Car running costs 2019

RACV Carculator

Figuring out how much it costs to own and run a vehicle can be tricky, but thankfully, we’ve found a simple solution. From now on, you’ll be able to crunch the numbers in no time at all thanks to the RACV Carculator.

The Carculator draws on data from RACV’s Driving Your Dollars survey, which calculates the estimated cost to own and operate 141 of the top-selling models on the Victorian market*:

  • Discover how much it costs to run your car per week.
  • Determine which car is the most affordable option for your lifestyle.
  • Manage your budget using indicative figures.

* This Carculator should be used only as an indicative guide. Stated costs are estimates only based on data provided to RACV as of June 2019. The calculations take into account purchase price, on-road costs, depreciation, loan repayments, registration, insurance and auto club membership, as well as fuel, tyre costs, servicing and repairs. Costs are estimated over a five-year period for a vehicle travelling an average 15,000 kilometres a year.

The real cost of running a car

When it comes to buying a new car there are many factors to consider, some driven by emotion and others by numbers and specifications. For most motorists the deal-breaker is cost, something that extends beyond the purchase price and fuel consumption. The real-world cost of owning a car can be broken down into running costs (the cost of driving and maintaining your vehicle) and standing costs (what it costs to own, register and insure your vehicle). 

Car running costs 2019

The cost of owning a car doesn't end when you hand over the cheque to the dealer. A car continues to cost you, every week and every kilometre, and knowing just where and how can help you choose the most cost-effective vehicle for you when you next buy.

RACV's annual Driving Your Dollars vehicle operating costs survey takes the mystery out of owning and running a car, and it's a vital tool for every motoring consumer.

Select a model category to view detailed 2019 results

Reimbursement rates

By vehicle segment*

By vehicle segment*

Average cents/km

Average weekly cost

Micro

42.8

123.55

Light

49.2

141.92

Small

55.7

160.78

Small (Luxury)

76.3

219.95

Medium

70.8

204.24

Medium (Luxury)

103.2

297.58

Large

89.1

256.92

Large (Luxury)

138.8

400.43

Sports

89.7

258.77

People Movers

85.8

247.60

Small SUV

62.3

179.85

Small SUV (Luxury)

83

239.52

Medium SUV

73.5

211.91

Medium SUV (Luxury)

104.7

301.95

Large SUV

89.1

256.97

All Terrain SUV

99.5

286.95

2WD Ute

82.0

236.65

4WD Ute

92.9

268.03

* The 2019 vehicle reimbursement rates are indicative of the cost to private motorists to own and operate their own vehicle and are intended as a guide only.

How are car running costs calculated?

Fundamental assumptions

The major assumption behind the operating and ownership costs methodology is that motorists travel 15,000km a year. This is slightly above the ABS Survey of Motor Vehicle Use (12 months ended 30 June 2018) which estimates that the average Victorian-registered passenger car travels 14,100km a year.

An assumed distance of 15,000km a year has been maintained for the purpose of comparing with previous years' results. The cost of ownership is calculated over a five-year period.

The operating and ownership costs are only indicative of the costs associated with a vehicle driven in these exact conditions. No conclusion can be drawn about the vehicle operating costs outside of this ownership period and operating distance.

The 2019 operating and ownership cost calculations only apply to private buyers and the costs associated with vehicle ownership and operation have been specifically targeted to them.

As with previous years, the ownership costs are estimated for the year 2019 and future predictions based on CPI are not included.

Learn more on how operating costs are calculated

Vehicle selection

The vehicle selection is based on sales figures with the top-selling vehicles in each class being chosen. Other models of interest (e.g. hybrids and electric cars) are also included. 

The base model variant is generally chosen except where the price of a higher-spec variant is more comparable with other vehicles in that class. Where available, a manual transmission is chosen for cars in the Micro category while an automatic transmission is selected for all other vehicles.

The cars selected for the Small SUV class are all two-wheel-drive where available. In the other SUV classes a four-wheel-drive model was chosen although several two-wheel drives are also included for comparison purposes. Petrol-powered vehicles are typically chosen for the Small and Medium SUV categories and diesel-powered vehicles for the larger categories.

Standing costs

These are the costs associated with the purchase and ownership of the vehicle which are payable regardless of whether the car is used. Standing costs include depreciation, on-road costs, loan interest, registration, insurance, auto club membership and licence fees.

Depreciation

Although the cost of depreciation is not realised until the vehicle is sold, the figure is assumed as an average for the five years. This cost is based on the predicted trade-in value after five years and 75,000km of a vehicle in average condition as determined by Glass’s Future Values. The difference between the purchase price and the estimated trade-in value is used to calculate the amount of depreciation.

On-road costs

These are determined by getting the total cost of:

  • List price of the new vehicle
  • A standard dealer delivery fee (based on averages for each manufacturer)
  • Government stamp duty
  • VicRoads number plates charge
  • Registration including compulsory third party insurance (TAC)

Where a vehicle manufacturer publishes a list price that is an ongoing drive-away price, then this is used instead of the above.

Loan repayments

This is based on repayments made on an RACV Finance car loan. It is assumed that 100% of the on-road cost of the vehicle is borrowed and that repayments are made monthly over a total loan period of five years.

Registration, comprehensive insurance and auto club membership

Registration costs include:

  • VicRoads registration fee
  • TAC compulsory third party injury insurance premium

Insurance is calculated using RACV comprehensive insurance premiums allowing for:

  • RACV Comprehensive Motor Insurance*
  • Market Value policy
  • No Windscreen, Hire Car, or Choice of Repairer options added
  • Youngest owner driver is a 30-year-old male without any prior accidents or incidents in the last 5 years
  • The vehicle is garaged in a medium-risk suburb
  • The vehicle is for private use only
  • The vehicle has been financed with RACV finance
  • Basic policy Excess of $700

Auto club membership is basic RACV Roadside Care.

Licence costs are for half a 10-year Victorian licence.

Running costs

The running costs are the additional amounts that must be paid in order to use a vehicle. Running costs include fuel, tyres and servicing costs.

Fuel costs

The fuel prices used in the 2019 operating costs survey were determined by RACV as the Melbourne metropolitan average for the 12 months prior to the study (up to the latest possible month). The average fuel costs used are:

  • 91 RON petrol – 136.5 cents per litre
  • 95 RON petrol – 148.5 cents per litre
  • 98 RON petrol – 155.1 cents per litre
  • Diesel – 150.7 cents per litre
  • LPG – 72.0 cents per litre

Fuel consumption is based on the ADR 81/02 combined test figure as published in the Green Vehicle Guide.

Tyre costs

It is assumed one full set of tyres will wear out within the study period given that on average tyres last 45,000km (as estimated by RACV auto care centres).

Replacement costs are quoted on tyres fitted and balanced. Replacing the full set of four tyres will also require the tyre fitter to perform a wheel alignment. The replacement cost will be quoted at the RACV Mobile Tyre Service price on an equivalent replacement tyre brand and type.

Service and repairs

This comprises two costs: the cost associated with regular servicing and the cost of unscheduled servicing and repairs.

Standard service parts and labour times follow the owner’s handbook schedule and services are performed using only original equipment parts. The manufacturer-specified service intervals for time or distance are used, whichever comes first. Where available, fixed or capped-price service programs are adopted.

Unscheduled servicing and repairs incorporates a number of common replacement parts including parts that experience wear and tear due to normal use of a vehicle. For example, brake pads and rotors, windscreen wipers (assumed to be replaced yearly) and a battery are included. Windscreens are commonly damaged as a part of normal driving and so their replacement cost is also included.

Standard labour times as specified by the vehicle manufacturers are used for each service and for the replacement of unscheduled replacement parts.

Parts prices are sourced from the vehicle manufacturers as the most up-to-date information. Battery prices are sourced from RACV Batteries or the manufacturer when needed. Windscreen prices are not included.

Labour rates have been averaged from a survey of metropolitan service centres. The average labour rate is varied for each manufacturer.

* RACV Motor Insurance is issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Limited ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678. The information on this website is general advice only so before making any decisions, please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement.

* R.A.C.V. Finance Limited ABN 82 004 292 291 Australian Credit Licence No. 391488. Years of membership benefit applies to all consumer loan applications (subject to approval) made directly through RACV. Any loan application introduced through a broker/intermediary will not be eligible to receive the discount.
^^ If you are not completely satisfied with your RACV Finance personal loan, you can return the full loan amount and, if the loan is paid out and finalised within 21 days from the date the loan was funded RACV Finance will refund all application fees and any interest charged; waive the early termination fee (ETF); and cancel any Consumer Credit Insurance or Shortfall Insurance policy taken out and refund all premiums to the loan, product coverage will cease. The Satisfaction Guarantee is not available in conjunction with commercial loan products, leases or loans introduced by Brokers/Dealers.

** RACV Motor Insurance is issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Limited ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678. The information on this website is general advice only so before making any decisions, please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement.