New cars have many unexpected costs.
New cars have many unexpected costs.

Surprising cost of owning a car

NEW car buyers are paying thousands of dollars to keep their car on the road each year - and rising fuel prices are only a small part of the picture.

The biggest hidden cost is depreciation, which can add $100 a week to the cost of owning some popular models.

Research undertaken by Queensland's main motoring body (RACQ) calculated the cost of depreciation, interest on the loan, fuel, tyres, servicing, insurance, registration and licence fees on 139 vehicles over five years and travelling 15,000km per year.

Hidden costs: A Toyota HiluX dual-cab ute loses more than $100 in value every week.
Hidden costs: A Toyota HiluX dual-cab ute loses more than $100 in value every week.

The biggest cost by far was depreciation followed by on-road expenses such as insurance, registration and licence fees. Interest on loans and fuel were the next biggest expenses.

The average cost of depreciation on the popular Toyota HiLux dual-cab ute - the country's best selling vehicle - is more than $100 a week or roughly $5000 a year.

That figure is more than double the next biggest expense for registration, insurance and licence fees at $45 a week.

Fuel and interest repayments were the next biggest financial headache at $34 each.

The total cost of owning a mid-spec Toyota HiLux SR dual-cab ute is about $250 a week or $13,000 a year, which is on top of the $48,560 price tag. Over a five-year period the vehicle will cost you more than $60,000.

Shocking price: The Tesla Model S’s running costs far outweigh the fuel savings.
Shocking price: The Tesla Model S’s running costs far outweigh the fuel savings.

Electric vehicles are some of the most expensive vehicles to own and run. A $100,000-plus Tesla Model S may reduce your fuel bill, but you'll pay in depreciation - an eye-watering $222 each week.

It costs $394 a week or $21,570 a year to operate an entry-level Model S. Over a five-year period, you'll pay as much as you originally paid for the car.

Badge snob: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class was the most expensive car to operate out of the 139 evaluated.
Badge snob: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class was the most expensive car to operate out of the 139 evaluated.

Traditional luxury cars do not fare much better. Owners of a BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class luxury sedan fork out $404 and $435 a week on top of the car's list price. Both vehicles experience more than $200 a week worth of depreciation.

One of the most affordable family SUVs is the Mazda CX-5 which costs $192 a week. By comparison the Volkswagen Tiguan will set owners back $242 a week, the Tiguan's $99 a week depreciation cost was the worst in the mid-size SUV segment.

Family value: Mazda’s CX-5 is one of the cheapest mid-size SUVs to operate.
Family value: Mazda’s CX-5 is one of the cheapest mid-size SUVs to operate.

Even small passenger cars are not immune to sky high running costs. A Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and Hyundai i30 will each cost its owner $50 a week in depreciation.

The cheapest vehicle to run was the Mitsubishi Mirage. The Mirage city car ($12,250 before on-road costs) is the cheapest new car in Australia and benefits from cheap servicing and low fuel use.

Cheap thrills: The Mitsubishi Mirage is the cheapest new car to operate in Australia.
Cheap thrills: The Mitsubishi Mirage is the cheapest new car to operate in Australia.

The RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding says motorists should shop around to find the most affordable car in its class.

"Drivers can save a lot of money by making informed choices when buying a car," says Spalding.

"If you want a particular class of vehicle, look for the cheapest to own and operate in that class and in some cases, you could pocket as much as $125 extra a week.

"Unleaded petrol prices jumped almost 10 cents a litre on average this year, and the often-forgotten vehicle depreciation factor can really sting at resale time."

A recent News Corp Australia study revealed that using car rental programs like GoGet can be dramatically more affordable than owning a car - a rental can cost as little as $120 a week. However, the cost benefits of renting versus buying diminished as kilometres travelled increased.



UPDATE: Fire out of control, too late to leave

UPDATE: Fire out of control, too late to leave

A major bushfire at Ellangowan has just jumped containment lines

Fires close one highway, affect another

Fires close one highway, affect another

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FIRE FRONTLINES: Help has arrived

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