Check out maintenance and gas costs before buying a car

You’ve bargained hard and think the car you’re buying is a steal. But before you drive it off the lot, remember this: the sticker price isn’t the only cost you need to consider. Gas and maintenance can turn your bargain into a cash drain.

As prices continue to rise at gas pumps, the difference between a car that gets 20 miles per gallon and one that gets 40 miles per gallon can add up to hundreds of dollars every year.

Unexpected repairs can also suck hundreds or thousands of dollars out of your bank account. The batteries, spark plugs, air filter, brakes, headlights, exhaust system, muffler, tires and other parts of some makes and models require more attention — and cash — than others. These extra expenses can start hitting your wallet within two or three years, or after about 40,000 miles on the road.

You can find lots of information online about how much you can expect to spend annually on maintenance and repairs, as well as fuel, insurance, and other expenses. For example, Kelley Blue Book's 5-Year Cost to Own tool estimates the sum of out-of-pocket expenses and depreciation for each new car model in the U.S. Once you’ve looked at the running costs of cars in which you’re interested online, you can test your findings by contacting dealers.

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