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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

‘Thank you’ won’t fill the tank: People with cars don’t have money

Vehicle ownership is costly.

If you’ve gauged someone’s financial muscle based on the size and performance of their ride, then you’ve probably got the wrong end of the stick.

While owning a car may paint somewhat a wealthy image, truth is very few people have the funds to buy it cash, and those who go through the vehicle financing route have to deal with the costly commitment of paying off the loan with interest – leaving very little cash to blow.

Digging deeper into their pockets are insurance premiums, fuel and maintenance costs, further driving up the cost of owning a car.

So when your ‘rich cousin’ pulls up in a new ride at the next family reunion, don’t ask them for ‘cool drink’ money – they’re most likely a few thousand rands poorer.

These monthly financial obligations coupled with high inflation and steep interest rates take up a huge slice of the budget.

Still not convinced? Here’s why most people with cars don’t really have money to blow.

READ MORE: Here’s why you should – and why you shouldn’t – buy a new car

Here’s what takes their money

You’re probably more drawn by fancy SUVs and luxury sedans, but get this – even the smallest entry-level vehicles require some level of financial muscle to afford.

The Citizen looked at the average monthly cost of owning a financed entry-level vehicle in 2024.

Cash PriceMonthly Installment
Suzuki SwiftR205 900R4226.50
Renault KwidR196 999R4047.82
Kia PicantoR240 995 R4931
Hyundai Grand i10R239 500R4900.99
Toyota VitzR189.900R3905.31

South Africans pay an average monthly installment of R4 402.32 for one of the popular entry-level vehicles, paid over six years at ±13% interest rate (no deposit).

Once the biggest expense is covered, your ‘rich cousin’ still has to pay for insurance fees, a non-negotiable for financed vehicles.

For the above-mentioned entry level vehicles, policy holders can expect to pay between R800 and R1500 on monthly premiums. However, it’s important to note that figures may vary based on a driver’s risk-profile, vehicle type and how long you’ve had your driver’s licence.

ALSO READ: Alternative vehicle financing to become more important in SA

‘Thank you’ won’t fill the tank

Meanwhile, the pricey cost of fuel remains a thorn to motorists, piercing further into their tight budgets.

Currently, a litre of petrol costs R24.78 (93-octane) and R25.12 (95-octane). This amounts to R807.30 and R879.20 per full tank on average.

So, next time someone offers you a lift, don’t just say an empty ‘thank you‘, back it up with some petrol money – they’ll definitely appreciate it.

Tank Size93-Octane95-Octane
Suzuki Swift37LR916.86R929.44
Renault Kwid28LR693.84R703.36
Kia Picanto35LR867.30R879.20
Hyundai Grand i1043LR1065.54R1080.16
Toyota Vitz32LR792.96R803.84

ALSO READ: Buying your first car? Here is some practical advice

Threads under threat

Driving in South Africa can be an extreme sport, with some roads being more unpredictable than others.

The simple act of driving your car is a potential expense because anything can happen, leaving you with a hefty bill to pay.

Exacerbating road risk, Mzansi’s giant-size potholes remain a costly threat to your threads, making it very important to have a rainy-day fund, literally.

A replacement tyre can cost anything between R850 and R983 for the aforementioned entry-level vehicles.

Now do the math, your entry-level vehicle-owning counterparts spend between R6 009.62 and R6 781.52 monthly towards car expenses.

Those with more pricier luxury cars spend even more. While they may appear rich – their image probably costs them even more, at least some of them.

So, next time you see your friends with cars, don’t ask them for money – give them some instead.

ALSO READ: Need a new car? These are the payment options available to you

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cars insurance petrol petrol price Vehicle financing