The RepairPal Institute - Model/Brand Comparison Repair Costs

April 25, 2016

With the transition from winter to spring, while most people are looking forward to sunshine and warm weather, mechanics are looking forward to pothole season.

In most regions, warmth during the day and cold temperatures at night can quickly lead to cracked, hole-ridden asphalt and those notorious potholes that we all hate.

Hitting a pothole straight on or attempting to swerve and avoid it can damage your car in numerous ways: pothole damage (an actual car insurance term) affects everything from your wheels and tires to your steering, suspension and alignment systems - racking up hundreds to thousands of dollars in repair costs. Those repair costs however, can vary greatly depending on your car's make and model.

That's why for the second study to come out of the RepairPal Institute, researchers took a look at repair costs for some of the most popular car models, creating the RepairPal Institute Auto Service Cost Index.

Using RepairPal's proprietary database of auto repair pricing across the U.S., researchers measured the average cost of four common auto repairs: water pump, alternator, brake pad replacement, and oil change service, on 40 popular 2010 car models, categorized as Compact, Mid-Size, Luxury, and SUV within representative US geographies.


Key Finding #1: Two Compact car models, the Volkswagen Jetta and the Mitsubishi Lancer, were among the top eight most expensive - somewhat surprising, given their relatively low sticker price and presumed general affordability. These models averaged around $2000 in repair costs or roughly 36% above average, higher than many of the Luxury models and all of the SUVs.

Key Finding #2: On the flip side, researchers found SUVs to rank highly among the most affordable models. The Maxda CX-7 and the Ford Explorer came in at #3 and #5 most affordable, with repair costs roughly 30% below average. The other SUVs were spread nearly even across the most affordable and most expensive lists, capped by the Chevrolet Equinox at a reasonable $1604.

Key Finding #3: Repair costs for Mid-Sized cars closely resembled those of their Compact counterparts. The Nissan Altima was extremely affordable to repair (#2 of 20) at $906, but the Volkswagen Passat repairs priced at $2087, making it the #5 most expensive model.

Key Finding #4: Considering the top 3 most expensive models to repair, the #1 highest repair cost belonged to the Lincoln MKZ, which had the lowest sticker price and arguably the least amount of fanfare. Luxury buyers might want to think twice about the true price of high-end models after factoring in repairs.

While you can expect to pay different prices for repairs depending on your car's make and model (and how hard you really hit that pothole) there is such a thing as a standard price range. Use our free estimator tool to make sure you're getting a fair price for your area. Then whenever you do hit some bumps in the road, take your car to a RepairPal Certified shop and be certain that you're getting quality work at a fair price.


>> Top 20 Most Expensive Car Models to Repair

(car model category in brackets, average repair cost in parentheses)

1. Lincoln MKZ - [Luxury] ($2649)

2. Audi A4 - [Luxury] ($2259)

3. Lexus IS250 - [Luxury] ($2234)

4. Volkswagen Jetta - [Compact]  ($2114)

5. Volkswagen Passat - [Mid-Size] ($2087)

6. BMW 328i - [Luxury] ($1965)

7. Mercedes Benz C300 - [Luxury] ($1960)

8. Mitsubishi Lancer - [Compact] ($1931)

9. Infiniti G37 - [Luxury] ($1725)

10. Chevrolet Malibu - [Mid-Size] ($1633)

11. Chevrolet Equinox - [SUV] ($1604)

12. GMC Acadia - [SUV] ($1603)

13. Volvo S80 - [Luxury] ($1600)

14. Chrysler 300 - [Luxury] ($1578)

15. Acura TL - [Luxury] ($1537)

16. Nissan Murano - [SUV] ($1503)

17. Honda Pilot - [SUV] ($1480)

18. Toyota Forerunner - [SUV] ($1480)

19. Kia Sportage - [SUV] ($1469)

20. Kia Optima - [Mid-Size] ($1454)

>>  Top 20 Most Affordable Car Models to Repair

1. Nissan Sentra - [Compact] ($931)

2. Nissan Altima - [Mid-Size] ($986)

3. Mazda CX-7 - [SUV] ($988)

4. Mazda6 - [Mid-Size] ($1026)

5. Ford Explorer - [SUV] ($1052)

6. Honda Accord - [Mid-Size] ($1060)

7. Ford Focus - [Compact] ($1064)

8. Mazda3 - [Compact] ($1068)

9. Hyundai Elantra - [Compact] ($1088)

10. Ford Fusion - [Mid-Size] ($1093)

11. Honda Civic - [Compact] ($1120)

12. Hyundai Santa Fe - [SUV] ($1179)

13. Hyundai Sonata - [Mid-Size] ($1188)

14. Kia Forte - [Compact] ($1190)

15. Subaru Impreza - [Compact] ($1191)

16. Subaru Legacy - [Mid-Size] ($1213)

17. Toyota Camry - [Compact] ($1244)

18. Toyota Corolla - [Mid-Size] ($1323)

19. Jeep Cherokee - [SUV] ($1406)

20. Cadillac CTS - [Luxury] ($1429)

About the Author

Eric Lawton is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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