The real cost of keeping your car on the road

The cost of owning, maintaining and keeping a vehicle on the road is an ongoing issue, and cost, that consumers have to contend with on a daily basis.

The lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the automotive industry are still being felt. This, together with the downturn in the economy, ongoing rising interest rates and increases in the fuel price and spare parts including tyres, have all impacted the production costs and sales of both new and used cars.

While 2022 has seen the country slowly returning to some sort of normalcy, the trend is that people are holding onto their current car for longer. While this might be a saving in one area, the costs to maintain the vehicle and keep it in a running condition could add up. With many more businesses and organisations reopening and expecting their employees to return to the workplace, more people are having to use their vehicles more often than in the past two years, further increasing the wear and tear costs.

While fuel prices continue to hit record levels due to, among other things, the ongoing unrest between Russia and the Ukraine, fluctuations in the currency and a series of interest rate hikes, it is the consumer who is now facing the brunt of continual rising prices. Being back on the road means we now have to manage the actual costs of total vehicle ownership and these need to be factored into what is for many an already constrained budget.

“It is important to understand what makes up the total monthly cost of vehicle ownership, whether the car is being driven more frequently or not. While fuel consumption might vary accordingly, the fixed monthly payments, such as vehicle finance and insurance costs, are constant expenses that need to be included in the monthly household budget. And, if you have selected a linked-interest rate in your repayment plan, interest rate fluctuations will also have an impact on the total amount,” says Lebogang Gaoaketse, WesBank’s Head of Marketing and Communication.

All these costs have resulted in vehicle owners considering affordability as a key consideration in the purchasing decision. “This has resulted in the introduction of new brands focused on more affordable models, together with new entry-level options from established brands,” Gaoaketse continues. “These options enable customers to tackle affordability at a lower price point to lower their monthly expenses, without sacrificing the benefits of owning a new vehicle.”

This can be better illustrated by analysing the total cost of ownership figures for the past five years from 2018 – November 2022, as per the table below. The figures indicate that a vehicle owner in November 2022 is now paying on average R2,515 more per month than in 2018 for the total mobility costs.


Monthly Net Instalment Due

Monthly Fuel Cost

Monthly Insurance

Monthly Running Cost

Total Mobility Cost *

% YoY Change


R 3,383.39

R 2,765.00

R 1,131.34

R 370.41

R 7,650.14



R 3,564.77

R 2,731.75

R 1,187.91

R 366.97

R 7,851.39



R 3,433.06

R 2,565.50

R 1,235.43

R 349.77

R 7,583.76



R 3,438.11

R 2,646.00

R 1,273.73

R 358.10

R 7,715.94



R 3,779.28

R 3,780.00

R 1,322.13

R 475.39

R 9,356.80


2022 (Oct)

R 4 131,26

R 4 033,75

R 1 348,57

R 501,63

R 10 015,21


2022 (Nov)

R 4,313.10

R 3,949.75

R 1,409.26

R 492.94

R 10,165.05


* It is important to note that this monthly total cost of vehicle ownership table is based on data that constantly shifts in relation to market activity and is thus intended as a guideline only.

For the purpose of this exercise, we have taken an average entry-level vehicle (approx. R250,000) that travels approximately 2,500 kilometres per month. The monthly cost of the vehicle ownership basket, comprising instalments, fuel, insurance and maintenance costs, has increased to R10,165 in November 2022, from R7,716 in 2021 due mostly to the increase in fuel costs and ongoing interest rate hikes. While this reflects a percentage increase of 32% year on year (November 2022 over 2021), the November 2022 average figure is also 33% higher than five years ago, when the monthly cost averaged R7,650 in 2018.

In 2022, vehicle instalments and fuel spend remain the largest portions of the basket, accounting for 81% of the monthly spend. Fuel spend accounts for 39% of the total, with the vehicle instalment cost at 42%. The figure to November 2022 indicates that the average monthly fuel spend, at R3,950, is almost on par with the vehicle instalment rate at R4,313. The monthly insurance cost of R1,409 makes up 14% of the cost, with running costs per month accounting for the final 5% at R493.

This varies quite substantially to the mobility basket in 2018, where fuel spend accounted for only 36% of the total at R2,765 while the average vehicle instalment was 44% at R3,383. A similar pattern has emerged over the past four years. However, this year indicates that fuel spend and vehicle instalment costs have a similar weighting, with each accounting for approximately 40% of the total – an indication of the massive fuel price and interest rate increases motorists have been subjected to this year.

The figures up to November 2022 are also further evidence of the wide-reaching impact of both global and local influences on the total cost of vehicle ownership.

These costs are reflected in the WesBank Mobility Calculator, a tool that tracks and calculates motoring expenses. The total basket of costs comprises all the fees associated with vehicle ownership: the monthly instalment, comprehensive insurance premium, fuel and maintenance fees. These expenses are updated regularly to reflect current inflation and interest rates, the rising petrol price and other fluctuating costs.

“It is important to remember that the monthly vehicle ownership basket figure is based on data that constantly shifts in relation to market activity and is thus intended as a guideline only. The economic impact of COVID-19 created an anomaly in relation to the 2019 data and should also be taken into consideration when comparing the 2022 figure in relation to 2020 and 2021,” comments Gaoaketse.

“As a result of vehicle price inflation over the past year and other industry constraints, consumers have spent more on average for new and used vehicles in 2022, and this trend is likely to continue into 2023. In October this year, the average value of a new vehicle financed through WesBank was R388,338 compared to R368,696 in October 2021. This reflects a 5% year on year average price increase for new vehicles,” says Gaoaketse.

“Prospective vehicle owners should take a holistic view when planning a car purchase to ensure they don’t overextend themselves by right sizing the spend to fit their budget. This includes making allowances for increases in costs down the line, such as a higher interest rate or a further increase in the fuel price, as we are currently experiencing in 2022. The smartest move is to make provision for these rising costs over the duration of the finance contract. Enabling a tool such as the WesBank calculator makes financial sense and is there to assist consumers to gauge the total cost associated with their vehicle ownership,” concludes Gaoaketse.