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October 01, 2020 / by Hub Garage / Blog

The Real Cost of a Car for a Single Mom

Many of us have car payments and all of us have to purchase the required inspection or registration for our state. Cars are a great way to get where you need to go, however, they are also expensive. For a single mom, the bills of a car can add up quickly and can lead to her not having reliable transportation.

When we think of car costs, there are four main areas to consider: fuel, maintenance and tires, government fees, and car insurance. Most of these can be budgeted for if your car is in good shape but if you have a higher mileage vehicle, you could be looking at some expensive and unexpected repairs.

The average cost of fuel annually is $1,681.50, or 11.2 cents per mile. It’s important to understand that this is just an average based on national statistics. How much someone will pay for fuel each year will depend upon the miles per gallon they get with their car, road conditions in their area, and the specific price of gas where they live, which can vary widely.

Per AAA, annual maintenance costs are about $766.50 and tires are $147 per year. Combining the two, we’re at $913.50. However, what if all four tires need to be replaced at once? What if you get a nail in the sidewall, a belt is worn out, or you have a leak somewhere? All this can add up quickly, especially on older models.

The average for government fees (license, registration, inspection, taxes) is about $668 per year, but this varies greatly by state. For example, some states have ad valorem/excise taxes, in which they tax you on the depreciated value of your car each year. In other states, there are just some relatively minor registration fees. So, what state someone lives in can also determine how hard it is to obtain and maintain a vehicle there.

This brings us to another area of car ownership: insurance. Some form of insurance is required in most states, whether it be liability, full coverage, or somewhere in between. A variety of factors, including driver’s driving history and age, can influence the cost of car insurance. The average car insurance premium in the U.S. was $1,062 annually, or $88.50 per month in 2016, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Auto Insurance Database Report released in 2018.

infographic representing the annual cost of car ownership

All these approximate costs add up to just over $4,300 a year, not including car payments. Even with car costs being just $4,300 a year, a single mother working full time for $15 an hour will only take home about $2,000 a month. Meaning her car costs will amount to about 15% of her net income.

As you can see, cars are not cheap. For single mothers who are trying to provide for their families, sometimes a car is an expense they have to get rid of – but it shouldn’t have to be that way. Reliable transportation opens so many opportunities for career moves, for kid(s) education, and for more quality time together as a family. Help single mothers stay in the driver’s seat by donating your car or financial aid today.