10 Cheap Electric Cars That’ll Bankrupt You Through Maintenance And Repair Costs

10 Cheap Electric Cars That’ll Bankrupt You Through Maintenance And Repair Costs

Considering that prices are rising in the U.S. every month and consumers are struggling to pay their bills, it is not surprising that gearheads have started prioritizing vehicles with low maintenance and repair costs. Back in October 2022, CNBC stated that 32 percent of Americans have paid a bill late in the past six months. But that’s not all. Bankrate highlights that one third of drivers cannot afford unforeseen auto repairs, and 7.9 percent of drivers put off routine maintenance on their vehicles. In other words, many American car aficionados are having a hard time covering the costs associated with their vehicles. In this context, EV adoption is on the rise.

Generally speaking, electric cars have lower overall maintenance costs because they have fewer parts than conventional vehicles, but repair costs are higher, according to Get Jerry.

“While maintenance costs for EVs may be lower, the service costs are quite a bit higher,” says Get Jerry. “In a three-month time frame, EV service costs were 2.3 times higher than a gas-powered car. At the 12-month point, costs were still 1.6 times higher. On average, repairs and service costs are around $306 per EV compared to $139 for gas-powered cars.”

Therefore, if you believe that by buying an EV, you’ll cut your maintenance costs to zero, think again because some cheap electric cars come with high upkeep costs. Some of the cheapest electric cars will bankrupt you through maintenance and repair costs, so read along to find out which models fall into this category.

The Edmunds prices shown are for automobiles in excellent condition. These prices are obviously starting points; therefore, buyers can locate these cars at higher prices or perhaps below this threshold but in worse situations.

Related: 10 Best SUVs With The Lowest Maintenance Costs



10 2023 Chevrolet Bolt – $26,500

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Via Chevrolet

Consumer Reports gives this Chevy an overall score of 49 out of 100 and predicts that the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt “will be much less reliable than the average new car.” CR gives it a predicted reliability score of 1 out of 5. Meanwhile, Edmunds establishes that the maintenance of the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt will cost $1,907 for the first five years and repairs will add up another $807. Just to put things into perspective, RepairPal data shows that the cost of the air compressor replacement will set you back by $1,614 to $1,658. Elsewhere, the brake booster replacement is another $1,238 to $1,287 and the heater hose replacement is at least $340.

9 2022 Mazda MX-30 – $28,998

2022 Mazda MX-30 PHEV in a city
Via Mazda

The 2022 Mazda MX-30 falls short not only in terms of the modest 30.0-kWh battery pack and the driving range but also in terms of reliability. CarEdge establishes it will cost roughly $7,249 to maintain and repair this vehicle during its first 10 years of service.

“There is also a 21.93 percent chance that a CX-30 will require a major repair during that time. This is 0.43 percent worse than similar vehicles in this segment,” says CarEdge.

8 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 – $33,956

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Front Quarter View

This Volkswagen ID.4 model year is famous for its bizarre features and software bugs. Owners express dissatisfaction about the lack of one-pedal driving, dependability issues, and onboard technological glitches.

The ID.4 mimics a vehicle with an automatic transmission, so it creeps forward without the throttle depressed, and there is no way to disable it. Moreover, even in Sport mode, the accelerator seems to replicate the feel of a gasoline car, meaning that the torque delivery doesn’t feel instantaneous,” says Inside EVs.

As for onboard tech, owners complained about the infotainment system, issues with the AC and heater, outdated user interface, and other flawed features. There are already 7 recalls for this vehicle, which touch upon issues with the airbags, electrical system, steering, seat belts, and exterior lightning. The most recent recall is from February 2023, when Volkswagen had to issue a recall for 21,000 ID.4s because of faulty battery software, according to The Verge. Vehicles built between May 26, 2020, and January 20, 2022, for the model year 2021, are subject to the recall.

Given the ongoing issues with this vehicle, it is not surprising that maintenance and repair costs run high. For instance, an owner says that “the expense was pretty costly” and he had to “replace the tires much more quickly or frequently that on other cars.”

Keep in mind that Volkswagen has a bad rep because its vehicles are costly to maintain, having an average annual repair cost of $676, and this model is even pricier. For instance, a car air filter replacement for the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 will cost you between $162.31 and $204.20, while the cabin air filter replacement will set you back another $165.79 on average. Consumer Reports gives this model an overall reliability score of 2 out of 5, pointing out that only 59 percent of owners think this vehicle has a good value for the price they paid.

7 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric – $29,998

2020 Hyundai KONA Electric
via Green Car Reports

The NHTSA has issued 3 recalls for the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric, but this is hardly surprising if we consider the fire incidents that took place all over the world. Unsurprisingly, Hyundai had to recall 76,000 units of the Kona globally. Despite the massive recall, even in 2021, Hyundai was suffering from the same issue with one Kona, for example, catching fire in Oslo. Given the ongoing reliability issues, consumers should expect this vehicle to be expensive to service and maintain.

Consumer Reports gives this model year a Reliability score of 1 out of 5, pointing out that the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric “will be much less reliable than the average new car.” Meanwhile, Your Mechanic establishes that the brake rotor/disc – rear replacement will cost between $707.67 to $1032.89, while CarEdge highlights that the average Hyundai Kona will cost roughly $7,871 for maintenance and repairs during its first decade of service. Additionally, there is a 23.97 percent chance that a Kona will require a major repair during this period.

6 2020 Mini Cooper SE – $24,500

Rear View Of 2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric Hardtop
Via Bloomberg

Mini’s first-ever, EV came with an affordable price tag, but with some persistent issues. J.D. Power gave it an “Average” predicted reliability score of 79 out of 100. RepairPal establishes that the alternator replacement for this vehicle will cost between $852 and $1,324, while the turbocharger assembly replacement will set you back another $3,789 to $4,008.

“Mini Cooper owners pay an average of $850 per year in repair and maintenance costs. The cost is significantly higher than the average repair and maintenance cost of $652 for all models,” says Paddock Imports.

Related: 10 Best Electric Cars For Performance And Comfort

5 2018 Hyundai Ioniq – $21,605

via cnet.com

The NHTSA issued 2 recalls for this cheap electric car because of issues with the electric system and hybrid propulsion system. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports gives the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq a score of 2 out of 5 for body integrity and 1 out of 5 for in-car electronics. Furthermore, the Ioniq is already notorious for issues with the transmission and electric system flaws. Considering its problems, buyers shouldn’t be surprised if they have to pay more for repairs and regular maintenance. Edmunds establishes owners will have to pay on average $6,125 for maintenance during 5 years and an additional $1,900 for repairs.

4 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV- $18,295

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt.
Via: Chevrolet Press Room

Another Chevrolet Bolt EV on the list that won’t come cheap to repair and maintain is the 2017 model year. Your Mechanic estimates that the headlight bulb – passenger side low beam replacement for the 2017 model costs between $662.79 to $1004.96 and the axle / CV shaft assembly – passenger side front replacement comes with a cost of $714.24 to $1059.55. Meanwhile, RepairPal establishes that a radiator replacement will cost you between $766 and $837. Considering that this is an early model of the Chevy Bolt, buyers should expect to encounter several issues and flaws. J.D. Power, for example, gives this model year a Reliability score of 3 out of 5.

3 2017 Kia Niro – $15,626

2017 Kia Niro
Via KBB.com

The 2017 Kia Niro has received several complaints from owners. In fact, on Car Complaints, this model year has received 73 complaints from owners, with the most common being that the door handle broke off. Owners also complain about mice chewing the fuel line, which comes with an average repair cost of $1,200, and cruise control malfunction. If that wasn’t enough, there are also 4 recalls for this vehicle. RepairPal establishes that the average annual repair cost for this vehicle is $426.

2 2015 Nissan Leaf – $14,990

Via Edmunds

According to RepairPal, the average annual repair cost for the 2015 Nissan Leaf is $766. For instance, owners should expect to pay between $846 and $1,182 for the AC replacement and between $550 and $588 for the steering knuckle replacement for their 2015 Nissan Leaf.

1 2013 Fiat 500e – $12,499

2013 Reveal Version Fiat 500e
VIA: Wikicommons Mariordo

“In August 2013, 291 of the Fiat 500e models were recalled due to an issue with bolts that secured the half-drive shafts on the car. Two other wide-scale recalls followed when battery issues were found in 2012–2014 models that caused the electric propulsion system to shut down and in 2013–2016 models when the power inverter module was found to potentially cause voltage spikes,” says HotCars contributor Nikia Hunt.

Given the ongoing issues with this cheap electric car, consumers should expect to pay more for repairs. While RepairPal establishes that the average annual repair cost for a 2013 Fiat 500 is $538, the costs associated with the electric model are higher.

Sources: Bankrate, CNBC, RepairPal, Edmunds, Consumer Reports, Car Complaints, US News, Get Jerry, Your Mechanic, CarEdge and Inside EVs.