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Owning a car from scratch

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If you're a student from an international country, come on your study visa - how expensive would it be to own a car in the US? How much would a decent 2nd hand car cost, and how much would the registration, finance, insurance, etc. cost come to?


I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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Registration varies from state to state. Its calculated differently. For instance, where I live registration is based on how old your vehicle is and what kind it is, the newer it is the more expensive your registration is. Its a pretty screwed up system here. When I lived in Virgina it was calculated solely on weight. They paved the roads at least once a year and heavy vehicles are more damaging to the roads.

Right now a decent fuel economy car is going to cost quite a bit because of gas prices. Even second hand cars will be pretty close to the original price if they are in decent condition. Used trucks are dirt cheap on the other hand. Financing is going to vary based on the popular interest rate and how many years you finance it over.

Insurance is another thing that varies, but unlike registration, should be pretty similar from state to state. Its based on the model type, your age, gender, and the age of the car. Basically the sports car tag applies to a lot of vehicles that aren't sports cars... they do it because it increases the price. Anything car with 2 doors is considered a sports car, unless it has a hatchback. mid-sized trucks and passenger vans generally get lower rates. You also have many options when it comes to insurance, as to what you want to cover and what you don't want to pay for. Full coverage is the most expensive and covers everthing imaginable, while liability only will just cover the cost of fixing someone else's vehicle if the accident is considered your fault.

Its a lot to think about really, buying a vehicle is a pain in the ass as it is, unless you just have a lot of money and buy it for the sticker price. If this is all confusing, Ill give you my example.

I own a fully loaded 2004 Mazda 3i. I purchased it in 2005 for around $14,000 before interest. I have pay $255 a month over five years and I pay $100 a month in insurance (it was $157 to begin with because I was under 25). My registration I think is about $180 a year.

I highly recommend autotrader.com, you can search for used vehicles and sort them by model, age, price range, mileage, and distance from you. kbb.com will assist you with what a fair price should be on a used car you are looking at. If you buy from another person rather than a dealership I recommend carfax.com. Most dealerships now have carfax print outs on their used models. I suggest a dealership rather than a complete stranger any day.

I hope that helps


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Check out some of the local big name dealers. Most of them have a good used car reselling programs, and you'll get a safer deal that way. I recommed Honda, because they do a good job checking any used Hondas and fixing problems or at least telling you what future problems are. If you get a used car, get a Carfax report, and ask to see any maintenance records, if they exist. Registration depends soley on the state you live in. In Arkansas, it was around $40. In Texas, it's $140 b/c Texas doesn't figure state income tax. *rolls eyes* Insurance will also depend on where you are, how old you are and what you're driving. Also, Arkansas doesn't have state inspections and Texas does, so check on that too. If you have a driver's liscence from another country, check with the DMV (or whatever it is up there) to see if it will be legal for you to use it! I don't know how that all works, you may have to take a driving test for where you're at.


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Gas alone is horrible. If you know how to drive a standard, buy a standard and don't look back!

- For registration I pay my state $80 and my town $80. Like DX said it varies based on your State and town.

- For Insurance I pay $350 in July and $290 in Dec. This is because I've had the same insurance since I got my license and I've never gotten a ticket or caused an accident. You insurance would probably be way more since your not from the country and it's your first time driving here and your new to the company.

- Vehicle cost, My jeep cost $3,500 because it was used and had problems with it that I planned to fix on my own. However not all used cars have problems. My friend and his mother just bought their new cars used for $2,000 each and their in perfect condition. So if you know where to look you can definitely get great deals on used cars. If you're not into the whole used car thing you could always lease a new car (its kind of like renting). Leasing can range from as low as $100 a month up to $800 or more a month. Most car company's have a set limit of time you can lease a Vehicle too. It's normally 2-4 years.

You could also just buy a brand new car which you would still have to make monthly payments once a month. Probably around the same as you would pay for leasing a vehicle. My mom pays about $350 a month on her new ford SUV that she bought. My dad pays about $300 a month for his new leased ford SUV.

- Car inspection happens once a year normally on the month you registered your vehicle or on your birthday month. It ranges from $23-$40. I pay $30.

- Oil change every 2,000 or so miles ranges from $25 to $40. I pay about $30. If you know how to do it your self you would end up spending way less.

- Gas will probably be your biggest long term problem. Depending on what kind of car you get and where you live, you could be spending more then $40 a week on gas alone. However If you don't drive a lot you may not even have to spend that much. I work from home so I normally only fill up half a tank and that costs about $20 for me.


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Also feel free to call insurance companies and get a quote on a car before you buy it. They will be glad to assist potential customers. Its good to find out before hand, and it could be a deciding factor in your purchase.


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he lives in NJ by the way guys....just say he is fucked insurance-wise....dont get his hopes up :P...im paying a pretty low amount personally for my insurance in terms of the norm for NJ and i pay about $1500 or so a year


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"That fairy needs to stop shouting in my ear, or I'm going to throw her friend I have trapped in the bottle into a lava pit or something. HEY, LISTEN! No, YOU listen. If something's important, just say so without yelling at me. Or fly over to it and change color like you usually do. Just because I'm busy mowing the lawn and hoping I'll find some spare change, doesn't mean I can't hear you." - Link

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How bad is it normally up there? I pay $1200 a year so we aren't that far off. The lowest payment's I've ever seen was for my Dad's decrepit old 1992 van. It was $89 a month. Mine is pretty low because I'm on my parents plan, They've been with statefarm for 20+ years so the rate I have now wouldn't be possible if I got my own plan. I swear I know more women that get in wrecks than guys and yet we get the shit end of the stick when it comes to rates.

I guess the fact that I only drive to work and around town factors into it as well, since they ask how many miles I drove each year. I get a discount if Its under a certain amount.


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maybe women down there get in more wrecks :meh:

GG you have to take paying for parking into consideration too >.<


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How bad is it normally up there? I pay $1200 a year so we aren't that far off. The lowest payment's I've ever seen was for my Dad's decrepit old 1992 van. It was $89 a month. Mine is pretty low because I'm on my parents plan, They've been with statefarm for 20+ years so the rate I have now wouldn't be possible if I got my own plan. I swear I know more women that get in wrecks than guys and yet we get the shit end of the stick when it comes to rates.

I guess the fact that I only drive to work and around town factors into it as well, since they ask how many miles I drove each year. I get a discount if Its under a certain amount.

I'm on the family plan with my dad but since hes got a bad record I pay the same as I would if I wasn't on the family plan XD. Are you 25 yet? My state farm person told me when you hit 25 they take off a huge percent because thats when they consider you an adult in their eyes. If you have a good record they also take off around $50 a year. I'm sure you've noticed your bill drop over the years.

PS. ya someone in my drivers ed class asked this and the teacher said it's true girls get into more accidents but they're less likely to get into accidents that harm people or kill them. Apparently guys get into fewer accidents but we cause more deaths....go figure >.<. I hate women drivers that are on their phones not paying attention to the road or old granny's.


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How bad is it normally up there? I pay $1200 a year so we aren't that far off. The lowest payment's I've ever seen was for my Dad's decrepit old 1992 van. It was $89 a month. Mine is pretty low because I'm on my parents plan, They've been with statefarm for 20+ years so the rate I have now wouldn't be possible if I got my own plan. I swear I know more women that get in wrecks than guys and yet we get the shit end of the stick when it comes to rates.

I guess the fact that I only drive to work and around town factors into it as well, since they ask how many miles I drove each year. I get a discount if Its under a certain amount.

like i said...i have a pretty low rate for under 25 :P...when i was the SECONDARY under my parents plan i was paying about 2000 and when i was still paying off the car it was about 3000....and that was when i wasnt even the primary @_@


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"That fairy needs to stop shouting in my ear, or I'm going to throw her friend I have trapped in the bottle into a lava pit or something. HEY, LISTEN! No, YOU listen. If something's important, just say so without yelling at me. Or fly over to it and change color like you usually do. Just because I'm busy mowing the lawn and hoping I'll find some spare change, doesn't mean I can't hear you." - Link

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Wow, that's a lotta information. Many thanks DX, Dubie, Goku, Eppy, Lady! This's a random question a family friend asked me on email, and I thought was interesting to kinda discuss ... I WISH I COULD AFFORD IT RIGHT NOW!!! Maybe next year, I'll move out of my current apartment (which has no parking space), and get a motorcycle. I bet the insurance on that would be much higher, but let's see ... it's a plan, and a long ways to go about ^_^.


I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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I'm on the family plan with my dad but since hes got a bad record I pay the same as I would if I wasn't on the family plan XD. Are you 25 yet? My state farm person told me when you hit 25 they take off a huge percent because thats when they consider you an adult in their eyes. If you have a good record they also take off around $50 a year. I'm sure you've noticed your bill drop over the years.

PS. ya someone in my drivers ed class asked this and the teacher said it's true girls get into more accidents but they're less likely to get into accidents that harm people or kill them. Apparently guys get into fewer accidents but we cause more deaths....go figure >.<. I hate women drivers that are on their phones not paying attention to the road or old granny's.

Yeah I hit 25 in April, and it went down about $25. Since I hit 21 its been going down around $10 or so every year. I guess they did it that way instead of one huge chunk at 25.


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I pay $700 a year for full coverage on our 2001 Blazer with a $500 deductible. :P I suggest shopping around. I'm 28 right now, but hitting 25 didn't drastically lower my rate. Jumping from insurance company to insurance company is what helped. For the same package I have at progressive right now, State Farm had crazy rates, esurance recently quoted me about $900 a year, liberty mutual was a rediculous $1700 a year and geico was I think $800. Its funny, I was originally with state farm, then a different state farm, then progressive, then geico, and since my last switch about 2 years ago back to progressive, I've had a constant $700 a year, even with an accident and a totaled car (not my fault). :P


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Yeah I hit 25 in April, and it went down about $25. Since I hit 21 its been going down around $10 or so every year. I guess they did it that way instead of one huge chunk at 25.

That makes sense. I wonder why my insurance has been dropping so much O_O. I'm not even close to 25 yet and its been dropping about about $50 a year. This year after getting my new jeep it dropped even more which makes no sense since the jeep is newer. My registration for the town and state when up by $20 though.


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