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Buying a Car? Find Out What it Will REALLY Cost You Each Year

November 9, 2009 - 12:52pm

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If you're in the market for a new car, you've probably been doing a lot of research. Talking to friends, reading reviews, scoping out other cars on the road, maybe even taking some test drives.

You probably have a list of things you want in car, and you should consider all of these points of comparison before you make a final decision. Buying a car can be confusing, and you may feel overwhelmed by data points, but I'm going to give you more! Aren't you lucky?

Before you start banging your head on the desk, read on. This one might be even more important than the car's color.

It's fuel economy.

I know, I know. You're probably already thinking about it—whether you're buying a car or not. Last year's high gas prices got fuel economy on the brain, but it's something you should especially think about if you're buying a car. And you may want to look beyond just the sticker on the car.

Fueleconomy.gov is a great way to quickly compare vehicles, and estimates are now available for model year 2010 vehicles. You can even print the guide to take it with you while you're out shopping, or if you're not into paper, you can use the mobile version at fueleconomy.gov/m.

Beyond just the fuel economy numbers, though, the site gives you info on the annual fuel costs, the carbon footprint, the energy impact score, and the air pollution score for a vehicle. You can even enter information on own driving habits and fuel prices in your area to adjust the estimates. Just look up a vehicle and click on the link that says "Use Your Gas Prices & Annual Miles" to enter your data. So if you drive more or less than most people, or if you spend a lot of (or no) time on the highway, you'll more accurately see what you're likely to spend fueling a particular car each year.

Finally, if you like to track these things, you may want to consider signing up for Fueleconomy.gov's "Your MPG." With this tool, you can calculate and track your own fuel economy and compare it to the test ratings and to the ratings reported by other users. Many factors affect your mileage, and if your own results vary from the test ratings and the results of other users, you may want to look into how you can improve your gas mileage.

Good luck with your decision if you're buying a car, and don't forget to compare the fuel economy of the vehicles you're looking at. You could save a lot of money over the life of the vehicle.

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