When shopping for a new car, your first step will be to decide on the general type of vehicle you are looking at. After this, you will need to begin comparing manufactures to decide which vehicle will offer the best value to you. Regardless of the type of car you want, there will be comparable models available from other manufacturers. Too often, a car shopper will look at price as the greatest factor in their purchase, and obviously, this is going to be important, but the cost of ownership over several years can make one car cheaper than another. The following are four of the most important elements of the cost of ownership.

Depreciation

This is an important, but usually neglected, factor when shopping for a car. How quickly a car loses its value may not seem important, but in five years, when you go to sell the car, this element of the cost of ownership becomes important. Some makes and models have a higher resale value than others, and the difference can be significant.

Fuel costs

Most people understand how to figure the cost of gasoline. In fact, cars will have the fuel ratings posted on them at the dealership. It will pay to keep in mind the difference between the fuel costs of driving around town versus the highway. The highway numbers may seem impressive, but for most people, it is the miles-per-gallons figure for driving in the city that is more important.

Insurance

The best time to shop for car insurance is before you purchase a car. You can get quotes for the different manufactures and plainly see the difference in costs for a policy. It is important to not only get quotes for the vehicles you are interested in buying, but also to get them from several car insurance companies. Make sure that the coverage that you are quoting is the same for all vehicles, so you are comparing apples to apples.

Repair and maintenance costs

Some cars are simply more reliable than others. Certain manufactures build quality cars and trucks, so the owner need only keep up with the maintenance of the vehicle and will seldom need repairs. Reliable vehicles are lower cost vehicles. When a vehicle stands out for low cost of ownership, the manufacture will be happy to share this information with a car buyer. Toyota's rav4 cost of ownership is a good example of this.