The main thing is not consumption, but simple technology. With some cars, what you save on fuel consumption is what you pay for repairs at the service station. We don’t have to go far, just look at the vast majority of modern diesels. These are great for the first few years in the hands of the first owner, when they really drive nicely and for little, but all the necessary service operations connected mainly with complex emission systems are delegated to the next owner.

You can easily get a particle filter for fifty thousand, an EGR circuit with a cooler for fifteen, a new turbo for twenty-five, the replacement of four injectors for thirty-two thousand… And so we can continue, for example with an AdBlue unit for twenty. With a car that uses 4.5 liters of diesel per 100 km, you won’t save anything in the long term if you shell out a few tens of thousands for the first major service. And then again.

It is therefore optimal to look for cars that are still structurally simple, which may not have top dynamics and miraculous consumption, but thanks to simple technology and accessible service, they will not require absurdly high investments. And above all, they are not equipped with complex and expensive emission systems, so they are not at risk of serious malfunctions requiring repairs for absolutely liquidation sums in a few years.

Don’t be afraid of gas dacias, or fiats

Photo: Jakub Deml

It must be admitted that gas-powered Dacias can really run for little, and if you simply need, for example, a car with a higher chassis structure, you will hardly find anything better than an LPG-powered Duster

A budget brand is really low-budget only if its service also costs relatively little. However, the same applies to the discussed Dacia. You just need to buy a decent piece and not a distressed slave who carried muddy workers and cement on the construction site. Some dacias already have a lot going for them after a few years.

Relatively cheap operation is mainly promised by the popular factory modifications for LPG, which do have certain service specifications, but these cars could make sense for undemanding motorists with relatively large annual trips. And for example, a Duster like this, if it is preserved and with a service stamp, will hold its value very well. Dacias are cheap, but rarely used and well-preserved pieces with a service history are certainly not undervalued in bazaars.

Even some cheaper Fiats are doing very well, and if we take into account the service and operating costs of, for example, the cute little Fiat 500 or the popular Panda, you really won’t find many cheaper cars on the market. And let’s not forget the Fiat Tipo, which is a somewhat unfairly neglected car. Although it won’t win the competition of elegance and won’t appeal with the quality of the interior, it can drive for little. And so far, it doesn’t behave like “that Italian car” from pub superstitions, which nurtures memories of the first expired Temperas that people pulled up thirty-three years ago.

Fabia, Citigo and other cheap Škoda cars

Photo: Dalibor Žák

The third generation Škoda Fabia has very low operating costs and still low fuel consumption, especially with its atmospheric three-cylinder engine. And the same applies to the even smaller Citigo, which is perhaps the best small car for the city

Simple Škoda cars have always had it on our market, not only thanks to the patriotism of customers, but also thanks to an extensive service network. The hourly rates may not be the lowest, but the parts prices are reasonable and are not needed that often. In addition, the brand offers a discounted customer program for older cars. And anyone who wants to can service an older Škoda “for free” himself, but he won’t have a nicely stamped service book, which is now kept digitally, so it’s no longer possible to just tick off a fake one before selling the car.

But you need to choose a suitable model. A small Citigo or Fabia with an atmospheric three-cylinder engine is among the cars with the lowest long-term operating costs that can be purchased today. A Rapid with a petrol 1200 and a manual can also be very advantageous, although the condition of used cars with higher mileage will be an issue there. And even third-generation Octavias with 1.2 TSI and 1.4 TSI engines can be said to be very cheaply run cars, but you also have to look for a car that doesn’t turn three hundred thousand. Be careful with diesels, they are not worth it for everyone and certainly not for people who do not drive at least 30,000 km a year.

A well-trodden Karoq or Kodiaq in a four-wheel drive with an automatic transmission will never be an extra cheap car to operate, the same applies to supercars, octavias in diesel and four-wheel drive and similar specifications. Or about the Octavia RS, an otherwise great car. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be seen from the condition of used Škoda cars that the former owner simply had too big eyes, but no more bananas. That’s why the ordinary versions and engines of Škoda cars tend to be better, because they still tolerate a not-so-careful service quite well.

The Japanese are reliable

Photo: Dalibor Žák

The latest Suzukis with naturally aspirated engines are extremely reliable cars that guarantee very low running costs in the long term. They usually only require routine maintenance and no extra specials

Somewhat inexplicably, Japanese Suzuki models are of particular interest, but also some Hondas and, of course, Subaru (but the costs of acquisition and operation there are already a little higher). Those cars may not be the cheapest to buy and they don’t have miraculous fuel consumption data in the tables, but it’s just that the manufacturer doesn’t “heal” you in the service with rates for branded parts and prices for service work, as certain Korean car companies do, for example, it says something.

Cars from Suzuki, such as the Vitara, Swift and especially the SX4, have been rated well for a long time. Now, with the onset of downsizing and supercharging even in these models, it will be a bit of a question mark, but the last atmospheric gasoline engines paid for very reliable, relatively economical and routine maintenance did not cost a “rocket”. A regular service for a gasoline Vitara in a four-wheeler costs from 5,500 to 10,000 crowns, which is really very little among similarly designed SUVs. And, for example, such a Subaru BRZ has perhaps the cheapest branded service of all sports cars, at the level of small B-segment cars of established European brands.

It has always been a bit problematic with the availability of parts, because there is not much in mass production. And there are also not a large number of service specialists available. On the other hand, branded services do not go crazy and provide quite reasonable price conditions and do not charge nine hundred for a liter of oil like some competitors. And selected Japanese cars, also intended for the North American market, can be serviced quite well by yourself. Take the latest Honda Accord as an example, on which you can adjust the valve clearances yourself or change the oil in the gearbox with just ordinary tools (and a little experience).

Hybrids from Toyota do not disappoint

Photo: Dalibor Žák

The hybrid Toyota Corolla is a really cool car, you don’t even have to have this 2 liter hybrid. A basic 18-cylinder is enough and has better consumption. In any case, any hybrid from Toyota is an excellent used car, as long as it has a verified service history and a transparent origin

In the overall calculations, Toyotas have always come out very favorably, especially those with a hybrid drive. In the new car market, they always had a hard time against diesels until recently, but today, with the prices of new diesels and their service requirements, they come out very favorably even in the long term. They hold their value well and are really very reliable.

The hybrid system has no friction clutch or other complex components and promises an almost infinite lifetime. Only neglected cars have problems with oil consumption, the battery will only die in cars that have been parked for a long time or washed out. A sensibly operated and maintained car will easily cover a million kilometers without breakdowns with a consumption of around 4.5 liters per 100 km in suburban mode. This type of drive is not very suitable for permanent highway routes.

Toyota didn’t even hit the mark with the prices of service work and parts, so you don’t have to worry about a stricter service plan with inspections after a year or 15,000 km. And this is the interval we recommend for all cars. The prices of regular inspections at Toyota can fit within 5,000 crowns, for larger services with brake fluid changes, they range around 7,000 crowns. This also results in a hybrid Corolla cheaper than, for example, servicing a Fabia with a TSI engine and a variable interval. The hybrid Auris or the later Corolla are probably the ones with the lowest long-term operating costs among the C-segment cars.

Electric car (as long as the battery lasts)

Photo: Dalibor Žák

A Nissan Leaf can be bought for around half a million, or you can look for a cheaper older generation. When it comes to running costs, these electric cars are very cheap and economical. Hopefully it will last and the battery will work for a long time

Or you can get rid of the internal combustion engine with distribution lines, spark plugs, filters, valves and oil completely and try an electric car. Although it also has some service fillings (for example coolant), overall the technique with batteries and an electric motor is actually very simple. And therefore also reliable and easy to service. As part of regular inspections, only diagnostics are carried out for electric cars, the mechanics of the chassis and brakes are checked, and the brake fluid is changed regularly every two years. Like any other car.

With the current prices of common fuels, which are returning to 50 crowns per liter, an electric car will pay for itself very quickly, especially if you negotiate a more favorable electricity tariff for charging the electric car with the supplier. Anyone who needs to regularly drive several hundred kilometers away and have a car on standby will still buy a conventional car with an internal combustion engine, but even an older, cheaper electric car can be fully sufficient for zipping around the city and trips up to 100 km a day.

While even a very economical gasoline or diesel car will cost you three kroner per kilometer for fuel, the mileage costs can be kept in half with a smaller electric car, and you can easily drive for one kroner per kilometer. When you pay less than four thousand for a small service of an electric car, while for a regular car with oil changes it is easily double, you can easily calculate that with an annual mileage of 20,000 km, the electric car will cost you almost 40,000 crowns less to run. And that is quite enough money for a person to think about it at least a little.