I'm getting a car later this year and saving up for it currently. However, as a first time car owner, I am not aware of the running costs of owning a car.

Aside from fuel, what are the things that I need to save up on? Insurance, registration costs, etc?

I live in Australia, if that helps.

  • Insurance,ongoing maintenance...depending on wear and tear.
    – Victor123
    May 25, 2015 at 1:38
  • In the US we add yearly property tax (in many towns), registration fees, yearly safety inspections (required in most states). Operating costs on my 2001 van, which I got used in 2010, have added up to US$11,000, NOT including insurance. And I drive less than 3000 miles per year, so that comes out to about 60 cents per mile.
    – keshlam
    May 25, 2015 at 1:57
  • Car washes. Cosmetic, as opposed to functional , maint. Toll roads. ...
    – keshlam
    May 25, 2015 at 2:39

1 Answer 1


Major costs are depreciation, fuel, interest on any loan, insurance (liability, collision and perhaps health) , parking, maintenance (scheduled maintenance such as oil changes and unforeseen repairs), and taxes (including tax on purchase and each of the above items).

If you drive a lot in a large city you'll probably accidentally break various rules from time to time (eg. be a few minutes late getting back to the parking meter or making an illegal left turn because of a day/time combination, or missing a complex parking sign limitation), and be subject to fines, towing and impoundment fees, and/or the cost of fighting tickets. In some areas you may have to pay an annual fee to park on the street in front of your own property. If you have to buy a parking space at a condo that may be tens of thousands of dollars and some maintenance fees (though it will usually be a reasonable investment). Even if you have insurance, you may elect to pay small amounts (up to a couple thousand dollars perhaps) to avoid making claims that could make your insurance increase.

Oil changes, wiper fluid, car washes, tires, detailing (sort of a deep cleaning), diesel DEF fluid, and such like can add up, particularly if you go with expensive synthetic oil replaced at the dealer, (say) BMW washer fluid rather than the generic stuff etc. if you do your own washing at home there is an industry devoted to separating you from your money for cleaning products.

As others have said- toll roads and toll bridges and associated fees (video toll fees or transponder fees).

Insurance, especially for new drivers or drivers with a spotty record can be extremely expensive. Some places require regular emissions or roadworthiness tests in order to maintain registration (which in itself has an annual cost, sometimes related to the tyoe of vehicle).

On the more frivolous side, you may be tempted to buy all manner of accessories, from the practical such as car chargers for your phone and GPS to antlers, eyelashes for the headlights, stick figures advertising your family situation, sports flags etc. In some cultures a doohickey of some kind hanging from the rear view mirror or an air freshener is de rigueur.

Some of these may not be directly applicable in Australia, but most should be.

Edit: Here is a link to an RAC (Australia) list of running costs. For example, given the assumptions they've made, a medium SUV (MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER) is said to have the following costs:

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  • 2
    I'm not sure depreciation really counts as a cost in the everyday sense. It's true that you "pay" it in that when you sell the car you don't get all your money back. But it doesn't impact your cash flow over the period that you own the car.
    – BrenBarn
    May 25, 2015 at 5:53
  • 1
    @BrenBarn If you don't at least consider it, it might come as a bit of a shock when you trade the car in, go over the maximum miles in a lease agreement or have your car totaled in an accident and find out what the insurance company will pay you won't buy half a replacement. May 25, 2015 at 6:12
  • 1
    I agree that those are things to consider when buying a car, but that doesn't mean that they are "running costs".
    – BrenBarn
    May 25, 2015 at 6:19

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