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Car running costs

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    "Depreciation and finance are the biggest costs in running a car, not fuel and maintenance," says RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding.

DESPITE rising fuel prices, the cost of running a new vehicle has remained fairly static?

….over the past year thanks to decreasing finance costs and fixed price servicing.

The Suzuki Alto, Barina Spark and Hyundai Getz shared the honours as the cheapest cars on our roads, according to annual surveys of a range of popular cars released this week by automobile clubs in all states except NSW.

Toyota's LandCruiser is the most expensive vehicle to keep on our roads with the RAC of Western Australia estimating the 4.5-litre V8 costs as much as $406.84 a week. LandCruiser has retained the dubious honour as the most expensive vehicle to run in Queensland for the past six years.

The auto club surveys tally costs such as fuel, tyres, registration, service, repairs, depreciation and loan interest. Costs vary between states with South Australia reporting a drop in costs and Western Australia the only state reporting a substantial rise of $50 in running costs.

RAC spokesman David Moir attributed the rise to fuel costs which are now second only to vehicle depreciation in total running costs in Western Australia.

Although most of the costs vary between states, the surveys found the cheapest small car is Hyundai's petrol i30.

Toyota Camry, Suzuki Kizashi and Holden Epica share the honours as the most frugal medium cars, while Holden Commodore dual-fuel (petrol and LPG) model is the cheapest large car to own in Victoria and Queensland, Toyota Aurion is the best bet in South Australia and Ford Falcon XT LPG takes the honours in Western Australia.

The RAC survey also shatters the myth that frugal hybrids and diesels are cheaper to run.

In Queensland, the Camry hybrid costs $11.68 more a week in ownership costs than the petrol model. RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding says diesels are also less attractive this year.

"Last year diesel and petrol fuel prices were much closer together, so diesel owners were picking up the benefits of fuel consumption," he says.

"But this year the higher premium on diesel fuel means we aren't seeing the same overall savings."

He says it also depends on the model as car companies charge between $2000 and $10,000 more for a diesel variant.

The best way to save on running costs is to bargain for a cheaper price and pay with cash, Spalding advises.

"Depreciation and finance are the biggest costs in running a car, not fuel and maintenance," he says.

"Depreciation is 35 to 45 per cent of running costs and even though finance costs have dropped in the past year, it still represents about 20 per cent of total ownership costs.

"So the more you shop around and the better you bargain, the more those costs drop."

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 10 comments

  • Depreciation is rarely calculated accurately. I recently sold a 20 year old MX6 for $3900 (sold because I'm going overseas for a few years). Its 1992 new price was $43000. However, the depreciation loss was not $39100 (or about $2000 pa). It is really the CPI indexed value minus $3900, which is closer to a $4000 pa loss. Add to that maintenance (I've seen some ridiculously low estimates - just replacing brake linings can cost several hundred), insurance, tyres, broken windscreens, NRMA membership (or towing costs if you don't have it), loan payments (if you are silly enough to go into debt) - these can all add up to a very hefty sum indeed. Petrol is almost a minor expense, though it?s the most consistently obvious and thus the one people grumble most about. When I get back to Australia I'm going to seriously review my need to own a car. It may be more sensible to use public transport, cycle or walk for day-to-day getting around and rent a car for the occasional weekend away. At least then if it breaks down, it?s not my problem.

    Alex Stein of Canberra Posted on 05 August 2011 1:33pm
  • Old Banger of NT, you'd better hope that all of your dents and scrapes are confined to the carpark. Travel any faster than that, and your 2 star ANCAP rated car might land you in hospital, or worse. Newer cars aren't all show.

    Craig of Canberra Posted on 14 July 2011 11:50am
  • Old Banger, some people, dirty perverted drug taking metrosexual heathens that they are, actually enjoy having a nice car. Im generally awake and careful enough to avoid dents and scrapes, when i'm not preening in front of a mirror with my soy latte. Maybe you get your thrills at the footy?

    Adam of Tas Posted on 13 July 2011 12:55pm
  • Diesel is rarely more expensive than the premium unleaded offerings like BP Ultimate, which many higher end cars these days specify / are best to use (particularly if the cheapest unleaded fuel contains ethanol). And, in passenger cars it usually goes a fair bit further! Just a thought.

    BB of Sunshine Coast Posted on 12 July 2011 9:08pm
  • It is difficult to believe that the LandCruiser is the most expensive car to 'keep on our roads' when the annual depreciation on high-end exotics such as Maybach, RR, Bentley, Lambo & Ferrari would probably buy a new Cruiser!!

    ND of Brisbane Posted on 12 July 2011 10:35am
  • Haha Old banger of NT, you said exactly what I was trying to think, except I drive my dad's old 2001 Courier ute, diesel. It's worth nothing now 'cause of the amount of k's it's done, but it does the job of getting me from A to B and I spend jack-crap on it!

    mannix Posted on 11 July 2011 11:55am
  • Enjoy your 21 year old laser "Old banger", no safety in a crash there, just make sure your brakes work properly please. I prefer a 3-7 year old car myself that is enjoyable to drive and the devaluation is mostly done anyway with no nasty breakdowns.

    Andy of Brisbane Posted on 11 July 2011 11:06am
  • We bought a 1990 ford laser in 2003 for $2000. I service it myself. It uses bugger all fuel and supermarket dents and scrapes are irrelevant - who cares what it looks like? It's got third party property insurance to to cover any damage to all you posers in your shiny status symbols. We do not otherwise support the insurance protection racketeers. If you want to join in the ego race, be prepared to pay.

    Old banger of NT Posted on 10 July 2011 12:21am
  • rego insurance fuel tyres and depreciation are different in all states

    jason of melb Posted on 09 July 2011 9:26am
  • why does it differ from state to state?

    makes no sense Posted on 08 July 2011 5:47pm
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