What does your car really cost?

Recently, I had to change my tires since they were almost worn out. Ever since having my Corolla, I’ve never paid more than $55 for a service and that was for an oil change, the most important maintenance every car needs. So when I had to cough up around $550 for a new set of tires, it was a bit shocking.

I could’ve gotten some cheaper tires for probably half the price, but they wouldn’t have been as good. The new tires are the Firestone Champion Fuel Fighter, which are rated for 70,000 miles and supposedly improve fuel economy. This means I don’t have to worry about tires for a while.

With this in mind, I thought of others costs incurred in a vehicle which you might not really think of at the moment of buying a new car. There’s the obvious one: gas. But eventually you need a new battery, brakes, filters, spark plugs, wiper-blades… you get it. All these things add up when driving your vehicle. So how much does your car really cost?

I made a table which you can also download to play around with by clicking the image below. Looking at the following table, I estimate my payed-off car costs me $1,287 a year if driven the average 14,000 miles people drive a year in the US. Notice that the table doesn’t include any insurance or vehicle registration, because you have to pay that regardless if the car ever leaves your driveway or not.

Total Maintenance adds up all the services, which doesn’t include gas. 14000 are the miles per year.

Obviously, gas will be the biggest money juggler most of the time. I also added the most common maintenance services. For example for the tires I estimated paying $500 about every 65,000 miles, which equates to a cost of about $0.008 per mile driven. The last item for miscellaneous includes anything I missed in the table, like new brake fluid, radiator flush, new spark plugs, wheel alignment, and so on… but since these services aren’t required very frequently, I grouped them together at an estimated cost of $100 every 14,000 miles.

There might be years you spend more than the $390 the table says for maintenance. For example if you need to buy a new set of tires and a battery, that will put you down about $700, but in the long run, it should average out to $390 a year.

Not included in this table is insurance, registration, and monthly car payments, which will increase the the overall cost pretty quickly. Insurance and registration are about $700 on my car, so that means that it costs around $2,000 a year to own this car. If I was paying a monthly payment of $300 a month or $3,600 a year, it would all add up to $5,600 a year.

So to summarize, remember these other costs when choosing a car. If you drive more than 10,000 miles per year, or you drive a more expensive vehicle, then your driving expenses will go up.

I hope this short blog has given better insight on what your car really cost, or maybe it can help you next time you’re car shopping!

Read this post if you want to calculate you vehicle’s MPG.

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