Scion maintenance: cost, plans and service schedule

Extremely cheap to maintain and repair

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BMW and Toyota
green scion in an auto repair shop

Toyota originally launched the Scion sub-brand in 2003 as a way to attract younger buyers. Its cars were hip, cool and ready for aftermarket modifications.

But Scion failed to attract younger buyers because they were already loyal to Toyota. So the Japanese giant cannibalized the Scion brand in 2016, leaving behind some unpopular — but rock-solid — vehicles.

Does that mean a used Scion from 2010 to 2016 is a deal? How much do these cars cost to own and maintain? Did they have reliability issues, and which one is the “problem child”?

Read on to find out.

Key insights

Since they’re essentially well-made Toyota products, Scions are extremely cheap to maintain — think $300 to $600 per year, compared with the $900 average. This is assuming, of course, that you find a Scion that was treated well by its previous owner.

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Scions’s maintenance schedule is typical of a normal car these days — oil changes every 5,000 miles, air filters every 10,000, etc. You may need to change the tires more often on the rear-wheel-drive Scion FR-S, but tires are cheap since they’re skinny (215s).

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Scion repair costs are also low for its class since you’ll be able to use Toyota parts and labor for the most part. But the 2013 FR-S should be avoided due to reported engine troubles.

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Extended auto warranty provider Endurance quoted us $1,223 per year for bumper-to-bumper coverage on a 2016 Scion tC with 80,000 miles. That’s 22% higher than the average vehicle, but possibly worth it for added peace of mind.

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Are Scions expensive to maintain?

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

  • Maintenance is service you have to perform on a regular basis, even if you never have an issue or a breakdown. These are things like oil changes, new brakes, new tires, tire balancing and more.
  • Repairs address unexpected issues. Engine or transmission problems, a blank infotainment system and a non-opening sunroof are all issues that call for repairs, not routine maintenance.

Scions are very inexpensive to both maintain and repair.

“Scion is ultimately still a Toyota,” Sean Kim, an experienced Atlanta-area mechanic, told ConsumerAffairs. “They are generally very reliable and require very little in the way of maintenance and repairs.”

To put numbers on the board, Kim estimates that the average cost per year to maintain a Scion should be in the realm of $300 to $600. But that number heavily depends on two key factors:

  • Scion FR-S: Since the FR-S is a rear-wheel drive sports car with skinny tires, some owners report chewing through rubber a bit faster than they would on a normal vehicle. So if you plan to drive your FR-S in a bit more “spirited” way — or on a track — you may end up paying more in maintenance to rotate and change your tires more often.
  • Prior maintenance: The cost of maintaining and repairing a vehicle – especially a Scion that’s at least eight years old in 2024 – will heavily depend on how well the previous owner kept up with maintenance. That’s why getting a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) is so essential on an older used vehicle. For $200, it’s worth the peace of mind to have a professional mechanic tell you everything they can about the car’s current condition.

Provided you get a PPI and verify that it’s not a lemon, owning a Scion should be very inexpensive from a maintenance perspective. To back up Kim’s $300 to $600 estimate, RepairPal data suggests that the cost to maintain and repair a Scion is just $543 per year, adjusted for inflation.

Let’s see how that compares to other automakers.

How Scion compares with other automakers

As a former sub-brand of Toyota, Scion vehicles are reportedly well-made and cheap to own.

RepairPal data suggests that they may be even cheaper to own than their stablemates from Toyota and their competitors at Honda. At a mere $543 per year (adjusted for inflation), they’re half the cost of a used Ford or BMW.

Now, that being said, keep in mind that the “newest” Scion was built in 2016. When you own an 8-year-old car, maintenance costs may go up a little (since you’ll need synthetic high-mileage oil, for one thing) and repair costs may go up even more, since factory parts are decaying simply due to age and mileage.

But even a used 2010 to 2016 Scion may still be relatively cheap to maintain and repair compared with your average used vehicle from just a few years ago.

*According to RepairPal

Interestingly, J.D. Power data from all the way back in 2016 suggests that Scion vehicles are actually 10% less reliable than your average vehicle from that era, with an average 167 problems per 100 vehicles compared with the average of 152 across brands. That’s still way fewer problems than the average vehicle made today (190).

Scion maintenance and repair costs by model

Data from RepairPal suggests that the FR-S sports car is the most expensive Scion to own and maintain. That’s not a big surprise, given that it reportedly chews through tires more quickly and, on average, it’s probably driven a bit more aggressively.

On top of that, data from CarComplaints suggests that the least reliable Scion from 2010 to 2016 is the 2013 Scion FR-S. Apparently some vehicles suffered complete engine failure, which may explain why Consumer Reports gave it a reliability score of 2 out of 5 for that model year.

But outside of that, it appears that most Scion vehicles made during the 2010s were screwed together pretty tightly. Aside from the rubber-munching FR-S, none of the Scions we looked at even crossed the $600 per year threshold, which is remarkable.

*According to RepairPal

Scion maintenance cost and schedule

As mentioned above, the cost of keeping a Scion on the road is very cheap. Oil filters, brake pads, wiper blades, rotors and more are all quite affordable because they mostly come straight from Toyota.

“Most Scion parts can be ordered directly through your local Toyota dealer,” says Kim.

Even the Scion FR-S has tires that are cheaper than average thanks to their relatively skinny profile. We were quoted $204 each for top-of-the-line Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 tires in 215 / 40, whereas an identical tire in a larger size might cost $300-plus.

As for the maintenance schedule itself, it’s extremely typical for a normal, non-high-performance car. We found an old Scion tC Scheduled Maintenance Guide which shows oil changes every 5,000 miles and inspections and new air filters every 10,000.

The only thing that stood out to us was that Scion claims you only need to change the spark plugs every 120,000 miles (on some cars, it’s as low as 40,000).

So as long as the previous owner kept up with this schedule, you should only have to pay for minor things every 5,000 miles.

» COMPARE: Average car maintenance costs

Scion repair costs

When it comes to actual repair costs, Scion vehicles don’t have enough widespread issues for us to confidently say you should avoid certain models or brace for certain repairs. That was true for pre-2010 models, but since then, Scion seems to have buckled up.

The one exception, of course, is the 2013 FR-S with reported engine failure. Thankfully, the used market is filled with enough well-maintained FR-S models from later years that you can safely avoid that model.

If and when something goes wrong on your Scion, you can rest assured that it probably won’t cost an arm and a leg to repair. Outside of a head gasket replacement (read: engine failure), RepairPal data suggests that the cost of replacing most Scion parts falls well below $500. Even an engine mount and a clutch slave cylinder fall below $500 combined.

Again, this is thanks to the fact that you can repair Scions using Toyota parts and labor.

Even still, you might sleep better at night knowing that your “new” Scion is protected by an extended warranty.

» LEARN: What is a manufacturer’s warranty?

Quick and easy. Find an auto warranty partner now.

    How can an extended warranty help?

    Extended auto warranties can help to cover the cost of auto repairs needed due to factory defects, even long after the original factory warranty expired (which it has on every Scion). Even before you’ve filed a claim, just knowing that you have longer warranty coverage can provide peace of mind during ownership.

    Now, some folks assume that you can’t get an extended warranty on an older vehicle, but that’s not always the case. In fact, we were able to get a quote from Endurance on a Supreme (read: bumper-to-bumper) plan for our hypothetical 2016 Scion tC with 80,000 miles: $1,223.28 per year.

    That’s 22% more than the average cost of an extended warranty, but not all-too surprising given the age of the vehicle being covered.

    To learn more about extended auto warranties – and possibly find a lower quote for your Scion – check out our list of the best extended auto warranty companies.

    » LEARN: Pros and cons of extended auto warranties

    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. RepairPal, “Scion Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    2. J.D. Power, “Technology Woes Continue to Drive Up Problems: J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    3. RepairPal, “Scion tC Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    4. RepairPal, “Scion FR-S Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    5. RepairPal, “Scion xB Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    6. RepairPal, “Scion xD Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    7. RepairPal, “Scion iM Repair & Maintenance Costs.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    8. CarComplaints, “Scion Overview.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
    9. Consumer Reports, “Scion FR-S.” Accessed May 24, 2024.
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