10 Hidden Car Costs
Once you have haggled and agreed on a price for buying a car, keep in mind that other costs await you. These are the so-called hidden costs that can make your $25,000 car cost $30,000. Some of these aren't all that "hidden," but they're certainly not included in the price you're quoted for the vehicle itself.
Below are 10 costs beyond the inevitable gas and repairs. The first four are the realities of car ownership. The last several are costs to be aware of and ones you should avoid.
1. Registration and emission fees. These will typically run somewhere between $50 and $500, depending on the state and the vehicle.
2. State sales tax. This is usually added to the cost of the car, and also depends on the state.
3. Insurance. Collision, comprehensive, and liability insurance will vary, depending on a variety of factors, including your choice of insurance carrier, the car you drive, your city and state, your driving history, and the age and driving history of all licensed drivers in your family. You may opt not to carry collision insurance once the car is more than seven or eight years old.
4. Inspection. Cars need annual inspections, which typically do not cost much. However, if your car needs repairs or new parts to pass such inspections, the costs can add up.
5. Tolls, parking, and antitheft devices. Depending on where you use the car and how difficult it is to park, you'll need to add this to your auto expenses. For example, it can cost $500 to $1,000 for a monthly parking space in a New York City garage. You may also want, or need, to install antitheft features, depending on what comes with the car and where you'll be parking it.
6. Leasing fees. For those who are leasing, besides early termination fees, there can be numerous hidden costs. Even mismatched tires can tack on a high fee. Read the contract carefully.
7. Extended warranties. This is optional, so you should not be told that it's part of the car's price. Often the manufacturer's warranty covers what you will need. If not, make sure you know exactly what this extended warranty will and will not cover.
8. Dealer-installed options. Like all extras, these are "options" -- meaning they are your choice and not the dealer's. Don't get talked into high markup items like undercoating or special fabric protection that you do not need.
9. Document preparation fees. This should be a very minimal charge or nothing at all. Paperwork is part of selling the car. It is not your responsibility to pay for it.
10. Dealer preparation charges. You should find out about all charges in advance, including this one. Typically, the dealer is reimbursed from the manufacturer, so this charge is unnecessary. Unless it is a minimal amount and you have won on other negotiation points, you should not pay for this.
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