Trips to the pump will make up a large portion of your vehicle’s operating cost. Unless you plan on buying an electric vehicle, fuel economy should be an important factor in your car buying decision. To figure out how much you’ll be spending on fuel:
- Research the average price of fuel in your area. Keep in mind that luxury and high-performance vehicles will require higher octane – and more expensive – fuel.
- Approximate the average number of miles per month the car will be driven. A good rule of thumb is that the typical car is driven 12,800 miles a year. However, that number will vary depending on your driving habits.
- Determine the average miles per gallon. You may be tempted to use the highway mileage for this step but you won’t get as accurate an estimate. To get a better idea of the new car’s mileage, use the average of the city and the highway numbers, or the combined fuel economy provided by the EPA.
- Identify the cost per mile to drive the new car. Divide the number of miles you will drive the car each month by the average gas mileage, and then multiply the dividend by the average price per gallon. The final number is the estimated monthly fuel cost for your vehicle.
If the monthly fuel costs look like they’ll be too much, opt for a smaller engine, a smaller vehicle, or pass on the AWD.