The Costs Of Owning A Car – Are You Spending $7K to $11K each year?

The Costs Of Owning A Car - Are You Spending $7K to $11K each year?Do you know how much you spend on your car each year?

I will tell all of you my story now. I’m probably one of the worst people in the personal finance blogosphere when it comes to cars because of what I’m going to tell you below, but oh well!

If you are new here, we have a Camaro 2SS that we bought last year.

We also have a Jeep Wrangler that we bought around 1.5 years ago as well.

We also used to have a 1961 Chevy Apache (click here to see the pretty picture of it – I miss it a lot), but we sold it two months ago because of a lack of garage space.

We spend a lot of money on our cars, and I know that. It’s okay though, we love them :) We are car fanatics, and it is one of the things that we work on making extra money for so that we can afford them.


You are probably rolling your eyes at me now, but please hear me out.

We truly do love our cars and we get a lot of joy out of them. We DO NOT have them so that we can keep up with the Joneses. In fact, I actually dislike talking about our cars because of the judgmental looks/thoughts that we usually get. Wes is a car guy, and it’s a hobby for him. I love my Jeep because WHO DOESN’T LOVE JEEPS?

Everyone has something that they enjoy spending their money on, and cars just so happens to be our enjoyment. Just like if you are a stamp or coin collector, spend money on clothes, spend money on traveling, spend money on eating out, etc., cars are our thing (but we like traveling too :) ).

I don’t think there is any “right” or “wrong” hobby for a single person, because no two people are exactly alike. If you can afford it, then why not?

However, cars are expensive, and I do realize that!

ANYWAY, to get back on topic, according to a survey done by AAA, the average annual car costs are around $7,000 to over $11,000 (depending on your car – for example, if you pick something in the Volvo car range then you will probably be spending less than an expensive sports car that gets 11 miles to the gallon).

Below are some of the common costs of owning a car.


Buying the actual car.

Usually buying the actual car is the most expensive category when it comes to your car costs. You can buy a car for something such as $500 cash (you can’t guarantee that it will work for a long time – however, we did buy a car for $500 once and it lasted us for quite some time, and we were then even able to sell it to another person for $500), or you could buy a brand new car where the price can vary greatly.

Not all cars are equal, and this is where you researching different cars that you are interested in comes in.


Fuel costs.

Certain cars have higher fuel costs than others. Your car may take only premium gas or it may take unleaded. Your car may run on grease (I have seen this happen with a few older cars), and then your gas costs are very low since you can usually get free grease from restaurants.

Then there is also the associated cost when it comes to fuel mileage. Not all cars get the same fuel mileage, and this is something that you may want to look at when you are trying to determine which car is for you. Some cars may get less than 10 miles per gallon, and others may receive over 50 miles per gallon.

Lastly, when it comes to fuel costs, it also depends on how much you are driving. If you are driving 100 miles roundtrip each day, then your fuel costs will be much more than someone who drives one mile away to their job down the street.

We don’t spend much on our fuel costs anymore, since we are both working from home. However, we do like to leave every now and then, with our favorite being to drive to Forest Park (around a 30 mile roundtrip drive).

We spend around $150 to $200 a month on gas. We could definitely be spending less though.


Car insurance.

This is one area that we don’t spend a lot in, even though we have expensive cars. Your car insurance could be something such as $30 a month, or it could be something like $500 a month. It depends on your car, your driving history and so on.

For us, we spend around $50 for each car, or $100 altogether each month for both of us to be fully insured on both cars. Definitely not bad, especially since others have similar cars to us and they are spending somewhere in the $250 to $500 range each month in car insurance.

We did have to shop around for car insurance though. I don’t remember the exact amount, but if we would have stayed with our original car insurance company, I believe we would have been spending around $400 to $450 a month to fully insure our two cars.


Car maintenance. 

Certain cars cost more to maintain than other cars. It’s that plain and simple. One car may only take the best oil out there, which may come out to $100 and over for just one oil change. Other cars do just fine with cheaper oil changes, and you may be able to spend a cheap $20 changing your oil yourself.

Also, certain cars are built to last longer than others. Others are made very cheaply and something may break every few months.

What are your annual car costs? Are cars one of your splurges/hobbies?



  1. says

    I might sound smug here, but my annual costs on my car are…$0. I don’t have one.

    We spend €22 per month on public transport which covers all travel costs within the city and I also have a bike for getting around (which cost €300 4 years ago and probably costs around €40 a year to maintain).

    Other than this, we probably spend around €50 a month (max) on longer-forms of transport (buses and trains). Therefore, our annual costs are probably equivalent to about $900-$1000 a year.
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  2. says

    Maintaining cars is pretty expensive, with the rising fuel prices and overall inflation. A relative of mine recently had to do the 100,000 km maintenance and the dent in the pocket is pretty noticeable. Of course, he could have simply ignored some of the checks but that hurts the car’s performance, resale value as well as life. But the point is, you’re not done with expenses once you buy a car. You have to keep throwing money at it.
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  3. says

    Our car costs have gone down since I started working from home. I think we spend about $100-150 per month on gas and insurance on our two cars is roughly $80 per month. That said, I say if you enjoy them then go for it…especially since you can afford it. :) I’m not a huge car guy, but I am still kicking myself for selling our Jeep a few years ago. My splurge is travel. :)
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  4. says

    Gosh thinking about how much I spend on my car – plus my wife’s car – on an annual basis is something I’d rather not think about :) I haven’t calculated exactly how much we pay, but I’m sure if you factored in the initial purchase price it would be quite a bit. One way to lower your monthly or annual cost is to drive your car until it dies. I paid $5k cash for my car 6 years ago so every extra month I get out of it is a lower “per month” cost. Those gas prices are another story, though…

  5. says

    Michelle, I think it’s great that you are spending your money on something you enjoy – that’s what it’s for!! With maintenance costs, gas and insurance, I’ll bet we spend a good 7k a year on our cars as well. It adds up quickly!

  6. says

    Between our 2 cars I think we spend about about $8,500 per year combined. It’s definitely a big cost, though not as big as those averages. I’ve toyed around with the thought of going down to one car, but I don’t think we’re ready for that.

  7. Yvette says

    Right now for two cars we are spending about $400 a month. We do have one big SUV. Gas prices are supposed to go higher, so I guess our gas bill will go higher too. I don’t even want to guess about the maintenance and repairs. Last year we spent about $2000 on repairs on one car. I’m not a car lover:)

  8. says

    For me, my car is just a way to get from point A to point B. Public transportation where I live is a joke – like, I would have to leave the night before to get to work for 8am on the city bus kind of joke.

    When all was said and done, my car cost me about $6,300 last year. But I’m still paying off my car loan, so that figure is only what actually came out of my pocket – not what’s still owed. I know this will be more this year because I’m driving more (longer commute), my car insurance just went up again, and the promotional period for free oil changes on my car will expire this month. I’m jealous that your car insurance is so low!
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  9. says

    Right now my car is just transportation. I don’t love it but it’s reliable and a nice family vehicle. I pay around $600 a year in insurance and another $150 a year in oil changes/ maintenance. I paid off a few years ago so now car payment. I have never had to do any major repairs to my car (knock on wood) But I do want to get a Silverado in the next few years – if I can afford it. I like trucks and that is definitely my favorite.

  10. kammi says

    I do not own a car AND I make money from renting my parking space, so not having a car actually makes me (and saves me) money :)

  11. says

    I think the most under considered factor is maintenance. Tires and parts can get really really expensive. I think you have tomfactormthat into your decision making process.

  12. says

    Is your current car insurer a national brand? If so, I’d love to know! I am currently with Progressive, about $45/mo, but for minimal coverage. I did shop around, but I didn’t find anything at all that could beat this. Just for 1 car, no tickets, no issues.

    I do think I’ve spent a lot on repairs on this current car, between new wheels, new headlights, new windows… (wait, was the windows for this car or the other one?? I cant remember!). I’d love to have public transportation available, but I guess living in the middle of nowhere has plenty of added-on costs… including no decent public transportation. Or none at all.

    • says

      We now have Geico, but we used to have Statefarm.

      And yes, public transportion is bad here as well. I have never used it, but Wes has and he says he would never go back. He took it to work before (when we were young and broke) for about a year I believe, and it took over 2 hours just to get there, and that was with him biking a portion.

    • says

      Yes, definitely shop around! We are paying such a low amount, which is really weird since we have a Camaro 2SS. Whenever I tell people how little we pay in car insurance, they usually don’t believe us at all and ask for proof.

  13. says

    I have never wrote about our cars for the same reason!!! I have thought about trying to be a one-car family but I would say cars are a splurge of ours too! I drive a Chevy Malibu that we bought used. My car gets excellent gas mileage so we drive that one on long trips. During the week, hubby drives a company vehicle. However, back in December we bought a lifted 1997 Crew Cab F-350 Diesel. Nothing about the purchase of this truck makes sense if you are thinking about saving on transportation costs! But, I have two boys and 1 big adult boy :) who LOVE lifted trucks! AND, I fell in love with this truck too!! We drive this truck to Church on Sundays and laugh that it is our Sunday driver.

  14. says

    We spend about $4000 a year on transportation expenses, which is less than 5% of our overall income. Gas account for about $3000 of that. It’s this high because we drive a lot in the summer. But thankfully we have both cars paid off. It’s crazy to me that so many people spend so much of their money just to get from point A to point B.
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  15. Sara says

    We are car people as well. We have had as many as six cars, but are down to four now. One is a 1963 VW bug. Total annual operating costs are about $300 or so. As it is restored, the cost will increase a bit for parts, but those are cheap. One is a 1971 Porsche 911. Again, operating costs are less than $300, with more for parts. This one is close to being done. We also have a Subaru STI and a Subaru Forester. Both are paid off. I work from home, so my operating costs are about $40 a month in gas for the Forester. The STI requires premium fuel and my husband drives about 10 miles to work, so it’s more in the range of $100 for gas. The two hobby cars are just that. That is how my husband spends his time and he makes a lot of his own parts and does his own work.

  16. says

    Our car costs are very very very low. We just pay for insurance, gas, and whatever upkeep (oil changes or if something happens that needs repaired). Both of ours are 12 years old.

    I had the same convo with my husband. I tend to roll my eyes at people who “have to have” a brand new car or get one every 2 years. I’m the same way with people buying $$$$ purses. I then realized everyone chooses to spend their money differently!! Those are just not my things. Those people tend to spend their money on cars or whatever else, but we like to have 1-2+ vacations every single year. It’s all about priorities and what is important to those individuals. It is SO TRUE though. Everyone has their “thing!” There’s no right or wrong.
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  17. says

    With our 2011 Corolla we’re financing since last summer, we’ll probably spend about $7500 on the car annually. That includes the monthly payment (more than minimum), gas, insurance, and maintenance (estimated $500 but that’s high for not experiencing any problems with the car yet).

  18. says

    Living in NY, I don’t have one so my spend would be approximately $0 (I’ll rent a car from time to time or pay to ride in others’ cars). Of course, it means I spend over $1000 on transit costs per year, pay more for rent and groceries, but it’s still not something I particularly miss.
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  19. says

    My annual expenses are minimal. I pay $75 a month for insurance and since I don’t drive much, I generally fill up once every other month. In NYC though, there are a lot of expensive toll roads/bridges to cross just to leave the city, so round-trip to get to my in-laws, we can spend about $70 in gas and another $15 in tolls. With that $85 cost just to drive down there, we try to make our trips more meaningful and less frequent. I know it’s not much to the person who drives all the time, but I’m already paying $120 a month in my unlimited MetroCard for public transit so I try to keep my driving costs down.
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  20. says

    Ugh. My car has been on my mind a lot lately. I recently moved into NYC, so my car sits at my parents house all week. When I go visit on the weekends though, I love that it’s waiting there for me. The problem is deciding if it’s worth $1,000 to insure when the insurance needs to be renewed in May. I think I’m probably going to do it, but I’m so hesitant to pay essentially $25 a week to drive it on weekends.

    And that’s not even factoring in when she get’s a flat tire, oil changes, etc. I think I’m just too attached to give her up.
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  21. Meghan says

    My car costs are about $120 a month, including gas. The payment is another $198 but I am accelerating payments so the monthly cost is variable right now. Obviously, for that cost, it’s not fancy, but it gets me from A to B, and is used mostly for weekend driving. As long as I take public transportation to work, there’s no point in having a nice car. I tried not having a car at all, but that was terrible!

  22. says

    I sold my truck to travel the world. I leave in a few weeks and it’s quite liberating to get rid of the gas expense. It was nice getting a little chunk of change back from the the insurance cost. Now when I drive a rental, I strategically plan my day around having a rental car.
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  23. says

    I love cars! I’m currently fixing up a 68 Camaro, so I totally understand spending a good bit of your disposable income on them. I would love to have a 2SS by the way :)

    Right now I’m driving around in an old paid off Mazda 3. My plan is to just drive it until the wheels fall off and possibly purchase a “weekend car” in the next year or so!
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  24. says

    While cars aren’t really a hobby of mine, I would love to get a motorcycle someday, so I don’t knock anyone for having a fun sporty car to drive around. I know my boyfriend would also love to have one! Gas mileage was something very important to me, as gas tends to be more expensive where I live. Now that I am close to work, I fill up once a month, but my boyfriend probably spends around $130 a month on gas. Your insurance is so cheap though! I would estimate that I spend maybe $2,500 a year on my car.
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  25. says

    I can answer this question because I literally just added it all up for my taxes. With gas, car insurance, parking fees, oil change, and registration, it comes out to about $2351. But last year I spent 4k on repairs, which is an unusual year…and hope that doesn’t happen again, although my car broke down AGAIN this past weekend. I’m not into cars at all. I need it functional, safe, and something that holds me “stuff” like volleyballs. I tend to like smaller, economical type cars.
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  26. says

    We only own one car to keep costs down. And even that one is a 6 year old Honda so the fuel costs are low and so far maintenance has been minimal. For the most part we walk or take public transit and only use our car for long distance trips which keeps our monthly car expenses under control.

  27. says

    Cars are pretty necessary to get around SD since we don’t have good public transportation systems, so I rely on my car for most things. I’ve had it for over a decade, though, and average less than $4k a year (more these days with repairs). It will jump quite a bit since I’d like a new-to-me car in the next year or so, though.

  28. says

    I’m actually extremely lucky because my dad is a mechanic and any time I need work done, he does the labour for free (and often won’t charge me for parts). Right now I’m driving a ’98 Concord and it cost my parents only $500 when they bought it almost 10 years ago. My dad’s solely responsible for keeping it on the road, although it won’t be for much longer! At 410,000km it’s time for a new car…not looking forward to that cost.

  29. Meghan says

    It might be paid off this year, but I have two other things to pay off and I’m dedicated to funding my 401k to the max, so it may be 2015.

  30. says

    I agree that it is so expensive to maintain a car. But I can commend car brands that even for five years or more still moving like toyota and honda. Buying cars like this can save money especially in maintenance part.

  31. says

    Thank god!!! I get little relaxation from the tension of maintaining car of my own. Because my father gives me lift upto my office and again picked me up at return time. And in weekend I usually like to use my motorbike or public transport depend on my planning with my frienz. Yes, I have to spend a part for fuel, of course in purchasing of car freshener and latest music CD’s at the time of driving that’s all. 😉

  32. says

    I’m happy to tell you that we sold our cars however, we live in Berlin, Germany and using public transport here is faster, cheap and enormously more convenient. I might not be so eager if I was still living in the UK!

  33. Mike says

    So…you’re saying I should buy a bike?

    I just threw my car payment onto that math and I’m a little sad right now.


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