How Much are Car Costs Really?

By Angela Monroe - September 29, 2021

How Much are Car Costs Really h1

We all know car costs can stack up, but what are they really? We take a look at some car costs to help you work out what you could be up for.

What car costs?

We’re talking about things like stamp duty, registration, fuel, servicing, depreciation, tyres – the works!

Of course, it depends on a lot of things, so we’ll look at the average car in Australia to get a ballpark idea.

The average car in Australia;

  • Average age of vehicle: 10.1 years
  • Average rate of fuel consumption across all Australian vehicles: 11.1 L/100km
  • Average km / year driven in Australia: 13,300 km per year
  • Brand with most registrations: Toyota (for the 16th consecutive year)
  • State with most registrations: NSW (5.892 million vehicles)
  • Fuel type: Petrol (71.7%)
  • Body type in 2020: SUV (49.6%)
  • Body type in 2011 (average age of vehicles in Australia): Small car (24.2%)
  • Average used vehicle price Australia: $30,000 (mid 2021)

For our examples today, we’ll take;

  • 2011 Toyota Kluger Grande Auto. Rough cost: $28,000
  • 2015 Toyota Corolla Ascent Auto. Rough cost: $20,000



The Kluger we’re looking at is an AWD with a 7-seat capacity. It features a 3.5L V6 petrol engine. Considered a larger mid-size SUV, the Kluger is a popular, cheaper alternative to the Prado and LandCruiser models.



Being the world’s most popular car, the Corolla is a win for so many drivers. The one we’re looking at comes in FWD powered by a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine. The 5-door hatch seats 5 people.


Both cars run on unleaded 91 petrol.

Car Costs Per Year


Firstly, here’s the fuel consumption;

  • Kluger – 11.0L/100kms combined.
  • Corolla – 6.6L/100kms combined.

According to the ACCC, the average petrol price in Sydney in March, 2021 was 132.6 cents per litre. 

Using that price as a benchmark, with the average distance Australians travel per year (13,300 km), the costs are;

  • Kluger fuel cost per year: $1,939.93
  • Corolla fuel cost per year: $1,163.96

Total Tally So Far

  • Kluger: $1,939.93
  • Corolla: $1,163.96

Petrol cycles

In Australia, petrol prices fluctuate, especially in capital cities.

Why? As stated on the ACCC website ‘Price cycles are the result of deliberate pricing policies of petrol retailers, and are not directly related to changes in wholesale costs’.

Always make sure to fill up when the price is low and take measures to save petrol.


States and territories differ in Australia, but as mentioned above, we’ll stick with NSW. This is because NSW has the most registered vehicles.

In NSW, registration costs go by tare weight. For our purposes, both vehicles are for private use.

Tare weight (weight of the unmodified vehicle with no passenger / 10L of fuel)

  • Kluger: 1935kg
  • Corolla: 1280kg

Registration costs per year

  • Kluger: $547
  • Corolla: $381

Green Slip

CTP Green Slip is insurance that covers the liability of anyone driving your vehicle for injuries caused to others in a motor accident. Check with your state or territory’s government for specific details.

  • Kluger: $435 (estimate)
  • Corolla: $435 (estimate)

*Based on a driver aged in their mid-30s with no prior driving offences / incidents.

Note that registration and insurance costs vary per driver, location and other factors. The above figures and details are a rough guide only.

Total Tally So Far / Year

  • Kluger: $2,921.93
  • Corolla: $1,979.96


wheel align

Most vehicles, like the two we’re looking at, require servicing at least once a year. We’ll base our calculations on two times per year. They are general services.

Rough service costs per year based on two services

  • Kluger: $500
  • Corolla: $410

These costs are not based on scheduled logbook servicing as these can vary considerably.

Total Tally So Far / Year

  • Kluger: $3,421.93
  • Corolla: $2,389.96


How do you rotate wheels

This is a tough one as tyre wear depends on daily driving conditions which include the types of roads you drive on and how you actually drive.

For example, poorly inflated tyres on a heavy vehicle driven aggressively will wear faster than on a lighter vehicle driven gently.

  • The Kluger comes with 245/55 R19 tyres front and rear.
  • The Corolla comes with 205/55 R16 tyres front and rear.

Based on some rough price searching;

  • Kluger tyres (4 new): $840 ($210 each)
  • Corolla tyres (4 new): $600 ($150 each)

Note that these are mid-range, new tyres. 

Total Tally So Far / Year

  • Kluger: $4,261.93
  • Corolla: $2,989.96

Stamp duty

This is an easy one to calculate as most states offer their own calculators online. Make sure to check with your state government’s website.

Based on some price calculating from the ballpark purchase prices in NSW;

  • Kluger price: $28,000, stamp duty: $840
  • Corolla price: $20,000, stamp duty: $600

Also, note that stamp duty is a one-off payment upon purchase of the vehicle.

Total Tally / Year

  • Kluger: $5,101.93
  • Corolla: $3,589.96

Car costs all in all

The vast majority of Australians need a vehicle to get to and from work. This means car costs are pretty much inevitable.

Make sure your decision matches your financial situation and don’t hesitate to get some advice from professionals and/or people you trust.

Some car owners figure that paying a little more is the right way for their situation as it allows for more expensive cars that offer great road trips. On the other hand, some prefer a cheaper option and only look at the vehicle as a simple commuter.

All figures and details above are estimates and for a guide only.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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