The real cost of owning a car

Car ownership undoubtedly offers convenience and freedom, but it often comes with a hefty price tag well beyond the initial purchase price. From regular maintenance to fuel costs and unexpected repairs, having a full overview of expenses associated with owning a car is essential to making a well-informed decision. Let's delve into the various costs that contribute to the overall overhead of owning a vehicle.

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Initial purchase price

The decision to purchase a car is a major financial milestone for most people. On average, the price of a new car in Europe ranges between 20,000 € to 40,000 €, with luxury or high-end cars surpassing this range. Buyers should also consider the depreciation rate. A new car's value tends to drop significantly in the first few years, while used cars have a slower depreciation curve. In fact, cars are often said to lose as much as 20 % of their value as soon as they drive out of the dealership. So the road to car ownership starts with an important question. Is it better to buy a brand-new car, which might not need much maintenance and is easier to insure? Or are you better off hunting for a used bargain and making peace with higher repair costs? Food for thought.

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Maintenance and fuel costs

The expenses associated with maintaining and fueling a car are important considerations in the overall cost of ownership. Due to recent world events, the costs of operating a vehicle have increased significantly, partly due to the rise in fuel prices. On average, filling up a tank would set you back over 100 € for petrol and 70 € for diesel. Determining fuel costs involves careful assessment of factors such as driving style, fuel efficiency, and road conditions. While a drive to the petrol station is part of every car owner's routine, some other upkeep is less frequent but can still make a dent in the budget. A new set of tires will easily set you back 200 €, more so in the case of seasonal tires.


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Insurance, registration and taxes

Owning a car means complying with the latest rules and regulations before you embark on the road. Car tax payments, registration fees, obtaining licenses, and the paper trail that comes with them are all part of the day-to-day life of a car owner. In terms of insurance, comparing quotes from different companies is essential if you're looking to maximize savings. Costs are often influenced by location and age, particularly for novice drivers under the age of 25. On average, car insurance will set you back 1,000 € annually. Depending on where you live, you may also have to pay for parking at home, work, and when running errands. Monthly parking fees can range anywhere from a few to hundreds of euros. Additionally, parking tickets and fines can become a regular expense if you're not careful. It's important to budget for these costs to avoid any financial surprises.

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Repairs and unexpected or additional costs

Unexpected repairs can pop up anytime and often come with substantial expenses. Anyone who's had a sudden flat tire knows what we're talking about. While visits to the car wash are completely voluntary, they're considered part of the basic maintenance routine, but costs tend to add up over time. Adding any extra practical accessories, such as a rear backup camera system or a heads-up display, can range from a few hundred euros to thousands.

Understanding that the cost of owning a car extends far beyond the initial purchase price is essential for successful car ownership. Make sure to budget for expenses such as maintenance, fuel, insurance, and unexpected fees. The convenience of a car is clear, but it's crucial to weigh these expenses against the benefits of other solutions such as public transportation or shared mobility.

Nicky Verdoodt

Nicky Delphin

Sr. Digital Content Strategist

"Passionate about cats. And cars!"

While the cat’s away, Nicky writes about mobility, one post at a time.