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Looking for a used car that won't cost the earth to maintain? 5 models you should see first

Repair bills can be unpredictable – but choosing the right car should help keep them low.

Image: DoneDeal

WHEN IT COMES to buying a new or used car, it’s a sensible idea to look at the running costs that you are likely to incur. Insurance quotes and finding out what the annual rate of motor tax is as essential.

Perhaps looking up the claimed fuel consumption rates – so that you can then add a hefty pinch of salt to get a more accurate idea of the real numbers – is equally useful. But what isn’t quite so easy is deciphering what repair costs can come out at.

Newer cars now come with more complex technologies including sensors and camera systems that can prove costly to repair. Even getting your windscreen replaced on certain new cars can result in the need to have its camera and radar systems recalibrated. This is one of the reasons stated for rising insurance costs.

A study by Servicing Stop, an online car servicing provider, found that the cheapest car to maintain, as per manufacturer’s recommendations and using OEM parts was the Peugeot 106.

1. Peugeot 106

Source: DoneDeal

These small French hatchbacks are a rarer sight on the roads these days, and obtaining one in good enough condition to make it through the NCT each year won’t be easy, but you could find yourself on the fast track to cheap motoring if you come across the right one in the used market.

2. Ford Ecosport

Source: DoneDeal

The Ford EcoSport also scored well in having low service costs. Many of its parts are shared with the Fiesta, which it is based on, and with a wide selection of Ford dealerships nationwide, the prices seem to be mostly competitive.

3. Nissan Pulsar

Source: DoneDeal

Nissan has just recently announced its plans to axe it, but the Pulsar is another car that scores well in the affordable service stakes. It may not be the most exciting hatchback to drive, but it does feature good levels of interior space, and higher grade models feature good levels of equipment and driver assistance features.

4. Ford Kuga

Source: DoneDeal

Another Ford that doesn’t cost a great deal to maintain is the larger Kuga. This five-seat SUV doesn’t always rank high in the popularity stakes as it faces tough competition from models like the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai.

The interior quality is average-to-good but looks and feels dated compared to some of its rivals. If you want to minimise costs, we recommend sticking with the front-wheel drive versions.

5. Citroen C1

Source: DoneDeal

Rounding off the top five is another compact hatchback, the Citroen C1. This car was part of a trio of models co-developed with Peugeot’s 108 and Toyota’s Aygo.

In addition to being cheap to service, it can be just as economical at the pump. When it was first launched, only the Toyota Prius hybrid was able to beat it in independent fuel efficiency tests for the petrol version, and the diesel engine was equally impressive. Given that it weighs very little, those results shouldn’t be too surprising.

When it comes to servicing there are always savings to be made, and while these cars have been judged according to service requirements by the manufacturer, there are other ways that you can save costs.

With some of these slightly old cars, it is easier to perform some of the maintenance tasks yourself, which can save a good deal of money on labour costs. Also, looking up the many independent service garages around the country can often result in cheaper bills even when using genuine parts. Our advice is to take the time to shop around.

More: Looking for a new family car? 3 underrated models you should probably check out>

More: 4 iconic cars of the 1990s – and what you’ll pay for them today>

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About the author:

Dave Humphreys

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