Insider's Guides > Running Costs


Running Costs
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The Costs of Running a Car

Running a car costs more than you think. Partly because fuel prices and insurance premiums only move one way - upwards. And partly because most people don't take into account all the factors that make up total running costs.

If you want to research how much your next car might cost you, read on. The answer might shock you, but at least you'll have a budget and can set money aside to pay your motoring bills.

Running costs split into FIXED and VARIABLE costs.

Fixed costs are the ones that often get overlooked once the initial outlay has been made. They come with buying a car and owning it: Depreciation, cost of car finance, car insurance, and the Road Fund Licence (a.k.a. road tax). Wise buyers pay particular attention to depreciation and car insurance, which can add up to thousands of pounds a year.

Variable costs form a smaller part of most motorists' spending, but they're the ones we notice: fuel refills (see fuel consumption), routine servicing, and replacing worn-out items - tyres, brake pads etc.


  • Look for low-interest or 0% interest new car finance deals.
  • Buy a used car using savings, not finance.
  • Buy a car that depreciates slowly or has suffered its heaviest depreciation.
  • Choose a car with a low insurance group rating.
  • Go for a car with service intervals of 10,000 miles or more.
  • Choose diesel if your mileage justifies it.
  • Trade down to a smaller, cheaper, more economical car.