The True Costs of Car Ownership

Photo via AAA.com

Photo via AAA.com

 

According to the 2015 “Your Driving Costs” study by AAA, the American Automobile Association, the cost of owning a vehicle decreased by nearly 2% last year.  The study takes a look at costs associated with vehicle ownership such as: fuel, maintenance, insurance, tires, and depreciation.  The study cites lower gas prices and lower financing charges, as the main factors influencing the decrease, and overall, helping to offset some of the other expenses.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the costs of car ownership and find the areas where we can save:

 

Fuel

Obviously, the cost of fuel is not a factor that you can control.  However, the type of vehicle that you choose can make a huge impact on the amount of fuel that you will need to buy.  To save on gasoline, you may want to look at smaller, more fuel efficient cars.  Hybrids and electric cars also help to increase fuel efficiency.  Many newer non-hybrid cars even have an “Eco-Boost” mode, which can also help to make the car run more efficiently and use less gas.

 

Maintenance

The older a vehicle gets and the more miles it travels, repairs are going to be necessary.  These types of costs can be curbed, though, if you diligently follow suggested maintenance, such as regular oil changes, tire rotations, and fluid checks.  These are relatively small expenses for maintenance that can save you, literally, hundreds of dollars in repairs due to letting these things slide…  Take advantage of coupons and specials to save a few bucks when going to a dealership service department or other auto shop.

 

Insurance

Insurance can be quite costly and can vary greatly between companies.  Some factors that go into the cost of insurance remain constant though.

  • Cars that are more expensive to repair are going to cost more to insure
  • Choosing higher deductibles can help to curb monthly costs
  • Keep a good driving record; fewer accidents and claims means lower premiums
  • Bundle insurance policies; having multiple policies with one company can qualify you for additional discounts
  • Young drivers can lower insurance costs by earning good grades and not having a car in their name.

 

Depreciation

Everyone knows that as soon as you drive a new car off the lot, it is worth less.  In order to avoid that hit in value, there are a few things you can do:

  • Buy a used car— With lease programs still being popular options, many good vehicles are returned to the dealerships after a few years with less than 50,000 miles on them.  Often, you are able to buy an extended warranty up to 100,000 miles, making these much less expensive choices, but still backed by the manufacturer.
  • Take care of your car—Take your car for regular oil changes and tire rotations.  Regularly wash your car, as some environmental factors can actually be corrosive to your car’s paint over time.
  • Drive your car longer—Most depreciation occurs when the car is new and decreases at a slower rate the older the car gets.  Buying a car and trading it in after only two or three years can put you in a negative-equity situation, whereas, keeping the car and driving it  for six or seven years allows you to pay off the auto loan and, typically, get past any negative equity.

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