Five New Low-Maintenance Cars

By

Automotive Editor

John Moroney graduated from the Vehicle Research Institute before moving on to become a race mechanic. He currently works as a motorsports editor and automotive journalist.

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, Automotive Editor - October 24, 2014

What's the best car to buy for low maintenance costs?

One of the best things about buying a new car is the security of knowing that mechanical failures are unlikely. The key to ensuring a reliable vehicle it to have it maintained according to schedule. Most modern carmakers recommend services at 15,000 mile intervals, which is about yearly for the average driver. Since these services are routine, it's easy to plan ahead. One phone call to the dealer is usually enough to find prices for every scheduled service for the first five years.

The first year of ownership usually requires little or no maintenance other than oil changes. The first and second service intervals are usually routine and will be the lowest cost. At the end of the third year, the 45,000 mile service will be performed and is more involved, often involving new spark plugs and other ignition system bits. Costs go up. The 60,000 mile service may require a new timing belt and is usually the most expensive of all.

Brake pads and tires wear out according to driving practices and will have to replaced as needed. Oil changes are typically performed at either five- or seven-thousand mile intervals, depending on the manufacturer's recommendation.

For the lowest maintenance costs, stick with smaller engines, fewer complicated electronic gadgets, and those marques with the best service records. The costs for the following vehicles are from new and with a five year ownership period.

Honda Fit

Honda Fit

Honda's cute subcompact may just be the perfect city car. Its tiny footprint hides a voluminous cargo capacity, it's fun to drive, can park anywhere, and sips gas like a hummingbird.

Even better, it has the lowest maintenance cost in North America, with a five-year average of just $607 per year. The biggest hits come with the 45,000 and 65,000 mile services, which are about $900 and $1,100, respectively.

Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla

The Corolla has been North American favorite for decades, and with good reason. The ubiquitous family truckster provides excellent value for money, lasts almost forever, and is incredibly cheap to own.

Toyota's reliability is legendary. A new owner can expect to pay an average of $563 per year for the first five years. As per usual, the biggest maintenance costs come at the 45 and 60 thousand mile service marks, at about $750 and $1,250.

Chevrolet Colorado

Chevrolet Colorado

The mid-sized Chevy Colorado and its sister truck, the upscale GMC Canyon, have been reinvented for 2015. Originally sold as a small truck, the models were put on hold in 2012. The new versions fit snugly under the full-sized truck category, and can be had with several engine and drivetrain options to fit any need or budget.

If not popular, the previous model was certainly reliable. The new Canyon will have an average yearly maintenance cost of $836 for the first five years. At the end of years four and five, the service cost is estimated at around $1,700 and $1,500.

Mazda Mazda3

Mazda Mazda3

Mazda has won numerous accolades over its entire range for low ownership costs, and the 3 may just be the jewel in the crown. The 3 offers an excellent combination of sporty driving characteristics, distinctive styling, relatively low sticker price, and better-than-average reliability. Though Mazda manufactures a small number of vehicles compared others in the industry, the automaker has proven time and again why it engenders such brand loyalty.

Maintenance costs for the new 3 should work out to average $650 per year for the first five years. The fourth year service will be about $820, and the fifth $1,200.

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The trusty Outback is a staple in college towns and suburban garages for a very good reason: it's a very good car. Subaru wagons are known for safety, reliability, and capability. Well-appointed, somewhat plush, powerful and all-wheel drive, the Outback is not an uncomplicated vehicle and should be the direct opposite of low maintenance. Subaru builds them well and with owner satisfaction in mind, however, and the wagon comes in at an impressive average of $670 per year.

The 45,000 mile service is again the whopper, coming in at just over $1,500.

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, Automotive Editor

John Moroney graduated from the Vehicle Research Institute before moving on to become a race mechanic. He currently works as a motorsports editor and automotive journalist.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

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