When buying a car, you may pay the most attention to its sticker price. However, there are many other costs that need to be taken into consideration when determining how much you’ll actually pay to own a vehicle.


If you choose to finance the purchase, you will need to pay interest on the loan. Interest rates vary based on your credit score, whether the car is new or used and the term of the loan. Generally speaking, you will pay an interest rate of around 5% on average, but using tools like the Car Loan Calculator is helpful for determining specifics.

Annual Registration Fees

Your state will likely impose an annual registration fee that can range from $10 to more than $200. The exact amount that you pay to the state will depend largely on how much the vehicle weighs, and in some cases, the fee is paid every two years instead of annually.


According to Gas Prices Explained, fuel costs tend to fluctuate depending on the time of year, political instability or other factors. Ideally, you will buy a vehicle that has the best fuel efficiency within its class. Overall, smaller cars can get up to 40 miles per gallon while large trucks may only get 10 to 15 miles per gallon. Vehicles tend to be more fuel efficient on highways as opposed to city roads, and fuel efficiency tends to decline as your vehicle ages.

Car Insurance

Car insurance is required in all 50 states, and you could pay anywhere from $50 to $200 a month or more. Your insurance premium is based on factors such as your age, driving record and credit score. It may be possible to qualify for a discount after getting married or by bundling your auto insurance with a renters or life insurance policy. 


According to Anderson & Anderson, damages from a car accident can be both economic and non-economic. For instance, there may be repair costs related to a dented fender or a windshield that shattered on impact. It may also take time to recover mentally from a crash and the trauma that accompanied it. Paying attention while driving and engaging in routine maintenance can decrease your chances of being in a car crash.

If you are in the market for a vehicle, it is critical to take the cost of gas, insurance and maintenance into account in addition to the sale price. This will help you determine which vehicle truly fits into your overall budget.

For more smart money tips, read my book: the Common Sense Money Guide for Women!