Considering all the costs of a car
"When I bought my car, I did some research on the car I wanted. I knew what it should be selling for, so I could bargain better."
Remember, the actual cost of a car may be the least or your worries. Even if you receive a “free” car from a relative, it’s going to cost you in registration, insurance, and gas just for starters.
- Down payment: Expect to pay anywhere from 5% to 20% of the car's purchase price for a down payment. Generally, the more money you can put down, the better. The more money you put down now, the less your monthly payments will be.
- Car loans: Your loan will depend on the price of the car, interest rates, your credit rating, and the length of the loan.
- Sales tax: Sales tax rates vary depending on where you buy the car. You will likely pay state and local taxes on your purchase—even for used cars.
- Driver's license fee: Driver's license fees are set by your state and are generally the same amount for every driver. Check your state government's Web site.
- Car registration fee: Car registration fees are set by your state and are based on the type and age of the vehicle. Newer and more expensive cars generally have higher registration fees.
- Car insurance: Most auto insurance policies include auto liability insurance, medical payments coverage, and collision and comprehensive coverage. Insurers determine auto rates based on four factors: who uses the vehicle (single men under the age of 25 pay more than what men over 25 pay), where it is kept, the accident history of the drivers, and the type of vehicle. Some model cars are more expensive to insure than others, so it pays to get quotes for the top two or three models you are considering and compare.
- Car maintenance: In addition to licenses and insurance, maintaining a car includes costs for gas, parking/tolls, car washes, repairs, and routine service (such as rotating the tires and changing the oil). There are ways to keep maintenance costs down.