accessed February 22, 2023
- J.D. Power. "What Is A Multipoint Inspection?." Accessed February 22, 2023
- AAA Automotive. "Windshield Repair And Replacement." Accessed February 22, 2023
- Kelley Blue Book. "How to Maintain or Replace a Battery." Accessed February 22, 2023
- Cars.com. "How Does the Inventory Shortage Impact Car Maintenance and Repairs?." Accessed February 22, 2023
- Edmunds. "Should I Fix Up or Trade Up My Old Car?." Accessed February 22, 2023