What Does Your Car REALLY Cost?

When you start shopping for a new car, it’s easy to get distracted. You wander the Sugar Land car dealerships, and get absorbed in all the fun details like style, speed and tech gadgets on the dash. But at the end of the day, most people are looking for things like miles per gallon, safety and resale value – these last three things have dramatic influence on the true cost of owning a car over time.

So, How Much Does a Car Cost Over Time?

In 2013, the American Automobile Association (AAA) established the average cost of a vehicle using a set of guidelines based on average cars sold in the United States. AAA gives drivers a breakdown of just how much a car really costs with all the details of car ownership factored in. It’s not as clear-cut as you might think.

The example below shows how much you’ll pay per mile of driving for different sedan types. AAA covered vehicles equipped with standard features like automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, antilock brakes and cruise control. It also factored in more detailed costs:

  • Fuel – Costs based on $3.486 per gallon
  • Maintenance – Includes retail parts and labor for routine maintenance
  • Tires – Costs are based on the price of one set of replacement tires
  • Insurance – Based on full-coverage policy for a 47-year-old male with a good driving record
  • License, Registration and Taxes – Costs include governmental taxes and fees payable at time of purchase
  • Depreciation – The difference between the new-vehicle purchase price and estimated trade-in value
  • Finance – Costs based on a five-year loan at six percent interest with a 10 percent down payment

With all of that included, here’s what sedan drivers can expect to pay per mile:

What does your car really cost?

The cars are based on top-selling vehicles:

  • Small Sedan – Chevrolet Cruz, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla
  • Medium Sedan – Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry
  • Large Sedan – Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon

What Are Your Costs?

To figure your fuel costs, begin with a full tank of gas and write down the odometer reading. Each time you fill up, note the number of gallons, how much you pay and what the odometer reading is. These figures can then be used to calculate average miles per gallon and cost of fuel per mile.

If you want to determine your driving costs accurately, keep personal records on all costs listed below.

What does your car really cost

*If you commute to work by car, figure about $61 in total vehicle expenses per 100 miles.

Lowering Car Ownership Costs

There are a few ways to trim the annual costs of your vehicle. The first is doing your homework when purchasing a car. Buying a size down from the car you want can save you an average $2K a year (assuming you drive around 15,000 miles a year).

You can also opt to buy a used vehicle. Depreciation is one of the largest contributors to costs in the first year of ownership for a new vehicle.

Being a responsible car owner definitely helps you save money in the long run. Read your owners’ manual to find the right maintenance schedule, and change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles. Also, find out what your insurance costs will be before purchasing a new vehicle.

Lastly, make sure the car you’re wanting to purchase is in shape from top to bottom: Schedule a pre-purchase car inspection with Colony One Auto Center.