How Much Routine Car Maintenance Costs

Costs climb with your car's age, but basic maintenance services can start at less than $100 per year.
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How Much Does Routine Car Maintenance Cost?

Regular car maintenance keeps your engine running smoothly and many serious car problems at bay. It’s also relatively inexpensive and lowers your total car costs because you’ll avoid some more expensive repairs down the road.

The routine maintenance your car will need — and its cost — depends on the vehicle itself. But there are some services that almost all cars require periodically.

Basic car maintenance costs

The vehicle maintenance schedule in your car’s owners manual will tell you what services it needs and when. The older your car is, the more work it will need.

Modern cars need less maintenance than ever.

Modern cars need less maintenance than ever, thanks to increased computerization and mechanical improvements in engine design. However, nearly every car regularly requires the following basic services:

ServiceWhen to do it* Estimated cost*
Oil and filter changeEvery 5,000 to 7,000 miles$20-$55
Tire rotationEvery 3,000 to 7,000 miles$20-$50
Multipoint inspectionRecommended at every visitVaries
*Costs and timing based on estimates from automotive websites and experts.

Replacing worn-out parts

Many car parts today “are meant to last and last and last, and they typically don’t fail unless you’ve ignored something downstream,” says Kristin Brocoff, director of communications for CarMD.com, a site that diagnoses car issues.

Certain parts will likely need to be replaced.

Even so, certain parts wear down from regular driving and will likely need to be replaced while you own the car. Some additional services your car might require include:

ServiceWhen to do it*Estimated cost*
New tiresVaries$50-$300 per tire
Wiper blade replacementEvery 6-12 months $7-$15
Engine air filter replacmentEvery 20,000-60,000 miles$20-$75
Brake pad replacementEvery 30,000-50,000 miles $100-$350
*Costs and timing based on estimates from automotive websites and experts.

Get to know your car’s needs

To find out exactly what maintenance your car needs, turn to the maintenance schedule in your owners manual. For example, a 2010 Toyota Corolla needs the following services at 30,000 miles or 36 months:

  • Replace engine oil and oil filter
  • Rotate tires
  • Check installation of driver’s floor mat
  • Inspect and adjust all fluid levels
  • Replace cabin air filter
  • Replace engine air filter

Your car’s maintenance needs also depend on how you drive it. You’ll need more maintenance if you frequently idle, tow heavy loads or drive in very cold or hot weather. However, the vast majority of drivers can follow the normal factory schedule, says Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing for car site Edmunds.com.

Knowing your car’s service schedule is key to handling extra sale pitches from your mechanic.

Knowing your car’s service schedule is also key to handling extra sale pitches from your mechanic, such as an automatic transmission flush.

If the mechanic suggests work outside of regular maintenance, you can say, “I just want to stick to my schedule for now” — that is, unless you suspect your car needs a repair, maybe because of a rattling sound or a check engine light.

Once a car exceeds 100,000 miles, it will require more maintenance, and the costs will climb. However, Brocoff says, vehicles now last so long, they’re outlasting some of their parts.

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