I like it when companies tell us how much cars cost to fix and which ones break down. So thank you to the whocanfixmycar.com people, who have crunched the numbers to reveal which cars cost a bomb to repair and which don’t. In theory, this should be our banger buying guide.
The criteria is how much each car costs to maintain at different ages, from brand new to 15 years old, and there’s an average cost for each car per year. Each figure includes servicing, MOT and any unexpected repairs.
Well, here’s a favourite of ours, a BMW 5 Series, which sits at the very top of the ‘most expensive cars to fix’ list. There does not seem to be any qualification, but certainly recent-era ones aren’t a cheap fix. Indeed, a Bavarian specialist once told me that the E39 generation was the last truly fixable 5 Series. With that in mind and ignoring the fact that E39s are more than 15 years old now, let’s get ourselves a nice one for just £1500. That will bag you a 2003 520i ES with 120,000 miles. It’s got those nice star alloy wheels and automatic ’box, and being a petrol, I think it will be pretty reliable. The stats, though, say it will cost £585 a year to sort out. You might get away with it, but I’m not so sure about a 2006 530d Sport with 185,000 miles at £1950. It was a dealer part-exchange and even they admitted that it needed some TLC.
Then there is the Volkswagen Passat, with a £543 bill. That’s a surprise because they seem to gobble up huge mileages with not too much bother. Certainly, the estates are wonderful luggers. A 2002 1.8 Turbo SE with 100,000 miles, a proper old-school petrol estate with a full year’s MOT, is just £900.
After the Passat, it is more BMWs, with the 1 Series costing £518 to fix and the 3 Series £486. We’re running out of space here and obviously should have been focusing on the five cheapest cars to maintain. A Fiat Punto is at number one (£255) although, in my experience, every single used one needs at least that to struggle through an MOT.
After the Fiat comes a Peugeot 206, then a Mercedes A-Class, Citroën C4 and Renault Mégane. Actually, those French cars always seem to need a lot of fettling after the first year of ownership. Maybe, though, it didn’t amount to more than £250.
What we take away from this is avoid premium-brand used cars.