Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz - three of the biggest and best-known car manufacturers in the UK today. But how do their repair costs compare against each other over the course of their lifetime? We’ve decided to use our data to work out which is the cheapest and which is the most expensive brand to run
Audi maintenance costs are the highest
And, by higher we mean 12 per cent pricier than the average across the three brands, to be precise, and fully 26 per cent higher than the average Mercedes-Benz repair estimate.
While not great news for owners and fans of the Ingolstadt-based brand, what is it that causes the difference across the three brands? Let’s find out.
Audi A3, A4 and A5 costs are all higher than their BMW and Mercedes-Benz counterparts
Interestingly, when you drill down to specific Audi models, whether it’s the A3, A4 or A6, a clear pattern emerges: repair quotes are higher than the equivalent BMW or Mercedes-Benz models.
Mercedes-Benz should also be applauded here, consistently registering the lowest estimated repair bill against their two great rivals. That said, the A-Class repair estimates are higher than one might expect, making them almost identical to the E-Class.
But what is it about these brands the causes repair bills to differ? If you’ll excuse the pun we dived into the nuts and bolts to find out.
Routine maintenance work at Audi is cheaper but less so non-routine work
The devil, as they say, is in the detail and this is definitely the case here. All three brands record comparable average quote pricing for the most regularly required work, such as servicing, new batteries, braking and exhaust system (in which Audi are actually the lowest) as shown below.
However, the real gaps open up when requesting less-frequent repair types, such as clutch replacement, cambelt replacement, issues with central locking and the like.
The average transmission repair quote (most commonly clutch-related) was £94 dearer on an Audi than a Mercedes-Benz
Within the engine and cooling category, both water pump replacement and fuel pump replacement showed Audi repair quotes to be 18 per cent higher than the class average
The trend within these less-frequent repair categories can be seen below.
Older Audi models are most expensive to maintain
Understandably, repair work such as replacement cambelts, clutches, water-pumps and fuel pumps tend not to affect a car in the first few years of its life, and our data reflects that perfectly: where the car is under six years old, service and maintenance quotes vary between the three brands by just a few pounds.
A noticeable, and consistent, gap only opens up past a car’s sixth birthday. At this stage, garages’ quotes for Audi trend around £50 above Mercedes, and £25 above BMW.
Interestingly we always see that repair quotes tend to get cheaper - for all brands - as a car gets into ‘old age’ (say, beyond 12 years old), for a few reasons:
They cover fewer miles
They may be more mechanically simple, requiring less labour time during the repair
Owners are often more willing to ‘live with’ certain faults or imperfections for longer, or are more likely to turn to non-OEM parts (or even reconditioned ones.)
What conclusions can we draw from this? As Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz get older and require more ‘non-routine’ work, so Audi bills will rise the steepest and Mercedes-Benz going the other way.
It’s not all bad news for Audi drivers. Owners of younger Audis, or of older Audis in need of servicing, brake or exhaust work, shouldn’t worry – they won’t find themselves won’t be out of pocket compared with their counterparts in their BMW or Mercedes-Benz.