Buying a new vehicle is exciting, especially when it’s your first set of wheels, so the last thing you want are unexpected car expenses that derail your budget and take the fun out of owning a car. Some expenses are fairly predictable, such as the cost of keeping gas in the tank or even making the initial purchase, but the unpredictable costs are important to know about, too. The expenses you need to know about so you can plan your budget are basically centered around buying the car, keeping it legal, and maintaining your ride so it lasts for years.
Initial Car Expenses When You Buy
When you’re done shopping and you’ve found the perfect car, know the amount of the down payment and the number of monthly payments you can afford to cover. Meanwhile, a couple of less obvious initial expenses can also impact your budget. Along with the actual cost of the vehicle, you’ll pay sales tax and interest. These costs are included in the total amount you end up paying for your new car, so you don’t always notice exactly how much they add up, but they can push your monthly payments up and extend the term of your loan, so it’s important to understand and be aware of them when you’re signing the paperwork to buy a car.
Expenses to Keep a Car Legal
In addition to the initial costs of buying a car, it’s going to cost some money to keep it legal. You have to pay for parking in some urban areas, as well as car insurance, registration, and emissions inspections in some states and regions. For example, the Georgia Clean Air Patrol published details about the frequency and the costs of emissions inspections in the Georgia counties that require them to protect air quality. These legal compliance expenses can arrive monthly, annually, or even as far as a few years apart, depending on the way you select to pay insurance premiums and parking fees, and the specific registration renewal requirements in your state.
Car Maintenance Expenses
Maintaining your new car has an effect on how it looks, how it drives, and even on its long-term value, so it’s important to include maintenance costs in your automotive budget. The Internal Revenue Service detailed ordinary car expenses when explaining the vehicle costs business owners can deduct, but the listed maintenance fees are common to all car owners. Basic maintenance expenses include oil changes, topping off fluids, and the cost of keeping your car detailed, such as washing, waxing, and having it vacuumed out regularly. Bigger repairs you should budget for include the costs of fixing things that break or wear out, such as batteries, brakes, exhaust pipes, and tires.
Avoid unwanted surprises and make sure you get the right car for your lifestyle—and your budget—by understanding the costs associated with buying, maintaining, and keeping your car legal before you buy. That way, you get a car you can be proud of and enjoy on a long-term basis.