Buying guide

What are the ongoing costs of owning a car?

Always take the time to check the running costs of different cars and decide what you can afford/want to spend.

When choosing your next car, it’s important to remember that the expense of the car is more than just the purchase price. Before buying, you should evaluate and consider ongoing costs that come with every car. Take the time to check the running costs of different cars and decide what you can afford/want to spend.

Some cars will be considerably more expensive to run than others. For example:

  • Are you considering a car with a big engine? You’ll guzzle more gas.
  • Would like lots of horsepower? You’ll pay high insurance premiums.
  • Wanting to buy a diesel car? You’ll have to pay Road User Charges (RUC).

What should I budget for?

Some ongoing costs require regular payments, and others will be a fixed rate. Whether you’re parked up at home or driving it daily, you’ll have to think of the following:

Car Insurance

Protect yourself in the event of an accident, damage to your car or someone else's, as well as fire and theft damage. Having car insurance gives you peace of mind that you’re covered and won’t have to worry about having to fork out if something happens. Create an instant quote now with Trade Me Insurance.

Warrant of Fitness (WoF)

Keep your Warrant of Fitness (WoF) up to date and avoid getting fined by the New Zealand police or parking wardens. It’s illegal to drive without a WoF, so updating it on time is very important. The amount of time between WoF tests relates to the type and year of the car. It could be every 6 months or yearly.

Vehicle licensing (rego)

You can’t legally drive on NZ roads without a rego. The type of car you have determines how much you’ll spend on your rego. It’s cheaper to pay for a year, but you can pay for as little as you want at a time.

Road User Charge (RUC)

If diesel is your thing, be prepared to pay Road User Charges (RUC). Everyone driving diesel vehicles on New Zealand’s roads has to make a contribution to their upkeep. Be sure to check that your vehicle RUC licence is up to date before purchasing as the seller should have these paid off before handing over the keys. The cost depends on the vehicle type and RUC weight.

Weekly finance

If you bought your car with finance, you’ll have to continue making weekly/fortnightly payments until it’s all paid off. Make sure to shop around for the best finance option and don’t sign anything you don’t agree with or understand.

What other regular costs can I expect?

These are the most common:


The type of car and engine size determines how much you’ll spend on petrol. Small city cars like a Toyota Vitz or a Honda Fit have small engines and low fuel consumption. They also take regular petrol, which is a lot cheaper than premium. Cars with larger engines often use a lot of fuel and some take premium gas.


If you’re spending money on buying a car, you need to spend additional money to keep it going. Getting it serviced regularly will not only ensure that your car is safe but will reduce the risk of having a major (and expensive) break down. How often you get serviced depends on the car and how often it’s used. Most cars are serviced every 6 months or 10,000 km, whatever comes first.


If something goes wrong, you’ll have to cough up the money to get it fixed. Unexpected repairs can be frustrating and a lot to spend out of the blue. You can do your best to reduce needing repairs by servicing your car regularly and getting general maintenance done when needed, such as an oil change.

Once you’ve got a solid understanding of the likely costs of keeping a car on the road, you should consider any potential issues you may have with the car after you’ve bought it. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen, but it’s always a possibility. Check out some advice on what to do if you encounter such issues with your car.