Multiple Australian coins and a five-dollar note lie in the front middle console of a car.
Vehicles

How to manage car expenses in your budget

A new financial year guide to planning for the 12 months ahead.

By Shell on Jun. 14, 2022

Much like houses, cars are one of those assets that involve a variety of recurring expenses long after you’ve made the initial commitment to buy them. The good news is that those costs can largely be anticipated, meaning it’s a whole lot easier to consciously budget for them. Here are the key car expenses you need to look out for as we enter a new financial year.

Car servicing

The general rule of thumb is to service your vehicle every six months or 10,000km (whichever comes first), or every three months/5000km if your car is older or you encounter difficult driving conditions on a regular basis.

The benefit of doing so is you’ll be keeping your car in good nick, meaning less major problems down the track, and a better resale value should you want to offload it at some point.

According to data collated by AutoGuru, the average car service in Australia costs around $245 for a minor service and $386 for a logbook service, although this can vary quite a bit depending on factors such as make and model (premium German vehicles can be a lot more expensive), the age of the vehicle, the mechanic used and specific issues the car may be experiencing. Some dealers offer fixed-price servicing for a limited time, which could help you budget in the short term

Licence and registration

Ongoing licence and registration fees are part and parcel of owning and operating a car. Typically you can renew your registration for three months, six months or a year, and your licence from one to five years, with discounts usually offered for committing to a longer time period.

Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance may be covered as part of the cost, depending on which state or territory you reside in.

The average Australian household pays $29.28 per week for registration, CTP and licensing costs, or about $1523 per year, according to research from the Australian Automobile Association (AAA).

Insurance

CTP insurance, which specifically covers compensation payments for people injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident, is a legal requirement in Australia.

In Western Australia, Victoria, the Northern Territory and Tasmania it’s part of your registration costs, whereas South Australians are able to choose a CTP insurer. Residents of NSW and Queensland need to purchase CTP before they can register their vehicle, and in the ACT it’s called Motor Accident Injuries (MAI) Insurance and can be bought from an insurer.

You may also want to purchase an insurance policy for third party property damage or third party fire and theft, although the more expensive option – a comprehensive car insurance policy – is usually people’s go-to.

Again, a number of factors influence the cost of your insurance, including make and model, your age, claims history and where you live. Roadside assistance may or may not be included. If not, it can be purchased through a a motoring club like NRMA, RACV or RACQ, although many car manufacturers now include it as a perk for new-car buyers, at least for the first few years.

Expect to budget somewhere between $800 to $1200 for comprehensive insurance, depending on your individual circumstances.

Fuel

An accurate amount to budget for is tricky considering how much fuel prices tend to fluctuate. The easiest way to figure out a yearly ballpark cost is to keep track of how much you spend filling up your tank in a single month, then multiply that by 12 for a figure that can act as a guide for the year ahead.

Miscellaneous

Other expenses worth keeping in mind when budgeting are road tolls, tyres (these days they tend to last for about 40,000km, and need to be replaced, on average, every three to five years), as well as car-loan repayments if you haven’t bought your vehicle outright.

Disclaimer

Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.
Where information, recommendations, opinions or ideas have been sourced from third parties external to Viva Energy (Third Party Information), Viva Energy cannot be certain that the Third Party Information is accurate, current or complete, nor should a mention of any business, product, service or website of a third party be taken as a recommendation, approval or endorsement of, or warranty or claim regarding, that business, product, service or website.