You've been dreaming of having your own wheels since you turned 16, but now you're finally saving up to buy a car. Before you start planning your first road trip, it's important to make sure you've budgeted for all the costs of car ownership. After all, the last thing you want is for unexpected costs to cause you financial stress.
Here are some common auto ownership expenses that you might not have considered:
You know you need car insurance, but have you looked into how much it will actually cost you? Just because your friends pay a certain amount per month in car insurance doesn't mean that's what you'll pay.
How much you'll be charged can depend on things like your age, gender, how long you've had your license, your driving history, where you live, the number of years you've been insured, and the type of car you buy. You'll also pay a little more if you decide to pay your insurance monthly rather than in a lump sum.
Before you buy a car, make sure to get a few quotes to understand how much it will cost to insure that model and make. The last thing you want is to be surprised that your new car is more expensive to insure than anticipated.
While getting insurance, it's also important to consider your deductible. You can save money on your monthly premiums if you get a higher deductible, but make sure that you have money set aside in an emergency fund in case you need to use it towards a claim.
Found the car you want at a price you can afford? Have you factored in taxes? If you buy a new car, you'll have to pay GST and PST or HST on it. If you buy a used car from a dealer, you'll also be charged those taxes. However, if you buy a used car from a private seller you don't pay GST – but just the provincial tax or part of the HST. Also, taxes on leases are calculated and paid monthly.
3. Financing costs
Don't have enough money to pay for a car outright? If you're buying a new car or a relatively new used car, you might be able to get an auto loan to pay for it, which you do through the dealership. In that case, you'll need to budget for your monthly payment for your car.
You'll also need to think about how much more the car will cost you with a loan. Not sure? You can use this calculator to get an idea of how much you might have to pay over the life of your auto loan. You might also consider leasing the vehicle since lease payments can be lower than a loan amount on the same car.
One way to reduce both the monthly cost and lifetime cost of an auto loan is to provide a down payment when purchasing the vehicle. Also, consider what gets added to the amount you are financing as this will increase the lifetime value and monthly payments. You might also consider leasing your car; lease payments are typically lower than a loan on the same car.
Once you've bought your car, you'll need to keep it in good working order. That means getting your oil changed, your brake pads checked, and changing wiper blades, filters, belts and other liquids routinely. You'll also have to pay for any repairs or breaks.
Before you buy your car, search online for its estimated annual maintenance costs or look at the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual to see what you need to do and then cost those services out.
When you're driving everywhere, you'll need to pay for parking – unless you want to spend hours circling and looking for a free spot. Parking might cost more than you expect. Not sure how much? If you're driving to work or school, you can easily see how much a parking pass will cost. But if you live in a city with lots of parking garages or meters, do some research to see how much parking costs per hour in your city and whether street parking is free after a particular time.
You might be surprised by how expensive it is! For example, downtown Calgary and Montreal rank as some of the top 25 most expensive cities in the world to park in according to Parkopedia.*
6. Snow tires
While you can sometimes get used cars with a set of winter tires thrown in, you'll usually need to purchase them for a new or used car that you buy so that you can drive safely in the snow. Snow tires can cost anywhere from $65 to $120 per tire (or more). They'll need to be replaced on average every 6 years. You'll also need to budget to get your tires changed every fall and spring. That will likely cost you around $75 twice a year.
Depending on where you live, you might have to pay tolls to use certain roads or bridges. If you have to use those roads or bridges every day, the costs can add up. Be sure to factor that into your budget.
Budgeting for gas costs can be hard. The first factor that will affect how much you pay will be the fuel efficiency of your car. You can reduce your gas costs by buying an electric car, a hybrid car or an extremely fuel-efficient car. But you won't be able to control gas prices themselves -- which can fluctuate significantly. Make sure you budget extra money for gas to take this into account.
Saving up for a car
Now that you have a better idea of all the additional car related costs you need to budget for, it's time to up your savings game. One of the best ways to do this is to create an automatic transfer from your chequing account to a 'car fund.' Go through your budget and see how much you can afford to set aside and then set up the transfer right after each paycheque. This will help make sure you don't spend the money on anything else.
Before you buy a car, make sure that you have room in your budget to cover all these expenses and you have enough in an emergency fund to cover your insurance deductible in case you get into an accident or a couple thousand dollars to cover an unexpected major car repair.
Once you've hit those savings goals, you can get the wheels you've been dreaming of and hit the open road.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.