The sticker price of a car is only the beginning of the tale. Whether the car is an appliance or a hobby, cars can get expensive over time. With hundreds of moving parts, different fluids and devices, and increasing complexity, there's an ever-increasing amount of things that can go wrong and a growing complexity in those parts that make replacing them all the more involved. Car repair has moved past the simple equation of air, spark, and fuel. Now, cars get hooked to complex computers, diagnostics are run, and sensors are checked. The shade tree mechanic of today has to have a pretty solid understanding of computer technology as well as mechanical tech.
When the car in question is a luxury or exotic car, those costs can skyrocket. There's no common parts bin of fleet or mass-produced cars to pick from. The margins are measured in millimeters. Supercars especially suffer from having their feet in two worlds, having to maintain the precision and tuning for increasingly higher speed performance while still maintaining street-ability as well as just the regular demands of a car that can be registered for street use. What do those costs entail? As the saying goes, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Here are 23 cars that cost an arm and a leg to fix.
23 Ferrari Enzo
Having close to a million dollars wasn't enough in order to become the proud owner of a new Ferrari Enzo. You had to be invited to buy the car. With that privilege came a responsibility as well. That starts with $1,600 oil changes that have to be done in stages with the engine cool, then warmed up, then intervals until the filling is complete. This is just the minimum; if you follow all the recommendations, that service is closer to $9,000, roughly what it costs to replace the clutch. That's a bargain compared to the brakes, a $40,000 affair. These cars demand well over a million dollars today, which at least filters out anyone who can't afford the upkeep.
22 Porsche Carrera GT
While the legendary Porsche 959 had its hand in creating what was eventually to become the modern supercar, Porsche is not traditionally in the supercar business. Outside of the race track, they've been content for their turbo models to be their halo car. Occasionally, they bring some of that racing technology into a test-bed supercar. When they went to return to prototype racing, they celebrated that with the Carrera GT, a mid-engine supercar with a 617 hp V10.
That racing tech comes with a high price tag. At 30,000 miles, there's a $30,000 service.
The windshield alone will set you back $9,000. Not to mention, you have to find the mechanic who spent the $10,000 on the special jack. Otherwise, the Porsche might just fall off.
21 Lamborghini LM002
Lost in all the shock of the current Lamborghini Urus, it's not the first SUV that Lamborghini made. That dubious honor goes to the LM002, the "Rambo Lambo." Initially designed to sell to militaries and oil exploration companies, the first two attempts were rear-engine affairs with U.S.-made V8s. Eventually, Lamborghini did what it does best and put the V12 from the Countach up front. If that wasn't enough, their even crazier offshore racing marine V12 was available. To sort all of that power out, Lamborghini had to have a special run-flat tire made by Pirelli. Replacements are $5,000 a piece. This is on top of all the regular high maintenance costs associated with that highly tuned V12.
20 McLaren F1
The McLaren F1 was a statement. Development on the car began when the McLaren F1 racing team was experiencing huge success on the track. That's when chief engineer Gordon Murray convinced McLaren head Ron Dennis to build a three-seater 'ultimate road car' with the golden formula of high power and low weight.
The 230+mph beast was an instant legend.
All that speed comes at a cost. The F1's parts are so precise, they'll wear out even if you don't use them. One owner reported to Forbes that just owning an F1 costs an average of $50,000 a year, including scheduled maintenance that requires the car be shipped back to England. To have his McLaren painted orange cost a whopping $410,000. That's above the $1.2 million entry price.
19 Bugatti Veyron
The Veyron is the leader in a lot of categories as the one-time fastest production car in the world, most expensive car in the world, and easily likely most expensive car to maintain in the world. Finding out exactly how expensive that is has made a lot of headlines recently.
The main thing is the $21,000 oil change. That's the equivalent of buying a new VW Golf every year and just throwing the old one away.
This is because most of the rear of the car and half the engine have to be disassembled to pull it off. Every fourth tire replacement means you have to buy new wheels since the tires are glued to them. This process sets you back $120,000. This doesn't even get into the special key and tire change that unlocks the car's full potential.
18 Porsche 918
Porsche followed the Carrera GT with another racetrack technology platform, this time in the shape of a hybrid-powered supercar, later joined by McLaren and even Ferrari. While under normal driving, Porsche claimed the car could achieve 70 mpg, normal driving was not what the 918 was built for. If you're using it for what it's built for, having a lot of money set aside for repairs is a must.
A Reddit user uploaded screenshots of just the replacement price for parts without labor, and they're enough to drive the best of us into bankruptcy. Clutch kits start at $15,000, and brake rotors are $9,000 a piece.
Cracking the underbody will set you back $20,000. Just replacing a floor mat is a hair under $600. The savings in gas won't really make up the difference.
17 Pagani Zonda
Regardless of how you feel about supercars, the sound of a Pagani Zonda is impressive. The Italian supercar was partially designed by Juan Manual Fangio, and it has the power and handling pedigree one would expect from an F1 bred supercar. The car is powered by a high-strung AMG V12 that announces itself through a quartet of titanium exhaust pipes in a circular cluster at the rear of the car. For rare exotic supercars, it actually has a modest upkeep with a 6,000-mile service window that 'only' costs $2,000. The annual cost of ownership of the car is estimated to be around $12-15,000.
16 Mercedes-McLaren SLR
The marriage of Mercedes-Benz engines to McLaren chassis was a success in Formula One, so when Mercedes went to make a halo car, they teamed up with their F1 partner to make the SLR. The car had a powerful engine, a long sleek look, and strange doors. For seven years, it was the top Mercedes available. Like the Porsche 918, however, all of that comes with an extra price. For instance, should you need to replace the hood on your Mercedes-Benz SLR, it'll cost you $75,000. At that price, there'll be no Dukes of Hazzard slides across the front of the car. A recurring theme with cars of these nature, brakes are $20,000 a rotor.
15 Lamborghini Murcielago
Lamborghinis are the poster children of excess. There's nothing subtle about a Lamborghini. It's loud, brash, and expensive. The Murcielago didn't just replace the Diablo; it all but erased it. Where the Diablo was rounded and smoothed, the Murcielago brought back the sharp edges of the legendary Countach. Of course, that expense doesn't stop at the dealership.
Replacing the oil on the former top-tier Lambo runs $2,000, and if you need spark plugs, that'll run you another $4,000.
That's just regular maintenance. If the transmission goes, that's going to set the owner back another $12,000 for the E-Gear clutch.
14 Ferrari 360
There was a time when the mid-engined Ferraris without the 12-cylinder engines were the red-headed stepchildren of the Ferrari world. The 246 Dino initially didn't even bear a Ferrari badge. Over time, however, the mid-engined Ferrari became not only popular but also the car people thought of as a Ferrari. Once a private detective started driving one around the streets of Hawaii in a 308, the V8 mid-engine Ferrari carried the badge with pride. This means that there were a lot more made, meaning that the values of remaining models have given the illusion that these cars could be cheap. In an article celebrating how relatively cheap a 360 is to run, a Jalopnik writer still managed to spend $5,000 in maintenance.
13 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
This one involves another cost-of-ownership experiment from Doug DeMuro at Jalopnik, this time in the form of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. A different type of crime fighter gave the Aston Martin its image of the debonair man of mystery, the kind of man who has opinions on how his martinis are made.
The V8 Vantage was what a muscle car would look like from a sophisticated British manufacturer: refined British beef.
Within the first month of travel, the car ran into north of $5,000 of repairs fortunately covered by his warranty. Annual scheduled maintenance can set you back $1,400 to $3,000 every 10,000 miles. To afford the upkeep, the owner might have to be less picky about his martinis.
12 Nissan GT-R
Those in the U.S. have longed for Nissan's halo car for a while before they finally got a version available in the States. Since the introduction of the 240z, Nissan has been a high-end brand as well as an economy brand in the States, but it's the fire-breathing Skyline models that eluded us. When the GT-R, nicknamed "Godzilla," was made available in the United States, fans were elated. For around the price of a nicely sorted Corvette, they could get one of the most technologically advanced cars available. All that technology comes at a price, though, like a transmission that'll set you back a supercar-worthy $20,000.
If the Aston Martin is the flagship of the international men of mystery, the Rolls-Royce is the flagship of the blue blood, the old-money rich. There was a time when car manufacturers were predominantly luxury-coach-built companies. It wasn't until Henry Ford started churning out Model Ts that the car became accessible to everyone.
Rolls-Royce, one of the oldest manufacturers in the world, is a throwback to that old style of carmaking.
The cars are handmade to order with material that's chosen sometimes just because it's expensive. This leads to regular maintenance costs like brake replacement that can cost around $30,000.
Before merging with Rolls-Royce, Bentley was a sportscar manufacturer at a time when sports cars were enormous machines wrapped around large engines. Described by the people who raced them as the 'fastest trucks in the world,' Bentley had made a name for itself in racing. As a stablemate, they managed to be the slightly faster cousin to the stoic Rolls-Royce. When the two companies were bought and split up by BMW and Volkswagen, Bentley quickly returned to its performance-luxury roots. This doesn't mean that it gave up its handmade nature or exclusive pricing, though, with engine repairs that can cost as much as $10,000.
While on the subject of old car companies, Mercedes-Benz literally has the invention of the car as we know it in their lineage. The German luxury brand has jealously guarded their reputation as both a maker of fast and well-appointed cars. For those customers who want something even more extra, there's the coachbuilding arm, Maybach. Maybach was its own thing until the '60s when it was bought by Daimler-Benz and is now the name they slap on super exclusive versions of the S class and a handful of one-off coach builds. That exclusivity comes at a price, like a $10,000 scheduled maintenance at 40,000 miles.
Everyone at this point has to have an opinion on the Tesla. It's either the savior of the automobile and the purest expression of the future of automotive technology or the devil on wheels, a Svengali meant to strip well-to-do people of their money while granting them a false sense of superiority. Regardless of which pole one stands on, though, only the charging of the Tesla at this point can be considered cheap, even on their current 'entry-level' Model 3. A lot of this cost comes down to the unique aluminum construction of the body that ended up costing $7,000 to repair a small ding on a quarter panel. Gas2.org tells a reader's tale of a $30,000 repair bill on a Model S that included $20,000 in labor alone.
7 Dodge Viper
When the Dodge Viper came out, Dodge was mostly making Ram trucks. It was a brand change that eventually led to the muscle carmaker that Dodge has become today with its increasingly insane versions of the Challenger and the Charger. With jacked-up versions of the Challenger producing upwards of 700 hp, the Viper has slowly faded from memory, going out of production for a second time.
For the faithful, some Vipers can be found for a bargain on the used market, but there's a hidden cost.
Not just anyone can work on the former Dodge halo; there are special classes, and the lack of available parts has meant that some Vipers are worth more as parts than they are as complete cars. In a five-year period, expect your Viper to cost you just north of $10,000.
6 Jaguar XJ
Jaguar has always been slow to change and, because of that, can often feel dated even when you're driving a brand-new one. Lately, though, that's been changing with not one but two cars that have managed to attract the superlatives of the journalists testing them.
The sporty F-type has, at times, been referred to as their '911 killer' (though often, the 911 is still considered to come out ahead), and the XJ coupe has had its fair share of love.
That love comes with a $10,000 price tag in maintenance and repairs over five years of ownership, according to Consumer Reports. In car circles, jokes about Jaguar reliability are as old as the hills.
5 Range Rover Sport
Putting an emphasis on 'sport' in Sport Utility Vehicle took a long time, all things considered. As the segment drifted from hunters, boat haulers, and weekend off-roaders to soccer taxi and suburban grocery getters, the emphasis faded from off-road prowess to everyday usability. Eventually, the fast SUV became a thing, and among fast SUVs, the Range Rover Sport has made its name. It's still a British luxury car that comes with British luxury prices and issues. It's annual repair and maintenance costs are on par with the Viper and Jaguars at just over $9,000 over five years.
4 McLaren 650s
Decades after the world-shattering F1, the company racer and builder Bruce McLaren built a truly a high-end sports car with a handful of models from the insane hybrid P1 and the 'tamer' 650s. Of course, that's euphemistic for the category. In this case, that means a 641 hp car that makes 60 in less than three seconds on its way to 207 mph. No ordinary paint job goes on a car like that, however. DuPont Registry tells the tale of an owner who scrapped his in a parking garage and received a $20,000 repair bill from the McLaren body shop.
3 Mercedes-Benz E63 Wagon
Here's the naming convention for the Mercedes in-house tuners. Regular cars get one to three letters and three numbers, like S600 or SLK320. The AMG tuner models, on the other hand, only have a two-digit number. Without the AMG badging, that's how you can tell you're looking at an AMG. That's an important bit of information when you're doing a doubletake to realize that a Mercedes-Benz wagon is an AMG. Like other AMGs, the wagon extracts expensive AMG-only parts that are expensive. This is added on top of the rather sharp depreciation that the wagon suffers off the lot. Maintaining the Benz, presuming nothing breaks, amounts to almost $6,000 over five years.
2 Dodge Ram 3500
While not at the stratospheric levels of the supercars and various exotics, there are some cars for the regular people that can sneak into your wallet and take more money than they should to repair.
A stranger on that list is the workhorse Dodge Ram 3500, with an annual repair cost of $1,244 year, higher than what it costs to maintain a Porsche Cayenne and in the territory of a hot-rodded Mercedes-Benz wagon.
While the Dodge has some practical performance advantages for people who have heavy things to haul, some of that extra toy money is going to be spent keeping the toy hauler hauling.
While there are specific cars in the BMW lineup that are more expensive to maintain than others, like the space-age hybrid i8 sports car, BMW, in general, has high maintenance and repair costs across the board, making them the most expensive non-exotic car brand to own. Perhaps as a testament to how enjoyable a BMW is to drive, the cars still remain popular for driving enthusiasts or people who want to look like driving enthusiasts. Their flagship performance car, the M3, is easily one of the most praised cars on the road. YourMechanic.com did a study of car brands with BMW topping the list with a ten-year cost of $17,800. Compare that with the lowest-cost luxury competitor, Lexus, which costs $7,000 over the same time period, and it's quite the difference.
Sources: consumerreports.com; caranddriver.com; roadandtrack.com