If you purchase a car like me, a large part of your decision making is based around how much you can afford to spend. The last time we bought a car we didn't take into account the total cost of ownership. The cost of ownership is represented by fuel costs, maintenance, depreciation, interest paid and other factors which impact the total cash you put out for your new vehicle over the first five years of ownership. The results are often surprising and reinforce the need to bunker down and research vehicle purchases.

Consumer Reports has compiled cost of ownership for over 300 cars in the April issue, which is also available online to subscribers. AOL autos took an in depth look at the report and pulled some interesting information about vehicle costs. Sometimes spending a few grand more on the initial purchase will add up to savings in the long run. If you plan to change vehicles every 3 years, this tool won't be much help for you, since it is based on five years of ownership, the length of most car loans.Some examples from the AOL autos report include the huge disparity in the cost to insure similar vehicles, for example a Mitsubishi Lancer costs close to $1,600 more to insure than an Acura TL. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle costs close to $7,000 more than similar vehicles but the cost of ownership is surprisingly much less. I wouldn't doubt that this gap will widen with the rising cost of gas

The next time my wife and I get ready to make a vehicle purchase you can bet I'll be doing more research into the total cost of ownership. Who knows by then Northwest Ohio may have decent public transportation, or you know pigs could be delivering air mail.

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