Car running costs in Australia 2021


Cars can burn a big hole in your budget. So before you buy that shiny new SUV or 4x4, consider how much it costs to own a car long-term. Getting a snapshot of costs can help you budget with more certainty. Your future self will thank you!

Please note, all data referenced to in this article is from the Transport Affordability Index Q2 as at 30 June 2021.*

What are the current trends for car running costs in 2021?   

Transport costs continued going up into the June Quarter of 2021. The average Aussie home had weekly transport costs of $361, up $6 on the quarter. It may not seem like much, but that’s a rise of about 7% annually. On the city vs country scale, metro households spent $20,520 per year versus $16,735 in regional towns. They are big numbers no matter your income or employment status.

As always, it wasn’t good news for Sydneysiders, who faced the highest transport costs of $470 per week. This was 30% above the national average. Bunbury in Western Australia continued to be the most expensive regional centre to own a car, followed by Alice Springs and Geelong.

What about car running costs as a percentage of income?

As a percentage of household income, the national cost of transport rose slightly from 14.7 per cent to 14.9 per cent. Loan repayments and fuel remain the biggest thorn in the side for many. Hobart residents continued to face the highest costs as a proportion of household budget (among capital cities) with transport costs making up 18 per cent of annual income.

Here’s a breakdown of car running costs in Australia as a percentage of household income (as at June 2021):

What are Aussies spending on petrol each week?

The average Aussie household was spending $73 each week at the pump by mid-2021. That means city and country households are spending an average of $3,796 per year on fuel, making fuel discount programs extra important.

Servicing and tyre replacement costs

A tune up and new set of tyres set back, on average, almost $30 per week in the June quarter. Costs for maintaining a new and used car remained highest in Canberra and lowest in Adelaide. If you live in the capital, you might be paying about $800 more per year than your neighbours in Adelaide for servicing and tyres. Ouch!

Car loan repayments and finance expenses

Car loan payments were also up, accounting for nearly 50% of car running costs at $166 per week. Unfortunately, the upfront costs of purchasing a new car offset lower interest payments on car loans. If you have a car loan, there is a good chance it is your most significant expense. You might want to remember this when deciding whether to finance your next car purchase.

Car insurance, registration, and CTP insurance costs

Insurance costs were $25.40 a week for a typical household – up slightly. Melbourne remained the most expensive city while Perth remained the cheapest. Your typical Melbourne family spends $1,020 per year more than Perth on insurance. Premiums reflect state-by-state accident rates, death rates and theft rates.

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Why is it cheaper to own a car in the country vs the city in Australia?

There are some key differences between city and country households when it comes to transport costs. Those in regional towns would seem to pay more considering they:

  • travel further than city households
  • pay more for petrol than the city households because they usually drive more and generally face higher fuel prices than their city counterparts, and
  • earn less on average than their city counterparts.

But this is offset by:

  • most states offering lower comprehensive premiums on new and used cars in regional areas
  • a  lack of road tolls in the country, and
  • lower public transport costs on top of car running costs.

Get a quote for Car Insurance and see if you can save

Whether you’re live in the city or the the country, right now you can get a quote for Comprehensive or Third Party Car Insurance for comparison with AAMI.

Getting a quote is a simple and transparent way to look at what you’re paying now versus what you could be paying. Just click the button below and follow the prompts.

Drive safe and remember the impact car running costs can have on your budget long-term.

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* AAA: Transport Affordability Index - Q2 2021

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