Today, SUVs enjoy a large share of automobile sales because everyone wants one.
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However, they can’t be all pros and no cons. Common disadvantages with cars revolve around reliability and maintenance. Higher maintenance cost is among some of the known issues with SUVs in general.
Let’s look into the latter and see how SUVs fare.
Here’s the short answer to whether SUVs cost more to maintain:
The average SUV has greater maintenance costs than the average sedan. No, we’re not just talking about the increased fuel usage. SUVs cost more in almost every aspect regarding maintenance because of many reasons, including their larger sizes. So, expect higher repair and service costs too.
Do SUVs Cost More to Service Than Other Cars?
There’s no single standard answer to whether or not SUVs have greater service costs than other cars. However, there are many vehicle types other than SUVs like pickup trucks, vans, coupes, and station wagons.
We also know that service costs are closely related to car size and weight.
Hence, large vans and trucks would usually have higher service costs than SUVs. However, when you compare SUVs to smaller vehicles like sedans and coupes, SUVs cost more to service. This is because there’s more work to be done while servicing bigger cars.
This analogy sounds far-fetched because many people simply refer to “servicing” as swapping old engine oil for a new one. While basic servicing still entails oil swapping, high-level servicing has evolved to include a complete vehicle check-up.
This now requires auto mechanics and electricians to run checks on your car to determine if anything’s wrong. Running such a diagnosis on large modern SUVs with complex features would cost a lot more.
Also, the cost of servicing your vehicle can depend a lot on the car brand you drive. Some brands like BMW, Chrysler, and Mercedes-Benz are notable for their high service and maintenance costs. In cases like this, a BMW sedan might have higher service costs than a Toyota SUV.
Do SUVs Require More Maintenance?
Many factors determine SUV maintenance frequency. The first we can think of is vehicle use. Vehicles that are frequently used for off-road driving may get damaged more quickly than highway-constrained cars.
This seems ironic since SUVs are designed for off-road driving. Still, off-road driving has its toll on vehicles regardless of the type. So, if you frequently use your SUV on untarred roads, you’ll need maintenance more frequently.
However, even if you only drive on highways, your SUV may still need more maintenance.
SUVs’ bigger sizes and complex systems make them a huge responsibility. The good news is that when you’re punctual with maintenance, you ensure the smooth performance of your SUV.
Reliability is also another factor, but the most expensive vehicles aren’t always the most reliable. Less reliable vehicles break down often and this means car owners would have to be more attentive to maintenance.
Also, unreliable cars may develop problems with higher severity ratings, and this translates to more money spent on repairs.
Ultimately, SUVs have a great track record for lasting very long. Just get a reliable brand, be punctual with maintenance and be very attentive if you drive off-road a lot.
Meanwhile, you can check this article to learn about 5 popular cars with the least problems.
Are Car Parts for SUVs More Expensive?
This is also heavily dependent on the make and model of the car. Comparing both brands again, a Toyota SUV would probably have cheaper parts than a BMW SUV in the same class. If you’re wondering why Toyota parts would be less expensive, it’s because their parts are more common.
Generally, SUVs have more expensive components than smaller cars. This is mainly because they’re bigger, so they need more parts to be constructed. They also have more convoluted parts and sophisticated features than smaller cars.
A common example is the tires that are used in SUVs which are larger than the ones used in sedans. Larger tires are no doubt more expensive. Also, off-road driving causes tires to wear out faster and this just increases the frequency of tire replacement.
The brakes in SUVs are also bigger and more powerful than their counterparts in smaller car types. We need bigger and more powerful brakes to bring heavier cars to a halt. Naturally, we’d also expect larger brakes to be more expensive, so replacing your brakes in an SUV costs more.
Like tires and brakes, many other SUV parts are larger and more expensive. This is mainly because of the extra work they’re required to do in moving an SUV around.
Are SUVs Harder to Fix Yourself?
We’ve already established that SUVs have more complicated systems. Naturally, we know that other than the higher component costs, labor costs would go up because of this.
Since SUVs are more sophisticated, DIY (Do it Yourself) tasks are a lot more difficult. It’s also why the average repair cost for an SUV is higher than that of a sedan.
You may already be used to using YouTube to fix problems in smaller cars. In that case, you’d not want to back down with an SUV either. Granted, they’re not more complex than smaller cars by a very large margin. After all, they’re all cars.
However, if you take your SUV to a repair shop, you’d not want the amateur there to work on it. You’d usually request the best professional mechanic around.
With SUVs, for tough problems, it’s best you do the same and let a pro handle it.
6 SUVs With the Lowest Maintenance Cost
We’ve established that SUVs can be a huge burden to your wallet. Despite this, many brands and segments present opportunities to save costs. Two common methods are shedding weight and using the fewest complex parts possible.
Let’s check out the SUVs with the least maintenance costs.
We expect the SUVs in the sub-compact segment to be the least expensive to maintain because of their smaller sizes. Let’s find out if they live up to that expectation.
1. Toyota C-HR
It’s no surprise that a Toyota is the first on our list. They’ve earned quite a reputation for being reliable and wallet-friendly. Based on information from CarEdge, the C-HR would swallow only $5,425 in the first 10 years of usage.
That’s even more economical than many luxury sedans today.
2. Hyundai Venue
Many people consider the Hyundai Venue to be one of the best choices regarding maintenance costs. We wouldn’t blame them because it’s one of the smallest SUVs around. According to CarEdge, the Hyundai Venue costs $7,761 to maintain in its first 10 years.
While it’s higher than that of the C-HR, it’s still lower than the SUV average of $9,133.
It’s a thin line between compact and sub-compact SUVs. Let’s hope the line is blurred regarding maintenance costs, too. After all, who wouldn’t want a slightly bigger SUV for similar repair costs?
3. Toyota Rav4
The Rav4 outshines many other SUVs in the compact class. It’ll cost just $5,531 for maintenance in its first decade.
It’s noteworthy that this is even less than the cost of maintaining the sub-compact Hyundai Venue.
Read this article to learn about 11 Toyota RAV4 issues.
4. Subaru Forester
So far, the Forester is the most expensive SUV to maintain that we’ve mentioned. After a decade, the Forester would have consumed about $7,931 in maintenance costs.
Although this amount may not seem impressive, it’s noteworthy that Toyota has set the standard too high from the average.
Besides, the Forester is still about $1,200 better than the average in maintenance and repair costs.
From this class upwards, vehicles get larger and attract higher maintenance costs. Many luxury SUVs even fall into larger SUV categories. Still, the best performers in this class might give you a shock.
5. Toyota Highlander
As long as there’s a Toyota in the mix, expect unbelievably low maintenance costs. Truly, the margin between Toyotas and other brands is so large, it’s unfair to keep adding them to our list.
The Highlander has a 10-year maintenance cost of $5,771, which is significantly less than several compact SUVs.
It’s so impressive that a mid-size SUV beats the average by more than $3,000.
If you want to reduce maintenance costs further, you can read our article about the 12 best & worst Toyota Highlander years.
Let’s see what SUV represents the full-size segment and how well it does it.
We can consider the Armada an overperformer in its segment in terms of repair costs. It reportedly costs only about $7,932 to maintain in the first 10 years of ownership.
This is about $1,200 better than the average for SUVs, which still stands at $9,133.
With the Armada being a full-size, body-on-frame SUV, a lower-than-average maintenance cost is pretty impressive.
Now you know how much of a role an SUV’s make and model plays in determining repair costs. So, no matter the vehicle type you’re considering, there’ll always be different brands with different selling points.
Some prioritize luxury while others give the best performance for the lowest possible price.