Paying Car Maintenance Costs Vs. Buying a New One

Oil change being added to an engine to illustrate how routine maintenance can reduce the cost of car ownership over the long run.

Routine maintenance can reduce the cost of car ownership over the long run.

Tired of paying car maintenance costs? You’ve broken down again. And not for the first time, you’re wondering whether paying to maintain your car is smarter than simply buying a replacement. While there’s no right or wrong answer, the following information can help you decide whether the cost of fixing your old car is worth it.

Routine Car Maintenance Costs

Oil changes. Tire rotations. Battery replacement. Whether you drive a new car or old, some associated maintenance costs come with both. A recent AAA study showed the average annual car maintenance costs totaled $767 per year. Consumer Reports attributes 4 percent of ownership costs over five years on average to car maintenance. In 2017, an average oil change ranged from $30 to $109 depending on the type of oil selected. When you consider a new engine can cost upwards for $4,000, it’s a small price to pay every 5,000 or so. Check your car’s owner manual for your specific model’s scheduled maintenance requirements.

A typical pit stop for an oil change includes a spot check on other key items like, tire air pressure and rotation needs, belt quality and air filter condition, all of which add life to your car or parts of it. According to Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor at, “If you don’t maintain your car, you’re taking a vehicle that might have been driven for 200,000 miles over its life, and you’re knocking it down to maybe 150,000 miles.” It would appear the price of not maintaining your car is far costlier than doing so.

More Miles Mean More Car Maintenance Costs

If your car is older or has high mileage, some level of mandatory maintenance is inevitable. Typically, somewhere between 90,000 and 120,000 miles, the natural wear and tear of being driven starts to surface. A commonly cited replacement, the timing belt, can run between $600 and $1,000. The water pump is another frequently required repair ranging from $300 to $750 depending on the make and model. These are dollar figures that make an owner start to question the wisdom of making repairs vs. buying a newer model.

Repairing vs. Replacing

According to IHS Automotive, today’s typical American keeps a new car for 6.5 years, up considerably from 4.3 years back in 2006. One quick rule of thumb: If the cost of repairs is less than either the current value of your car or one year's worth of auto loan payments, keeping the car may be worth it for a while longer. If not, then a new car might make sense. Also, if your current car doesn’t have many of the current safety features, it may also be prudent to consider a new car.

Should you decide it’s time for a new set of wheels, Partner Colorado is here to help. With exceptional auto loan rates, trading in your car maintenance costs for a hassle free new model just might make sense.