How Much Does It Cost To Own A Car in Switzerland?

Insurances, Switzerland

Are you thinking about buying a car in Switzerland or bring your old one from your home country? We all know that Switzerland is a very expensive country but what about the costs for owning a car? Will you able to afford it or (excellent!) public transportation will be the only solution for you?

According to a study, Swiss car owners spend an average of over 733 CHF per month or 8,796 CHF per year on their vehicle assuming the drive 15,000 km. The most inexpensive cars in Switzerland are with diesel engine, their ownership comes to 600 CHF per month, for gasoline engines it’s 646 CHF and for an electric car you pay 928 CHF per month.

In this post, we calculate monthly expenses for owning a car in Switzerland, whether you buy it or already have one. Hopefully, you have a valid in Switzerland driving license because it’s whole another story, and we won’t touch on it at this time.

Costs of Owning a Car in Switzerland

Are you dreaming about having a car in Switzerland? You know that the dream could quickly become a nightmare, if you didn’t estimate and budget all costs which are involved in it.

Car is surely useful to have in Switzerland, despite the excellence of public transportations sometimes even train won’t bring you to the final destination or if so with the big inconvenience.

Especially if you love outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing, go on weekend trips, and even visit a supermarket, a car will serve you much better than public transport and it’s just great for your daily mobility.

How much exactly a car will cost you per month in Switzerland depends on many factors. This article gives you a good overview of all potential costs for your vehicle.

In total you can expect purchase price (if buying a car), fuel costs, car insurance, and depreciation. Other factors affecting vehicle costs include repairs and maintenance. Some of these costs are variable and associated with the mileage, others such as tax and insurance are fixed costs.

Are you buying car?

I hope you brought a car with you from another country otherwise you will need to buy one, so consider its price. We all know that a new car costs significantly more than a used car. The decline in value also higher for new cars.

On the other hand, fuel consumption, car insurance, and repairs are higher in the case of used cars. Nevertheless, the rule of thumb is: a used car will cost you less in the end of the month than a new one.

For example, if you are buying new VW Golf V expect to pay between 21,600 CHF – 60,000 CHF, depending on the equipment, model, engine. The used one will be ranging from 6,000 CHF to 40,000 CHF, on average you can expect to pay about 25,000 CHF for a relative new vehicle in good condition.

So How Much Will It Cost You?

As I already mentioned, exact costs for a car depend on several individual costs and can’t be easily estimated. On average person living in Switzerland pays 733 CHF per month for his/her vehicle. Despite the overall high prices in the country the cost of car ownerships isn’t the highest in Europe.

For instance in countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden or Finland and even Italy you will spend more. In these places car drivers pay 824 CHF, 804 CHF, 748 CHF, 862 CHF and 886 CHF respectably.

Italy by far is a winner, although the cost of living in this country significantly lower than in other mentioned before. The car will cost you the cheapest amount per month in countries like Hungary, Romania or Poland, where you can expect to pay less than 558 CHF.

These costs include expenses for purchase, depreciation, repairs, maintenance, insurance, taxes and fuel. Popular models such as VW Golf, Ford Focus, Opel Corsa, VW Polo, Renault Clio or Smart ForTwo were evaluated for the study.

So what the Swiss secret? Why people pay relative low prices for using a car?

The experts explained why the high-price country of Switzerland is rather cheap when it comes to cars. So in many countries taxes on a vehicle are considerably higher than in Switzerland. Besides, VAT taxes are lower overall in Switzerland.

So back to the monthly costs, in this article we will divide them into two categories variable and fixed. The ratio for monthly expense of ownership a car in Switzerland is around 62% for fix costs and 37% for variable.

Maintenance costs/Operating costs are variable and include:

  • Fuel costs, car insurance costs, inspections, car wash, car care, repairs, tyre changes as well as taxes

The exact amount of the costs depends on several factors, such as the choice of car insurance and others, such as:

  • Type of the car, engine, equipment, your age, your accident risk and region where do you live

On average, a car needs to be repaired after every 20,000 kilometers. If an accident occurs, it can become more expensive.

Fixed costs include:

Fixed costs occur monthly, yearly or on a singular basis.

  • Taxes, leasing costs/loan, some inspections, car insurance such as vehicle liability, partial or comprehensive insurance, depreciation and garage costs

Here are all costs you have to consider before owning a car in Germany and if you can finance it in the long term:

  • Leasing costs:

If your car is leased or purchased with a loan, you pay a monthly rate.

  • Fuel costs

Gasoline? Diesel? Or maybe electric? Whatever drive you choose, one thing always applies: the more you drive, the more you have to spend on fuel. The smaller your car and the less you drive, the lower the fuel costs.

Diesel is cheaper per liter than petrol – this pays off if you drive many kilometers annually. The average consumption of the car in Switzerland is 6 liters per 100 kilometers, if you drive petrol it will be 1,3 CHF per liter (7,8 CHF per 100 km) and 1,4 CHF (8,4 CHF for 100 km) for diesel.

Choose your car insurance for Switzerland here.

  • Lodging/Parking

We all need to park our car somewhere, in Switzerland, this joy isn’t the cheapest one, expect to pay around 1,000 CHF yearly for garage or such. Parking fees also apply when you need to park somewhere in the city, they aren’t the lowest too.

  • Car Insurance

Car insurance is mandatory in Switzerland and is a prerequisite for the registration of your car. Most of people opt for partial or comprehensive coverage, here you have a right to choose. However, with new cars, comprehensive insurance is the best option.

There are many factors determine the costs of car insurance, we will talk about this later. What is the best car insurance in Switzerland? You can figure this out on Scout24.ch – a platform which will give you the best options for car insurance with best price/performance ratio.

The average price for car insurance in Switzerland is around 2,000 CHF per year.

  • Annual vehicle taxes (Kfz Steuer)

You will have to pay an annual tax for your car. Canton, engine displacement, pollutant emissions, and first registration, as well as diesel, gasoline or electric drive, determine the amount of the vehicle tax. The amount is ranging from 120 CHF to 500 CHF depending on these factors.

  • Autobahn vignette/sticker:

If you wish to use Autobahn (highway) it will cost you 40 CHF per year.

  • Depreciation

Your car is losing value every day. Usually, a depreciation of about 10% per year – less for older vehicles, significantly more for new vehicles.

Your car lose most of its value in the first few years. This is especially important for new car owners. In the first year new car loses about 25% in value.

  • Maintenance

Car always needs to be checked and some items should be replaced, in Switzerland labor cost is highest in Europe, so expect to pay a significant amount to the professional unless you do it yourself.

Your car must be controlled by inspector on a regular basis, the oil must be changed, brake discs, exhaust, tires, or alternator must be replaced. With a new car, your maintenance costs will be lower than with a used one. On average, you will spend 600 CHF up to 1,000 CHF per year.

  • Inspections

There is one initial inspection which costs 175 CHF as well as general check every 2 years for 120 CHF.

  • Change of tires

A tire isn’t cheap in Switzerland, and if you drive a lot, you also need new ones faster. After about 30,000 km you have to get new tires. Additionally, you should not forget the costs of changing from summer to winter tires and their storage. On average, they will cost you around 350 CHF. The price for fitting is not included, of course, so add another 150 CHF for the work.

  • Other costs

There are regular parking fees in the cities. In winter, you need antifreeze for your windshield wipers.

  • Unpredictable damage

If you have no partial or comprehensive coverage (Teilkasko, Vollkasko), you have to pay for a flat tire, damage in the paint due to vandalism, rockfall, etc. all from your own pocket. Depending on your driving style, brake system, coupling, and suspension must be repaired sooner or later.

We can conclude that the small used car costs you 6,360 CHF a year. The cost per kilometre is at least 0,424 of 1 CHF.

What to Consider When Buying a Car?

When you buy a car, you already want to know how much will it cost you per month or per year? In general, small cars are cheaper than bigger or upper-class models.

This can be especially noticeable on insurance costs and taxes. You should also take the loss in value into account. In many situation buying a used car will be a better deal in the long run.

Affordable small cars

If you want to drive particularly inexpensive, a micro or small car is the right choice. These models cost about 400 CHF to 600 CHF per year.

Midsized cars

Midsize cars include compact cars and mid-range cars, which cost 600 CHF to 1,000 CHF per year.

Upper class cars

The cars of the upper class have an annual total cost of 1,000 CHF to 1,700 CHF. However, the more expensive investment can pay off, depending on the driving performance, fuel consumption, and environmental characteristics of the vehicles.

Costs which arise when buying a car in Switzerland:

  • Initial inspection

Your car should have be inspected at your costs which is around 175 CHF.

  • Vehicle registration (Kfz-Zulassung)

The first thing you will have to pay for after purchasing the car is the registration at the KFZ – Zulassungsstelle. This will cost around 30 CHF und 140 CHF depending on the Canton you live in.

  • Number plates (Kfz-Kennzeichen)

The second is buying number plates. Without it you aren’t allowed on the roads. This should cost around 13 CHF.

Which Car Is The Cheapest to Own and Operate in Switzerland?

Your monthly expenses in Switzerland are directly correlated with the car you have.

Micro cars are particularly affordable in terms of insurance and taxation. An electric car costs more, but there are tax advantages.

One of the cheapest option is Fiat 500, it will costs you only 2,808 CHF in variable annual costs and 373 CHF for insurance. Next in this price category is Toyota Yaris, which will cost you around 2,830 CHF in variable costs and 320,9 CHF per year for insurance.

Surprisingly, Tesla Model 3 won’t cost you as much as, for example, BMW X3. You will have around 2,629 CHF in variable expenses and 442 CHF in insurance in case with Tesla and BMW will cause you 5,000 CHF of variable expenses and additional 455 CHF for insurance.

It’s difficult to calculate the cost of insurance because it varies from person to person. In this example we took a male, who is 45 years old, resident in the city of Wallisellen, has been driving damage-free for at least 10 years and without driving license withdrawals.

Your Alternative: Public Transportation

So lets compare what is cheaper in Switzerland to own a car or use a public transportation? Usually people use trains if they decide to stick with public transport.

Consequently, almost everyone has a public transportation card which gives them a discount. So a discount card for second-class train department for an adult costs around 330 CHF per month, or 3,960 CHF per month, what end up to be cheaper than having a car.

For example. it is much cheaper to travel quickly from Zurich to Basel by car than by train. Without a discount card, a one-way trip by train costs you around 34 CHF.

How much does a car insurance costs in Switzerland?

Car insurance is a mandatory in Switzerland as in many other European countries and plays important role in our costs estimation.

There are many factors which are involved in the costs of the insurance and of course it depends on insurance you decide to choose. They include:

  • Your age, how many accidents you already had, your yearly driving distance, a region where do you live and the number of potential drivers

To start using your can in Switzerland you will need at least the mandatory liability insurance (Haftpflicht). It will cover the costs only of third parties in case of an accident. When comparing Swiss cities, car insurance was generally cheapest in Zurich, compared to Bellinzona in canton Ticino or Lausanne in canton Vaud.

How much this cost depends on the exact model of the car (each model/engine combination is judged separately how accident-prone it is).

The categorization of the car is especially important because the difference can be several hundred Francs per year. Another factor is, how many years you haven’t caused an accident.

Premium for insurance can also increase if you have several accidents within a short time, and even go up to 245% of the rate. Therefore, the insurance amount increases every time you actually use the insurance.

So how car insurance differentiates one from another and which premium should you pick? All insurances are divided into 3 different coverages plans: Haftpflicht, Teilkasko, Vollkasko.

To find an optimal car insurance check Scout24.ch, this platform will show you all available providers and premiums in Switzerland, so you can choose according to your preferences.

We talked about Haftpflicht, before, its the minimal insurance, the bare minimum, also called mandatory liability insurance.

Teilkasko is only a little more expensive than mandatory liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). This type of insurance covers any damage to your own car and all other third parties who were involved even if it is your fault.

Vollkasko or comprehensive coverage is a maximum of coverage that you can get and therefore most expensive one. It protects your car and your health in addition to third parties as well as acts of vandalism or crazy nature and other small neat things.

With Vollkasko you don’t have to worry about your car or yourself at all. Overall it is recommended getting at least Teilkasko. So you and others are protected.

Therefore, how much car insurance costs annually depends on many factors. As a beginner, you pay significantly more, because your accident risk is much higher.

In general, the costs of car insurance can range from 300 CHF to over 3,000 CHF per year depending on the premium you choose, find your insurance here.

Finding a good insurance company in Switzerland is really important, to do it without pain you could use a platform that will show you all available providers and premiums accordingly to your situation.

How much are car taxes?

A motor vehicle tax must be paid for all road vehicles. Costs vary from canton to canton for example in Bern the annual tax is 240 CHF. The amount also depends on the weight of the car and emission of pollutants (CO2).

A car with a total weight of 1,850 kg will cause 415,45 CHF in taxes per year. The lower the pollutant your car is, the lower the vehicle tax.

New vehicles with more sustainable engines benefit from a tax reduction in the first few years after purchase (up to 40% in Bern). On another hand, for diesel cars higher rates could be applied.

How much is the loss on value?

New cars lose their value every year, you could count with around 10% of its price per year. In reality, the decline in value is usually higher in the first few years, but flattens over time.

Not only the age, but also the kilometers driven have an impact on the value of your car. On average there are aditional 2% of depreciation per 10,000 km.

Over the years, it fluctuates between 5% and 6%. The loss of value depends on various points such as the type of vehicle, the image/prestige of the manufacturer, the condition compared to the age of the vehicle, the number of kilometers or the marketability. But with good care and maintenance, you can compensate for the loss of value positively.

On average a three-year-old car is worth about 50% of its list price when selling.

This factors will help to calculate loss of value for your car:

  • Car class
  • Engine
  • Depreciation for previous models of your current car
  • Analysis of the used-car market

Don’t forget to change the tires

Changing the tires in Switzerland is a must and it happens twice per year: for winter and summer season.

Overall there is a rule to change tires in October and in the middle of April. Or you can orientate on 7 Celsius temperature, as soon it comes in just change your tires (look only for night temperature).

You can either buy:

  • Just the rubber tires (Reifen)

In this case, you will pay less upfront, but you will have to pay more every time you have to get them changed at a garage (You can do it yourself if you are an expert).

  • Tires with rim (Reifen mit Felgen)

In this case, you will pay more upfront, but you will have to pay less every time you have to get them changed at a garage. Also, you can change the tires on your own without the need of much expertise.

You also need to consider costs for changing the tires if you don’t do it on your own. Here price depends on the quality of the service.

  • Cheapest service: 50-70 CHF
  • Good quality service 70-90 CHF
  • Excellent service: 90-140 CHF

The amount include change of all 4 tires and doesn’t include cost of tires itself. The average price for tires is around 350 CHF for 4 of them. Additionally, tires should be changed after every 30,000 kilometres driven.

Inspection, maintenance, and repairs

For inspection, maintenance, and repairs you can calculate between 600 CHF – 1,000 CHF per 10,000 kilometers driven. The bigger and more expensive the car, the more expensive is the service.

In the worst case, there are also unforeseen repairs after breakdowns or accidents, which can quickly reach a four-digit amount. For this reason alone, you should have some money available in your when budgeting your car costs.

Every 2-years a car needs to be controlled by special institution, it’s not free, expect to pay between 60 CHF and 150 CHF depending on a candon you live in.

In addition, an oil change must be done once a year, where you can expect a check on up to 100 CHF. Also, don’t forget about the air filter, pollen filter, etc. This all can cost an additional 100-200 CHF. Wear parts such as alternator, brakes, exhaust or tires that must be replaced over time. To fix problems in electronics will be the most expensive.

Once in a while, doesn’t matter how much you care about your car, something is going to go wrong. When some major maintenance/replacement of parts has to take place costs around 400–800 CHF can occur.

Car wash is also necessary

You also need to think about the cleaning and care of the vehicle. On average, a driver spends 150 CHF per year on cleaning services. This is one of the smaller costs that accumulate over time but needs to happen sometimes.

People wash their cars in an auto wash (Autowaschanlage), on average one cleaning costs around 20 CHF.

Parking costs

You will need to park your car somewhere, whether you live in the citycenter or in suburbs. Most of the time there must be enough free parking places near your house so you can park when you at home.

If you need to rent a parking place (Stellplatz) or a garage for any reason (your job doesn’t provide one) expect some monthly fees, between 800 CHF to 1600 CHF per year on average.

Parking in a city most of the time will cost you something. Parking around popular places like rail stations, hotels and town centers is expensive, count on 10 CHF to 50 CHF per day.

Even as a hotel guest, you often need to pay for parking separately. Parking in the larger cities is more expensive: up to CHF 4 per hour.

Last but not least – Speeding Tickets in Switzerland

Switzerland has the most expensive traffic fines in the world! In fact, the country holds a record there, you could end up with a 299,000 CHF fine if you exceed the limits too far. Below you can see the information on limits and penalties according to them.

Rates inside villages, towns and cities:

  • 1 – 5 km/h = 40 CHF
  • 6 – 10 km/h = 120 CHF
  • 11 – 15 km/h = 250 CHF
  • more 250 CHF and possibly ban from driving in Switzerland (confiscation of the car possible).

Normal roads (white and blue signs):

  • 1 – 5 km/h = 40 CHF
  • 6 – 10 km/h = 100 CHF
  • 11 – 15 km/h = 160 CHF
  • 16 – 20 km/h = 240 CHF
  • more 240 CHF and possibly ban from driving in Switzerland (confiscation of the car possible)

Motorways (green signs with red road numbers)

  • 1 – 5 km/h = 20 CHF
  • 6 – 10 km/h = 60 CHF
  • 11 – 15 km/h = 120 CHF
  • 16 – 20 km/h = 180 CHF
  • 21 – 25 km/h = 260 CHF
  • more 260 CHF and possibly ban from driving in Switzerland (confiscation of the car possible)

Conclusion

According to a study, Swiss car owners spend an average of over 733 CHF per month or 8,796 CHF per year on their vehicle assuming the drive 15,000 km. The most inexpensive cars in Switzerland are with diesel engine, their ownership comes to 600 CHF per month, for gasoline engines it’s 646 CHF and for an electric car you pay 928 CHF per month.

Here are estimated costs for a standard car such as VW Golf:

  • 1,000 CHF per year for Insurance (Teilkasko)*
  • Car taxes 300 CHF
  • Fuel 1,3 CHF per liter, 6 liters per 100 kilometers, assuming driving 15,000 km per year – 1,170 CHF
  • Car inspection 120 CHF every 2 years
  • Initial inspection 175 CHF
  • Garage/Parking place 1,000 CHF annually (not always necessary)
  • Changing tires 500 CHF yearly

*average annual cost for car insurance for Swiss national.

Total: 4,245 CHF or 353,75 CHF per month, also individual costs apply. WIth this result we are under average costs of owning a car in Switzerland, accordingly to the statistics, so in the reality in might be more expensive.

These are already good benchmarks of costs, which you have to calculate per month.

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