The true cost of owning a car

There’s a truly irritating ad that’s currently doing the rounds on TV here that bleats on about the true cost of owning a car. Basically, it’s a public service message urging us clueless consumers to factor in the cost of petrol, and to check fuel efficiency ratings to see how much car X might cost to run vs car Y.


Automobile (Photo credit: A*A*R*O*N)

You want to talk the real cost of car ownership? Fine.


There’s a good $430 gone, if you’re in New Zealand. Every year. More, if you have a larger car.


Varies wildly, of course, by location, gender, vehicle, driving history. But that will account for another few hundred dollars, at least. For us, that’s $1000 every year.


Oil. Filters. Tyres. Other miscellaneous fluids. I know we generally have to replace our tyres every 12-18 months, and our filters are not only pricey but annoyingly fiddly to replace. Another few hundred a year.


On top of the normal things that need topping up or replacing. Parts give out or break, over time. You misjudge the distance between your rear and that wall, and tear your bumper loose. Some asshole swipes your side mirror clean off while passing you on the road (it’s happened to us twice. Steer clear of other motorist on Hillsborough Rd, yo). And be sure to consider – especially when buying a car – whether parts are going to come cheap, or even be easily available. I know someone considering buying a BMW but the matter of parts is proving pause for thought.

Plus we could always go into potential parking costs, driving fines, or even venture down the path of depreciation, assuming you plan to sell your car eventually. But these are the unavoidable, non-negotiable realities. (Excluding, of course, non-legit running of a car. I’m more than familiar with people owning absolute clunkers that haven’t been registered or warranted for months or years.)

Have I missed anything?

6 thoughts on “The true cost of owning a car

  • Reply Michelle June 28, 2012 at 01:31

    Wow $430 a YEAR? That’s crazy!

  • Reply Shawanda Greene (@TheyCallMeCheap) June 28, 2012 at 07:44

    In Virginia, my vehicle property taxes are over $200 a year. Plus, we have to pay for safety inspections once a year and emissions inspections every other year. My five year old car has failed its safety inspection twice. My problem is that safety inspections are often performed by mechanics. Hmm. I wonder how motivated they are to find (or create) something that’s wrong with your car.

  • Reply myjampackedlife June 28, 2012 at 15:05

    My yearly insurance costs me $780 dollars a year and my car is 1997.

    • Reply eemusings June 28, 2012 at 17:15

      So is our car. Or possibly 1998, can’t recall.

      • Reply myjampackedlife June 29, 2012 at 04:50

        its crazy. and it doesn’t get any cheaper as time goes on. Which I think it should really.

  • Reply Miss JJ June 28, 2012 at 17:07

    Andrew Hallam had a post some time back on what a car costs him in Singapore. I personally think it is good therapy to read it if you own a car outside Singapore, because things look so cheap in comparison after that.

    It is kind of how I made myself read a few articles on the US healthcare system before opening my surgery bills. 🙂

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