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Don’t Buy A New Car Until You Know How Much It Will Cost You To Run

Don’t Buy That New Car Until You Know How Much It Will Cost You To Run

Let me explain… if you currently own a sedan and decide to change to a 4WD, something as standard as changing front and rear brakes can jump from $1000 to $1500.

And if your new wheels are European, it’s more like $2000. It’s for this reason that when you next find yourself car shopping you want to consider not just the purchase price but the running and maintenance costs. To really be able to compare your options and understand the true cost of your car I recommend knowing these costs at a weekly or monthly level.

Surprisingly, calculating this amount isn’t too difficult, as long as you understand the varying factors. I’ve detailed each of these below, as well as some nifty calculation tools. Have fun!

Registration & insurance

Registration costs vary from state to state so the simplest way to get your expected annual bill is by calling your motor registry or visiting their website.

Similarly, the best way to get your expected insurance cost is to jump online with your preferred insurance provider and obtain a quote. As a rough guide however, some of the key factors include:

Cheaper to Insure:

  • Cars with a cheaper purchase price
  • Smaller engines/ lower horsepower (Ford Focus, Mazda 3)
  • With some insurers, fuel-efficient cars, (Toyota Prius, Suzuki Alto, Audi A3)
  • 5-Star ANCAP rating (Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3)
  • Family cars like minivans, station wagons and family sedans
  • Cars with a lower theft rate like family cars, small cars and slow cars

More expensive to insure:

  • The cars that are more expensive to buy in the first place
  • Those with larger engines and horsepower (V8’s, turbocharged)
  • Gas guzzlers
  • Convertibles, coupes and high performance/ sporty vehicles
  • Cars with a higher theft rate (older model Holden Commodores, fast cars)

New Car Until You Know How Much It Will Cost You To Run

Fuel consumption

Ready to get out your calculator? Fuel consumption is measured in the number of litres of fuel required per 100km driven (L/100km) so the simplest way to calculate expected fuel costs is with this calculation:

(KMs per annum) x (average fuel price) x (fuel consumption rating) / 100 = annual fuel bill

Your fuel consumption rating should be easily available alongside the information about the car you’re looking to purchase, whether that’s on or from a dealer.

To put it into a real-life scenario, if you were driving approximately 10,000kms per year, paid on average $1.29 per litre for unleaded fuel and had an 8.9 rating on your car, the expected fuel costs would be $1,148.10 per year (10,000km x $1.29 x 8.9 / 100 = $1,148.10).

While this formula will give you a good indication, it’s important to round up the result as the manufacturer method used to obtain fuel ratings is somewhat artificial, which means that your real-life bill will always be higher.

Repairs and Maintenance

Repairs and maintenance are a reality for any car you own, however the cost of these can hugely change from vehicle to vehicle.

Luckily there is a percentage-based sliding scale based on the typical maintenance and repair costs of every car in Australia, which can give you a fairly good indication of what you’ll be up for…

  • Over the first three years of your car’s life, expect to pay 10% of the vehicle’s purchase price.
  • For extreme driving styles and conditions, 4WDs and European cars, expect to pay 15% of the purchase price (50% more than what you would pay for other cars).

If you’re purchasing a brand new car, your dealer should also be able to provide a quote on repairs and maintenance expected over the first five years of the vehicle. Be wary of a dealer who quotes you the first three years only as costs increase significantly in years four and five when major services become due.

HINT: Don’t take what the dealer says as gospel, try get your hands on a quote from an independent mechanic as well.

Armed with these tools you’re truly ready to dive into car shopping; comparing not just the glamorous aspects of your new wheels, or the obvious price tag but also the undeniable long-term costs.

For more tips and tricks on anything auto related, check out the Blue Toro Blog.

Written by Janelle Gonzalez

Corporate escapee and mechanic’s wife Janelle Gonzalez has spent the last 24 years in garages, pit lanes and on road trips. Living a double life - corporate by weekday, trackside on the weekends - she shares her husband’s passion for cars. She has now turned her skills to building Australia’s first national mobile mechanic franchise. Her mission is to help Australians trust mechanics by educating car owners and returning to good old fashioned service values, while changing the lives of mechanics and their families.

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