McLaren maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

Between McLaren, Ferrari and Lamborghini, one stands out as the cheapest by far

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If there was an award for Most Audacious Car Company, McLaren would be a shoe-in. No other automaker saw Ferrari and Lamborghini in the mid-2000s and thought, “Psh, we can do better.”

After scoring a foothold in the market with the MP4-12C, McLaren went on to build some bonafide rivals to the Italians. From the “affordable” 570S to the futuristic Artura, McLarens have become increasingly sought after as the brand’s pedigree keeps rising.

But some would say McLarens aren’t as cheap to own as Ferraris or Lamborghinis. Is that true? How much does it cost to maintain a McLaren? Which McLarens are the least and most reliable? And would extended warranty protection be a good idea?

Read on to find out.

Key insights

It’s no surprise that McLarens are expensive to maintain. Each annual service visit costs between $2,400 and $3,243 just to cover the basics — oil, filters, fluids, etc.

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By comparison, Lamborghini’s annual service visits are roughly $1,000 most years and $3,000 every fourth year. Ferrari includes complimentary maintenance for the first seven years, giving the Italian stallion a massive leg up on McLaren.

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Anecdotal data suggests that the MP4-12C and the Artura may be the most troublesome models of the lineup. The rest, according to owners, are pretty solid.

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That said, since out-of-pocket repairs can cost about $13,000 for a handful of basics to $70,000 for a new engine, a McLaren Extended Service Contract might be a good investment ($4,000 to $6,000 per year of additional warranty coverage).

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Are McLarens expensive to maintain?

To preface, let’s clarify the difference between maintenance and repairs.

  • Maintenance involves routine required services like oil changes, cabin air filters, engine air filters, fluid flushes, new brakes and more.
  • Repairs address unexpected issues such as engine failure or a blank infotainment screen.

To put it another way, flossing and dental cleanings are like “maintenance” for your teeth. Fillings and root canals are like “repairs.”

Needless to say, proper maintenance can help to prevent costly repairs in the future, whether it’s for your teeth or a $200,000+ British supercar. So how much does a “routine cleaning” of your McLaren cost?

To find out, we spoke with the service advisor at our local McLaren dealer who gave us the complete rundown:

“At one year or 10,000 miles (whichever comes first), you have your basic service.” she told us. “That includes an oil and filter change, 360-degree inspection, fluid top-off, cabin air filter and key fob battery. The cost starts at around $2,400 and varies by model.”

On “even” years (i.e., 2, 4 and 6) the service gets a bit more involved — and expensive.

“The ‘bigger’ service every two years/20,000 miles includes everything in the one-year service plus an engine filter and a brake flush. The cost for that one is around $3,243.”

Two things we didn’t hear her mention were brake pads or spark plugs. So we asked.

“McLaren doesn’t include spark plugs or brake pads as part of routine service because the wear on those items totally depends on the driver.”

Fair point.

“We replace those components as needed, depending on what we find during the Certified McLaren annual service check.”

McLaren maintenance cost and schedule

To recap, here’s a brief chart showing the annual costs of basic maintenance for a McLaren. It’s around $2,820 per year on average — just for the essentials — which is roughly triple the average cost of car maintenance across brands.

But all things considered, triple the average cost isn’t bad for a supercar that costs five times as much as the average vehicle.

Again, this is just for basic maintenance and doesn’t include the cost of new brakes or tires. But considering that your factory brakes and tires (Pirelli P Zeros) should both last 40,000 miles, you shouldn’t have to worry about replacing either set for a while.

So with about $2,820 per year as our operating figure, how does McLaren compare to its supercar rivals?

How McLaren compares to other automakers

In terms of basic scheduled maintenance (e.g., oil changes, filter swaps, inspections, etc.), McLaren is relatively expensive compared to its rivals in the supercar market.

Lamborghini maintains a reputation for being relatively cheap to keep on the road, with routine annual checkups starting around $1,000. Aston Martins are slightly more expensive to maintain due to the cost of an oil change alone starting around $1,500. Aston Martin Houston quoted us $2,200 to $2,500 on a complete annual service.

But the most glaring gap in the chart is between McLaren and Ferrari. Ferrari includes complimentary annual maintenance visits for the first seven years of the vehicle’s life (a program called Ferrari Genuine Maintenance), and the benefit is transferable to new owners until it expires.

So if you were to buy, say, a Ferrari 296 GTB instead of a McLaren Artura, or a Roma instead of a McLaren GT, you could save roughly $2,820 in maintenance per year, or nearly $20,000 over seven years. We never thought we’d say this, but Ferrari is objectively the better value here in terms of ownership costs.

Which McLarens are the most/least reliable?

McLaren has a long-standing reputation for being one of the less reliable supercar brands, but if you ask an actual McLaren owner, they’ll say the reputation is largely unjustified.

“If you're looking at the 720S, I would personally estimate them to be more reliable and less operating cost than exotic comps, e.g., special Huracan's, Aventadors, TT Gallardo/Huracan, F-car 488's and 812's” wrote one user on the r/McLaren subreddit.

“We have now owned 8 McLarens, including 4 currently, over the past 8 years. Two have been used as daily drivers over the last six years.” wrote supercar blogger Karenable. “None of the McLarens have ever left us stranded and they have been by far the most reliable cars we have owned over the past couple of decades.”

Naturally, the high-end McLarens will incur more average ownership costs over time than the more “affordable” variants at the low end of the lineup. Your average Senna or 765LT owner will shell out more cash at 10,000 miles than the owner of a meticulously maintained 570S.

As for models to avoid, some might point fingers at the older MP4-12C and the brand-new Artura. The former had general build quality issues (e.g., squeaks, rattles, condensation in the headlights) as well as intermittent transmission issues, which could reportedly cost $28,000+ to fix.

The Artura, meanwhile, has numerous reported issues ranging from blank infotainment screens, charging issues, overheating and poor fitment of interior trim pieces. Thomas and James with Throttle House were quick to celebrate the car’s superb driving capabilities, while also lamenting its numerous issues, calling it “the worst best car in the world.”

So if you’re looking for the “most reliable” McLaren, you may want to approach the 12C and the Artura with caution.

But that doesn’t mean every other McLaren (e.g., 600LT, GT, 750S) will be bulletproof. Your chances are significantly higher if you buy new, but if you buy pre-owned, you’ll want to be extra careful.

“If you purchase a pre-owned McLaren without knowing exactly how it was treated — and whether or not it was thrashed around a racetrack — you’re taking a massive risk,” a McLaren dealer in Florida told us.

The best way to filter out the money pit McLarens, he says, is to look at Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) inventory. CPO McLarens don’t always come with extended warranty protection, but they have passed a McLaren inspection and include around $15,000 worth of refurbished parts and service, on average.

In summary, there aren’t really any McLarens that you should avoid entirely. But the “approach with caution” list includes the 12C, Artura and any used McLaren that hasn’t been certified.

Now, even if the car looks great at the time of purchase, things can still go wrong with time. If and when they do, how much do McLarens cost to repair?

McLaren repair costs

Unless you slide your McLaren off the track or drive it through flood waters, most of the early repairs you encounter should be covered under warranty.

All new McLarens come with a three-year/unlimited-mile bumper-to-bumper factory warranty, which should cover any factory defects that emerge within those first three years. Once it expires, you’ll be paying for repairs out of pocket — unless you have an extended McLaren warranty, which we’ll talk about next.

If you roll the dice without a warranty, the costs of repairing a McLaren can be astronomical.

“Just last year, our factory warranty expired and we weren’t notified. And, of course just after, the car went in for its yearly service and they found $17,000 CAD worth of repairs that needed to be done. $13,000 of which (~$9,476.68 USD) would’ve been covered under the warranty.” said a Canadian McLaren 720S owner on Reddit. “Needless to say, we fixed her up and purchased the extended warranty.”

Tyler Hoover of the Hoovie’s Garage YouTube channel reported having quite the sticker shock when trying to fix up a troubled 12C.

“Further investigation found metal shavings in the oil, as well as major scoring of the cylinder walls, which meant the original engine was dead. I asked the McLaren service manager how much an engine replacement would cost out of curiosity, and he ballparked me around $70,000.”

Needless to say, future McLaren owners may sleep better at night if they secure a little extra warranty protection.

» LEARN: What is a manufacturer’s warranty?

Quick and easy. Find an auto warranty partner now.

    How can an extended warranty help?

    Today’s McLaren may be more reliable than the troubled MP4-12C, but that doesn’t mean they never have issues. And should issues arise, your bill could be as high as a brand-new Mazda Miata.

    That’s why having extended warranty protection can help. It can protect your bank account from surprise, five-figure repair costs while also providing ample peace of mind when you’re not using it. That’s something to consider when you’re weighing the pros and cons of extended auto warranties.

    But what are your extended warranty options on a McLaren?

    Generally speaking, even the best extended car warranty companies don’t offer coverage for exotic supercars, so your best option for warranty protection may actually come from McLaren itself.

    McLaren’s Extended Service Contract lengthens your factory bumper-to-bumper coverage by another 12 or 24 months at a time, and tends to cost between $4,000 and $6,000 per year, depending on the model.

    The catch is that only McLaren Certified vehicles qualify for an Extended Service Contract. So if your vehicle isn’t already Certified Pre-Owned, you can have it certified for $1,100 (provided you pass).

    In summary, McLarens tend to be more expensive to maintain than their rivals from Lamborghini and especially Ferrari. Considering the brand hasn’t fully shaken its reputation for mixed reliability, they may be more expensive to repair, too.

    So if your heart is set on a McLaren, you may want to maximize your warranty protection by buying new, CPO and/or investing in a McLaren Extended Service Contract.

    » MORE: Car warranty vs. car insurance

    Article sources ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. Karenable, “McLarens & Reliability – Nov 2019 Update.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
    2. Throttle House, “2023 McLaren Artura Review // The Worst Best Car Ever.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
    3. Autotrader, “Video | Here’s Everything That’s Broken on My McLaren Over the Past 2 Years.” Accessed May 29, 2024.
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