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The True Cost to Own a Car

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If you are in the market for a car, whether you are a first-time purchaser or seasoned test driver, you can expect there to be costs affiliated with your vehicle that aren't on the sticker price. No, this is not because someone is tricking you or ripping you off. The reality of the situation is that there is a great deal of maintenance and care constantly needing to be put toward your vehicle, and these expenses will grow over time.

When you are the look out for your next ride, make sure to consider all the factors. If you aren't sure what that complete picture looks like, there are a few items to be aware of:

"Check rating and maintenance trends of the make and model you are interested in."

Fuel
While it is unlikely you overlooked the cost of fuel, it is worth taking into account. Gasoline prices change frequently, and while it may be cheap this year, who's to say how much it could rise next year? But if you know this already, why mention it in the blog? Because it should be considered when purchasing a car.

For example, if you purchase a big vehicle with a large engine then you are going to use more gasoline. On the other hand, if you purchase a vehicle that is more fuel efficient, it may seem more expensive up front, but how much could you save over the years on fuel? It is hard to gauge exactly how much you will spend or save, but it is worth keeping in mind when factoring in future costs of your car.

Maintenance

You want to make sure the individual car you are looking at is in good working order, but you should also get a history pertaining to that year's make and model as a whole. Some cars are flawed in specific areas and it is better to know this going in.

Know everything about your car before you purchase it.

Does the car you are purchasing have a reputation for maintenance needs?

Like gasoline costs, maintenance can shift with the economy. For example, AAA noted that average maintenance costs from 2012 to 2013 increased 11.26 percent. Therefore, if you are purchasing a car that is going to need more routine work than oil changes tire pressure adjustments, it is worth noting that you will likely be paying more than you may want to throughout the year.

So how can you avoid this? Check ratings and maintenance trends on the type of car you are looking at. While a safer, more well-built car might seem more expensive in the lot, know that down the road you'll be paying less for your upkeep.

Insurance
Just like it is impossible to drive without gasoline, it is illegal to drive without insurance. Additionally, you want the coverage anyway should something go wrong. While many consumers whine about having to pay for insurance, they are glad it is there in the event of an emergency. Should something go wrong you don't want to responsible for paying for the repair costs out of pocket.

Similar to how you inspect your car for potential maintenance concerns, apply this to your insurance consideration as well. If you are a looking at a car that has a history of mechanical problems or is at the top of many thieves' lists, then it is likely your insurance rates will be higher, requiring you to pay a bit more each month.

You are better off speaking with a professional about how insurance rates work and finding a car and an insurance quote you can tackle each month. In fact, according to MarketWatch, you can have your insurance agent quote the vehicle before you purchase it. This way, there are no surprises when you seek out quotes for your new car. You don't want to purchase something you think is affordable only to realize the insurance is going to strangle your budget.

Fees
There are often fees affiliated with purchasing a vehicle, and these usually depend on the lot in which you buy the car from. Be sure to speak with your dealer about what the total cost of the car will be, not just what the sticker price says. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get the car you want, just make sure it is at a price you can afford.

When it comes to purchasing a car, there are many factors that play a role in setting the price. As long as you have an idea of what your car is going to cost you month to month, you are in a better position than many consumers who go for whatever seems good at that moment in the lot.

Do a bit of research and choose a car that not only feels good while you are driving, but also feels good while you are paying.