The folks over at Broke Professionals recently wrote about hidden costs of buying a car. As my car has just reached its first year and 20k miles (I know, I drive too much) some of these tips rang true with me.
Insurance: I tried to take this into account when figuring out my budget, but sometimes the quote isn't exact. Buying a newer car is almost certainly going to increase your insurance premium. Also, I moved soon after buying the car to an area where my insurance premium went up a few dollars.
Maintenance: I also accounted for this in my budgeting, and figured that with a new car, maintenance would be cheaper than with my older car. It is in fact cheaper, as many things are covered under warranty, but there are still some expenses I wasn't planning on. Basic maintenance includes oil changes and filter changes, but other things come up too. Flat tires need to be replaced and the ones on my new car are more expensive than my previous ones. Additionally, they are harder to find which makes price comparisons difficult. I had to go through this last winter and it was a pain and much more expensive than I anticipated.
Fuel: Again, I budgeted for this, but there's a difference between estimated mileage and actual mileage. My new car has a larger engine than my previous one, so it doesn't do quite as well on the mileage. I guessed how it would do, but I overestimated by a little. Not a huge deal, but it does add up over time. Underestimating by even just 1 MPG can cost about an extra $100 a year for me. Some cars also use more expensive gas, so that's an additional consideration.
Taxes: This one caught me completely off guard. I received a bill for my old car when I transferred it over to Massachusetts's plates, and that wasn't too bad. Then when I bought my new car, I assumed all of the taxes were included in the 'taxes' portion of the purchase price. Well that's just simply not true. That was the sales tax. There's also the excise tax. This is a tax the city sends you a bill for later on. Well that was a couple of hundred dollars I did not expect to be paying. Now I know, but I was lucky that I was able to fit that in my budget by spreading some other items out over a few months. Not every city has this type of tax, but these and others like these can be very sneaky.
Miscellaneous: Occasionally I wanted to splurge a little on my 'new' car. So I bought a fancy antenna and had window tints installed. Nothing too major, but they did end up costing me more money than I planned for. I also felt obligated to keep my car clean at least for a little while. Little $8 trips to the car wash aren't a lot on their own, but as with everything, it adds up.
All in all, I'd estimate about $50-$75 extra on top of the budget I had planned for a new car. I had to cut back on some other things, but I was able to fit it in. Others may not be able to, and returning a car after realizing you can't afford it can become a very costly mistake.