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Cost of buying a car: 9 total costs of buying a car   

Before buying a car you may be asking yourself, just how much does a car cost? Below you can see estimates of the cost of buying a car broken down into all of the different components including some costs you may not have thought about. You can click on each car cost for more information and even to make purchases. You can also make a customized budget to see what your personal car costs would be. Also see our articles on the cost of buying a car.

Example*: Average quality mid-size car with some options
Cost Name Description Frequency Typical Range Example Cost*
Car Down Payment You can buy a new or used car from a dealer, retailer, or individual. You can also opt to lease a car, in which case you don't own it but instead make monthly payments for a predetermined amount of time and then return the car. Considering your needs and long term plans will help you decide which option is best for you. Generally you don't pay the full price of the car but rather a down payment and then have a monthly loan or lease payment for the balance. (More info on this Automobile cost)

One Time Varies Greatly $3,000
Lease or Loan Payment Assuming you don't pay for the car completely in cash when you buy it you will have a monthly loan or lease payment which takes into account both finance charges (interest) and principal. If you bought the car, once your loan is paid off you will own the car in full. If you leased your car you must return it when the lease is over but you will have had lower monthly payments. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Monthly $100 - $750 $279
Parking Depending on your lifestyle, parking can be free or actually quite expensive. For example, if you need to pay for a parking spot near your home and then drive to a train station before work where you also pay for parking, this is likely a significant expense that should be considered ahead of time. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Monthly $0 - $500 $35
Insurance Insurance protects you, your car, and others on the road. Should you be involved in an accident or other type of incident it can cover medical bills and damages. It is illegal to drive without it and policies range from cheap and simple to more pricey and extensive coverage. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Yearly $200 - $1,000 $600
Maintenance Cars require various types of maintenance periodically. The manual that comes with your car should outline what needs to be done when, but you can also consult with your local automotive shop if you are unsure. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Yearly $100 - $500 $200
City Stickers Refer to your city's center, chamber of commerce, or village board for information on which neighborhoods require stickers, how much they cost, and where they can be obtained. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Yearly $0 - $200 $50
Oil Changes An oil change is typically done every 3,000 miles to keep your car running smoothly. However, check your car's manual to determine the proper care. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Frequently Recurring $20 - $40 $25
Car Wash and Upkeep Upkeep can be important so that your car not only looks good, but is free from elements that can cause corrosion. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Frequently Recurring $0 - $10 $5
Tickets You know if this section refers to you! Depending on your driving habits tickets may be a significant expense to consider. (More info on this Automobile cost)

Infrequently Recurring Depends on Driving Habits $0
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