The average American depends on a car for 37 miles of transportation per day. Commuters spend around one hour in their car every day. Long commutes can be a bummer, but breaking down is worse.

Drivers need to know which cars can go the distance and which will leave them stranded on the side of the road.

At YourMechanic, we have a huge dataset that includes the make, model, and mileage of the cars we have serviced. Previously, we used this data to explore how cars hold up as they age. For this article, we examined how cars stand up to usage. In other words, which cars have the least maintenance costs as the miles add up? We also looked at which types of maintenance become more common with increased mileage.

We began our current analysis by asking how much more it costs to maintain the average car for the first 25,000 miles compared to the next 25,000 miles. (In order to estimate maintenance costs by distance, we took the total cost of maintenance for cars in this mileage category and divided it by the number of oil changes. Assuming 5,000 miles per oil change, this gives us the cost of maintenance required per mile).

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How Do Maintenance Costs Vary With Mileage?


Based on Maintenance Performed by YourMechanic


Mileage
Total Maintenance Costs per 25k Miles


0- 25,000
$1,400


25,000 - 50,000
$2,200


50,000 - 75,000
$3,000


75,000 - 100,000
$3,900


100,000 - 125,000
$4,100


125,000 - 150,000
$4,400


150,000 - 175,000
$4,800


175,000 - 200,000
$5,000

The average car costs $1,400 to maintain for the first 25,000 miles, and the costs increase from there. Costs increase dramatically until the 100,000 mile mark, and less intensely after 100,000 miles. A car’s maintenance costs may top out, or it could be that drivers scrap their cars once maintenance costs trump the car’s value.

Which types of cars are the cheapest to maintain? First, we looked at which makes (brands) are cheapest to maintain for the first 75,000 miles.

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Which Makes Start Out the Least Expensive?


Based On Maintenance Costs for the Fist 75,000 Miles for All Popular Makes


Rank
Make
Cost First 75k Miles


1
Hyundai
$4,000


2
Kia
$4,000


3
Toyota
$4,300


4
Nissan
$4,600


5
Subaru
$4,700


6
Scion
$4,800


7
Mazda
$4,900


8
Honda
$4,900


9
Volkswagen
$5,600


10
Acura
$5,700


11
Lexus
$5,800


12
Infiniti
$5,800


13
Jeep
$6,500


14
Mini
$6,500


15
GMC
$6,600


16
Dodge
$6,700


17
Mitsubishi
$7,000


18
Chevrolet
$7,100


19
Ford
$7,900


20
Buick
$8,100


21
Chrysler
$8,400


22
Volvo
$8,700


23
Audi
$8,800


24
Lincoln
$10,300


25
Saturn
$11,000


26
Cadillac
$11,000


27
Mercedes-Benz
$11,000


28
Pontiac
$11,300


29
BMW
$13,300

There are few surprises here. Entry-level carmakers such as Hyundai and Kia rank as the least expensive. On the other hand, premium models, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, are the most expensive. For the first 75,000 miles, these high-end makes are about three times as expensive to maintain than the least expensive options. Maintaining high-performance vehicles isn’t cheap.

But which makes stayed inexpensive with high mileage? We grouped the data by make and compared maintenance costs across the first 150,000 miles traveled.

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Which Makes Require the Least Maintenance in the Long Run?


Based On Maintenance Costs for the Fist 150,000 Miles for All Popular Makes


Rank
Make
Cost First 150k Miles


1
Scion
$10,400


2
Toyota
$11,100


3
Honda
$14,300


4
Subaru
$14,400


5
Lexus
$14,700


6
Hyundai
$15,000


7
Nissan
$15,000


8
Mazda
$15,100


9
Kia
$15,100


10
Volkswagen
$15,300


11
Infiniti
$16,900


12
Mini
$17,500


13
GMC
$18,100


14
Chevrolet
$18,900


15
Acura
$19,000


16
Mitsubishi
$19,000


17
Jeep
$19,400


18
Audi
$21,200


19
Ford
$21,700


20
Buick
$22,300


21
Volvo
$22,600


22
Dodge
$22,900


23
Chrysler
$23,000


24
Mercedes-Benz
$23,600


25
Saturn
$26,100


26
Pontiac
$24,200


27
Cadillac
$25,700


28
Lincoln
$28,100


29
BMW
$28,600

Cars that initially seem inexpensive don’t always remain a bargain. Entry-level makes Hyundai and Kia require the least expensive maintenance for the first 75,000 miles, but drop to 6th and 9th place over 150,000 miles.

High-end makes such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW start out expensive (about $11,000 or more for the first 75,000 miles) and stay just about as expensive as mileage increases. Mid-range car brands are a mixed bag. Dodge drops from 16th to 22nd place due to maintenance costs rising with increased mileage, but Subaru moves from 5th place to 4th place. Subaru keep costs down even as miles accumulate.

Toyota (and its brand Scion) is the clear winner.

Beyond looking at the make of car, we were curious about which models have the most longevity. The following table shows the specific models which are most and least expensive over the first 75,000 miles. We list only the top ten most and least expensive because there are so many models.

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Which Models Start Out Most/Least Expensive?


Based On Maintenance Costs for the Fist 75,000 Miles


Most Expensive


Rank
Make
Model
Cost First 75k Miles


1
BMW
328i
$11,800


2
Ford
Mustang
$10,200


3
Ford
F-150
$8,900


4
Dodge
Grand Caravan
$8,100


5
Mazda
6
$7,900


6
Jeep
Grand Cherokee
$7,900


7
Ford
Explorer
$7,800


8
Acura
TL
$7,700


9
Audi
A4
$7,400


10
Audi
A4 Quattro
$7,400


Least Expensive


Rank
Make
Model
Cost First 75k Miles


1
Toyota
Prius
$2,800


2
Nissan
Versa
$3,300


3
Chevrolet
Tahoe
$3,400


4
Hyundai
Sonata
$3,600


5
Honda
Fit
$3,600


6
Lexus
IS250
$3,600


7
Hyundai
Elantra
$3,900


8
Ford
Fusion
$3,900


9
Toyota
Yaris
$3,900


10
Toyota
Corolla
$3,900

Toyota’s Prius, which costs only $2,800 in maintenance for the first 75,000 miles, is the clear winner. Nissan’s Versa and Chevrolet’s Tahoe also make strong showings. Overall, smaller cars from Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, and Toyota are quite inexpensive to maintain.

But which of these models remain a bargain as the odometer climbs from 75,000 to 150,000?

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Which Models Require the Most/Least Maintenance in the Long Run?


Based On Maintenance Costs for the Fist 150,000 Miles


Most Expensive


Rank
Make
Model
Cost First 150k Miles


1
Ford
Mustang
$27,100


2
BMW
328i
$25,100


3
Ford
Explorer
$23,100


4
Jeep
Grand Cherokee
$22,900


5
Acura
TL
$22,900


6
Dodge
Grand Caravan
$21,700


7
Ford
Focus
$21,600


8
Audi
A4 Quattro
$20,500


9
Hyundai
Santa Fe
$20,000


10
Acura
MDX
$19,700


Least Expensive


Rank
Make
Model
Cost First 150k Miles


1
Toyota
Prius
$6,700


2
Nissan
Versa
$8,500


3
Honda
Fit
$10,000


4
Toyota
Yaris
$10,300


5
Toyota
Corolla
$10,300


6
Scion
xB
$10,400


7
Lexus
IS250
$10,400


8
Toyota
Tacoma
$10,900


9
Ford
Fusion
$10,900


10
Toyota
Highlander
$11,200

Toyota’s Prius is the least expensive model to maintain at both low and high mileages; maintenance costs a meager $6,700 over 150,000 miles. The next best option, Nissan’s Versa, which costs an average of $8,500 in maintenance over $150,000 miles, still costs owners over 25% more than the Prius does.

The other high performers are mainly coupes and sedans. Yet Toyota gets its SUV (Highlander) and truck (Tacoma) on the list.

Which issues are most likely to affect these maintenance costs?

We looked at the most common issues and their probability of occurring. For example, if one out of ten cars gets its brake pads replaced between 25,000 and 30,000 miles, then cars of that mileage have a 10% chance of needing to replace their brake pads per 5,000 miles. Conversely, if one in four cars that has between 100,000 and 105,000 miles on its odometer gets its brake pads replaced, that same probability would be 25%.

The most common issues are that the car won’t start or that the Check Engine Light is on. Brake pads, spark plugs, and batteries also require frequent repair.

Drivers need to check the engine light and deal with a car that refuses to start more often as their mileage increases. In contrast, problems with brake pads max out at 50,000 miles and spark plug issues max out at 100,000 miles. Drivers consistently deal with bad batteries for their car’s entire lifespan.

When buying a used car or maintaining their current vehicle, consumers need to know which cars cost the least in maintenance as mileage increases. We've analyzed our data using multiple impact variables, as numerous factors - from the condition of the road surfaces most driven upon to the frequency of regular maintenance appointments - affect these costs.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Much Do Car Maintenance Costs Increase with Mileage? and was authored by Maddy Martin.


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