I'm trying to make a decision about which used car...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm trying to make a decision about which used car to buy. One of the things I'm wondering about is the cost of maintenance and repairs AFTER I buy the car, assuming the car is in good condition when I buy it. Is there any measurement of the cost of maintenance on a Corvette, Porsche, BMW, or other "performance car" vs. a more common car like a Ford or Chevy? Are parts and labor really more expensive for the performance cars?

TOM: You've got your heart set on one of these performers, don't you MJ? Well, if you're looking for reassurance that you're going to be able to afford the ongoing costs, you're not going to get it here. Performance cars ARE more expensive to maintain, and there are several reasons for it.

RAY: First of all, there are fewer of those cars on the road. So there's less competition for the repair dollar. As Father Guido Sarducci says (read with Italian accent), "It'sa the law ofa supplya anda demanda." Fewer repair facilities and fewer parts suppliers means they can charge higher prices and get away with it. And sometimes, the prices are a lot higher.

TOM: Plus there's a certain premium that goes to recouping the research and development costs of the car. So it's not just more expensive to manufacture a fuel injector for a Porsche, it's also more expensive to develop and design it, especially for just a few thousand cars. So each part has to cost more.

RAY: Then, you pay for the "niceties." Porsche, Mercedes, and BMW dealers have their stores in nicer neighborhoods, so the rent is higher. They have waiting rooms with plants, carpets, and even clean bathrooms. Plus, to get that authentic feel, they have to pay for the Berlitz "German accent lessons" for all those guys walking around the shop floors in white lab coats who tell you "Zey all do zis." 1837

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