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Luxury vehicles with luxury repair costs

If you can’t view this article w/o CR membership, let me know, and I will do a copy and paste of some of the graphics.

Cars and SUVs With Highest Repair Costs - Consumer Reports


My eyes were watering and my wallet was throbbing when I read this (no subscription, worked fine).

Given how some posters whine about $200 or $300 repair, imagine a $5000 AC compressor replacement! Or a $3000 starter… especially considering how many starters are replaced unnecessarily.

Makes my $1300 compressor/drier/condensor replacement on my Chevy seem pretty cheap!

At least my Audi is a 4 cylinder mounted fore-aft. Makes access to that stuff fairly easy once all the aero under-panels and dress-up covers are removed.

This article doesn’t really touch on the fact that part of the higher cost is simply due to the higher labor rates charged by luxury dealers. I’d have to double check, but I believe my local Volvo dealer is closing in on $200 per hour…and their service area shows it (high-end fixtures, complimentary lattes, etc.). I don’t go to them for everything, but I believe I paid around $800 last month to have my XC60’s rear wiper nozzle unclogged, a steering wheel audio switch swapped out, and a general software update applied.

Unrelated: not that they don’t come with their own expensive repairs, but this could basically be an advertisement for electric vehicles. By my count, at least 5 of these repairs are completely obsolete/non-existent if you eliminate the ICE.


A point made in the article is that different trim levels in a car model can have different repair costs based on relative ease or difficulty accessing components.

The three times I’ve bought a car one of my considerations was ongoing costs of regular maintenance, potential repairs, and insurance.

For example, I ended up buying the 4-cyl Camry rather than the 6-cyl based on the difference in purchase price, maintenace costs, and insurance cost. The 6-cyl was more fun to drive but for my needs the 4-cyl is quite adequate and less expensive to maintain.

Not everyone’s finances mandate such detailed cost considerations but it never hurts to look at total ongoing costs of car ownership projected over future years as one part of choosing which vehicle to purchase.

This brings to mind the Ruxton automobile of the late 20s. It was a revolutionary FWD design, and it was contemporaneous with the original FWD Cord L-29.

The Ruxton cars were visually gorgeous, but they suffered from an ultimately fatal design defect that led to such high repair costs that most owners simply abandoned their cars instead of repairing them. My recollection on this detail might be somewhat flawed, but a usually-easy repair procedure on the Ruxton required removal of the engine. I think that this involved the replacement of the fan belt, but I could be mis-remembering the normally-easy repair that entailed ridiculous labor costs on the Ruxton.

This marque–understandably–lasted for only two years.

If any of the forum members happen to own a Ruxton, please be assured that I am not denigrating or demeaning your choice of vehicle. As we know from very recent history, some folks can’t accept any type of criticism or correction, so rather than be subjected to censorship, please allow me to assure you that I am not denigrating or demeaning those fatally-flawed Ruxtons!


@VDCdriver your last post reminds me of the infamous Porsche 996 intermediate shaft bearing problem.

It was a sealed ball bearing on the shaft that drove the camshafts exposed to engine heat. They tended to destroy themselves and puke metal through the engine if they failed before you caught them. So at 60K miles, you had a Porsche doorstop. The factory didn’t have an acceptable fix and $15K for a new engine that would eat itself again caused a lot of these cars to be parked.

A permanent fix came from the aftermarket with an oil pressure fed replacement bearing. This did, however, require the transmission come out. No worse than a clutch job. Didn’t do much for the folks needing new engine!

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The Audi/vw 4 cyl motors have no cheap access to rear timing gear components against firewall. Lousy job to fix.

It is the Audi V6 that has the timing chains at the rear. The 4 has them at the front like a normal car.

I haven’t had to replace an alternator or starter or AC compressor on any vehicle we’ve owned since 1987. Repair costs may be higher IF you actually need them repaired.

Around 30 years ago I had a Italian car that required oil changes every 5,000 miles religiously or expect turbo replacement at 10,000 miles due to cokeing , so what the heck it’s just an oil change.
Got the first bill and it was $150 (about $300 in todays dollars) and flipped!

To quote the mechanic, “Well, to get the oil filter off we have to remove the radiator” and every other repair seemed to be similar.

Needless to say unloaded that puppy PDQ; could afford the car but the maintenance and insurance was bankrupting me!


Depends on the year, doesn’t it? The 4 cyl that uses a timing belt at the front has the timing chain at the rear. I have a 2006 Passat with a 2.0 apart at the shop right now.


I can connect through my library. I expect that’s common.

I guess I am just lucky I am not attracted to luxury cars. I like simple controls that I don’t have to look at to operate. I hate touchscreens and menus you have to toggle through. I drove a Chevy Suburban in school bus service that you had to toggle through screens just to adjust the heater controls. The temp,blower speed and mode had to be adjusted on screen, there were no manual controls. Sheer stupidity, forcing a driver to take his eyes off the road.


Any vehicle equipped with a touch screen should also be equipped with automatic temperature control, this is common in average priced vehicles. Set the temperature at 72 degrees and leave it there all year.

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My personal rule of thumb is I won’t have a car where I can’t get the oil changed at Walmart.

That comes from an experience a friend had 20+ years ago with a Lexus. We lived in a smaller town without a Lexus dealer, but friend HAD to have a Lexus. Apparently at that time, there was no one in the town who could change the oil and/or do maintenance. So the car had to be taken to Dallas (nearest Lexus dealer) periodically for oil changes and maintenance. This usually meant doing without the car for at least a day, not to mention the time and trouble of transporting it.

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In his book “What You Should Know About Cars”, published in 1963, by Tom McCahill, wrote about two friends who had purchased new cars. One friend bought a VW Beetle while the other bought a Cadillac. While the Cadillac cost three times as much, four years later, with both cars having been driven the same number of miles and both had been well maintained, both were worth the same amount of money as used cars.
Back then, after three or four years, used Fords or Chevrolets sold for more than more expensive cars. The reason was that the Fords and Chevrolets were less expensive to maintain. Back in 1954, my parents needed a second car. The used Fords and Chevrolets that were any good were out of their price range, and the Fords and Chevrolets in their price range were shot. They finally bought a 1947 DeSoto. It probably used more gasoline than a Ford or Chevrolet, but it ran well and was very reliable.
I think today the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla that isn’t used up would take the place of the Fords, Chevrolets and VWs of the fifties and sixties. Luxury vehicles as used cars probably don’t make good transportation purchases.

I think that this practice had ended by the '60s, but I recall that in the '50s–and possibly earlier–Cadillac dealers would turn back the odometer on used Caddys to zero, and their slogan was, “A pre-owned Cadillac is as good as any new car”.

Most likely legislation caused them to end their odometer rollback practice, but–no matter the reason–at least they finally ended that practice.

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Agreed. Touch screens are not inherently bad in all cases; the problem is that most OEMs absolutely suck as designing a UI for them. Much more time and $$ needs to be spent on the human factors/driveability/usability of modern automobiles in general.


Agree I will not own anything that I can not operate all control’s with out taking my eye’s off of the road.

Just this morning a car was dropped off for routine service, the customer wanted to save some money so she brought her own cabin air filter in. We told her the labor charge to replace it would be $91, she just shrugged her shoulders and said OK. Owning some vehicles has a certain cost and most drivers understand that.