Are Those Pricey Euro Cars More Expensive to Own?


Mechanics are frequently presented with the question, “are those ‘fill in the blank’ (Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, Porsches) more expensive to fix and own?” It seems I am hearing that question more and more these days.

I am also seeing more and more of those vehicles locally or at least Kootenay wide. As a mechanic who has spent many an hour under various higher end Euro vehicles I should have an opinion at least.

I would have to say yes. A more expensive car is more expensive to own. Logically a more expensive car is more expensive to make. Cars are made up of parts and more expensive cars are made up of more expensive parts. Many of those parts are wearable items.

Think simply brakes, tires, and fuel. Most higher end European vehicles require premium fuel. We all see the price of premium fuel at the pumps. A steady diet of premium is harder on your wallet.

European vehicles are usually more oriented to high speed driving and sporty handling. As such they are typically equipped with high performance wheels and tires. The tires are wide. The sidewall is short. The rubber is sticky. The wheels are aluminum and they are very expensive. Hit a pothole with an aluminum wheel and a short sidewall tire and a bent wheel is much more likely on your Euro SUV compared to your steel wheeled Ford Escape.

Sticky performance tires wear out fast and they cost a lot more. There is no magic. That is a double whammy in the cost of ownership.

Then there are the brakes. Short repeatable stopping distances from high speeds require big powerful brakes. Higher end Euros have big powerful brakes. Just because they are big and powerful does not mean they do not wear out. My experience is these brakes feel better but they do not last any longer and they do cost more.

So just taking into account wearable items a more expensive European car will cost more to own.

Many will think those high end Euros must be extremely reliable. The engines and transmissions will last forever. Being in the business of trying to make engines last forever I quickly learned that the engines that last forever are the ones that are taken care of the best.

Proper care of a high end European vehicle is just as important as any vehicle. Again these vehicles will require special oils, special filters, and special tools. In all likelihood the cost of these parts and services will be higher.

Unfortunately many expensive European vehicles are originally bought by people that have lots of money and will drive the vehicle for a few years with no real concern for maintenance and simply replace it in a couple years with the latest new version. I think that contributes to the high depreciation rate many of these vehicles experience. That high depreciation is what draws many people to buy these vehicles. A six year old eighty thousand dollar vehicle is for sale for only twenty five thousand. Such a deal.

Once you drive one of these vehicles you might get hooked. I know I am. Remember what I wrote about the fuel, tires and brakes. Oh yeah,I did not even get into the complex electronics.

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