Car owners have a warped view when it comes to their automobile’s cost.
When you ask someone the, “How much did you spend..” question, their usual response is to take the price they paid and just let that be that.
“Oh, I got this Mercedes for $50k.” They then will usually go about telling you the options they chose, and other trivial realities related to the car.
But as we all know, that’s not the question.
I’ve been thinking about this because after several years toiling all over Atlanta with my 1st gen Insight, I am now spending a fair amount of time raiding the local press fleet cars. One car plus one review to write equals one less tank of gas… and a lot of other subtractions.
Less time obviously equals less wear on my primary driver. A 2001 Honda Insight which I bought three years ago for $4100. It had 145k back then.
Today? It has 187k. I do drive about 25k miles a week…. uh… make that a year. But much of that is shuttling other cars to various mechanic and paint shops. The Insight also seats only two people. So when I head off to pick up cars at the auctions, I usually take a car fron the lot.But yes, that’s an expense. At least the IRS sees it that way.
However for the sake of avoiding a calculation that resembles something from NASA, I will simply stick with the usual line items.
Purchase Price: $4100
In Atlanta I could probably sell it for $5000. But I haven’t sold it yet, so I won’t make this a negative number.
42,000 / 55 mpg = 763. Gas has averaged about $3 a gallon in Atlanta. Keep up with the SWAG estimating, and you come to a nice round number.
Thank God I no longer drive old Lincolns.
This is where things are simple for most of you, but not me. The Insight is my work vehicle so my dealer insurance covers it as my primary ride. Since I would still need this insurance if I wasn’t shucking cars on the side, I’ll just let my actual insurance expense represent the Insight.
That’s not a misprint. I bought another Inisght for it’s tranny and other related parts a bit over a year ago. Other than five oil changes (mostly free thanks to Bob is The Oil Guy), a tranny fluid change, and two air filters, I haven’t needed to do much of anything else… with maintenance that is.
The parts vehicle that I got for it’s tranny cost me $1850. Proceeds from it were $1485. $985 for the shell. $500 for the battery pack. The guy who bought the battery pack also managed to re-balance the battery on a Civic Hybrid which I later sold at auction for a $2500 gain. I won’t include that in the total. Or the good tires and other wear parts that I have for my ride.
We’ll keep it kosher. $1850 – $1485 = $365. Plus $230 for a botched repair (which was all my fault) and the total comes to about $595.
So my ride so far cost me about $3400 a year. Sounds good, but then again I’m also in the business.
But what if I wasn’t? What if I spent my days in a classroom? Or a research lab? Or a doctor’s office? What if I could trade in my dealer’s license and aluminum ride for a nice corner office with a Crown Vic parked as close to the nearest exit as possible?
If I lived close to work and remained a gearhead, that Crown Vic may not cost that much more than the Inisght.
What about you? How much has your primary driver cost you? Has it been worth it?