Cost of Owning a Car

I bought my first car in 2015. That will make it 3 years old this May. I wanted to see how much owning a car has cost me over the last few years. I have broken down the cost into their categories so I can really see where my money is going.

We do have to keep in mind that my maintenance costs over the last three years have been lower than they will be from here on out because I had a $500 gift card as a bonus when purchasing the car. I have just used up the card so year four maintenance will cost more.

The first year was the most expensive mainly because of the initial cost of the vehicle. I put a down payment of $10,000 on the car (about half of the total cost) to help reduce my monthly payments and interest. Any money I had left over at the end of each month after paying all my bills, I put towards the car loan to help pay it off as quickly as possible. My goal was to have it paid off in one year from purchase but it actually took me about a year and a half.

The first year also had some extra costs such as buying winter tires on rims. I also bought a blanket to keep in the trunk to keep the fabric clean and for emergencies where you need some extra warmth, as well as a snow brush (labeled as accessories).

Below are the totals for my first year of car ownership (all prices in CAD):

Car Payments: $19,504
Registration: $183
Insurance: $1,402
Gasoline: $347
Car Wash: $9
Rock Chip Repair: $63
Winter Tires: $1,088
Accessories: $35
Maintenance: $50 (having tires changed)

Grand Total for Year One: $22,681

In year two I was able to finish paying off my loan which was really exciting. I did have an unexpected cost due to having my license plate stolen which cost money to replace.

Below are the totals for year two:

Car Payments: $4,100
Registration: $169
Insurance: $1,349
Gasoline: $461
Car Wash: $26
Rock Chip Repair: $42

Grand Total for Year Two: $6,146

In year three things have gone pretty smooth. I had an unexpected cost when I scratched my car which they wanted to charge me $3700 to fix. Instead I bought some paint from a store for $20 and fixed it myself (minus the dents which are not a concern to me). Year three isn’t technically over until the end of May, but unless I have an unexpected cost, it shouldn’t change between now and then.

Year three totals are:

Registration: $84
Insurance: $1,142
Gasoline: $415
Car Wash: $25
Maintenance: $359

Grand Total for Year Three: $2026

Some things of note are, I don’t drive to many places. I usually only drive to and from work so most of the time I only have to get gas a couple times a month. I do spend a little bit more in the summer because I will sometimes take my car when we go on camping trips.

I also don’t wash my car often. I usually try and wait until I take it in for a tire change/maintenance because they will normally wash my car for free. I will only wash it two or so extra times per year (so four times a year in total). If I’m lucky the rain will wash it for me.

I also looked up how much a monthly bus pass would cost me as a comparison. For a year on the bus, it would cost me $1164. While it would cost about $1000 less to take the bus compared to owning a car (now that it’s all paid off), the amount of time I save makes a big difference. It takes me about 20-30 minutes each way if I drive to work, or about three and a half hours per week. Taking the bus is over an hour in each direction, so about twelve and a half hours per week. That is a nine hour difference!

I think owning a car makes more sense at this point. Before buying a car, my workplace was closer. If they hadn’t moved my store location, buying a car wouldn’t have made sense. I used to walk to work each way in the same amount of time it takes me to drive to work now. But driving is a skill I wanted to have and having my store move gave me the incentive I needed to make the purchase. So far I’m happy with the decision.


  1. Kudos to you for getting a car and driving! I haven’t gotten my license yet. It honestly terrifies me! Though I know I have to eventually!

    Looks like its paying off for you though!

  2. Ahhh, this has got me re-thinking about getting a car. I still want to learn how to drive but I don’t know about a car, I’d really rather walk (to help with my fitness!) or take public transport even if it is a pain to wait for!

  3. The cost of owning a car is quite expensive and while my husband and I are waiting for the settlement from our car accident to get a better car than what we have now.

  4. I bought a new car last year and I definitely agree with you. It is expensive owning a car.

    I work in the public and in the year that I’ve owned it, someone else has already hit it and my mirror got broken off. That had to come out of my pocket to fix, because of other peoples carelessness. It definitely does add up.

  5. Cars are so expensive, which is what puts me off getting one. They always need so much work doing, and I reckon I’d never have any money if I got one! Can’t believe how much you spent on your first year!

    I definitely agree about saving time though. I currently spend three hours a day on the bus, which works out at fifteen hours a week. I’d save so much time if I had a car!

  6. Wow. The cost of owning a car for you is quite cheap. Owning a car in Singapore costs around at least 60k SGD (around 78k USD). That’s only the price of car registration and the car itself.

  7. I’ve never thought to actually add up how much owning a car has cost me over the years. I have had one since my early 20s so 15 years or so. I applaud you for taking the time to sit down and figure it out. I may do that next time I buy a new car.

    Even though my husband and I have a 2015 Altima we both take the bus to work. It would cost almost $220 a month to park downtown since I started working at Scotiabank. It’s just to expensive. I never realised till now how much time driving back and forth to work saved me. However at the same time I am enjoying the extra walking I’m getting in and the time I can spend reading and listening to music on the bus.

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