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A recent question about financing a new car over on a sister site had an answer that got me wondering:

"I don’t want to put the money back into an old used car that will cost me money in repairs."

New cars cost more in repairs.

The answer is fairly upvoted, though that may be more to do with the advice given about not purchasing a car on credit when one has significant credit card debt. However, further comments from the author go on to say:

That [new cars require less maintenance than older cars making them cheaper to repair] is false on two bases.

(1) New cars have problems requiring service at similar rates to decent used cars, typically 1-2 incidents per year. Warranty might cover them for a new car, but dealers will do their best to make you end up paying for something, and pressure you to use their scheduled service (at exorbitant rates) to retain the warranty protection, or claim that if you did the scheduled maintenance yourself or somewhere else, it was done wrong and voided the warranty. And their maintenance schedule itself is way more expensive than typical problems with a good used car.

(2) The parts and service for new cars cost a lot more than the parts and service for somewhat older cars. Often 5 to 10 times as much. Even if you had fewer service incidents, you'd end up paying a lot more total.

A counterpoint was made that actually TCO is less in first 3-year (warranty) period, but it seemed like the original poster was unswayed.

The points made seem at first glance credible either way. On average, an older car will tend to have more wear and tear, and components nearer the end of their rated life. However, newer cars on average tend to be more complex, and have more features and so more things to go wrong, particularly if those things are inter-dependent.

Does a new car 'cost more in repairs' than an older one? Working on average, comparing like-for-like in terms of type/trim/class. The Consumer Reports page mentioned suggests not; but that was based on 2014/2007 cards, and I wonder if the numbers have changed and if it still holds for say 5-7 year old cars, which seems to be the age cars are 'designed for'.


There will always be outliers- a brand-new lemon put together by an especially inebriated factory robot; versus the lovingly hand-maintained 1926 Bentley of Good Omens.

closed as too broad by Solar Mike, Nick C Jul 11 at 8:20

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    Sadly I think this is way too broad to work here - it'll just get loads of opinion or anecdotal type responses, and there's far too many variables in play to be able to narrow it down. Feel free to come and discuss it in the chat though, where opinion and anecdotes are encourged! – Nick C Jul 11 at 8:19
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    Oh, and bonus points for mentioning Crowley's Bentley! – Nick C Jul 11 at 8:25
  • My robots have been sadly stone cold sober. I need more information on how you inebriate your robots... – SteveRacer Jul 11 at 8:36
  • ... And while I'm a very old man in love with cars that were made with hammers and andvils, I'm too old to hand crank and can't be bothered to play with the lever on the steering wheel to adjust ignition timing on the fly . . . – SteveRacer Jul 11 at 8:38
  • @NickC I also wanted to avoid anecdotes :) I had hoped that the CR report was a good starting point for something empirical; and that there might be some research on failure/maintenance rates akin to eg the hard drive 'bathtub' failure rate data released by BackBlaze/Google/etc. – bertieb Jul 11 at 10:29

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