When you’re browsing for new cars online or exploring your local garage forecourt, it’s easy to get side-lined by the asking price for different makes and models. But there’s so much more you need to think about than just the outright cost, from tax and insurance, to how affordable a car will be to service and repair in the long term.

To help make sure you find the right car, we’ve put together this handy guide on what makes a cost-effective car. We’ll be focusing on the makes and models that are affordable to own in terms of parts, repairs and servicing, so you get peace of mind that there’ll be no nasty surprises and unexpectedly high bills over the years.

Which Cars Are the Cheapest to Service and Repair?

It can be hard to know which makes and models will save you money in repair bills in the long run. Manufacturers tend to keep the cost of parts and servicing costs quiet, so sky-high bills don’t deter potential buyers.

However in recent years, it’s easier to find out just how much you can expect to pay in ongoing repair and servicing costs for a particular car. Back in 2018, Servicing Stop carried out a study into the servicing and repair bills for over 250,000 cars. From the data, they were able to come up with lists for the cheapest and most expensive makes and models in terms of servicing and repairs, and the results weren’t all that surprising.

peugot 108

For example, city cars like the Peugeot 108 turned out to be the cheapest to maintain, with affordable parts and servicing making them a cost-effective option. Given that these types of cars are also cheap to buy outright, a city car is certainly something to look at if budget is a concern for you.

On the flipside, the most expensive cars turned out to have some of the priciest repair bills, parts, and servicing costs. And this makes sense, as cars like the Porsche Boxster – which was found to be the least cost-effective car money can buy – are made from premium components which attract a high price point.

So, with all that being said, here’s a table showing the least and most expensive cars to service and repair in the UK.

Top 10 Least Expensive Cars to Service Top 10 Most Expensive Cars to Service
Peugeot 106 – £158 Porsche Boxster – £426
Ford EcoSport – £176 Jaguar S-Type – £406
Nissan Pulsar – £180 Volvo XC70 – £404
Ford Kuga – £195 Porsche Cayenne – £382
Citroen C1 – £197 BMW Z3 – £379
Alfa Romeo 147 – £201 Chrysler Grand Voyager – £373
Citroen C4 Cactus – £205 Jaguar XK – £371
Toyota Aygo – £207 BMW X5 – £368
Vauxhall Adam – £208 BMW 6 Series – £366
Seat MII – £210 Ford Transit – £363

Do Some Car Brands Attract Higher Servicing and Repair Costs?

Looking at the table, there’s definitely a case to be made that premium, high-end manufacturers charge more for parts and servicing. BMW, Jaguar, Porsche and Volvo are all associated with quality, refinement and precision engineering, so it makes sense that their servicing and repairs would cost more than mid-range brands like Ford, Vauxhall, Toyota and Citroën.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye. We think the reason some cars are more expensive to repair and service has less to do with their badge, and more to do with their model – specifically how rare or uncommon it is.

Here’s an example. The parts for a standard Volkswagen UP! cost less than a special edition UP! Black model, because they’re more common and readily available. The UP! Black has special edition trim, parts and door panels, and because there aren’t that many around finding parts can work out more expensive.

The same is true of many of the cars in the table above. There aren’t many Porsche Boxsters, Chrysler Grand Voyagers and BMW Z3s on the road, which naturally makes maintaining them more expensive due to the scarcity of their parts. The opposite is true of the Peugeot 108 and Ford EcoSport, which are among the best-selling and most common cars in the UK.

There’s also specialist servicing and repairs to consider. Some cars like the Porsche Boxster, require expert servicing and maintenance from a dedicated dealer, meaning that you may not be able to turn up at just any garage or service centre and expect a repair or service. This raises the price, so it’s well worth considering how much you want to spend on servicing and repairs over the length of ownership.

Depreciation – The Next Thing to Consider

Before you decide to buy an affordable city car that’s cheap to run, service and repair, there’s something you need to consider: depreciation.

Depreciation refers to the amount of value a car loses from the moment it rolls off the production line and enters private ownership. Data shows that most new cars lose around 40% of their value in the first three years; this guide on what car depreciation is can help you understand why that happens.

In the case of buying a Peugeot 108 or a Porsche Boxster, depreciation will have a massive effect on how these two models hold their value. A premium, high-end sports car like the Boxster will lose only a fraction of its value, while the Peugeot 108 will suffer some of the highest rates of depreciation on the road.

This is just one of the reasons why you can expect to pay more for parts, servicing and repairs for a Porsche Boxster than you would for a Peugeot 108. Quality parts, specialist servicing and all-round desirability means that a Boxster will hold its value for years, while cheaper, less desirable models will start to lose their value the moment you drive away.

Couple buying their new car

A Checklist of Things to Consider When Buying a Cost-Effective Car

As a reminder, here’s a list of everything you should think about when buying a new or used car:

  • Purchase price – set yourself a budget and don’t be tempted to go over it
  • Depreciation – very important when buying new. Look into the make and model and find out what previous iterations are valued at after a couple of years of ownership.
  • Parts, repair and servicing costs – the more expensive and rare the car, the more you can expect to pay for parts, repairs and servicing. Get a quote for a service from your local garage for a particular make and model, so you can make an informed decision.
  • Insurance – if you’re a young driver or have previous driving offences, it’s important to get an insurance quote so you know how much you’ll need to fork out to cover the car.
  • Tax – there have been significant changes to car tax in recent years, so make sure you know how much you’ll be paying ahead of time. This guide provides all the car tax information you need to know.
  • Fuel and MPG – economy is important to lots of drivers, and no one likes paying over the odds for fuel. Check the MPG figures and use a car fuel cost calculator to determine how much you can expect to spend.

We hope this guide helps you find the right car and save money in the long term. Whichever model you choose, you can trust Holts to help maintain your car. For more information and our full product range, visit the homepage.