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Why Is Car Maintenance So Expensive? [ We Explained The Reasons ]

Why Is Car Maintenance So Expensive? [ We Explained The Reasons ]

With expensive car maintenance bills hurting your pockets, you might sometimes dub your vehicle to be a lousy investment. The American Automobile Association (AAA) has calculated the unexpected bill for car repairs to be around $550[1]. As an average car owner, you might be wondering why car maintenance is burning a hole in your pockets.

An average car requires maintenance and repair works worth $400 every year. Whether it involves mechanical repairs or routine maintenance, you need to keep the amount handy.

Even when you overlook your car loan repayments, insurance, and fuel costs, you need to factor in several other expenses. To help you budget your car maintenance cost, this post presents you with relevant information.

Why is car maintenance so expensive?

While some repairs and routine maintenance tasks might seem to be unnecessary, you eventually need to get them done. Most car owners do not allocate a dedicated fund for car maintenance every month, apart from fuel and insurance costs. However, you have the right path out, and it’s always wise to factor in the maintenance costs when you know you need to shell it out.

So, if you are still wondering about the sheer expense of car maintenance, here are the factors that have been taking a toll on your wallet.

1. Patented car parts

While you might have a fascination for branded cars, be ready to shell out a good chunk of your maintenance budget for patented parts. Reputed manufacturers have a monopoly on specific part production. Even if your car gets into a minor collision, you need to replace the head gasket, fender, and get a new grille. Considering the aesthetics, you won’t be going for generic parts, right? This is where you end up draining your money!

During routine maintenance, you need to shell out hundreds of dollars to get the original parts replaced in case they have sustained damages. Although your car insurance covers a part of this expense, you can’t eventually dodge the financial pinch.

2. High labor charges

Hiring trained and certified mechanics for car maintenance and repair might be an expensive ordeal. Besides, they would categorize the labor charges into diagnostic charges and repair fees. Of course, they would be deploying various sophisticated tools to detect possible glitches in quick time. You eventually need to shell out a high value for their experience.

When it comes to something as sensitive as car repair, you wouldn’t like untrained hands to work on the machine. Prioritizing quality services, efficiency, and effective repairs, you would readily shell out high labor charges.

3. Automotive overhead expenses

While you might be brooding over high car maintenance expenses, have you considered the automotive overhead costs? Think of the utility costs, equipment, and tools that the mechanics are using to keep your car in good shape. Then, they supply miscellaneous materials like solvents and lubricants, and safety equipment while delivering the maintenance services. Adding to the list, they use advanced diagnostic gear and floor jacks. With the prices of equipment shooting up consistently over the years, the repair shops have no other option than to hike their charges.

4. Fancy and luxury cars

The automotive market in the US has significantly evolved over the last few decades. With the inception of luxury and fancier cars, passionate owners have gradually embraced these vehicles. Naturally, this has also invited higher repair and maintenance costs. With more intelligent, faster, and comfortable vehicles comes associated maintenance burdens.

Adding to these, you have interactive cruise control features, cameras, and parking assistants. While these features have eased up the driver’s experience, the maintenance expenses have climbed up.

5. Cost of training

With fancy cars undergoing sophistication, mechanics, too, need to invest in quality training. After all, you would want to work with a competent mechanic capable of diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining your car properly. Experienced professionals would charge you higher than the average ones, given that they come with on-site training to work on your car.

Moreover, the repair shop has to manage associated expenses like lodging and travel costs of the mechanics. From time to time, technicians undergo special training to stay abreast with upgrades on the car models. Eventually, when you invest in an expensive car, be ready to fork out correspondingly high charges for maintenance.

6. Other overhead costs

Established car repair stores need to manage several other unseen overhead costs. Think of their liability insurance for customers, utilities, legal counsel, software, computers, rent, internet, grounds keeping, and mortgage costs. Besides, they need to spend heavily on floor cleaning, recycling engine oil, and maintaining their equipment. While preparing your bill, car repair stores would factor in all these expenses to a certain extent. No wonder, why car repair and maintenance costs keep ballooning every year.

Apart from these six factors, owners need to consider the basic expenses during car maintenance. For instance, count in the fluid replacement costs, new tires, rotors, brake pads, and other parts. Now you know why car maintenance costs you so much!

How much should you spend on car maintenance a month?

If you are ready to face the inevitable, let’s discuss your monthly budget for car maintenance. Although you won’t need the entire amount on every occasion, it makes sense to set aside a dedicated budget. While the annual expense for car maintenance can be at least $400, it can range up to $700 in some cases. Depending on your car model and budget, you can try and put aside anything between $45 and $55 a month. By saving more, you can be better prepared to shell the amount out when the need arises.

Please note, the maintenance cost would vary from one model to another. Also, your driving habits and style directly impact the health of your car. For caring drivers and owners, the monthly budget can significantly come down.

To get a better idea of your car maintenance budget, calculate the overall expenses in the previous year. Collect the credit card statements on maintenance, and consider your checkbook register. Don’t miss out oil and tire changes, along with spare parts. However, make sure not to include the insurance and car loan payments. Now, you would have the total amount that you shelled out last year. Simply divide the amount by 12, which will give you a tentative idea of the monthly budget.

However, you also need to consider the present condition of your car. In case it has undergone major repairs following accidents, the budget might shoot up.

Is it costly to maintain a car?

Whether or not it is costly to maintain a car significantly depends on how you maintain it. Many drivers overlook regular maintenance in a bid to save a few hundred dollars. However, the snowballing impact reflects itself in expensive repairs after a few years. Experts recommend not to neglect your car’s routine maintenance.

A statistic from AAA reveals that in 2020, cars that ran more than 15,000 miles a year had associated ownership expenses of $797 a month, or $9,561 annually. However, this figure also includes loan interest, depreciation charges, insurance, and fuel, along with maintenance costs.

When you purchase a car, you would consider these monthly expenses, right? Maintaining your car wouldn’t be that expensive if you follow up with the mechanics or car repair shop at the right schedule. If you can keep your monthly car maintenance budget within $99, it won’t hurt your pockets too adversely.

Can you negotiate car maintenance fees?

Of course, you can negotiate car maintenance fees.

While car maintenance can be an expensive affair, you have viable means to work the other way out. Why not negotiate the fees when you know that the expense would be recurring? Every car owner deserves maintenance services at a fair price. The secret lies in shopping around and finding quality services that come within your monthly budget.

Moreover, there’s no harm in negotiating deals at established car repair centers. While the prices of itemized car parts remain fixed, you have sufficient wriggle-room when it comes to the diagnostic and service charges.

Here are a few negotiation tips that might work in your favor!

  • Get a negotiated deal before the mechanics start working on your car. This way, you reserve the liberty to switch the repair shop if you are not happy with their pricing policy. Now, if you start bargaining after the mechanics have carried out the maintenance, the shop might keep your car until you clear the bill.
  • Shop around and request the dealer or repair center whether they can deliver the services at a fair price. It’s always wise to get multiple estimates and weigh the relative perks from different service providers.
  • Shop around online for discounted deals from reputed dealers and car repair centers. Even if they have their packages, you can try and bargain an economic deal!


Car owners habitually strive to keep their vehicles in proper functional conditions all the time. Timely maintenance ensures the expected longevity and safety standards over the years. While maintenance charges can easily pile up, it’s logical to look for effective ways to minimize these costs. In the end, you need to be generous enough to ensure proper functional conditions for your car. By adhering to the guidelines that you’ve got through this post, you can significantly curtail your car maintenance budget.