• October 17, 2018

How Much Does That New Car Really Cost?

How Much Does That New Car Really Cost?

After weeks (or even months) of shopping, you finally found the perfect car for your needs. You visit your local car dealership to give it a test drive and simply fall in love with the feel of your new wheels. You check the sticker price and – yes! – it’s in your price range. But as you are signing the paperwork, the amount owed just seems to climb and climb.

About a month after you purchase the car, you start making payments along with interest. You also fill up the gas tank a few times. And if it’s a used car, perhaps make minor cosmetic improvements or even some repairs. Before you know it, you are beyond your budget. As it turns out, the sticker price wasn’t everything.

This begs the question, how much does that new car really cost? Admittedly, it can be tough to say since everyone’s situation is a little bit different. But here are a few things you should consider before signing the paperwork.


Deserve or not, car dealerships have a reputation for coaxing customers into spending more than they need to. This is a common business practice; even your local coffee shop upsells you on size, flavors, and whatnot. Unfortunately, car-related add-ons are much more expensive.

If you are trying to keep costs low, you might want to forgo optional entertainment systems (ranging from $100 to $1,000), navigation systems ($500 to $2,000), undercoating ($50 to $300), and the like. As you can see, these costs really add up. Of course, purchasing these add-ons aftermarket might cost more in the long run. But since a buying car is already such a big financial commitment, it behooves one to at least consider whether these options are must-haves or costly burdens.

Your Gas Tank:

Another thing you’ll want to consider is the gas tank. This includes the type of gas the car accepts, the size of the tank, and the number of miles you expect to drive each month. Clearly regular, premium, and diesel all have different costs. But your wallet won’t necessarily feel the difference if you are only driving 10 minutes to and from work each day and staying home on the weekends.

The situation changes drastically if your commute takes more than an hour each day; or if you are inclined to frequent and long road trips.

Try calculating your monthly gas costs by using a nifty online calculator.

Auto Loans:

Unless you pay for your new vehicle out right, you might have to finance at least a portion of the total cost. However, if you believe your loan isn’t working in your favor for any reason (such ashigh-interestt rates), it may benefit you to refinance your vehicle. Depending on your credit and personal finance goals, you might find a better offer by leveraging an auto refinance calculator.


Hopefully the new or used car you purchased (or are purchasing) is in prime condition. Because if it isn’t, repairs could cost you big time! This is why many people, when purchasing a used vehicle, choose to get a pre-purchase inspection. The whole process is quick and painless (usually lasting between 30 minutes and an hour). If you buy a “lemon”, there are often state laws in place to protect you. Still, it’s better to avert disaster all together by getting an inspection done.

Then again, repairs don’t need to be critical to be costly. A simple reupholster job can cost up to $200 to $700 per seat (although a slipcover is a frugal alternative).

You should also investigate the vehicle reviews to see what kinds of repairs are expect for a car like yours. For example, a 2008 Ford E-150 is known for having a “bulletproof” engine up to 300,000 miles. Even if the van needs repairs, the parts are cheap and widely available. This isn’t the case for say a Fiat 500L, which is known as one of the most unreliable cars models on the market.

As you can see, it helps to know the car’s real cost before signing on the dotted line.

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