Car Service Cost: When to Plan for It and What to Expect

Are you buying, selling, or registering a vehicle? Be prepared to satisfy any insurance requirements. Get a free quote.

ATTENTION

Please Enter your ZIP Code to Get Started.

Keeping up with regular maintenance goes a long way in keeping your car running efficiently and safely.

On the flip side, avoiding routine maintenance could lead to catastrophes and very expensive repairs.

Routine car maintenance could seem a little boring and sometimes even burdensome, but it is necessary. And so are the expenses that come with it.

Read on to get an idea of what you can expect to pay for routine maintenance. 

How Much Will Routine Maintenance Cost for Your Car 

There are some significant factors that affect the cost of routine car maintenance.

These include things like:

  • The make and model of your car.
  • How much you drive.
  • What type of service you need.

Very generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $100 in a year to well over $1,000. 

If you drive a more expensive car—especially a foreign car— or if you use your vehicle for work, your annual maintenance can skyrocket into the thousands. 

Basically, pricier cars are more expensive to maintain. i.e. a Mercedes-Benz or BMW will be more expensive to tune-up than a Ford or Toyota.

And vehicles that are driven frequently also cost more to maintain – simply because they’ll be raking up miles and wearing out their parts and fluids more quickly.

Oil change ($30 to $90)

Oil changes are probably the one routine maintenance task that most people are aware of and are what you’ll need to have done most often. Fortunately, oil changes are relatively inexpensive. 

Multipoint inspection (free to $200)

A thorough basic inspection is often included with other routine maintenance. However, some mechanics may charge as much as $200.

Tire rotation ($20 to $50)

Tire rotations are another very common type of routine service. It’s also pretty inexpensive. 

Windshield wiper replacement ($10 to $50)

Even if you don’t use your wipers very often, you should get them regularly replaced. 

New tires ($50 to $300 per tire)

Tire replacements can be some of the most expensive forms of routine maintenance. The good news is tires don’t need to be replaced as often as you need to get things like oil changes done.

New brake pads ($100 to $300)

It’s very important your brakes work at high levels. Make sure you have strong brake pads to help keep you safe. 

New Battery ($50 to $300)

Most car batteries last for about 3 to 5 years.

Running a battery that’s past its useful life can leave you stranded when it dies.

Services Performed During Car Maintenance Check-up

The type of service you need to have done will heavily determine how much you’ll pay.

Here are some common routine maintenance service for an average vehicle:

  • Oil change and oil filter change.
  • Other fluid flush and changes (e.g. coolant, brake fluid, etc.).
  • Multi-point inspections.
  • Tire rotation.
  • Wheel alignment.
  • Windshield wiper replacement.
  • New tires.
  • Spark plug replacement.
  • Air filter change.
  • New batteries.

How Often Should You Get Your Car Serviced?

When trying to estimate how much routine maintenance is going to cost you, keep in mind that not all routine service is exactly all that regular.

For example, you likely don’t need new tires and brake pads every year.

You should refer to your car owner’s manual for the suggest maintenance schedule. Every car is different.

Here is a general idea of how often you should get certain types of routine maintenance done: 

  • Oil changes (every 5,000 to 10,000 miles): Because of advances in oil and engines, oil changes are now needed less frequently than before. Gone are the days of needing an oil change every 3,000 miles or three months. Nowadays, manufacturers suggest getting oil changes after every 5,000, 7,500, or even 10,000 miles depending on the car. This could be as infrequent as once or twice a year. 
  • Windshield wipers (six months): You should check your wipers every six months, regardless of how infrequently you may use them. The rubber tends to degrade fast, especially in extreme heat or cold. 
  • Tire rotations: Typically, manufacturers suggest tire rotations whenever you get your oil change. However, if your suggested oil change intervals are especially long, you may want to double-check to make sure your tires don’t need to be rotated earlier. 
  • Tire replacements (25,000 to 50,000 miles): You likely will not need to replace your tires until about 25,000 to 50,000 miles, but since they are so important to your ride and safety, you should take a close look at them at least once a month.
  • Brake pad replacement (10,000 to 20,000 miles): Replacing brake pads generally isn’t as regular as some other routine maintenance, but you should be aware of signs that your brakes are wearing out, such as squeaking when braking and more effort to come to a stop (among others). 

Remember, the above is just a general look at when routine service needs to be done.

For a more accurate picture of what your car needs, refer to your owner’s manual. 

What car maintenance is really necessary?

Unfortunately, maintenance and repairs are a guaranteed part of owning a vehicle.

Parts and components wear down and brake as your vehicle takes your from Point A to Point B time and time again.

Ben Franklin’s old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds very true for car maintenance.

The better the condition you keep your car and the better you stick to routine service, the lower that chances you’ll be stuck with major, avoidable repairs down the line.

A routine oil change and tune-up is going to cost you a lot less than replacing your engine.