Fuel, taxes, insurance? Monthly car costs include many other items – and are therefore higher than many drivers think. Here is the big picture.
The cost of owning a car in Germany differs from person to person depending on a number of factors. How does depreciation affect the monthly costs, for example? In addition, even the smallest amounts, such as parking tickets or car washes, have to be included in the calculation so that it adds up in the end.
Cost of owning a car in Germany: What to expect
The range of maintenance costs for a car is very wide. At first, glance, owning a car doesn’t seem that expensive, but you’ll have to pay a lot of money every month. You must consider the following costs and weigh up whether you are willing and able to finance them in the long term:
- Acquisition costs
- Fuel costs
- Car insurance
- Maintenance costs
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all way to tell what a car will cost you per month. Depending on the type of class, equipment, age, accident risk, and region, you will incur different expenses. Roughly speaking, you can expect to pay 200 euros per month for the maintenance of a compact car, and often twice as much for a mid-range car.
To give you a rough idea of the costs of your dream car, we’ll give you a rough breakdown of the costs of a used VW Golf V. This is because the model is one of the most popular in the world. After all, this model is one of the most popular cars among Germans.
How much does it cost to buy a car in Germany?
A new car is normally more expensive than a used car, of course. It also has a much higher depreciation. On the other hand, fuel consumption, repair risk, and insurance costs are usually higher for a used car. Used cars also don’t score with safety, manufacturer’s warranties, and the latest technical standards.
Nevertheless, you can usually save money with a used car: Before buying, however, you should have all the important points checked by an expert and with the help of a car-buying checklist. Otherwise, repair or TÜV costs can quickly become expensive. TÜV is an institution that, among other things, carries out the prescribed regular technical inspections of motor vehicles
To get an approximate idea of the price, you can use the ADAC’s list (PDF) of average prices for used cars in 2018 as a guide. You should also consider the costs for vehicle registration and license plates. However, at around 30 to 50 euros, they are not very high overall.
Acquisition costs for the VW Golf V: Depending on the equipment, engine, and mileage, the models of the Golf V differ. They range between 2,000 and 18,000 euros; on average you can expect about 6,000-7,000 euros.
How high are the fuel costs in Germany?
Whether gasoline or diesel, there is no clear winner here. The fuel costs alone are cheaper with diesel. However, the purchase price, taxes, and insurance are cheaper with gasoline. So depending on how much and which model you drive, you have to weigh things up: Are the lower diesel fuel costs in proportion to the higher other costs?
Generally speaking, the smaller the vehicle and the fewer miles you drive, the more likely it is that a gasoline-powered vehicle is worthwhile. You can also save a lot while driving, for example by always using an app or website to find the cheapest gas stations nearby.
Current fuel costs: the average cost of gasoline in 2018 was around 1.43 euros per liter. The average diesel price in 2018 was about 1.28 euros. Assuming, for example, 7 l / 100 km and 15,000 km per year, that would have been roughly 1,500 euros in gasoline fuel costs and 1,340 euros in diesel fuel costs in 2018, respectively.
How much does car insurance cost in Germany?
How much car insurance costs per year depends on many factors. These include type class, no-claims bonus, driver group, kilometers driven per year, and registration district.
As a novice driver, you will pay considerably more, as your accident risk is much higher. However, you can save by transferring the no-claims bonus, and agreed deductible or insuring the car as a second car.
Motor vehicle liability insurance is required by law and pays for damage caused by the operation of your vehicle. Partial and fully comprehensive insurance, on the other hand, is voluntary: both insurances pay if your own vehicle is damaged. This could be damage caused by a wildlife accident or fire, for example.
Partial cover insurance covers the most common damage. Comprehensive insurance also pays for damage such as vandalism or self-inflicted accident damage to the car. With the latter, you are on the safe side, but not necessarily on the cheap side. You can check which sum insured you can expect directly in a car insurance calculator.
Car insurance for the VW Golf V: To give an exact figure is not possible because of the many points that affect the issue. The costs can range from 100 to over 1,000 euros per year. Assuming partial casco and a four-year no-claims class, you can roughly expect 500 euros per year.
What does the KFZ steuer(motor vehicle tax) cost?
The state uses the revenue from the motor vehicle tax for improvements to the infrastructure and the preservation of the environment. The vehicle tax depends on the size of the engine capacity, the pollutant emissions, and the date of first registration. The less polluting your car is, the lower the vehicle tax. Diesel cars are therefore subject to a higher vehicle tax and electric cars to (almost) no vehicle tax.
Vehicle tax for the VW Golf V: Depending on the initial registration, engine type, and engine capacity, the vehicle insurance can be between 100 and 300 euros per year.
What much does it cost to maintain a car in Germany?
Don’t underestimate the maintenance costs: Every two years, your car has to undergo a TÜV inspection(general inspection), which costs about 100 euros. In addition, an oil change is due once a year, for which you can expect to pay up to 100 euros.
Wear parts such as the alternator, brakes, exhaust, and tires will need to be replaced over time. Problems with electronics are among the most expensive. Unforeseen marten damage, hail dents, or car theft are all costs that are not covered by every insurance or may require a deductible.
Maintenance costs for the VW Golf V: If you assume about 30 euros per month, depending on the model, mileage, and without unusual incidents, that’s 360 euros in maintenance costs per year.
The maintenance costs for the car at a glance
Electric vs Natural Gas Cars in Germany: Which is cheaper to own?
Electric or natural gas cars score points for their environmental friendliness. From a cost perspective, however, they are not always a favorable alternative.
Is it cheaper to own an electric car in Germany?
Electric cars are significantly more expensive to buy. Despite the environmental bonus, they often cost twice as much as a gasoline or diesel engine. On the other hand, maintenance costs are lower:
- Electricity costs less than conventional fuels. Of course, this always depends on the price of electricity.
- Vehicles registered between 2016 and 2020 are exempt from vehicle tax for 10 years.
- Some insurance companies offer discounts for electric cars. Because the cars are fairly new, it is almost always advisable to have fully comprehensive insurance, but this is, in turn, more expensive.
- Not too much can be said about depreciation yet, because the number of electric cars is still quite manageable.
- Maintenance costs are lower because there are hardly any worn parts and few moving elements. Oil and filter changes are not necessary.
If you drive a lot, the additional costs of an electric car will be worth it after a few years. For many, however, an electric car only pays off when its production costs become cheaper.
When is a natural gas car worthwhile?
A natural gas car is also significantly more expensive in terms of purchase or conversion costs. However, natural gas is not only more environmentally friendly but also cheaper than gasoline, diesel, or LPG. Keep in mind, however, that the network of filling stations offering natural gas is still quite small. Especially abroad, you should plan your trip well.
As a rule, you can retrofit any car with a gasoline engine. However, this is not cheap. Roughly speaking, conversion is worthwhile from around 50,000-60,000 kilometers driven.
Saving tips for car owners in Germany
Based on the example calculations – and the average costs for a small car of around 420 to just under 1,200 euros for an upper-class car – one or the other may be frightened by these high sums. But don’t worry, there’s always potential for savings – and in a variety of areas.
1. Before buying a car:
- For shorter distances, a small city runabout is often enough – an inexpensive model with moderate gasoline consumption. This is very easy on the wallet because taxes and vehicle insurance costs are also within manageable limits.
- Annual cars are a favorable alternative to new cars. A price difference of up to 40 percent is possible. However, you may have to compromise on the equipment you want.
- Average Repair and maintenance costs vary considerably between manufacturers and brands. They should therefore be inquired about before the purchase decision is made.
2. After buying a car:
- A fuel-saving driving style is immediately noticeable in lower gas station bills.
- The wear and tear on a car, and thus its depreciation, can be significantly reduced by an efficient driving style and regular care and maintenance.
- Cheaper car insurance saves money. In addition to the price, however, the scope of services should be kept in mind. Because saving at the wrong end is usually not worth it.
- The engine displacement and the pollutant class are decisive for the amount of the motor vehicle tax. Since 2021, higher taxes have been due for newly registered cars with high fuel consumption for reasons of climate protection.
- While buyers of climate-friendly e-vehicles can look forward to the extended double e-car premium, fans of internal combustion vehicles will have to dig deeper into their pockets for vehicle tax. This affects SUV and sports car drivers in particular.
- Drivers of older models can save taxes if they carry out retrofits such as the installation of a particulate filter. This has a positive impact on the emissions class