Vehicle in a parking spot

How much it costs to own a vehicle in Toronto

Toronto has long been known as a city of neighbourhoods. From downtown staples like The Annex or Cabbagetown to peripheral communities like Woburn or Rexdale, Toronto is a sprawling behemoth that cannot be truly experienced without a fair bit of traversing.

For some, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) will be satisfactory enough from a transportation perspective to realize those micro-travel goals and hold off on buying a car. After all, it can get you pretty much anywhere in the city (within reason). But for those who commute to inconvenient transit points, have young children, are constantly lugging around bulky things, or just don't want to deal with the overpriced logjam that is the TTC during rush hour on a weekday—not to mention the scheduled subway closures that happen somewhere on the subway line pretty much every weekend—a car may be a must-have item.

The difference, however, between cars and other highly-priced items such as televisions and barbecues, is that where you are buying can sometimes be just as important as what you are buying. Just because you, a Torontonian, and your friend in Kamloops have both purchased identical 2017 Honda Civics (and somehow also have identical driving patterns), it does not mean that you can expect to be paying the same amounts for your respective cars going forward.

To spare you the trouble of looking it all up yourself, Need a Loan has taken the liberty of breaking down the different components of paying for a car and analyzed them through a Toronto-specific lens. So buckle up, sit back, and prepare to find out how much it costs to own a vehicle in Toronto.

Registration

Sadly, vehicle registration does not come cheap in Ontario. When you register a vehicle with ServiceOntario, you'll be paying one of these one-time base costs (depending on whether or not you have a license plate already) no matter where in the province you live:

  • Vehicle permit: $32
  • License plate, with permit: $57

Then, you'll have to purchase a license plate sticker, which must be renewed on an annual basis (or bi-annually, but with no discount for doing so). The yearly amount for license plate sticker renewal differs depending on where you live in Ontario:

  • Northern Ontario: $60
  • Southern Ontario: $120

Torontonians fall into the latter group, unfortunately, so they pay at least $120 in government fees just to to drive every year.

Average Annual Total: $209

Insurance

If you were hoping that Ontario folks might have a bit of a sweeter deal when it comes to insurance, I'm sorry to burst your bubble. It is in fact quite the opposite.

According to an inter-provincial study of average annual insurance premiums from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, one that utilized data from 2013 for every province except Manitoba (2009) and Saskatchewan (2010), Ontario was paying by far the highest amount among all of the provinces and territories. At that time, the average Ontario premium was $1,456, with the next closest being British Columbia at $1,163, followed by Alberta at $1,140. Quebec finished last at $715.

Since that study was conducted, the situation hasn't improved. Just this past week, it was reported that Ontario drivers are now facing an average increase of 0.76 per cent for insurance premiums after the second quarter of 2017.

And, as it is with most things money-related, Greater Toronto Area (GTA) residents end up paying more for insurance premiums than everywhere else in the province. Though 'actual Toronto' comes in at fourth on a 2016 Ontario city comparison study put together by Kanetix, the top three finishers are Brampton, Vaughan, and Mississauga, which pay $2,392, $2,018, and $1,930 respectively. Toronto drivers pay an annual average premium of $1,886, which is 30 per cent higher than everywhere else in the province on average.

Average Annual Total: $1,886

Gas

Gas prices fluctuate wildly between regions and areas of Canada. For details on that fluctuation, there's no better source to consult than GasBuddy. Visit the website and within seconds you can have a current snapshot of the average price for gas in Toronto—which, by the way is 108.1 cents per litre at the moment.

Surprisingly enough, gas in Toronto is actually cheaper than in a lot of other areas of the country. In portions of Newfoundland, rural Ontario, and British Columbia (including Vancouver), gas can closely approach or exceed 120 c/L on average. For the most part the cheapest prices are in central Canada, with the majority of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba coming in well under 100 c/L.

Average Annual Total: $1,123.2*

*This figure represents the Toronto c/L average (108.1) multiplied by a modest estimated average of 40 L per fill up, then multiplied again by 26 to account for a typical bi-weekly fill-up schedule.

Parking

Like insurance, parking costs can vary wildly from person to person. A homeowner will have paid (or is in the process of paying for) the privilege to park in his or her driveway, while a renter will likely have to pay for a sanctioned spot in the building's lot—which is to say nothing of the additional costs it takes to park if a driver is taking the vehicle to work. In that situation, he or she would either use an office building spot, a commercial lot, or a street spot.

Here's an overview of what those all might cost you in Toronto:

  • Apartment building spot: Likely somewhere between $50-$400 per month. Reasonable average is $150. Condo spots are typically sold for thousands of dollars.
  • Office building spot: Premium spots usually go for less than the most expensive of apartment spots, but an average of $150 is also probably a pretty reasonable estimate for an office building spot as well.
  • Commercial lot: Grabbing one of these spots will generally cost you between $5 and $35 per day.
  • Street parking: Though there is a fair amount of free street parking at certain times in the right neighbourhoods, the Toronto Parking Authority also oversees paid parking in the city. It uses a sliding scale with hourly rates of either $1, $1.50, $2, $2.25, $3, or $4. Expanded for an entire day, you parking on the street could end up costing you close to—if not more—than what it costs to be in a commercial lot.

 

Average Annual Total: $2,700*

*Again, this will vary wildly depending on the person, but here was the methodology behind this figure: car owners will likely at least pay either to have a spot for their cars near their residences, or to have a spot near their workplaces. That monthly average, carried out over a year, is $1,800. Then, I added 50 per cent of that to the total, to account for the many drivers who will only have one or the other, and the street parking fees that drivers will pay for additional trips.

Conclusion

Now that we've done all the individual number crunching, we can bring it all together. Here is a formula that tells you what a driver who is average in essentially every respect would pay to own a vehicle in Toronto. Keep in mind that this formula does not include basic car payments (loan) or maintenance fees (winter tires are optional in Toronto, fees for everything else would be relatively similar to any other non-outlier area), which will depend on circumstance, or how much a driver wants to invest in his or her vehicle.

   $209 license and registration fee

+ $1,886 insurance premium

+ $1,123.2 in gas fill-ups

+ $2,700 in parking costs

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$5,918.2 total

It costs the average driver approximately $5,918.2 per year (outside of initial payments and maintenance fees) to own, drive, and store a vehicle in Toronto.