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The real costs of owning a car

Do you know the total costs of owning your car? Royal Automobile Association (RAA) says the average weekly cost of running a car in 2019 is $228, up from $218 in 2018. While most people need their vehicle only 5% of the time, it still costs them around $12,000 a year.

What about the other luxuries in life? This may be having a glass of wine every night or going out for dinner, or owning a pet. Owning a dog, for example, costs about $25,000 over its 10-year life.

Owning a car

The biggest cost, your car, may be more than you think. The RAA based its running costs on fuel, maintenance, depreciation, registration, insurance and repayments over 5 years. In 2017, 90% of car sales were arranged through finance. For people who have not borrowed to buy a car, the running costs are considerably cheaper.

The RAA primarily blames depreciation and says rising fuel prices also push up the cost of owning a car.

Here is a selection of the costs of owning a car in 2019, from cheapest to most expensive. While the Hyundai electric should be the cheapest to run, the upfront price is still high.

Model Weekly running cost  
Kia Picanto hatchback $111.49 cheapest
Suzuki Jimny 4×4 $161.82  
Hyundai Ioniq electric $195.89 electric
Subaru Outback turbo $213.43  
Ford Ranger double cab $222.62  
Mitsubishi Triton double cab $230.49 average
Holden Commodore V6 $235.31  
Isuzu D-Max crew cab $245.00 most expensive

The market for new cars is current soft, whether because of reduced credit or the worsening economy. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) says sales of new vehicles as at June 2019 were down nearly 10% since last June, even though this is usually a good month because of EOFY bargains.

The RAA concludes that buying a vehicle is still an expensive “emotional purchase”. But what about the costs of your other luxury purchases?

Other little luxuries

Alcohol – Australian households spent $1,664 each year on alcohol in 2015-16, with some spending $4,700 per year.
Holidays – Our biggest entertainment expense at $4,000 per year was up 30% on the previous year and spending on overseas holidays was up 50%
Dogs – Around $12.2 billion a year goes on pets in Australia, and we spend around $2,450 a year owning a dog.
Dinners – In 2015/16, we spent just over $1,600 per year on meals out and fast foods

Life would not be the same without its little luxuries, and some luxuries are not that little. The chances are you spend a lot more time with your pet than in the car. Yet you spend the same in two years on owning a car as owning a dog for its lifetime.

Of course, one luxury may bring a lot more joy and warmth than the other. A dog will miss you when you go and love you when you come back. But it can’t take you to work, no matter how many treats you give it.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert greenslips.com.au

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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