Buying a New Car? Brace For Sticker Shock

Buying a New Car? Brace For Sticker Shock

This post originally appeared on MainStreet.

The average cost of a new vehicle might cause a serious case of sticker shock for the vast majority of Americans. cited the cost of a new car at $32,086 this year and found it an unaffordable figure for buyers in 24 of 25 large metropolitan areas.

For example, residents of Tampa, Fla., can afford to spend only $14,209 on a new vehicle, leaving them a "purchase gap" of just under $18,000 they would need to finance to pay that $32,000 for a new car or truck.


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Financing an $18,000 car loan at 3.3% would lead to an expensive monthly car payment: $525.84. And most Americans just can't afford that.

"Too many families are spending way too much on new cars and trucks," said Mike Sante, a spokesman for "Just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn't mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up such a huge share of your paycheck."

Sante says there really is no need to spend that kind of money on a vehicle, not when you have other auto buying options.

"You can get a great car for much less and use the savings to invest in yourself," he says. "That's where the money for your retirement or kids' college can come from."

The list shows that residents of only one major U.S. city — Washington, D.C. — can afford to pay $32,000 for a new vehicle.

For San Francisco residents can afford, on average, $28,009 for a new car or truck with no money down (or a $563 maximum monthly car payment.)

Topping the middle tier of the list, New York City residents can afford $21,907 for a new vehicle, for a maximum monthly payment of $441. San Diego residents are around the same, facing a maximum monthly payment of $442, while aside from Tampa it's Miami and Detroit residents who are least able to afford a new car outright.

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