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Car running costs

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

….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."