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Why Chrysler Is the Cheapest Brand to Own After 10 Years

No one likes a vehicle that nickels-and-dimes you to death once it gets to 10 years old. You don’t have to worry about that if you bought a 2010 Chrysler. Consumer Reports ranks Chrysler the cheapest brand to own after a decade on the road, edging out Lincoln, Toyota, and Mazda for all-over cost-effectiveness.

Why Chrysler’s the low-cost keeper

If you bought a Chrysler in 2010, you probably bought either a Town and Country, a PT Cruiser, a Sebring, a Chrysler 300, or a 300C. What’s great about 2010 Chrysler vehicles is that quite a few changes came about that year that made Chrysler the cheapest brand to own today, according to Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports’ rankings include maintenance and repairs during the auto’s 10-year roadworthiness. However, the Consumer Reports survey doesn’t include costs of ownership such as gas, insurance, or car payments–although gas mileage sure plays a role in keeping costs down.

Now, you have to remember that Chrysler is one of 12 brands under the parent company FCA. In fact, Fiat acquired the Chrysler in 2009 while the automaker was undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Why does this matter?

Chrysler remains the only vehicle brand that is American made. It’s not offered in Europe, so the parts that maintain it are easier to obtain. Even the 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser, which doesn’t fly well cosmetically in today’s market, has a surprisingly powerful engine that you still can find parts for readily.

Another reason that this brand ranks first is that when Fiat acquired Chrysler in 2010, some items changed with the acquisition. First, the powertrain warranty changed from lifetime to an average 5-year/100,000-mile warranty. The lifetime warranty wasn’t transferable. With the new warranty, owners could easily fix their vehicles and do it without a deductible.

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Chrysler also added some software that cut fuel to the engine so that when you decelerated the car, you got better gas mileage. With gas increasing from an average high of $2.78 in 2010 to an average high of $3.62 just a couple years later, that brought fuel economy into the forefront for buyers. Today the cost of ownership in regard to gas mileage is fairly negligible, with gas averaging under $2/gallon.

Who else ranks well?

Consumer Reports states that the average maintenance and repair cost for a 10-year-old car is $458 over 12 months with over 25 brands surveyed. Chrysler’s cost of ownership over that period was $208, with only Lincoln and Toyota also under $300.

The most expensive player in the game? A 2010 BMW will set an owner back over $900 in 2020. This may seem excessive if you own a 2015 BMW, paying out less than $60 over a year today. The other German manufacturers – Mercedes Benz and Audi – also rank high on the ownership chart, in spots two and three.

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Fiat made the difference

Would Chrysler have been the cheapest car to own after 10 years if it hadn’t been acquired by Fiat back in 2009? Chances are, it would have gone belly up as it was already trying to stay afloat. All the automakers were struggling around that time, Fiat notwithstanding.

They helped each other as Fiat was also struggling in the reputation department. The Chrysler acquisition not only helped bail out both, but along with some U.S. government help, they also worked together to keep the costs of ownership over the years down.

With the change in warranties and new software brought on by Chrysler’s reorganization, along with the fact that Chrysler automobiles remain American made, 2010 Chryslers are cheap to maintain even now. Just remember to change the oil, rotate the tires, and check all those vitals that keep cars running.