Frugal Shopper: Pricey Parts Can Push Ownership Costs Upward

March 26, 2010
The Yugo sure doesn't have a reputation for reliability or durability. But they sure are cheap to repair. Meanwhile, for several Mercedes-Benz AMG models, the cost of parts alone for routine maintenance could leave a much larger hole in your wallet than you might anticipate—even if can afford the monthly payments.

The auto-parts shopping-comparison Web site FrugalMechanic.com has released an Auto Parts Pricing Index report that includes hundreds of models and helps show what a significant role parts cost can have in longer-term vehicle ownership.

FrugalMechanic, which helps power the auto parts shopping functions on High Gear Media sites including TheCarConnection.com, looked at six different parts that are commonly replaced as part of routine or major maintenance: air filter, brake disc, a set of brake pads, oxygen sensor, oil filter, and a spark plug, factoring in prices from more than 100 online retailers like JCWhitney.com and even Amazon.com. When all the numbers were crunched, the company found a very wide variance between models.

Over just a few service visits, it really adds up

2009 Scion tC

2009 Scion tC

Enlarge Photo
The difference can be very significant over the long run. For instance, the Yugo Cabrio cost just $113, while the Mercedes-Benz ML550 cost $493 for the equivalent parts. A single front brake disc for the Yugo Cabrio costs less than $22, on average, but an ML550 brake disc costs more than $235. Although older vehicles tended to have cheaper parts, it's not entirely a new-versus-old thing. It costs just $158 to get those six parts for a 2009 Scion tC. All said, the difference between vehicles could add up to thousands of dollars over a few years if you have to deal with less-common (or major) repairs.
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