Despite rising fuel costs, new research shows that car running costs have fallen over the past 12 months.
The average cost of owning and running a vehicle has dropped by 0.4 percent from last year's RAA Cost of Vehicle Ownership survey.
RAA's Mark Borlace said motorists had been hit hard by rising fuel costs, but that has been offset by better fuel-economy and fixed-price servicing which has been introduced by some manufacturers.
"In the light car category, the Suzuki Alto GL was once again the cheapest car per week to own and run, costing owners $121.46, with the Holden Barina Spark CD placing second, costing $125," he said.
Results in the small car class were again the closest, with the Hyundai i30 SX costing $169.37 per week, narrowly ahead of the Kia Cerato S at $169.52. The Honda Civic Hybrid was the most costly car to run in the category at $231.26 per week.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Toyota LandCruiser and Prado were again the most expensive vehicles to run, with the Toyota LandCruiser GXL diesel the dearest, costing $426.94 per week, according to the survey.
Car owners were in a slightly better position than in previous years when it comes to taking advantage of lower car loan costs and improved depreciation; however this was still a major cost, RAA found.
"A vehicle's depreciation or ongoing decrease in value is around 38 per cent of the total cost of owning a vehicle, which is by far the biggest expense. While depreciation does not affect car owners on a weekly basis, when they are looking to sell or trade their car in five years' time is when the depreciation costs kick in," said Borlace.
When looking to buy a vehicle, it is also important to look beyond just the price of the car and think about the hidden costs that are more expensive in the long run, he said.
"Buyers should take into account the cost of having the car serviced, how much it costs to fill the fuel tank, replace tyres, insure and register the car, as well as interest, stamp duty [and] drivers' licence costs. It is also important to think about the costs of spare parts such as windscreens and batteries. These factors are all considered when compiling our survey."