Direct Line magazine

Cheapest cars to repair

Updated on: 6 March 2020

a mechanic inspects a car for repair

One thing car manufacturers are not keen to let you know is just how much their cars will actually cost to fix and look after. Indeed, finding this sort of vital information out is not very easy, especially for ordinary motorists like us. However, thankfully there are ‘top secret’ books and CDs aimed at the motor trade that contain details about exactly how long it takes to carry out certain procedures.

Ford Fiesta 1.25 Vauxhall Vectra 1.8 BMW 3231 2.3 Jaguar XJ6 4.0
10,000 mile service 0.90 0.70 2.00 2.15
Change brake fluid 0.60 0.30 0.50 n/a
Replace starter motor 0.60 0.50 0.83 0.30
Replace radiator 1.20 1.80 0.83 1.35
Replace clutch 3.00 5.10 3.75 3.10

[Information courtesy of Glass's Guide ICME Manual]

So what does this tell me?

Most obviously that, on the whole, expensive cars take longer to fix. That’s important because obviously a garage is going to charge more and the hourly labour rate is also going to be higher if you go to a main agent for that model. However, even some quite mainstream models can take longer to fix.

What about the cost of parts?

As a rule, the more expensive the car, the more expensive the parts are going to cost. However, some manufacturers are much better than others at keeping stocks. With only a limited obligation to supply parts for obsolete cars, it is important to select the more popular rather than the obscure makes. If you haven’t heard of the model, then it is an obscure one and may cause you a problem in the future. Indeed some classic cars can be easier and cheaper to fix, not only because the mechanics are simpler, but also production of the parts have been restarted due to demand.

What’s my best option?

Any model by Ford or Vauxhall will be around in massive numbers and as these are vehicles which are aimed at the fleet market, most parts are easy and cheap to fix. Not only have these cars been designed to spend as little time in a garage as possible, the most recent Vauxhall Vectras can now go 20,000 miles between visits. By contrast, a prestige model whether it is a Mercedes, BMW or Bentley is always going to cost more to look after. Also a smaller run-around is also designed to be less bother to look after than large estate or 4 x 4.

So who can I talk to find out this sort of information?

The manufacturer’s customer service department should be a helpful contact and your local dealer. Even better speak to your local garage. If you have a good relationship with them and they want your repeat business they will tell you honestly which models give them the least amount of trouble.

Where can I find information on what cars actually cost to fix?

This is a lot more tricky. There are online forums where you can find out from owners just what their cars cost to run, but probably the best resource has been Warranty Direct. It produces average repair cost tables based on actual breakdowns at and consistently comes up with some surprising results. The stats do reach a very interesting conclusion when it comes to picking a car that doesn’t break down and is cheap to fix: the conclusion? Buy Japanese.

Cheapest cars to repair

  1. Suzuki

  2. Honda

  3. Mazda

  4. Skoda

  5. Toyota

  6. Hyundai

  7. Nissan

  8. Citroen

  9. Ford

  10. Kia

Most expensive cars to repair

  1. Porsche

  2. Jeep

  3. Land Rover

  4. Alfa Romeo

  5. Chrysler

  6. Jaguar

  7. Audi

  8. Saab

  9. MG

  10. Mercedes

Source: Glass’s Guide ICME Manual

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