Buying a car can be exciting as well as daunting. It’s easy to get swept up in the fun of choosing makes, models, colours, and added extras for your car. However, in the rush to find something you like in the moment, you can overlook long-term costs.
There are certain things that you just can’t be sure of. For example, car insurance will vary greatly depending on the type of car you have, your age, your driving history, and numerous other factors. But there are some things you can be pre-warned about when you buy a car.
We took a look at the different categories of cars available, finding out average costs from the most popular models in dealerships now. We assessed the main expenses you’ll have to consider, from tax to maintenance, and also spoke to Stuart Masson over at The Car Expert to find out his top tips.
Masson says “Hatchbacks are still the most popular type of car sold in the UK, every day, week and month of the year. They are generally very practical and fuel efficient, and relatively inexpensive for servicing and repairs.”
According to our research, they are one of the cheapest categories of car in terms of tax and fuel, and the cheapest overall for maintenance at an average £1138 annually. Since this is such a popular car, there are plenty of engine sizes and models to choose from, meaning you can mix and match to get the best running cost and lowest depreciation.
Masson says to save even further, buyers should “beware of adding too many expensive options, as you really won’t get much extra for them when you sell the car later on.
Estate and saloon cars fared worse than hatchbacks, likely due to the fact that they’re usually larger and use more fuel. At an average of £1519 they’re nearly £400 a year more expensive than their hatchback cousins. Masson also says, “Depreciation is usually worse so you will lose more money over the first few years.”
For families, or people who need that extra boot space, the cost may be worth it. Masson’s tip if you do go for this type of car is “shop around and haggle.”
According to Masson, “UK drivers buy more convertibles than anywhere else in the world. But you do pay for the privilege of dropping the top; convertibles cost more than equivalent coupés, and driving at speed with the roof down will seriously affect your fuel consumption.”
Tax is significantly higher than other types of car on the list, and this could increase under new tax rules if the car is worth more than £40,000. Advice from Masson is:
Weigh up how often you are going to actually put the roof down; most convertibles spend most of the year with the roof up, which rather defeats the purpose. Spend a bit extra on some heated seats or a decent coat, and go topless all year round!
Masson states that buying an SUV for most people is “a case of style over substance.” He states, “Most so-called SUVs have little to no off-roading abilities and will never see anything more challenging than a gravel driveway.”
As you can see, their costs are very high in each category. Masson says this is because “they are often based on normal hatchback models, but you are paying more money and getting extra weight, poorer fuel economy and higher levels of pollution, all to enjoy that chunky SUV styling and feel.”
However, despite the fact that an SUV will cost a whopping £2114 a year (on average), “the good news is that resale values are normally better than an equivalent hatchback, so at least you’ll get some of that additional money back again when you sell it.”
As you can see, the running costs of electric and hybrid cards is unrivalled. The cars we looked at includes both, which means the cost can be lower or higher depending on which car you choose. Obviously, if you go for an electric model, you won’t have to pay for petrol or diesel, but you will have the inconvenience of making sure you have access to a charging point. Similarly, you are only tax-exempt if you have a car that’s completely electric, so remember to take that into account.
In terms of hybrids, Masson says, “around town, you can use the electric motor for clean, quiet urban driving. And out on the road, you have a petrol engine to give you the range you need. But it also means that you are carrying around two motors all the time while only ever using one, so the other one is a few hundred kilos of dead weight. This means they are never as efficient as they could be in the real world”
The results still show, though, that you can save a lot of money over the life of your car by buying a hybrid or electric model. The main takeaway, though, is that doing your due diligence before a purchase can make a massive difference long term.