Are you considering buying a car in Switzerland or bringing your old one from your home country? We all know that Switzerland is a very expensive country, but what about the costs of owning a car? Will you be 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 in their vehicles, assuming they drive 15,000 km. The most inexpensive cars in Switzerland have diesel engines; their ownership comes to 600 CHF per month; for gasoline engines, it’s 646 CHF, and for an electric vehicle, you pay 928 CHF per month.
In this article, 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 getting an international license recognized it’s another story. Besides, learn how to buy a car in Switzerland as a foreigner.
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 don’t estimate and budget all costs which are involved in it.
Car is undoubtedly helpful to have in Switzerland, despite the excellence of public transportations sometimes even the train won’t bring you to the final destination or if so with the considerable inconvenience.
Especially if you love outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing, going on weekend trips, and even visiting 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, while others, like car tax or insurance, are fixed costs.
If you are considering a car lease instead, read this article.
Buying the 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 is also higher for new vehicles.
Check out the cheapest cars in Switzerland in this article.
On the other hand, fuel consumption, car insurance, and repairs are higher in the case of used cars. Nevertheless, the rule of thumb is that a used car will cost you less at the end of the month than a new one.
For example, if you buy a new VW Golf V, expect to pay between 21,600 CHF – 60,000 CHF, depending on the equipment, model, and engine. The used one range from 6,000 CHF to 40,000 CHF; on average, you can expect to pay about 25,000 CHF for a relatively 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 their vehicle. Despite the overall high prices in the country, the cost of car ownership isn’t the highest in Europe.
For instance, you will spend more in countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden or Finland, and even Italy. In these places, car drivers pay 824 CHF, 804 CHF, 748 CHF, 862 CHF, and 886 CHF, respectively.
Italy by far is a winner, although the cost of living in this country is 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 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 is the Swiss secret? Why do people pay relatively low prices for using a car?
The experts explained why the expensive country 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.
In this article, we divide them into two categories variable and fixed. The ratio for the monthly expense of owning a car in Switzerland is around 62% for fixed costs and 37% for variable.
Maintenance costs/operating costs are variable and include:
- Fuel costs, car insurance costs, inspections, car wash, car care, repairs, tire 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 you live
On average, a vehicle needs to be repaired every 20,000 kilometers. If an accident occurs, it can become more expensive.
Fixed costs include:
Fixed expenses 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 Switzerland and if you can finance it in the long term:
1. Leasing costs
You pay a monthly rate if your car is leased or purchased with a loan.
2. 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.
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 a garage or such. Parking fees also apply when you need to park somewhere in the city; they aren’t the lowest too.
Car insurance is mandatory in Switzerland and a prerequisite for registering your car. Most people opt for partial or comprehensive coverage. However, with new vehicles, comprehensive insurance is the best option.
Many factors determine car insurance costs; we will talk about this later. What is the best car insurance in Switzerland? You can find out on Scout24.ch – a platform that will give you the best options for car insurance with the best price/performance ratio.
The average price for car insurance in Switzerland is around 2,000 CHF per year.
5. Annual vehicle taxes (Kfz Steuer)
You will have to pay an annual tax for your car. Canton, engine displacement, pollutant emissions, first registration, and diesel, gasoline, or electric drive determine the amount of the vehicle tax. Depending on these factors, the amount ranges from 120 CHF to 500 CHF.
6. Autobahn vignette/sticker
If you wish to use Autobahn (highway), it will cost you 40 CHF per year.
Your car is losing value every day. Usually, a depreciation of about 10% per year is less for older vehicles and significantly more for new ones.
Your car loses most of its value in the first few years. This is especially important for new car owners. A new car loses about 25% in value in the first year.
The car always needs to be checked, and some items should be replaced. In Switzerland, labor costs are the highest in Europe, so expect to pay a significant amount to the professional unless you do it yourself.
Your car must be controlled by an inspector regularly; the oil must be changed, and brake discs, exhaust, tires, or alternator must be replaced. Your maintenance costs will be lower with a new car than with a used one. On average, you will spend 600 CHF up to 1,000 CHF per year.
There is one initial inspection which costs 175 CHF, as well as a general check every 2 years for 120 CHF.
10. Change of tires
A tire isn’t cheap in Switzerland; 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 storage.
On average, they will cost you around 350 CHF. The price for fitting isn’t included, of course, so add another 150 CHF for the work.
11. Other costs
There are regular parking fees in the cities. In winter, you need antifreeze for your windshield wipers.
12. 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, the brake system, coupling, and suspension must be repaired sooner or later.
We can conclude that owning a small used car will cost you 6,360 CHF a year. The cost per kilometer is at least 0,424 CHF.
What to consider when buying a car in Switzerland?
When you buy a car, you already want to know how much it will cost. In general, small cars are cheaper than bigger or upper-class models.
In many situations buying a used car will be a better deal in the long run. This can be especially noticeable in insurance costs and taxes. You should also take the loss in value into account.
Affordable small cars
If you want to drive inexpensively, a micro or small car is the right choice. These models cost about 400 CHF to 600 CHF per year.
Midsize cars include compact and mid-range cars, which cost 600 CHF to 1,000 CHF per year.
The upper-class cars have an annual cost of 1,000 CHF to 1,700 CHF. However, the more expensive investment can pay off, depending on the vehicle’s driving performance, fuel consumption, and environmental characteristics.
Other costs that apply to Swiss car buyers:
- Initial inspection
Your car should be inspected at your cost of 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. Depending on the canton you live in, this will cost around 30 CHF and 140 CHF.
- Number plates (Kfz-Kennzeichen)
Besides, you must buy number plates. Without them, you aren’t allowed on the roads. This should cost around 13 CHF.
Also, read about the cost of living in Switzerland in our dedicated guide.
Which car is the cheapest to own and operate in Switzerland?
Your monthly expenses in Switzerland are directly correlated with the car you have.
Microcars are particularly affordable in terms of insurance and taxation. An electric car costs more, but there are tax advantages.
One of the cheapest options is Fiat 500. It will cost you only 2,808 CHF in variable annual costs and 373 CHF for insurance. Next in this price category is the Toyota Yaris, which will cost you around 2,830 CHF of variable expenses 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 for Tesla and BMW will cause you 5,000 CHF of variable costs and an additional 455 CHF for insurance.
It’s difficult to calculate insurance cost 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, who has been driving damage-free for at least 10 years and without driving license withdrawals.
Your alternative: public transportation
So let’s compare what is cheaper in Switzerland to own a car or use 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 a second-class train department costs around 330 CHF per month for adults, or 3,960 CHF per year, which is cheaper than having a car.
For example, it’s 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 car insurance cost in Switzerland?
Car insurance is mandatory in Switzerland as in many other European countries and plays an important role in our cost estimation.
Many factors are involved in the insurance costs, and, of course, it depends on the coverage you choose. The factors include:
- Your age, how many accidents you have already had, your yearly driving distance, the region where you live, and the number of potential drivers
To start using your can in Switzerland, you will need at least 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 on how accident-prone it is).
The categorization of the car is essential because the difference can be several hundred Francs per year. Another factor is how many years you haven’t caused an accident.
The 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.
Haftpflicht is the minimal insurance; the bare minimum is 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’s your fault.
Vollkasko or comprehensive coverage is the maximum of coverage that you can get and, therefore, the most expensive one. It protects your car and your health in addition to third parties and 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 to get 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.
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 the emission of pollutants (CO2).
A car with a total weight of 1,850 kg will cause 415,45 CHF in yearly taxes. 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 the other hand, higher rates could be applied to diesel cars.
How much is the loss of value?
New cars lose their value yearly; you could count with around 10% of their 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 additional 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.
These factors will help to calculate the loss of value for your car:
- Car class
- 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: during the winter and summer seasons.
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 get them changed at a garage. Also, you can change the tires on your own.
If you use a service to change tires, here are average prices:
- Cheapest service: 50-70 CHF
- Good quality service 70-90 CHF
- Excellent service: 90-140 CHF
The amount includes the change of all 4 tires and doesn’t include the cost of the tires themselves. The average price for tires is around 350 CHF for 4 of them. Additionally, tires should be changed after every 30,000 kilometers 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 larger and more expensive the car, the more expensive the service is.
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 a special institution; it’s not free; expect to pay between 60 CHF and 150 CHF depending on the canton 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, it 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 of around 400–800 CHF can easily occur.
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.
You will need to park your car somewhere, whether you live in the city center or the suburbs. Most of the time there must be enough free parking places near your house so you can park when you are at home.
If you need to rent a parking place (Stellplatz) or a garage for any reason (your job doesn’t provide one), expect monthly fees between 800 CHF to 1,600 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 must pay for parking separately. Parking in the larger cities is more expensive: up to 4 CHF 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.
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)
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 engines. 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 two 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. But in reality, it might be more expensive.
These are already good benchmarks of expenses, which you have to calculate per month.