With granite trim, built-in champagne chillers, and solid gold clockfaces being only some of the extravagant features of new 2020 luxury cars, it is safe to say that luxury cars take the meaning of “extra” to a whole new level. There is no surprise that the average American enjoys upgrading their car from time to time. However, you should know there are definitely some bells and whistles that seem affordable up front, but the cost to maintenance them can add up over time.

Automotive Add-Ons: Not Just a One-Time Cost

Most Americans cite their car as the most expensive thing they own, second only to their house, if they’re homeowners. The average car-owning American spends 5% of their annual salary on their car each year, between insurance, fuel, and repairs. But car repair costs have been rising over the years, and the more automotive add-ons your car has, the higher those costs are going to go.

When you’re doing your research on what cars cost the most and least to maintain, you want to make sure you’ve got a long-term view on the data— in other words, what a car costs to maintain when it’s a year old vs. 3, 5, or 10 years old. These costs are often affected by things like dealerships that offer free maintenance for the first 1-3 years of ownership, which brings down the early average cost, but once that benefit expires the costs can skyrocket.

Back in 2016, the folks at YourMechanic.com did an in-depth analysis of the data they’ve collected over the years to find out which car brands require the most maintenance over a 10-year period. Their results showed that BMWs are the most expensive cars to maintain, costing around $18,000 over a ten-year period. Toyotas were the least expensive, coming in about $10,000 cheaper on total maintenance costs.

There’s obviously a lot that goes into these costs, but one of the most significant factors is the complex electronic systems that now control most aspects of your car’s functioning. From automatic brakes to outside cameras to built-in navigation, mechanics are doing IT troubleshooting on your car as often as replacing a worn belt or hose. Labor is both more skilled and takes more time, and the parts required for repairs cost more too, even when the repairs are minor. That’s why the more automotive add-ons you’ve got, the more you’ll spend on repairs.

5 Expensive Extras You Can Probably Live Without

Now that you understand what goes into the ongoing cost of car maintenance and repair, let’s look at some of the specifics.

There are some electronic systems in your car that are non-negotiable. Car keys, for example, almost universally have computer chips in them that need to be synced up with your car’s specific programming in order to function, meaning they’re neither easy nor cheap to replace. Power windows, heated seats, and Bluetooth connectivity are all fairly standard in 2021, and all can be annoyingly pricey to repair.

But there are some automotive add-ons that are both expensive to maintain and not strictly necessary to the functioning of your car. These are, in our humble opinion, the top 5.

  • Backseat Entertainment System. You think it’s tough finding the remote among the couch cushions, try looking for it in a back seat stuffed with bags, toys, car seats, and all the other accoutrements of your day-to-day life. Plus, the nature of cramming a screen into a car means it’s going to be small, and likely not have great resolution or audio. If something goes wrong, all that wiring and disparate parts mean a long and expensive fix. Buy the kids an iPad or Nintendo Switch instead; you’ll thank us later.
  • Pre-Collision System. Pre-Collision uses cameras and radar to forewarn drivers of an obstacle in front of them, and in many cases can automatically engage the brakes if the driver doesn’t do so soon enough. But the reports of issues in these systems (from engaging when there is no obstacle, to not engaging when there is one) run rampant, and troubleshooting those issues can be extremely time consuming.
  • High-Tech Mirrors. Many cars now come with some mirror features standard— blinkers on the housing, blind-spot detection warnings, and more. But some come with even more bells and whistles that can ultimately be more of a hindrance than a help. If your car gets sideswiped and the mirror gets crushed, repairing it can cost you double what a standard mirror would.
  • Power Doors & Liftgates on Pickup Trucks. Tailgating is fun, and not having to lift the keg off the truck bed is convenient. But long-term those power doors can be more annoying than they’re worth— and more costly. Wiring is susceptible to wear and tear just like any other feature of your car, and the connections to your car’s internal systems require complex troubleshooting to repair.
  • Air Suspension System. An air suspension system uses compressed air in place of shocks or struts, making for a smoother and less noisy ride. But Car and Driver magazine estimates that repairs to an air suspension system can be triple that of a standard system over ten years, not to mention that it drastically reduces your car’s fuel efficiency.

Choose Churchill Auto Care for an Auto Repair Shop You Can Trust

If your vehicle needs maintenance or repairs, give us a call! We offer excellent service at a fair price for all of your automotive maintenance and repair needs. To schedule an appointment, please visit our site or give us a call at (301) 620-7620.

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