There are many costs new car buyers don’t suspect that can push their budgets over the edge. Here are the things that make up your total cost of car ownership.

Car Payment

The average monthly payment on a new car was $523 in the first quarter of 2018, according to credit reporting agency Experian. The monthly payment amount is determined by the total price of the car, the term of the loan, down payment, and the interest rate.


The average amount residents of Washington paid for car insurance in 2018 was $125 per month or $1,499 per year according to Value Penguin. Typically, insurance rates see their most significant drops leading up to age 30 and then level off.


To figure out how much you might spend on gas per year take the number of miles you’ll drive this year and multiply it by the average fuel mileage of your car, then multiply by the average gas price. At the time this article was written, the average gas price in Whatcom County was $3.10. The average number of miles driven per year is 12,000 so estimate up or down from that based on whether you’re a heavy or light driver.

Tabs/ Registration

When you get a new car, you’ll have to pay for license plates and tabs. In Washington State you’ll have to also renew your tabs every year. To figure out how much that would cost visit


Every year you own a car it loses value. This is called depreciation. Depending on the make and model and year of your vehicle, you’ll see a different amount of depreciation. Usually this amount hovers around $3,500 per year for the first few years of owning a vehicle. If you don’t plan on selling your vehicle until it dies, depreciation will not impact you.

Oil Changes

Typically, you’ll have to change your oil every 4,000 miles. For the average driver that means you’ll have to change your oil every 3 months. At roughly $30-60 a pop, this can add up.


If your car is not under warranty and depending on your insurance and the nature of the repair, you’ll have to pay for most of your cars repairs by yourself. Whether for you that’s a new set of tires, timing belt that has teared, or new windshield wipers, you’ll need to budget for these likely expenses.

It’s not until you have added all these numbers up and compared them cost to your budget, will you be able to assess whether you can afford the vehicle you’re looking at. To learn more about your auto loan options, speak to one of our loan officers at any of our conveniently located branches.