The Real Cost of Cars

Okay, so you’ve made all the right moves in planning your next car purchase. You’ve kept your current car at least 10 years—preferably 15. You’ve come up with two or three viable options of cars that don’t just look good, they also get good gas mileage and have good safety ratings.

You’ve done some comparison-shopping to see where you could get the best price. All set? Not quite. There’s more to consider, such as the projected cost of maintenance and repairs.

With some cars, even minor fender benders could lead to big repair bills. Low-speed crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on 11 luxury cars led to repair bills ranging from $5,200 all the way up to a whopping $14,000.

One of the best online tools for figuring out how much cars really cost can be found at Its True Cost to Own calculator enables you to compare different vehicles based on the estimated cost of maintenance, repairs, fuel, and other factors.

Interested in a 2017 BMW 3 series sedan? You could probably buy one for about $23,000. However, according to the True Cost to Own calculator, its five year total cost is estimated at more than $53,000.

Willing to go for a 2017 Honda Accord sedan instead? It’ll cost you about the same amount of money to buy. However, over the course of five years, its True Cost to Own will be a lot less.

The Honda’s lower cost to own is mostly due to its lower maintenance and repair costs. A friend who owns a BMW tells me he spends over $100 just for an oil change!

The next time you’re in the market for a car, be sure to factor in all of the costs of ownership.

What type of car do you drive? Have you been happy or unhappy with how much it has cost to keep it maintained?

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4 Responses to The Real Cost of Cars

  1. Kathy August 2, 2022 at 2:43 PM #

    I bought my current car 2 years ago for Cash. Toyota Rav4 Hybrid. At the time I bought it I wanted an electric car, but what I wanted was not available. I’ve been relooking at EV SUV’s again, Volkswagen ID.4 or the Chevrolet Bolt EUV. Where can I go to see if it would be cost effective? I would sell my current car.

  2. Kyu-Chang August 2, 2022 at 2:14 PM #


    Thanks for sharing. I will use this information for teaching my kids.

    How did you calculate year 1 depreciation cost of used car?

    Thanks again.

    • Matt Bell August 2, 2022 at 2:28 PM #

      Glad you found it helpful. The depreciation figures came right from the Edmunds True Cost to Own calculator.

      • Kyu-Chang August 2, 2022 at 2:40 PM #

        Got it!

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