Crash and burn

Janie Boschma

It gets you from point A to point B, but somewhere in the middle it’s costing more money than some people may realize.

Senior Megan Hendricks said owning a car has her paying extra expenses. The worst part is the cost of gas and maintenance, she said, since she pays for that herself.

Gas prices and maintenance, as well as car insurance and monthly payments, are all factors of owning a car.

Clunker or Cadillac

When deciding on the perfect car, the choice between picking a new car over a used car can affect all aspects of the cost of the car, according to the Lending Tree Web site.

Two benefits of owning a new car are the low maintenance fees, because it is still under warranty, and its high reliability, according to the Web site. But, even if it should cost less to maintain, it still costs more up front.

Some students, such as Hendricks, turn to used cars instead.

“I bought my car used because at age 16, that’s what was in my price range,” she said.

Even though a used car may seem cheaper up front, the maintenance fees also tend to be higher in the long run, according to the Wells Fargo Web site. But, used cars can be beneficial because they have lower insurance premiums and lower registration fees.

Safety First

Many factors determine an individual’s insurance rate, such as the type of vehicle and its year, make and model said Pat Candell, a representative from American Family Insurance, 1241 Menomonie St. Suite A. The driver’s age, driving record, marital status and gender can also affect his or her rate.

Candell also said insurance is higher for newer cars, especially four-wheel drive cars and trucks, as well as higher-end vehicles.

Many insurance agencies, such as American Family Insurance, offer a variety of discounts, including a lower rate for students with good grades, Candell said.

Typically insurance is the highest for people under 19 years old, but will become a stable rate between ages 25 and 29, when they are considered experienced enough, she said.

“Teenagers and young college students have the highest rates for accidents and legal infractions,” Candell said. “So they are considered high risk.”

At American Family Insurance, the average female college student under age 21 with a decent used car looking at getting full coverage insurance would likely pay around $115 a month, Candell estimated. But if she is a good student, the price could drop down to about $94 per month. Also, females tend to have lower insurance costs compared to males. A male in the same situation would pay upward of $155 a month, and if he had good grades it could reduce his cost to about $123 a month.

Candell said a student under his or her parent’s policy is likely to receive lower rates.

“A driver should stay under their parents insurance policy; that way the rate is determined by their parents assets as well, and you are likely to get a better rate,” she said.

Show me the money

Even though owning a car can be a good way to build a credit rating, according to Lending Tree’s Web site, some students may need to take out a loan to make monthly payments.

Mary Smith of U.S. Bank, 1535 W Hamilton Ave., said the auto loan application is extensive. An applicant is required to provide personal information such as their income, credit score, proof of a steady income and proof that the vehicle is valued at the amount they are asking to borrow.

Smith said that because many college students have either no credit or no steady income, many need a cosigner – usually a parent.

The average rate for new car loans is about 7.5 percent. At this rate the average car payment can run up to about $380 a month on a four-year loan, according to Lending Tree.


Sophomore Amanda Alioto said worrying about a car breaking down is the worst part about having one. Not only would it leave her feeling stranded but she would also have to pay to fix it.

Ben Lancette of Youngstedt’s Eau Claire Auto Service & Tire, 2521 Clairemont Ave., said cars usually need general maintenance every 30,000 miles, depending on the car.

“Newer cars may not need as much work done as used cars, and can wait until 100,000 miles to come in for a tune-up. Used cars will obviously need maintenance more often,” he said.

Prices for general maintenance will vary, but at Youngstedt’s some prices include: replacement air filter for $17, tire rotations are $20, an oil change is about $24 and a new set of tires can cost between $350 and $700.

Finding a parking spot

Both Alioto and Hendricks said they have gotten parking tickets on campus and they mostly blame it on their forgetfulness with the meters. Tickets cost $5 and up to four can be issued per day.

“Five dollars may not seem like a lot of money but after you get a few it starts to add up,” Alioto said.

Also, students need to have parking permits for on-campus parking at the dorms, which cost $120 when purchased at the beginning of the school year.

Alioto said having her car on campus allows her extra freedom.

“You can go where you want, whenever you want. I can go shopping at the mall and drive to practice without having to bum a ride from my friends or depend on anyone else.”