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Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Old Nov 8th 2017, 11:38 am
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Default Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Can anybody point me in the direction of an article, calculator, or otherwise, that breaks down the cost of running a car in the USA versus UK?

For example, I have already come to the conclusion that:

Cons
Insurance is far more expensive in the US, at least for a newly arriving expat.
Sales tax on used cars (I'll be in Florida, so 6%)

Pros
Fuel is around a third of the price (but then slightly offset because Americans drive further typically).
More cars on the road therefore economies of scale dictate price competition. Cheaper purchase prices
Favourable lease prices (if going for a new car)

Unknowns
Maintenance costs inc tires, services, oil change etc
Parts prices on domestic v international cars
Depreciation (larger engine cars retain more value in US v UK?)
Extended warranties available in the US and the protection they genuinely can/can't offer a consumer


Essentially, among other things, I'd like to know if owning a used BMW or Mercedes will be more of a 'luxury' in the US than in the UK. Might be a hard question to answer, but it'll help dictate what I look for when I move to Fort Myers in January.

Thanks all

Last edited by petepete99; Nov 8th 2017 at 11:40 am.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 1:30 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

To be honest as far as owning anything European seems to be considered “luxury” and more expensive to get parts for.

As far as tires and general wear and tear parts like that I wouldn’t say prices were better or worse. It’s just a case of shopping around and finding the best price like you would. I had to get my wife four new tyres and one place was advertising them at $680 for a set and another place was $405 including fitting. If anything I’d be prepared to pay a little more for car ownership then would you back in the UK.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 2:07 pm
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Talking Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Guess we are in the same boat. I am making the full time move at the begining of Jan, but spending a lot of time in the USA before then.

I am a nailed on Petrol Head and although i have quietened down in the past 3-4 years on average Ive have bought 3 personal cars a year for 20+ years (dont ask how much ive lost). Ive also been fleet manager at work (small fleet of 8 cars)

In the UK its rare to meet anyone that know more about buying cars than myself. I know the ins and outs of finance. In the USA its a different kettle of fish.

I'm also interested to hear other peoples experience, but some of my observations - which maybe wrong after a week visiting dealers.

Lease Deals

Its amazing how many nice Cars and SUV's are all around the same price. $3-5k down and $4-500 a month. I have managed to get a good deal of movement from advertised prices.

If the car is around $25k then its probably better to take standard finance over 60-72 months. The monthly amounts wont be a lot different but you have options to dispose of rather than getting locked into a 3 year lease deal.

I wish there were PCP options in the USA, although i have still to get to the bottom of how you can get out of a lease after say 18mths without buying a new car from the same manufacturer.

Hot Hatch vs Saloon

Whilst 50 I'm still a boy racer. My initial thoughts were to get an S3 or Golf R. Issue is a limited supply and residuals are set lower compared to the likes of a bigger saloon or SUV. In fact my local Audi Dealer can do $3.5k down and $550 a month on a MY18 S4 vs over $600 for an S3 with an MSRP $10k lower. The Golf GTI however does seem to be good value.

What does well in Europe residual wise can be the opposite in the US.

US/JP SUV vs European SUV

My wife was set on an Explorer, but by the time you add 4wd, Sync and Leather the price is well north of $40k. The Edge with a nicer engine isnt cheap either. The differential between a new MY 18 Q5 and a Ford is about $80 a month. The Tiguan looks good value against all the usual competition - Mazda, Honda etc. There are some great deals out there.

All the European SUV's tend to run 2.0T engines. Land Rover deals seem off the mark compared to Audi. Jag and MB do seem to have some good deals as do Alfa.

Its fun exploring, but finding fun cars at a good price it tough. I guess I should just buy a big engined Mustang and slide off the road in a NJ winter
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 2:28 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by Chins View Post
Guess we are in the same boat. I am making the full time move at the begining of Jan, but spending a lot of time in the USA before then.

I am a nailed on Petrol Head and although i have quietened down in the past 3-4 years on average Ive have bought 3 personal cars a year for 20+ years (dont ask how much ive lost). Ive also been fleet manager at work (small fleet of 8 cars)

In the UK its rare to meet anyone that know more about buying cars than myself. I know the ins and outs of finance. In the USA its a different kettle of fish.

I'm also interested to hear other peoples experience, but some of my observations - which maybe wrong after a week visiting dealers.

Lease Deals

Its amazing how many nice Cars and SUV's are all around the same price. $3-5k down and $4-500 a month. I have managed to get a good deal of movement from advertised prices.

If the car is around $25k then its probably better to take standard finance over 60-72 months. The monthly amounts wont be a lot different but you have options to dispose of rather than getting locked into a 3 year lease deal.

I wish there were PCP options in the USA, although i have still to get to the bottom of how you can get out of a lease after say 18mths without buying a new car from the same manufacturer.

Hot Hatch vs Saloon

Whilst 50 I'm still a boy racer. My initial thoughts were to get an S3 or Golf R. Issue is a limited supply and residuals are set lower compared to the likes of a bigger saloon or SUV. In fact my local Audi Dealer can do $3.5k down and $550 a month on a MY18 S4 vs over $600 for an S3 with an MSRP $10k lower. The Golf GTI however does seem to be good value.

What does well in Europe residual wise can be the opposite in the US.

US/JP SUV vs European SUV

My wife was set on an Explorer, but by the time you add 4wd, Sync and Leather the price is well north of $40k. The Edge with a nicer engine isnt cheap either. The differential between a new MY 18 Q5 and a Ford is about $80 a month. The Tiguan looks good value against all the usual competition - Mazda, Honda etc. There are some great deals out there.

All the European SUV's tend to run 2.0T engines. Land Rover deals seem off the mark compared to Audi. Jag and MB do seem to have some good deals as do Alfa.

Its fun exploring, but finding fun cars at a good price it tough. I guess I should just buy a big engined Mustang and slide off the road in a NJ winter
That's interesting. I initially got a quote from International Autosource for a Dodge Challenger 5.7 RT automatic, 2017MY. $1800 down and $389 per month, which is great value. Unfortunately I had to commit it whilst in the UK, and I'm not prepared to do that without shopping around and test driving some vehicles.

With regards to terminating leases early, have you considered the lease transfer sites like Lease Busters and Swap A Lease?
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 2:29 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by BenK91 View Post
To be honest as far as owning anything European seems to be considered “luxury” and more expensive to get parts for.

As far as tires and general wear and tear parts like that I wouldn’t say prices were better or worse. It’s just a case of shopping around and finding the best price like you would. I had to get my wife four new tyres and one place was advertising them at $680 for a set and another place was $405 including fitting. If anything I’d be prepared to pay a little more for car ownership then would you back in the UK.
Thanks Ben. So you think it's a tad more expensive? Good to know.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 2:42 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Well I have a MK7 GTI, 3DR with the performance pack. The same car was just shy of 30k here in Colorado and it was 24k in California so I flew out and drove it back.


I wouldn't say it's significantly more expensive to the point it would put me off buying one, as I did


I'd say just shop around again, I got it through enterprise auto sales (the car rental company, although mine wasn't a rental - it had one owner from new on a lease and he defaulted on payments so the car was repo'd and they picked it up).


I've always had cars from VAG, I know them, they're great to work on and they're fun to drive. I had a Ford F150 for a little while before trading it in for this and holy crap did I forget about the F150 quickly when I got back into a VW! European > Yank Tank
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 2:50 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by petepete99 View Post
That's interesting. I initially got a quote from International Autosource for a Dodge Challenger 5.7 RT automatic, 2017MY. $1800 down and $389 per month, which is great value. Unfortunately I had to commit it whilst in the UK, and I'm not prepared to do that without shopping around and test driving some vehicles.

With regards to terminating leases early, have you considered the lease transfer sites like Lease Busters and Swap A Lease?
Isnt the MSRP for the car over $40k ? That being the case the taxes alone would be more than $1800. I learnt pretty quickly that $0 down doesnt mean $0 down. On the Tiguan that actually mean $2.7k down to cover taxes, first months rental etc.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 2:53 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by BenK91 View Post
Well I have a MK7 GTI, 3DR with the performance pack. The same car was just shy of 30k here in Colorado and it was 24k in California so I flew out and drove it back.


I wouldn't say it's significantly more expensive to the point it would put me off buying one, as I did


I'd say just shop around again, I got it through enterprise auto sales (the car rental company, although mine wasn't a rental - it had one owner from new on a lease and he defaulted on payments so the car was repo'd and they picked it up).


I've always had cars from VAG, I know them, they're great to work on and they're fun to drive. I had a Ford F150 for a little while before trading it in for this and holy crap did I forget about the F150 quickly when I got back into a VW! European > Yank Tank
You raise an interesting point and I would love to hear some answers.

If buying second hand are there any particular states where car prices appear lower ? More than happy to fly somewhere, save money and have a road trip back. The same might apply buying new.

How difficult is it sorting out the paperwork when you do get it back to your home state ?

As I mentioned it looks like the GTI is great value, but what else really competes against it ? New Type R, Focus RS ?

Last edited by Chins; Nov 8th 2017 at 2:55 pm. Reason: added more
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:01 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by Chins View Post
You raise an interesting point and I would love to hear some answers.

If buying second hand are there any particular states where car prices appear lower ? More than happy to fly somewhere, save money and have a road trip back. The same might apply buying new.

How difficult is it sorting out the paperwork when you do get it back to your home state ?

As I mentioned it looks like the GTI is great value, but what else really competes against it ? New Type R, Focus RS ?
Prices in northern states maybe lower but that can be due to the harder winter effects on the vehicles. Quite a few years back I got to compare one of my cars with one of similar age that had been brought down from the north east. The corrosion on the underside was significant due to salt used up north vs none on the underside of mine (NC based car)
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:10 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by rbackhouse View Post
Prices in northern states maybe lower but that can be due to the harder winter effects on the vehicles. Quite a few years back I got to compare one of my cars with one of similar age that had been brought down from the north east. The corrosion on the underside was significant due to salt used up north vs none on the underside of mine (NC based car)
Salt has been banned for years in my State. We just have to use chains or studded tires.

The other thing to consider is most imported cars are the high end models with most of the options. This means that most cars are in the $25k+ price range.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:21 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Salt has been banned for years in my State. We just have to use chains or studded tires.

The other thing to consider is most imported cars are the high end models with most of the options. This means that most cars are in the $25k+ price range.
I agree all the European cars come fairly well loaded. They do tend to bring in a few without much spec to they can advertise cheap lease deals. Apparently in some states you must have a car to the spec advertised available.

Getting anything less than an HSE spec Discovery Sport is tough work. This makes the car very expensive compared to a UK model.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:24 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by Chins View Post
You raise an interesting point and I would love to hear some answers.

If buying second hand are there any particular states where car prices appear lower ? More than happy to fly somewhere, save money and have a road trip back. The same might apply buying new.

How difficult is it sorting out the paperwork when you do get it back to your home state ?

As I mentioned it looks like the GTI is great value, but what else really competes against it ? New Type R, Focus RS ?

I wouldn't touch a MK3 Focus RS with a shitty stick. They've had tons of engine issues and recalls. I also don't own a staffy and an ASBO so it would feel wrong to get a sporty Ford or Type R
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:25 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Also if you want a basic thing like heated side mirrors, you have to buy a top spec vehicle in the majority of cases.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:28 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Also if you want a basic thing like heated side mirrors, you have to buy a top spec vehicle in the majority of cases.

Really good point.


Some of the top of the range trucks or SUV's are crazy money with things like heated mirrors or blind spot indicators etc.


Again, for 24k in a European car I got the performance pack, heated seats and mirrors, the front radar thing on the front that keeps the car in between the white lines and you get set distance to the car in front etc etc and quite a few other things. Way better equipped from standard too.
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Old Nov 8th 2017, 3:33 pm
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Default Re: Car Ownership cost USA v UK

Originally Posted by Chins View Post
Isnt the MSRP for the car over $40k ? That being the case the taxes alone would be more than $1800. I learnt pretty quickly that $0 down doesnt mean $0 down. On the Tiguan that actually mean $2.7k down to cover taxes, first months rental etc.
I believe the MSRP is under $40k believe it or not. I was told that the tax is put on top of the monthly payments, and that in Florida it is only charged on the amount of finance during the lease, and not on the entire MSRP of the vehicle. So (in this case):

36mo x $389 = $14004
$14004 x 6% sales tax =$840
So an extra $25 or something per month for the tax.

My calculations might be a little off, as I likely haven't accounted for some other fees. I have read that Florida is one of the most desirable places to lease a car. Other States like NY and NJ, you are taxed up front.
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