Car repairs are something few drivers, if any, ever look forward to. Yet, the more you drive your vehicle, the more these costs seem to pile up.

Yet it is always worth comparing the cost of such car maintenance with the mileage or car age itself. Why? Because there is often a point where the costs become unfavourable and it may very well be better to buy something new.


All cars cost money to run, but do the costs go up over time?

Another part of this is the fact that, when it comes to repairs and maintenance, there is so much to consider. If you own a vehicle for a reasonable number of years, the chances are you will have to replace or repair many of the following:

  • Engine oils and fluids
  • Timing belts and spark plugs
  • Car tyres
  • Battery

Of course, this doesn’t even include surprise faults, such as broken starter motors and engine components, or the repairs that can be required after an accident.

Basic costs

In general, when do the costs start to rise? According to figures from Your Mechanic, the maintenance costs can double once you hit the 50,000 to 75,000 mark, from an average of  £1,130 ($1,400) to £2,440 ($3,000). 


Car maintenance costs by mileage. Source: Your Mechanic.

However, after this point, the costs do not rise so rapidly and ultimately peaks around 175,000 miles. This is because, after awhile, the car essentially stops degrading. Once you begin repairing or replacing parts on a regular basis, the costs can not increase. Of course, as mentioned at the start, this doesn’t necessarily include any surprise costs or the damage from road accidents

What about Your car tyres?

While car tyres aren’t something you have to worry about in terms of resale value, they are an expense you need to consider. Just like car maintenance costs, people who drive more will likely need to spend more, as they will replace their tyres faster.

Generally, car tyres are a case of tread depth, rather than age. A more aggressive driving style, alongside rough driving surfaces, will wear down your treads faster. That said, tyre age is still an issue, as you do not want to use products that are 5 or more years older. This is regardless of whether or not the tyres have been used, as the compound itself still deteriorates and loses its qualities over time.


Similarly, you can also rotate your tyres to ensure they last longer. This is because many tyres wear out on one specific side faster, often as a resulting of taking corners, so rotating them on a regular basis lets each side get worn out more evenly, extending their use. If you do this, ensure you are aware of which are the front tyres and rear tyres, in respect to the setup of your car (front or rear wheel drive or even 4x4 cars, for example.)

Car depreciation

Ultimately, the biggest problem with vehicles is that they depreciate in value. Unless you’re driving a rare collector’s car, or something that is uniquely highly valued, most cars lose value as they age. Often, this is worked out using the mileage. Two cars from the same make, range and generation can have drastically different prices depending on the mileage. 

As a rough guide to understanding depreciation, What Price suggests taking the car’s current value (you can often work this out by looking online) from the original sale price. If you divide this by the car age (in years), you get an average figure of how much value is lost on an annual basis.

To work this out to the mile, take this figure, divide it by the annual mileage. The resulting sum, multiplied by 100, gives you the depreciation cost in pennies.

To put this as simply as possible:

Depreciation Per Year = (Original sale value - Current value) / Car’s age in years
Cost per mile = (Depreciation per year / Annual car mileage ) x 100

For example, if your car originally cost £6,000, but now sells for £2,000 4 years later, this means it has depreciated by £4,000 over those 4 years, working out at £1,000 a year, on average.

If you drive a typical 12,000 miles in a year, then the depreciation per mile is (£1,000 / 12,000) x 100. This equates to a little over 8 pennies per mile driven.

Comparing this back to the earlier depreciation figures, it’s clear that your vehicle will likely cost you more as time goes on, with a decreasing resale value. As this gap becomes bigger and bigger, it often represents a good time to buy a newer car. This will have less maintenance overall. Of course, it will still lose its value, as all cars do.

Car costs

Of course, all of this is in addition to your other running costs, such as fuel consumption and car insurance. Owning any car is a balancing act between all of these various costs. Older cars may often have cheaper insurance, due to the reduced value of the vehicle, which is something that needs to be considered against the rising maintenance and repair costs.

Likewise, you may very well have a car that you enjoy too much to give up - sometimes money isn’t the only important factor to consider.