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cost of ownership

Think before you buy

cost of ownership

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Filed under: Tips & Advice

 I just brought our long-term A5 back from its second routine service. It was nothing major—oil change, tire rotation and pressure check… the most complicated thing was changing out the pollen filters on the ventilation (A/C) system.

 Total cost for all this? A hair over $300.
I won’t weigh in either way on the total cost, because let’s face it, it is what it is. You spent $40,000 on the car, so you aren’t going to not get it serviced.
I guess if you wanted to do it on the cheap you could take it to the Zippy Lube down the street, but c’mon… you spent $40,000 on the car. Are you really going to trust a crosseyed 16-year-old Vo-Tech student to put the proper amount and kind of oil or adequate (spec) tire pressures into or on your much-loved Audi? If it was my 40 grand, I’d answer with a resounding “Hell no.”
No, if you really want to ensure that you’re doing all you can to keep your Euro in top shape and ensure its longevity, you need to follow the recommended service schedule and you need to take it to a reputable service outlet. I like the dealer, because if they screw something up you’ve got some recourse. Some of the more reputable performance tuners offer vehicle service and maintenance, and you might get a break over dealer rates, but we’re still not exactly talking Zippy Lube money.
What’s the point? The point is, before you buy the car of your dreams, take a minute to look past the sticker price and your monthly payment and imagine what kind of money you’ll be spending to service said car for the next two or three years, or replacing wear items like brake rotors, tires, clutch plates, shock absorbers. Or, for that matter, the cost of fueling said car for a year (a manufacturer estimate is readily on your monroney label or window sticker).
For example, I’d love to buy a new M3. But even if I committed to a thousand-dollar car payment for the next five years, I’m not totally sure I could afford to fuel the sucker for driving it on a regular basis. And paying $1,000 a month for a car you only drive on the weekends or the odd afternoon off is just, well, ludicrous.
It’s true that most aging cars depreciate with time, but their maintenance costs don’t. These days you can have a 996 911 for between 20 and 30 grand, a third or less of its original cost. Sounds great, until it’s time to replace the UHP Contis or those cross-drilled brake rotors. Or get the oil changed for that matter.
I have a young cousin who’s considering buying a used Boxster as a second car. He figures he’ll spend 15 or 16 grand—a wholly attainable goal. But as we’ve established, the out-the-door price is only telling part of the story. No doubt he’ll want to get it serviced right away, fix any niggling gremlins such a $15k Porsche might have contracted, possibly even buy a new set of summer tires for it. Those considerations right there could add another one or two thousand to the bottom line.
That’s not to say he couldn’t make it happen; he’s a smart kid with a good job and he’s been saving his money. It’s just that in the performance car world, even if you’re on the used market, the reality is this: The window sticker is only skin deep.


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