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About 2013 Car Operating Costs

NRMA Motoring & Services has conducted a survey of vehicle operating costs for over 1,800 vehicles using 13 popular categories as reported by VFACTS - an automotive industry body. The vehicles have been sorted into 22 classes to help make selecting a new car easier. NRMA reserves the right to amend vehicle class information where appropriate.

Calculations are for private ownership in New South Wales, based on an annual distance of 15,000 kilometres which is "the approximate national average distance travelled" according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Other factors included to calculate the running cost are an ownership period of 5 years, the average retail price for the vehicle and the following elements.

Components of Operating Costs

Standing costs


Depreciation is calculated using the vehicle manufacturers' recommended retail price plus dealer and statutory charges including Luxury Car Tax; less the forecast residual value for each model. Short term special offer pricing has not been included.

Opportunity Interest

Loss in interest from the capital consumed by depreciation is calculated using an interest rate of 7.05%. There has been no provision for the borrowing expense of the capital.

Fixed costs

Vehicle Registration, CTP Insurance and NRMA Membership

Private registration rates from the NSW RMS and CTP estimates for NSW where the owner is aged between 29 and 55 (GST has been included) are used along with NRMA Classic Care Membership rates.

Variable costs

Maintenance Repairs

Vehicle maintenance costs are calculated using manufacturers' recommended service schedules using retail prices and include a range of replacement parts(e.g. tyres and brake components) required for average city driving conditions.

Note: Fixed Price Service costing has been incorporated where available.


The amount of fuel used is calculated using Australian Design Rule ADR82/01. Figures include an appropriate factor to allow for variations in driving styles and conditions as per previous surveys. Where ADR82/01 data is not available, average fuel consumption is taken from road tests and research carried out by NRMA Motoring & Services. Average cost of fuel per kilometre is then calculated using the average price per litre for the recommended fuel type for each vehicle using values in the following table.

With fuel prices fluctuating, NRMA allows you to change the default petrol price which will automatically adjust the weekly or whole of life vehicle costs.

Fuel prices for 2013 survey
Type Cents per litre
Unleaded Petrol 147.90
Premium Unleaded Petrol 160.90
Liquid Petroleum Gas 72.70
Diesel 151.90

Predicting a reliable cost of fuel for the next 12 months is difficult with the impact of larger global events, hurricanes or conflict and the widespread campaigns of fuel discounting particularly in the larger cities. The cost of fuel can fluctuate wildly depending on where and when you buy fuel.

To estimate the effect of these changes on the costs in this report, use this table to add or subtract from the Private Operating Costs weekly changes in fuel costs.

Change in running costs per 5 cents fuel price change
Vehicle Segment Cents/km change $/week change
Light car under $20,000 34 $0.98
Light Car over $20,000 32 $0.93
Small Car under $35,000 39 $1.13
Small Car over $35,000 35 $1.00
Medium car under $50,000 40 $1.16
Medium Car over $50,000 40 $1.14
Large Car under $60,000 56 $1.61
Large Car over $60,000 47 $1.36
People Mover 48 $1.38
Hot HB-Sed-Wag under $80,000  58 $1.67
Hot HB-Sed-Wag over $80,000  67 $1.95
Sports Performance under $80,00 41 $1.17
Sports Performance over $80,00 50 $1.44
SUV Compact under $40,000 44 $1.27
SUV Compact over $40,000 38 $1.09
SUV Medium under $50,000 46 $1.34
SUV Medium over $50,000 42 $1.21
SUV Large Luxury under $60,000 51 $1.46
SUV Large Luxury over $60,000 58 $1.68
Utility-Cab Chassis 2WD  60 $1.72
Utility-Cab Chassis 4WD  53 $1.53
Van 46 $1.33

Green Vehicle Guide

Greenhouse Gas and Pollution are shown against each vehicle to allow for a more informed comparison to be made. See www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au for more information.


ANCAP ratings are a guide to the protection offered to the occupants in a crash. NRMA recommends a four, preferably five star ANCAP rating. For more information go to ancap.com.au.

Note: ANCAP ratings are provided by a third party and whilst all care has been taken NRMA accepts no responsibility for errors or omissions and readers are advised to make their own enquires on the crash ratings of a particular vehicle. ESC is required for a five star ANCAP rating. 

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Availability of ESC is shown as Std (Standard), Opt (Optional) or NA (Not Available). There is extensive research that shows ESC offers a significant safety benefit to all road users so NRMA believes that it should be on every vehicle purchaser's list.

Private Costs Summary Report (PDF 618KB/123 pages)

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This information is prepared by National Roads and Motorists' Association Limited ABN 77 000 010 506. trading as NRMA Motoring & Services is a company limited by guarantee and owned by its Members. Some of the information is provided by subsidiaries of Insurance Australia Group Limited, a separate company owned by its shareholders. The companies are not related, but have a number of business agreements, which allow both companies and their subsidiaries to use NRMA trademarks for their products and services.