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Want to Buy a New Car? Here Is How Much You Can Spend.

Planning to buy a new car? Discover how to determine your budget wisely.

  • 07 Sep 2023
  • 4 min read

Are you on an exciting journey of buying a brand new car? It's a significant investment, right up there with purchasing a house. But unlike a house, a car is a depreciating asset. Buying a car goes beyond the desire for comfort and convenience. A car often reflects your social and financial standing. However, it's important to remember that there are other expenses to consider along with the car's cost. Determining a budget that aligns with your financial health and long-term goals is crucial. Let's dive into the key considerations when calculating your new car budget in India.


Things to consider when calculating your budget for a new car

When calculating your budget for a new car, several crucial factors must be considered. Consider the following factors to calculate car budget, including: 

Thumb rule: Set a reasonable budget

If you are wondering about "what car can I afford based on salary?" follow this thumb rule. A fundamental thumb rule to abide by when determining your budget for a new car is to avoid allocating more than half of your annual income to this purchase. This pragmatic guideline ensures a balanced approach to car affordability while safeguarding your overall financial stability.     

So, if you’re wondering “how do I know if I can afford a car?”, consider an illustrative scenario: if your annual income stands at ₹10 Lakhs, a reasonable budget would entail earmarking around ₹5 Lakhs for the car's cost. However, it's crucial to emphasise that this thumb rule doesn't solely encompass the car's ex-showroom price. Instead, it extends to the on-road price, which includes expenses like road tax, registration charges, and car insurance premiums. This comprehensive view provides a more accurate reflection of the actual costs of acquiring the vehicle.

When opting for a car loan, the thumb rule extends further to encompass the 20/4/10 principle. It entails initiating the purchase with a down payment of 20% of the car's price. Subsequently, securing a loan tenure within four years is recommended to avoid prolonged interest payment durations. Additionally, ensuring that your car-related expenses, including EMIs and car insurance, collectively remain within 10% of your monthly salary underpins prudent financial management.


Choose between new or old.    

Consider your needs rather than just your wants. If budget constraints come into play, don't overlook the option of a used car. Used cars can be up to 30% - 40% cheaper, depending on their age and condition. However, remember to account for potential maintenance costs and steer clear of vehicles older than five years.


Buying the right size    

Choose a car size that suits your family's needs and lifestyle. A hatchback or sedan might be ideal for a family of four, while a Multi Utility Vehicle (MUV) could be a better fit for larger families. Opting for a smaller model, when possible, can lead to cost savings.


Avoid negative compounding    

Eligibility for a loan doesn't necessarily equate to affordability. Going beyond your budget can lead to negative compounding – the more you borrow, the higher your interest payments. Be cautious not to be lured into a larger loan than you can comfortably manage.


Contemplate maintenance costs    

Remember, owning a car means ongoing expenses. Consider factors like insurance premiums, maintenance, fuel, and service costs. Over time, these seemingly minor expenses can accumulate and impact your financial well-being. Scrutinise the car's technical specifications, such as transmission modes and fuel types, to ensure they align with your budget.


More savings than EMI    

Your car's Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) should not consume more than 10% of your savings. Ensure you're setting aside more funds than you allocate toward your car payments. If your EMIs exceed this threshold, consider postponing your purchase until your financial situation strengthens.

Also read:

How to calculate the budget for your car?    

When wondering “how to know if I can afford a car”, you must learn basic steps to calculate the car's budget. Calculating your car budget entails several essential steps:

Check the on-road price

Before finalising your car budget, thoroughly examine the on-road price. This comprehensive figure includes the car's base cost and additional expenses like taxes, registration fees, and car insurance. Understanding the on-road price gives you a clearer picture of the overall investment required for your chosen vehicle.


Consider the monthly payments.

Calculate the monthly payments, including EMIs (Equated Monthly Instalments), and you'll need to allocate this for your car purchase accordingly. This step is crucial if you're opting for a car loan. Ensuring that the monthly payments fit comfortably within your financial capacity is essential.


Access your down payment.

Determine the amount you can allocate as a down payment for the car. You should know that a higher down payment lowers the loan amount, leading to lower monthly payments. Assessing your down payment capability helps you tailor your car budget to suit your financial situation.


Check the exchange value of your current vehicle, if any.    

If you're replacing an existing vehicle, evaluate its exchange value. A good resale value for your old vehicle can significantly impact your new car's cost, potentially reducing your overall expenditure.


Consider your total debt.

Take a complete view of your existing financial commitments and debts. Assess whether adding a car loan to your financial portfolio is feasible. Carefully consider your total debt to ensure the new car purchase aligns with your financial stability.



In the exhilarating pursuit of a new car, prudent budgeting is vital. Consider a balanced approach, adhering to a rule of not exceeding half your annual income for the car's cost, including on-road expenses. Opt for practicality between new and used cars, accounting for maintenance costs. Evaluate size, savings-to-EMI ratio, down payment, exchange value, and total debt. Remember, car insurance safeguards your investment, so choose one wisely. With these principles, embark on your car journey confidently and financially prepared.

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