| CARCHEX Research Center

Do Fuel Efficient Cars Cost More To Repair?

The BMW 528i is certainly a work of engineering genius. It’s also one of the most exotic fuel efficient cars on the market. Now even though the sedan might not get MPG numbers like a Toyota Prius, the 528i incorporates technology such as brake energy regeneration and automatic start/stop function in order to save on fuel. But what happens when it breaks down?

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Improved Efficiency Trend

Thinkprogress.org recently reported on a new EPA study that showed cars are more fuel efficient than ever. Vehicles now get an average of 1.4 miles per gallon more than required by the EPA’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions standards. That’s promising news since emissions standards are slated to continue to tighten over the next few years.

But for car owners, is there any downside to this trend?

High Tech Solutions

In order to eke out more fuel savings, auto engineers are implementing some very complex solutions. For example, the BMW 528i brake energy regeneration captures the momentum produced while coasting and converts this energy into electricity. This means less alternator and generator use which translates into increased fuel efficiency.

The 528i’s automatic start/stop is equally impressive in that the car actually shuts off when not in motion. So when you stop at a stoplight, even for seconds, the car shuts down. As soon as you step on the gas, it starts up again automatically. The re-start makes little noise, and you barely notice any acceleration lag.

Cheaper At The Pump, But More Expensive At The Garage?

For the environment’s sake, this is all good news. However, all this advanced engineering can be expensive to repair – or better said, replace.

Today’s dealer repair shops rely on a diagnostic replacement strategy. When the mechanic starts work, your vehicle gets plugged into a computer which generates a diagnostic code. But many codes refer to more than one part, which leads to replacing part after part until the car runs properly. Even if one of the replaced components wasn’t broken, it still stays on your car and you pay for it. Dealers can use this approach since they have a large stock of parts.

Cost To Repair

If you look at the true cost to repair, it might make you forget about gas savings. For example, the BMW 528i’s actual average 5 year cost of repairs are (in relation to miles driven)*:

One of the best hedges against expensive repair costs is an extended vehicle protection plan. In some ways, you can think of it as an insurance plan against expensive breakdown. In the long run, you can save hundreds of dollars in repair costs that would otherwise come out of your pocket. Remember, factory warranties don’t last forever.

So even though new tech might save on gas, complicated engineering can still cost you.

Don’t expose yourself to high car repair costs. Cover your vehicle with an extended auto warranty from CARCHEX. Get a free quote today.

*Cost to repair data taken from actual auto repair claims. Proprietary data exclusive to CARCHEX. Your results may vary.

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