Do SUVs Cost More in Maintenance & Inspection? (We Checked)

SUVs seem in many ways like the perfect all-around vehicle, combining the power and storage space of a larger vehicle with the ease of driving a sedan.

But are there downsides when it comes to SUV maintenance and inspection costs?

Read our findings below for the answer.

Here’s How Much SUVs Cost in Maintenance & Inspection:

Estimates for routine maintenance and inspection costs on SUVs range from $700 to $1,500 per year, depending on the make, model, and condition of your car. They cost a bit more due simply to their larger size and range of features.

Does A Basic Inspection Cost More On SUVs Or Cars?

Many states require that your car pass a standard inspection in order for it to be allowed on the roads. The exact regulations will vary by state, but you’ll almost certainly have to pass at least one type of inspection.

A standard inspection, such as those that ensure safety or emissions standards, typically doesn’t cost more for an SUV than it would for a sedan or pickup truck.

Prices may vary based on your state and where you have your inspection done, but most places will likely charge the same rate for passenger vehicles.

Car inspections can range anywhere from $25 to $200, and will probably be affected more by the age of your vehicle rather than by its size.

Regular vehicle check-ups are also often done as a courtesy when you take your car for an oil change or other routine maintenance.

This sort of routine 12-point inspection shouldn’t run you any more or less for an SUV than for another type of car.

Should SUVs Be Serviced More Often Than Cars?

Unless you’re putting your SUV through its paces with long hours of driving or severe off-roading, you should be fine sticking to the standard service schedule of a check-up once a year or every 12,000 miles.

SUVs shouldn’t really need routine servicing any more or less often than regular sedans, though you may end up needing to replace parts more often – see below for more details on wear-and-tear replacements.

Do Wear-And-Tear Parts Wear Faster On SUVs?

While the same mechanic likely won’t charge more for an oil change on an SUV than a sedan, other types of maintenance can end up costing more.

This is especially true for maintenance that requires replacement for wear-and-tear parts, such as tires, shock absorbers, and brakes.

This difference is due mainly to the greater weight of SUVs compared to sedans. More weight means more strain on parts like tires and brake pads, which in turn means faster wear.

The recommendation for most passenger vehicles is to change your tires every six years, but if you own an SUV, you may need to swap them out closer to every three to five years.

Brake pads will need replaced every three to six years on average.

The rate at which these parts wear out can also depend more on your driving style and conditions than the size of your car. Spending hours in stop-and-go traffic, for example, will wear out your car faster than highway driving, as will abrupt braking and acceleration.

Other replacement parts, such as batteries, spark plugs, and windshield wipers, shouldn’t really need an update more often on an SUV.

Depending on your type of car, however, the actual price of the replacement part may be higher.

What Other Expenses Apply Only To SUVs?

While there aren’t any fees that apply specifically to SUVs, watch out for any service that charges you according to vehicle weight.

In some states, vehicle registration fees are charged based on the weight of your car – in this case, registering your SUV would cost more than a lighter sedan.

What Are The Most Typical Issues With SUVs?

Again, the most common repairs needed for a car tend to depend more on its make and model, and even the year it was released, more than whether the vehicle is a sedan, SUV or van.

However, SUVs do tend to be larger in size and have more complicated systems, such as suspension and 4-wheel-drive, which can mean that your repair will require more labor and expertise.

So while SUVs may need repairs at roughly the same rate as other cars, it may end up costing you more.

Overall, some of the most common issues that land people in the mechanics shop include:

  • New tires
  • Battery replacement
  • Brake pad/rotor replacement
  • Serpentine belt replacement
  • Electrical system repairs
  • Oxygen sensor replacement

Which SUVs Are The Most Expensive To Maintain?

Generally, luxury cars will be more expensive to maintain than alternative brands.

Makes such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz are infamous for their high maintenance and repair costs, but many drivers consider their superior performance to be worth the trade-off.

According to one estimate by YourMechanic, BMW topped the list of most expensive brands to maintain, costing owners a hefty average of $26,364 over ten years.

That’s about three times the lowest brands on their list: Toyota, at an average of $8,150 and Scion at $9,484.

Some car brands are more reliable than others, as well.

Purchasing a Honda or a Mazda, for example, will likely lead to fewer trips to the mechanic overall than many other brands.

Here are some of the SUV models that consistently turned up as the least reliable in our research:

Land Rover Discovery Sport:

The Discovery Sport consistently ranked low for reliability, as attested to by their relatively short 3-year warranty standard.

Repair Pal estimates average yearly maintenance at a whopping $1,780, so this is maybe one to avoid for the sake of your wallet.

Jaguar E-Pace:

The E-Pace received an unusually high failure rate according to What Car?, with 45% experiencing issues.

Luckily, most of these problems were with non-critical systems, but many E-Pace owners still had to wait more than a week for repairs.

Audi Q5 Diesel:

Black Audi Q5 parked alongside kerb

Audi’s diesel engine models are a bit notorious for making a bad name for the brand, with a failure rate of 44%, compared to 27% for the petrol models.

On the plus side, about three-quarters of repair costs were covered by Audi, even when the cars were no longer under warranty.

Nissan Rogue:

The Nissan Rogue (called X-Trail in Europe) struggled in terms of reliability, particularly for the later models.

What Car? rated it the least reliable new car in 2021, with 40% of owners experiencing problems – a tough blow to come back from.

Range Rover Evoque:

What Car? also gives the Evoque a failure rate of about 40%, so your odds aren’t the greatest with this SUV either.

The vehicles have seen everything from air suspension issues to electrical problems, and it could end up costing you $1,102 in maintenance per year on average.

Volkswagen Touareg:

The Touareg didn’t do much to add to Volkswagen’s reliability reputation.

Repair Pal estimates that owning one means you’re almost guaranteed at least one unscheduled trip to the mechanic each year, and total maintenance costs average at $937 – about $350 higher than all mid-size SUVs.

Final Thoughts

Overall, driving an SUV may cost you more on average in repairs than driving a sedan of a similar make and class. SUVs can also end up costing more in fuel and the frequency of replacing parts, as well.

It’s up to the individual driver to decide if the extra storage space and the feel of driving an SUV is worth potentially paying a bit more in yearly costs, but if your budget is paramount, a sleek sedan might be the best option.

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