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Buying & Selling


Finance & Insurance

Car Care

Road Scholar

How Much Will Your Next Car Really Cost to Fuel?

How Much Will Your Next Car Really Cost to Fuel?

Written By

Lewis C. Smith


Oct 3, 2023

Discover the true cost of fueling your next car. Beyond the price tag, factor in fuel expenses to make an informed decision.

Comparing Fueling Costs Across Different Vehicles

Buying a car? There's more to think about than just the sticker price! Let's chat about fuel costs—basically, what it's going to cost you to drive around town and take those fun road trips.

A One-Stop-Shop Tool for Comparing Cars

Ever wish there was an easy way to figure out how much it might cost you to drive a particular car? Good news! The U.S. Department of Energy has a super handy tool (or calculator) that can help you figure that out. This tool is part of their website.

🚗 Fun Fact: Including your current car in the comparison (if you have one) can give you a helpful look at how your future car might save you money (or not) compared to your present one!

Making it Relevant to You

As noted in the example screenshots below, there is a "Personalize" feature where you can input approximately how many miles you drive and what fuel costs in your region. So, whether you drive 5,000 or 30,000 miles a year, or you want to estimate fuel expenses with potentially higher fuel costs, the tool can take that into account.

What About Those Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Cars?

Since electricity rates will be an important component for Electric Vehicles or Plug-In Hybrids, you will want to adjust that under the "Personalize" section as well. It is easy to miss, so please see the example screenshots below.

Also you may want to verify with your local utility, if you will be charging at home, what your rate options will be. Many utility providers have varying rates over the course of the day, and have the cheapest rates in off-peak hours. Ideally you will be able to schedule your car to charge in the off-peak hours, however, if for some reason that won't be an option, you will want to factor that in the higher rate.

Similarly if you won't have the ability to charge your vehicle at home and you will be reliant upon publicly available charging stations, you will want to verify both availability the rates in your area. Electrify America is a helpful resource to find their charging stations near you and get their rate structure. You can also look at this website from the U.S. Department of Energy which lists chargers from different providers, but to get the rates, you will need to look at the provider websites.

If you want to get more granular about fuel costs with Plug-in Hybrid cars, see the section below about the Plug-in Hybrid calculator.

Ready to Take a Test Drive?

Choosing a car can be a big decision, but having the right tools and info can make it a whole lot easier. And understanding how much it's going to cost you in the long run? That's a major key to happy car ownership.

With this tool, you’re not just seeing the costs now, but you’re getting a sneak peek into your future drives too. So before you pick your next set of wheels, spend a little time with the tool. It'll help you steer in the right direction for your wallet and your adventures on the road!

"Compare Side by Side" Example Screenshots

"Compare Side by Side" Example Screenshots

Getting More Granular Fuel Cost Estimates for Plug-In Hybrids

Navigating through the fuel expenses of a plug-in hybrid car might seem a tad complicated due to the mixture of both electric and gasoline power. But worry not, we're here to help break it down in a straightforward way!

Picture two plug-in hybrid drivers: One drives 45 miles each day and recharges every night, while the other drives under 25 miles and only charges occasionally throughout the week. They're both bound to have different fuel costs, right? Absolutely, and understanding these variances doesn’t have to be a headache.

The U.S. Department of Energy through their website has created a tool to help sort through these differing scenarios, giving a clearer picture of potential costs. If you want a really precise estimate, you'll want to opt for the "Detailed Driving Form". Let’s get into the details:

  • Simple Driving Form: This option is straightforward and provides a general cost estimate based on your everyday and yearly driving habits.

  • Detailed Driving Form: This deeper dive asks you about your specific driving and charging habits to provide a closer look at your potential fuel costs. Here’s what it wants to know:

    • Everyday Drives: How many miles are you driving, how many days a week, and how often are you charging the car? How much of this is in heavy traffic?

    • Weekend Drives: Similar questions about your less regular driving habits, often on weekends.

    • Lengthy Trips: How often and how far are you traveling on longer journeys? How is the traffic, and how often can you charge the car during these adventures?

Inputting this info, the website calculates an estimate of your gasoline and electricity use, providing a handy estimate for plug-in hybrid drivers and clearing up potential questions about their specific driving habits and fuel costs.

For a clearer understanding, check out the step-by-step guide in the screenshots below, or dive right in by clicking here to try the tool yourself!

"Plug-in Hybrid Calculator" Example Screenshots

Conclusion: An Informed Decision

Smart car shopping means knowing your options and costs. It's not just about gas cars anymore—with electric and hybrid vehicles in the mix, understanding how much you'll spend on fuel is key. The sticker price of a car is just the start; getting a handle on what you’ll actually spend to drive it matters too. Nobody wants a new car that’s too expensive to fill up or charge. With a bit of knowledge about the different kinds of cars and their fuel costs, you can choose a ride that fits your budget all around.

Smart Shopper Insights FAQs

Are autobrokers the equivalent of real estate agents?

Auto brokers and real estate agents both serve as intermediaries in their respective fields, offering similar services that streamline and facilitate transactions for buyers. Here's a closer look at the parallels:

  • Advocacy and Representation: Both professionals advocate for your interests, finding options that match your preferences and budget.

  • Negotiation Skills: They negotiate terms on your behalf to secure advantageous deals, from price to financing.

  • Market Insight: With specialized knowledge of their markets, they guide you to make informed decisions.

  • Time-Saving: They manage the complexities of transactions to save you time and effort.

  • Compensation Structure: In many cases, just like real estate agents, auto brokers' fees are paid by the seller, which means their services can often come at no direct cost to the buyer.

An important distinction to note is the regulatory environment. In California, auto brokers are required to have a dealer license issued by the state, similar to real estate agents who must be licensed to operate. This ensures that they adhere to stringent standards of professionalism and ethical conduct, undergo thorough background checks, and comply with specific transaction codes that govern vehicle sales within the state. While the same level of regulation may not apply to auto brokers in other states, many still operate with a strong commitment to honesty and transparency.

When you work with a licensed auto broker in California, you're engaging with a professional who has met all the necessary requirements to legally and ethically conduct car sales, akin to the rigorous process real estate agents go through for licensure. This not only underscores the credibility of the broker but also provides you with added assurance that your transaction adheres to all state laws and regulations.

What should I look for during a pre-purchase inspection?

A pre-purchase inspection should cover the vehicle's mechanical condition, appearance, and safety features. On the exterior, look for signs of damage or rust, and inside, check for wear and tear, and the condition of the tires. Under the hood, look for any signs of leaks, the condition of hoses and belts, and the state of the fluids. Ideally, a trusted mechanic should conduct a comprehensive inspection, including putting the vehicle on a lift to check the undercarriage, suspension, and to detect any potential leaks or undisclosed damage from an accident. They should also inspect the engine, transmission, brakes, and steering systems, verify the function of warning lights, and take note of any that come on after starting the engine. Finally, a test drive is an essential step to evaluate the car's handling, braking, and overall performance.

Are service records really that important when looking at a used car?

Absolutely, service records are crucial when considering a used vehicle. They provide a detailed history of the maintenance and repairs the car has undergone, giving insight into how well it has been taken care of. Regular maintenance not only improves a vehicle's performance but also extends its life. Observing diligent maintenance intervals also offers insight into the previous owner's responsibility and commitment to vehicle upkeep. If a vehicle lacks service records, it might be challenging to determine its actual condition and if critical maintenance tasks were performed as needed.

AutoCheck vs. CarFax: Is one better than the other?

Both AutoCheck and CarFax provide detailed information about a vehicle's history, though they source their data differently. CarFax is known for its comprehensive service and maintenance records and is extensively used by dealerships. In contrast, AutoCheck, owned by Experian, uses a unique scoring system that helps buyers understand a vehicle's condition at a glance. Depending on your specific needs and the level of detail you're looking for, you might prefer one over the other.

What does a rebuilt title or branded title mean?

A rebuilt or branded title indicates that a vehicle has suffered significant damage in the past and was deemed a total loss by an insurance company. This damage might have been due to a collision, flood, or other serious incidents. After the damage, the vehicle was repaired and inspected to ensure it met certain roadworthiness standards. However, understanding the extent of the damage and the quality of repairs is vital as structural deficiencies can be challenging to detect with a visual inspection alone. A branded title can significantly affect a vehicle's value and its potential for future resale. Therefore, it's vital to thoroughly inspect and understand a vehicle's repair history before making a purchase.

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CarOracle is a California-licensed automotive dealer, License No: 43082, with an autobroker's endorsement, enabling us to represent consumers in the purchase or leasing of new and used vehicles.

©2024 CarOracle. All rights reserved

CarOracle is a California-licensed automotive dealer, License No: 43082, with an autobroker's endorsement, enabling us to represent consumers in the purchase or leasing of new and used vehicles.

©2024 CarOracle. All rights reserved

CarOracle is a California-licensed automotive dealer, License No: 43082, with an autobroker's endorsement, enabling us to represent consumers in the purchase or leasing of new and used vehicles.

©2024 CarOracle. All rights reserved