Car Running Costs & Maintenance To Consider

4 July 2018
The operating costs that can crash your budget if you don’t factor them in.

Cars are expensive, not only to buy, but also to keep in operation. As such, making the decision to buy a car – whether it is your first, a replacement or an additional one – should not be taken lightly. When factoring car costs into your budget, there are a number of car-related expenses you might not initially consider. Here are seven hidden costs of owning a car:

Car insurance

Car insurance is compulsory in Australia and many other countries around the world to cover the cost of injuries or death to a third party in an accident. In Australia, this is known as compulsory third party insurance, or CTP. To protect your car and your bank balance though, it is strongly recommended that you get comprehensive car insurance to also cover you for damage to yours and a third party’s vehicle.  The cost of this depends on factors like age, gender, the model of car and how often you use the car. As a snapshot, Canstar found the following average annual comprehensive insurance premiums for new cars (registered in 2014 or later) during their research for the 2016 star ratings:

Average annual comprehensive premium for drivers (new car)
Family $2,345 $1,548 $2,174 $1,731 $1,624 $1,646
45+ years old $868 $579 $759 $608 $56 $606
30-44 years old $1,007 $648 $845 $687 $634 $677
25-29 Female $1,202 $784 $1,059 $831 $777 $823
25-29 Male $1,298 $839 $1,152 $885 $829 $883
Under 25 Female $2,310 $1,469 $2,082 $1,670 $1,511 $1,555
Under 25 Male $2,607 $1,646 $2,305 $1,876 $1,704 $1,741
Source: Canstar, May 2016. Premiums rounded down to nearest dollar

So car insurance is definitely not a cost to forget about in your budget, particularly if you’re an under-25 male in Victoria (average premium of $2,305) or a family in New South Wales (average premium of $2,345). You can compare car insurance on our website to help you find the best value for money.


Car registration is another compulsory fee to take into account. The cost of this varies state by state, also depending on a range of factors, such as the engine type and weight of the car. As an example, using the Queensland Government’s online car registration quote service, a standard 12 month registration renewal for a light, four cylinder private passenger car worked out to be $340.40 (excluding CTP costs) – including a traffic improvement fee of $52.30.

Replacing high-tech car gadgets

New cars these days can feature some really impressive high-tech features such as keyless keys and built-in satellite navigation. Unfortunately the cost of repairing or replacing these can really hurt us. A keyless, or proximity, key is a device that’s recognised by your car when you’re near – automatically unlocking the doors and allowing you to start the car by pushing a button. According to Choice, replacing these can cost between $400 and $800. Yikes! Also, with new roads constantly being built, in-built satellite navigation in cars can get out of date. A reprogram and upgrade to load the latest road maps can cost up to $900 in some cars! Is that the cost of not getting lost?

Car tyres

Tyres need to be replaced every so often, and the cost of these varies from car to car. Generally you’ll be looking at around $150 per tyre; unless you drive a Bugatti Veyron, whose Michelin Pilot Sport PAX tyres cost $10,000 each! Use our Canstar Blue website to compare car tyres and car tyre retailers to find the best value for money and customer satisfaction.


Don’t forget that cars are a depreciating asset; that is, you can’t expect to sell it for more than you bought it. The older it is and the more kilometres it’s done, the lower the car’s value. Unless it’s a collectable car, like Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson’s McLaren F1 – which is believed to have recently sold for a £7 million profit (AUD 15 million) – cars are not a good investment! According to RACQ, the average cost of depreciation of Australia’s top selling car last year, the Toyota Corolla, is about $48 per week over its first five years.

Roadside assistance

Things can always go wrong when we’re on the road, which is why most of us get roadside assistance to help us out when we’re stuck. Standard roadside assistance will cost you around $100 but again, be sure to shop around for the best deal.


And last but CERTAINLY NOT least, fuel. The cost of petrol for your car makes up a significant portion of the running costs and it should never be forgotten about in your budgeting. Of course, the fuel costs do depend on how much you drive, how fuel efficient your car is and what the ever-changing petrol price is. Generally, for a city driver with a small 50-litre-tank car, petrol could cost you around $1,500 a year. Don’t forget about all of these hidden costs!

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