Are Luxury Cars Expensive to Maintain? Yes, but one isn’t


You’re in the market for a luxury car, but you’re wondering if your dream wheels might burn a hole in your wallet, well you are in the right place.

Maintaining a luxury car is expensive, in addition to the high cost of premium materials and processes used in the manufacture of luxury car components. The labor cost to diagnose, repair, and fit parts to luxury cars are higher because of the numerous complex systems these cars typically employ.

To help you understand what to expect in maintenance costs, we’ve picked four models from the most common luxury brands on the market today. We’ll look into the general maintenance costs, parts, labor and make comparisons. We’ll also give you a flavor of what it’s like to run a luxury high-end motor, you know, insurance, gas mileage, depreciation.

No surprise then that luxury cars are expensive to maintain, but not all luxury cars are. One luxury brand stands out as a clear winner in the frugality department. The Lexus brand is a Toyota in disguise and is a clear winner if the cost of ownership is the main criteria. You can read more about the Lexus below.

Mercedes SUV

Need Deep Pockets To Drive A Luxury Car

Repair costs

Super high-end luxury cars are not mass-produced for the market like generic types such as Toyota or Honda. Many of the very top-tier luxury cars are custom-made for a specific clientele. That means production numbers are low.

Even the more common luxury cars we see every day have modest production numbers compared to the hugely successful cars such as the Toyota Corolla. And, of course, economies of scale don’t work with small numbers. Therefore the cost of luxury car parts per unit is bound to be higher than regular car parts. 

Materials: Another reason for the high cost of maintenance and repair of luxury cars is the cost of materials and processes used to manufacture their components. High-end cars use many high-end materials, aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium, glass, top-grade leather, rare wood, etc., all expensive.

Complexity: Not only that, luxury cars tend to lead the market in the latest technology. Latest gadgets are always a big hit with new customers who have a ton of money to spend. Head-up displays, autonomous technology, voice command, radar, active braking, massage seats, mood lighting, self-parking, etc. These technologies cost a ton to develop and install especially when production numbers are relatively small.

Labor: A large part of a luxury car’s appeal is all that latest tech gadgetry, but the downside is when they break, they are complex to diagnose and repair. Gadgetry is typically complex and complex adds a ton of extra billable hours to the repair bill.

Sports car engine repair

Even doing some basic repairs on luxury cars can get a little ridiculous. I worked as a mechanic for over twenty years, and fitting a starter on most cars is typically a straightforward one-hour job.

Not on a luxury car, the engine is so tightly packed under the hood, to access any one component, a half dozen others may need to be removed. Take, for example, fitting a Bently starter motor, – workshop manual states – Step 1: Remove the engine.

And you can bet that isn’t cheap.

Supply: When we talk luxury cars, what comes to mind are brands such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Cadillac, Range Rover, Bently, Maseratti, among others. Most of these brands are from Germany, the UK, and Italy, with the exception of some local brands, it is, for this reason, some parts are scarce and costly in the US.

Higher insurance costs

The cost of repairing luxury cars is higher than standard cars. Even fixing a fender bender alone can set you back thousands of dollars. Premium materials like aluminum require specialist equipment, tools, and processes to repair. And that’s what causes higher insurance costs. To cushion themselves, insurance companies demand premium rates.

Fuel consumption

Most luxury cars are designed with powerful engines. It is not uncommon to find 5.0L V8 600 HP in some luxury cars. That’s humongous power. For that reason, most of these cars are super thirsty fuel guzzlers. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual list, they top the list of the least efficient fuel consumers. A few examples include Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes Benz, which have taken up the top slots on this list.

Depreciation

Depreciation is the decrease in the value of an asset over time. A car loses 10% of its value the moment you drive it out of the showroom. That rate increases to 15% in the first year alone.

It is worse when it comes to luxury cars. According to research done by iSeeCars.com, “Luxury cars have steep depreciation because owners are likely to trade them in when they become outdated and used car buyers don’t want to pay a premium for a dated model.” That explains their low resale value. 

Tools such as the  Kelley Blue Book can help you choose a luxury car with a lower depreciation rate.

Maintenance Costs Of Luxury Brands

According to the data from Statista, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, and Audi were the leading brands in terms of sales in the year 2020.

Below you’ll get a flavor of what it’s like to own and maintain a luxury car by popular luxury brands BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, and Audi.

Luxury car model Maintenance costYear 1Year 2Year 3
BMW X7 $658$764$934
Lexus GX$317$356$420
Mercedes S Class$539$600$698
Audi Q7$454$525$637
Maintenance costs for Year 1,2,3
BMW garage

Depreciation

Luxury car model DepreciationYear 1Year 2
BMW X7 $12,487$3,676
Lexus GX$15,472$6,034
Mercedes S Class$25,900$9,202
Audi Q7$13,697$5,937
Depreciation Costs

Insurance & Fuel Costs

Luxury car modelInsurance (Age of Driver: 30 years)Fuel cost per Year (10k miles)
BMW X7 $2,663$1,400
Lexus GX$1,935$1,800
Mercedes S Class$2,770$1,400
Audi Q7$1,896$1,300
Insurance and Fuel

Source: Caredge.com

Source: fueleconomy.gov

BMW X7

Maintenance costs

The BMW maintenance program is a tiered prepaid maintenance program BMW claim saves you as much as 30% on scheduled BMW maintenance. All work is carried out by trained BMW staff using BMW parts.

BMW ultimate oil care covers a three-year oil maintenance service for a cost of $199 (prepaid. However, the program excludes normal wear and tear items. Including, gasoline additives, windshields fluids, batteries, tires, wheel alignment, brake pads, etc. 

Insurance

BMW X7 insurance will set you back $2,663 per year. All estimates are based on national averages for full coverage of a 30-year-old driver with clean driving and credit records. Also, rates vary with insurance services providers. Always shop around to avoid being overcharged. 

Depreciation

Depreciation accounts for a huge cost of owning most luxury cars. BMW X7 annual depreciation averages 27%. That brings down its residual value to 86.38% of its original cost. For example, if you purchase a new BMW, it will cost you about $91,680. In the first year, its value comes down to approximately $79,193. That value may drop to about $50,000 in only five years.

Fuel costs

BMW X7 fuel consumption is high. It is not so bad however when compared with other luxury models. The average is 22MPG, according to the recent EPA estimates. At this rate, you can expect to spend approximately $1,400 in fuel costs annually.

These figures assume a 10,000 mileage per year and are based on national average fuel prices of $3/gallon. The figures will also depend on the price of fuel where you live, driving style, among other factors. fueleconomy.gov

Mercedes Benz S Class

Maintenance cost

The S Class is the flagship Mercedes model. Mercedes are a class leader in luxury, and maintenance doesn’t come cheap. The annual average is $539. But keep in mind that’s for a basic A service. A complete B service will set you back $908 per year. (According to Motor1)

Insurance

As you would expect, the insurance cost of the Mercedes S Class is higher than average. The monthly cost comes to $230 or an annual $2,770. Our averages are based on a 30-year-old good driver in a car that is driven for 10000 miles per year. Remember, insurance costs vary with different factors such as location, age, insurance company, credit history, accident records, among others.

Depreciation

Like other luxury cars, the Mercedes S class sedan is a highly depreciating asset. For the first five years alone, it will lose about 46% of its value

Fuel consumption

Fuel consumption is high, but it compares well with other luxury sedans. On average, the Mercedes S 500 averages 21 mpg. In total, you can expect to pay $1,400 annually.

Lexus GX

Maintenance costs

Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota Motor Corp. For that reason, the maintenance cost of the Lexus GX is quite fair when compared with the luxury cars in its class. Data from CarEdge.com puts it in position six with an annual maintenance cost of $400 per year. 

The low cost of maintenance is also supported by the Kelley Blue Book, which ranked Lexus as the best overall winner in the Cost to Own Best Brand category in 2021.

Insurance

The average annual insurance for Lexus GX is $1,743 per year. That is $44 less than the average luxury SUV nationally. These figures may vary with factors such as location, mileage, age, driving history, converge needs, credit rating, among others.

Depreciation

Data shows you are likely to lose 50% of the value of your new Lexus GX over a 5 year period. (Cars averaging 10,000 miles a year)

Fuel economy

The Lexus GX is not as fuel-efficient as the others listed. The front wheel will give you 15 city/19 highway MPG. In monetary figures that is approximately $1,800 per year. The estimate is based on 10000 miles per year, 60% driven in the city and 40% on highways, respectively. 

Audi Q7

Maintenance cost

Audi maintenance does not vary much from other models in this class. For a new model Audi you should expect to service it once or every 10,000 miles or once per year. An A service will include an oil change, an oil filter, and inspection among a few other things for which the cost is about $400. 

Insurance

Audi Q7 insurance is generally competitive when compared with other luxury cars. The cost is about $1,700 per year or approximately $140 a month. Take note that the cost of insurance will vary with location, mileage, and driving records, and the insurance company. It beats the national average of luxury SUVs by about $80.

Depreciation

Compared with most other luxury cars, Audi Q7 retains more value than most luxury cars. Over a five-year period, you should expect a 40% devaluation.

Fuel economy

When it comes to fuel cost, Audi has some of the best fuel-efficient cars. For the Audi Q7, you can expect a combined 22 mpg. The fuel consumption rate is calculated from averages of 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Values of Older Luxury Cars

Luxury car model3 Years (2018)5 Year (2016)7 Years (2014)
BMW X7 $72,000 – $85,000 (2019)$30,000 – $38,000 (X5)$23,000 – $27,000 (X5)
Lexus GX$40,000 – $45,000$37,000 – $42,000$20,000 (RX Model)
Mercedes S Class$51,000 – $59,000$50,000 – $55,000$38,000 – $48,000
Audi Q7$40,000 – $45,000$26,000 – $30,000$25,990
3, 5 and 7 year old luxury vehicle values

Source: Edmunds.com

Complaints & Costs of Repairs to 5 Year Old Luxury Cars

Luxury car modelComplaintCost
BMW X5 (2016)Air Mass Sensors$300 – $400
Coolant Leaks$400
Ball Joint Replacement (Front & Back)$1200
Fuel pump failureRecall
Top Complaints
Luxury car modelComplaintCost
Lexus RX (2016)Clutch Slave Cylinder$725
Alternator Replacement$1010
Ball Joint Replacement (Front & Back)$1700
Intake Manifold Gaskets Replacement$467
Top Complaints
Luxury car modelComplaintCost
Mercedes S Class (2016)Oxygen Sensor Replacement$1094
Alternator Replacement$598
Ball Joint Replacement (Front & Back)$1495
MAP Sensor$203
Top Complaints
Luxury car modelComplaintCost
Audi Q7 (2017)Fuel Pump Replacement$791
Alternator Replacement$530
Ball Joint Replacement (Front & Back)$1288
Radiator Replacement$904
Top Complaints

Source: Yourmechanic.com

In Conclusion

Luxury cars are expensive to maintain—what a surprise. The cost of maintenance is not the same for all brands or models. But still on the spendy side.

I like high-end luxury cars, and it is possible to drive and maintain one without paying dealer prices. Joining a car club or forum is a great way to find excellent independent repair shops with the skills, knowledge, tools, and spare parts to keep your luxury motor running sweet. When you find a good independent specialist, become a loyal customer and save big on luxury car maintenance.

Before buying any vehicle, it’s always worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

You may also find the following posts useful:

Buy a new or used SUV?

How often to buy a new car?

Is CarMax cheaper?

Are old Mercedes reliable?

Are BMW good cars?

Are BMW expensive to maintain?

Should I buy a used BMW?

Are Mercedes expensive to maintain?

Why is Cadillac so cheap?

Should I buy a used Porsche?

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

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