By on April 3, 2012

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

Depreciation: 0

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.

Gas: $2300

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.

Insurance:  $3165

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.

Maintenance: $87

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.

Repairs: $595

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.

Total: $10,247

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?


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48 Comments on “How Much Did You Spend On Your Car?...”

  • avatar

    I once drove a Chrysler LeBaron for almost nothing:

    purchase price: $160

    maintenance: $0 (yes that is correct – nothing for a year not even an oil change)

    repairs: $10 (some flat black paint)

    license plate: $78

    insurance: $500 (roughly)

    gas: $720 (I don’t have far to drive)

    so $1568 total for a year of transport

  • avatar

    Wow 25,000 mi a week! That is incredible, I thought I drive a lot at 20,000 a YEAR. My long distance car is a 2002 Chevy Tahoe (bought new) it has 202,000mi and will be traded in this friday for a 2012 Q7 custom spec’d.

    Anyway the Tahoe has needed $200 of repairs since 2002, just a lock assembly on the tailgate.
    Just routine matinance (oil changes, tire rotations), doesn’t cost very much.

    The downside is fuel with a fill-up being in the $70 ballpark, but MPG isn’t horrible at 15/21. Some Q7 owners report over 30mpg highway with the Q7’s 8-speed trans, so the fuel crisis is over for me.

    • 0 avatar

      In 200,000 miles, you’ve never done the brakes or bought tires? Timing belt? Zero worn-out suspension bits? Other scheduled service on transmission, cooling system? I had a 200K mile car for 19 years, and all those things add up.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        He has a convenient memory.

      • 0 avatar

        I think he is making a distinction between “repairs” and “maintenance”.

        Tires, cooling system flush, etc. would all be maintenance. A broken tailgate lock would be a repair.

        No timing belt on a Tahoe, and it’s not hard to imagine the suspension lasting a very long time if it was mostly highway driven…

      • 0 avatar

        “It had 145k back then.

        Today? It has 187k”

        He didn’t put 200kmi on the car; he put 42kmi on it.

        If it happened to have good tires then, and he’s kept them inflated and rotated, they could still be fine.

        Likewise that can easily explain not needing new struts/shocks/etc.

        (The thing I disapprove of is that evidently *labor* on that tranny swap was $0.

        Which might be strictly accurate in his case, but is deeply misleading for a comparison to anyone else.

        I’m perfectly willing to adjust valves, replace starters, rebuild an alternator… but I’m not doing my own transmission swap; that’s more hardcore than even most “car guys” get, I’ve found.

        Not all, by any means. But it’s like an order of magnitude more involved than “normal maintenance” parts replacement.)

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, repairs and matiance are two SEPARATE things.

  • avatar

    2006 Ford Ranger XL Regular Cab Fleetside 6′ box M/T 2.3L

    Bought used for $10,800 cash.

    Insurance since 2007 when I bought it has run ~$4,200 total (all five years combined.)

    Maintenance has been done every 3,000 miles since 15,000 at an average cost of $30, so at 85,000 miles I’ve spent something like $700 on maintenance (I’m talking oil and filter changes here.)

    I’ve put two tires on it at $300 total expenditure.

    My running cpm over at says I’ve spent an average of 11.1 cents per mile driven with a lifetime average mpg of 29.3. Multiply by 70,000 miles = $7,770 over five years’ time. (I average 11,000-12,000 miles per year, by the way.)

    And that’s it, really. So far in its lifetime in my hands, the Banger Ranger, as I’ve come to call her, has cost me just shy of $24,000. Not bad. Certainly worth it, IMHO. Part of me wants a new daily driver, mostly for the convenience of a back seat to haul my son around in his baby seat, but honestly, I can’t see it being worthwhile, financially. Would rather buy a motorcycle to enjoy on the weekends and save a little on gas commuting when the weather is nice (gas savings would be more than expended by my insurance and purchase price figures on the bike even if I rode it to work all spring and summer, no doubt, but that’s a worthwhile trade-off for me.)

    EDIT: Oh God, I forgot sales tax, registration fees, and wheel tax, which my county unfortunately makes me pay. Add that in, and the truck has cost me $26,267.50. Still not too bad.

  • avatar

    25k miles per week would be pretty remarkable: get in the car at midnight on Sunday morning, drive at 150mph (in your worlds-fastest, most fuel-efficient Honda Insight) non-stop until 10:40pm the following Saturday evening, stop, fill up, stretch, maybe grab a PowerBar, then start the whole process over again at midnight. Not bad for an old man.

  • avatar

    2005 xB:

    Purchased new: $15,200
    Depreciation: $7500 ($1071/yr)
    Gas: 66k miles @ 29 mpg average @ $3/gal average = $6828 ($975/yr)
    Insurance: $800/year
    Maintenance: oil changes, tires, filters: $1680 ($240/yr) (I’m hard on tires, as is western PA).
    Repairs: $75 (O2 sensor in 2009, fixed myself) ($11/yr)

    Total expense to date: $21,679 total, or about $3097/yr.

    It’s been an extremely high-reliability, low-maintenance car to own. But I’d like to try a Leaf to eliminate the gas and ICE maintenance.

    • 0 avatar

      My xB turns out to cost $0.33/mile, at least so far.

      Here is one of my worst:

      2005 Odyssey (yes, a surprise purchase one month after the xB; ouch):

      Purchased new:$27000
      Depreciation when sold: $8000 ($4800/yr)
      Gas: 28k miles @ 16 mpg average @ $2/gal average = $3500 ($2100/yr)
      Insurance: $800/yr
      Maintenance: $970 ($582/yr)
      Repairs: none, but numerous visits to the dealer for lemon-law problems
      Lemon law refund: $1700

      Total expense over 20 months of hateful ownership: $12,106 ($7264/yr)
      This works out to $0.43/mile. For a short ownership experience, I guess it’s not that bad, but it felt awful at the time. Today’s higher gas prices would have made it worse.

    • 0 avatar

      Us xB owners have to stick together…so here we go.

      2008 xB:

      Purchased new: $18,700
      Depreciation: $5700 ($1425/yr)
      Gas: 43K @ 26 MPG @ $3/gal average = $4962 ($1240/yr)
      Insurance: $1300/Year
      Maintenance: Oil changes, Tires, Filters: $1780 ($445/yr) (I destroyed a set of tires in the snow when I got caught in a snow bank in my own back alley….I know….I know…)
      Repairs: $0

      Total Expense to date: $17642 or $4410.50/Yr

      I’m going to say I feel slightly dinged for putting in almost 1500 extra dollars a year into the car. But to be fair I think my numbers are up 500 alone for insurance and my tires probably did that job for me. Still not a bad cost per year of operation since it has been extremely reliable and I can run back and forth from Pittsburgh to Butler at least twice on a single tiny tank of gas which makes my life very comfortable.

  • avatar

    Yeah, 25000 miles per year makes a lot more sense. I only do about half that with a 2001 VW tdi (around 50 mpg average, with odometer just over 140,000 miles). My costs are pretty low. I don’t remember the insurance cost. Maintenance is essentially one oil change per year. I would have to add in the timing belt change a while back, rear brake rotors and pads, new windshield, two new sets of tires, a bunch of headlight bulbs (what’s with all the burned out bulbs?) … I don’t have the actuals, but I think it ends up pretty cheap, mainly because of the fuel mileage. Unlike some, my VW has been nearly trouble free for its entire life. Of course I don’t have power windows.

  • avatar

    Shouldn’t taxes and registration fees be a part of those costs?

  • avatar

    2000 Lada 110, driven for two years:
    Purchase price 450€
    Gas 10000 km @ 7l/100 @ 1,5€/l = about 1100€
    Insurance 500€
    Tax 260€
    MOT 100€
    Maintenance 120€
    Repairs 15€

    Total 2545€, so we’re talking about 1280€ per year. Not too bad.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My mates and I, accountants all, have a rule: we buy and keep cars until the “capital cost” of a dime per mile is reached, or at least approached. Cap cost = purchase cost + non-routine repairs.

    Example: I bought a 92 Accord EX Wagon for $8,300 with $78k miles.
    Over its lifetime, I put a total of about $2,000 of “repairs” that were not: oil changes, filter changes, battery changes, brake pads, other fluids, tires. Those are “consumables”

    I put 128k miles on the car. Hence, ($8,300 + $2000)/128,000=$0.0805 per mile Capital cost over the 6.5 years I owned it.

    All-in (insurance, consumables, as above, registration, and capital cost) my total for 128k miles and 6.5 years was $15,700 for a very respectable $0.1227 per mile without fuel. I averaged 24 MPG over that that ownership period, and my average fuel cost per mile was $0.07497 cost per mile. So my total ownership cost per mile was just under $0.20 per mile ($0.1976990) Not bad. Since then, I drove a 1997 A6 for 6 years and a bit and my achieved actual cost per mile was $0.094 Cap cost and $0.3247 cost per mile total (gas prices, insurance and cost of scheduled maintenance significantly higher than Honda, natch.) Now I drive a Mercedes C-Class and my goal is to hold that for 6 or 7 years and limit the non-fuel cost to less than $0.30 per mile, and total cost to less than $0.50. That last will hang on the success or failure of Obama’s (lack of) energy policy. I know, I know, old German cars and repair costs and so on, and so forth…but I have been blessed with good fortune so far, and buying used and making the original owner take the depreciation hit is the key….

  • avatar

    1987 Volvo 240 bought for $4K five years ago, plus averaging just less than $150/mo for oil and other repair/upkeep items all done by mechanics. Got stranded once because the pump that a Volvo indy guy put in and charged me a ton for failed in an inexplicable way. The second time was my fault – was holding off for one oil change period to replace the breather box and the rear fuse/seal blew out.

  • avatar

    I did really well with my 1977 Toyota Corolla. I bought it for $450 in ’85, sold it for $200 in ’93, drove it 70k in eight years. In inflation adjusted dollars it cost me about $17,000 for everything, including parking tickets.

    I did do all my own tuneups, and for reasons I don’t understand, I had to gap the points about every 3,000 miles, so substantial money saved there.

    I haven’t done tehse calculations for my two subsequent cars–a ’93 Saturn SL2 5 speed bought new, kept 11 years 147k miles and a ’99 HOnda bought in Nov. 2004 for $5,500, and kept 7 years, 133k. But I think I did pretty well by Lang standards on both of them, especially the Honda. I also got a lot of enjoyment out of the Honda.

  • avatar

    Be sure to use the inflation calculator, here:

  • avatar

    Ok, lets see… 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T manual

    Initial Purchase, 20k miles, 3 yrs ago, including tax & reg: $16,000

    Car Loan Interest paid (loan is paid off): $450

    Gas for 60k miles total, assuming an avg price in MI & the northeast of $3.50, and an observed fuel consumption of 27.5 mpg: $7636

    Insurance is ~$450/6 months, so for 3 years: $2700

    Maintenance has been mostly oil changes, a couple filters & whatnot, plugs once, rear brake pads once but on avg about $45/10k miles: $270

    Wheels & Tires – Used set of wheels with tires: $500
    Winter tires for stock wheels: $600
    New tires for summer wheels: $600

    BSR PPC tune for a bit more power: $700

    So in total, after 3 yrs, this car has cost me $29,456. Conservatively, I feel I could get at least $10k if I were to sell it with the spare wheels & tuning PPC, so $20k for driving a pretty quick, fun, turbo manual car over 3 years. I plan on keeping it a lot longer though, so hopefully this should keep improving as the effect of the purchase price decreases.

  • avatar

    83 Toyota pickup, bought it 3 years ago after a kid went drifting and crashed it through a fence.

    Paid: $200
    Grill, core support, inner fenders etc: Free, plus $20 gas money
    Used fenders: $20
    New Radiator: $120
    Total: a whopping $340

    Maintenance: Used set of tires and rims: $200, Rear brakes, replaced wiper motor $15, oil changes, alignment. I do have the parts to r&r the rest of the brake system sitting on the shelf when I get the urge.

    Insurance: $300 a year.

    It owes me nothing, and if I can live with the lack of performance, I expect to add another 100k to its 170K miles.

  • avatar

    Bought a 90 model Harley (in 91) for $5000, rode it for 6 years, 35,000 miles. Minor routine maintenance, tires, chain, etc. Added a windshield. Got 40 mpg. no other modifications. Sold it for $5000. Not bad.

    Bought an 82 Dodge D150 for $2000 in 1998. Drove it for 3 years, maybe 40,000 miles or so. Roughly $1000 in repairs and maintenance (mostly by myself). Sold it for $1000. Only got 12 mpg. 5.0 cents per mile, not counting gas.

    Bought a 99 ford ranger in 01, for $9000. Between myself and my oldest, put 125,000 miles on it. 22 mpg. Off the top of my head, maybe $2000 repairs, not counting routine maintenance and tires. Truck got totaled yesterday. Assuming insurance gives me any kinda payout, maybe 7 cents per mile not counting gas. Was counting on a few more years of service.

    I like the dime per mile rule.

  • avatar

    A lady gave me a ’75 Volvo 245 because her husband had mis-wired the starter and it would catch fire every time you turned the key.

    I spent $0, and did nothing to it but a set of timing gears and one oil change. That’s another $80.

    I drove it a year, and sold it for $200.

  • avatar

    I just wanted to mention my screwed up math. Around 2008 I wanted to get a car that got better milage than my Silverado. Unfortuantly I liked the Audi A3 too much. It gets 28mpg compared the 19 I get in the truck. Unfortuantly it uses premium and so I spend about the same for gas.

    ps I hope I didn’t post this twice as I think TTAC went down for a moment when I first posted this.

    • 0 avatar

      Bought this car used with cash in 2008 and have put 53500 miles on it.
      It had 10,000 miles on it. It’s an S-line 2.0T 6 speed manual.

      Audi 2007 A3 $23500
      KBB -$15963
      Sales tax $1542
      Safety ins $75
      Yoko tires $688
      Mich tires $863
      Service $1440
      Escrow $500
      Ins $2480
      Gas $5862
      Lic $325
      Total cost $21312
      Cost per year $4262
      Cost per mile $0.40

  • avatar

    Very enlightening to think it all through.

    Civic Si costs over 4 years and 66k (approx)

    Purchase price, taxes, etc 22800
    Edmunds trade in value -13,854
    Maintanance (estimate $80/6k) 880
    (includes mobil 1 every 6k, tire rotations & inspections every 12k, filters every 24k, gear oil every 30k, alignment @45k, brake fluid at 2 yrs)
    new primary o2 sensor (changed as maintainance at 60k) 140
    New heater blower (changed since it started to whine) 80
    tires (@45k) 550
    insurance (estimate 700/6 months) 5600
    tax (estimate 300/yr) 1200
    Fuel (estimate 3.25/gallon, 30 mpg) 7150
    tool depreciation / wear (since I did some of my own maintainance) 75
    My own time (maintainaince – 2hrs/12000 miles @50/hr) 550

    Total 25171
    Cost per year 6292
    Cost per mile 0.38

  • avatar

    2005 Corolla LE – bought new; only options were the 6-disc change and grocery net. Sold after 7 years @ 97k miles.

    Purchase price: $15500 + tax = $16800
    Interest paid: $460 (1.9% rate w/ extra payments)
    Maintenance: $1050 (Mobil1 oil change twice a year, did 30/60/90 myself)
    Tires: $500; got free rotations from Discount Tires.
    Insurance: $3500
    Gas: $11700 (avg 27MPG @ $3.25/gallon over last 7 years)
    Sell price: $7200

    $26810 for 97000 miles = $0.28 / mile. (Did not account for inflation as it was mostly accounted for from the fact that it was just sold a month ago). Not bad for a car bought new.

  • avatar

    2004 Mustang 3.8 5sp:
    Bought used w/ 39k miles in fall 2005 @ $11500, 105k miles now.
    $8500 depreciation ($3k is a guess)
    $1200 tires, 3 sets (2x all seasons, 1x UHP summers)
    $6900 for gas, 24 lifetime mpg, 2750 gallons of gas @ $2.50/gal
    $3900 for Insurance ($600/year)
    $600 in maintenance, fluids, brakes, etc.
    $900 in taxes, plates, registration
    $22000, $3400/year, $0.33/mile (66k miles, 6.5 years)

    2000 Honda Insight 5sp:
    Bought used w/ 91k miles in spring 2010 @ $6000, 116k miles now.
    $0 depreciation, probably would still sell for $6k.
    $400 for tires, haven’t bought them yet but it’s due.
    $1400 for gas, 64 lifetime mpg, 422 gallons @ $3.30/gal
    $1000 for insurance @ $500/year.
    $150 in maintenance
    $500 in taxes, plates, registration
    $3450, $1700/year, $0.13/mile (27k miles, 2 years)

    2006 Suzuki GS500:
    Bought used w/ 600 miles in summer 2009 for $3500, 7k miles now.
    $1500 depreciation, selling to a friend in about a month
    $130 for tires, put one rear tire on a few hundred miles ago
    $400 for gas, 50 mpg, 126 gallons @ $3.20/gal
    $600 for insurance @ $200/year
    $100 in maintenance
    $300 in taxes, plates, registration
    $3030, $1100/year, $0.48/mile (6300 miles, 2.75 years)

    Not counting these:
    $300 for training (MSF BRC)
    $500 for gear

    2011 Zero S ZF9:
    Bought new w/ 5 miles in march 2012 for $14k, 650 miles now. I plan to put 10k miles on it per year for the next 10, here’s my guess at costs:
    $12k depreciation
    $1000 for tires (10 sets @ $100/ea)
    $1200 for fuel (120 Wh/mile, $0.10/kWh)
    $1500 for insurance (dropping comp/collision next year)
    $500 in maintenance (manual reccs a $50 drive belt replacement every 12, probably have to replace the brake pads once)
    $1400 for taxes, plates, registration
    $17600 total, $1760/year, $0.18/mile (100k miles, 10 years)

  • avatar

    Interesting posts. People seem to be forgetting interest costs. If you spend $10K on a car, that is $10K you could have used to pay down debt or to invest. So if you would have earned 4% interest, you cost yourself $400 annually.

    Now if you have credit card debt, you cost yourself 4-5 times that amount. Ouch.

    • 0 avatar

      True enough, these are just rough accountings. I think most of us are neglecting financing costs, opportunity costs, interest, and inflation.

    • 0 avatar

      An IRA cannot take me to work.

      And many investment vehicles don’t go 1.04 /year.

      Anyone who bought a sub-lux car, rather than invested the funds on Wall Street, in the weeks leading up to September of 2008, made a sounder investment decision than giving their money to the douchebags.

  • avatar

    1992 Bonneville SSEi (purchased October 2009)
    Purchase Price: $900
    Depreciation: $0 (I’m thinking I can get more than $900 for it)
    Gas: $978
    Insurance: $1560
    Maintenance/Repairs: $1282
    Total : $4720
    Per Year: $1888
    Per Mile: .71
    1986 Dodge Diplomat SE (purchased July 2009)
    Purchase Price: $4000
    Depreciation: $1700
    Gas: $1816
    Insurance: $1252
    Maintenance/Repairs: $208
    Total: $8976
    Per Year: $3264
    Per Mile: .34

    I don’t keep records on the Firebird.

  • avatar

    Interesting to note that fuel is generally running about 25-35% of most people’s total costs even at $2-4/gallon. Even if gas goes up to $10/gal most people’s total car-related expenses won’t go up more than 50% or so.

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    2005 Jaguar S-Type R:
    +$26,250(inc. TTL)- Bought used w/ 32.25k miles in Jan. 2009, @ 83.5k miles now.
    +$2500 in interest paid before loan paid off
    +$1800 tires, (still have orig. tires; bought snows + OEM rims)
    +$9000 for gas, 20 lifetime mpg, 2560 gallons of gas @ $3.50/gal
    +$5500 for Insurance (avg. $1500/year – I did have 3 tickets at one point)
    +$3000 in maintenance, fluids, brakes, etc. (out of warranty repairs for transmission components = $2,000)
    +$800 in yearly registrations (3x)
    -$12,000 reasonable resale value if so desired
    =$36,850, $12,283/year, $0.239/mile (51.25k miles, 3.0 years)

    Being expensive as the Jag was, I bought a “beater” car last April:
    2001 Buick Park Avenue Ultra:
    +$6,500(inc. TTL)Bought used w/ 132k miles in Apr. 2011, @ 149.5k miles now.
    +$0 in interest paid before loan paid off
    +$0 tires, (came with new Goodyears)
    +$2600 for gas, 24.1 lifetime mpg, 725 gallons of gas @ $3.60/gal
    +$1200 for Insurance
    +$450 in maintenance, fluids, brakes, etc. (damn tie rod ends on FWD cars)
    +$80 in yearly registrations (2x)
    -$4,000 reasonable resale value if so desired
    =$6,830, $6,830/year, $0.390/mile (17.5k miles, 1.0 year)

    So, I haven’t quite broke even on the Buick yet, but I am very close from a cost of ownership POV compared to what another 17.5k miles on the Jag would have cost me in repairs, upkeep and feeding.

    Of course the financial analyst in me cringes at the amount I have spent on the Jaguar over the past few years. But, then I remind myself how much fun I have had with that car and events surrounding the car, that would have otherwise not happened or to the same degree. In other words, I could have had the money in the bank, but life would have been a bit duller.

  • avatar

    Some round numbers on a bit higher end car – 2011 328i Touring (wagon)RWD, 6spd manual, fairly lightly optioned.

    Purchase price (European Delivery discount included) – ~$41,000 (US MSRP ~$46K)
    Sales tax, ~ $2000
    Excise Tax (first year) ~ $1200 (had partial credit from previous Saab)
    Excise Tax (second year) ~ $900 (just re-registered
    Note that Excise tax is Federal tax deductible, so figure ~50% discount on that at my marginal tax rate for Fed and State.
    Depreciation (first year) ~$5000 (Edmunds Dealer Retail, which is about what I would expect to sell it for with patience – VERY rare and sought after car used, but a small market)
    Insurance ~$650/yr

    Gas is a tough one – first 3000 miles were in Europe at $10/gal, 9000 miles since were roughly half reiumbursed by my employer at $.505. I get 25mpg around town, 30mpg on trips. 25mpg at 120mph in Germany. :-)

    Technically, I need not have spent anything on maintenance yet, as the first scheduled maintenance is at ~18K (and everything but tires is covered to 50K). But being an anal car nut, it has gotten two DIY oil changes at ~$70ea, plus DIY diff and transmission oil changes at ~$100. OEM BMW tranny juice is very expensive.

    I’ve also spent ~$1200 on snow tires and a set of used alloy wheels for them, $2000 on the OEM BMW Performance Exhaust and intake system, and another $5-700 on other OEM accessories. Sliding center armrest, seatback nets, rear console with power plugs, sundry other stuff.

    The smile on my face every time I drive it – priceless!

  • avatar

    Alright lets try this, Just came up on 3 years of ownership on my wifes 2000 durango

    Purchase $6000k cash
    Insurance 3yrs 600/yr = 1800
    Depr Looking at Craigslist were looking around 2500 off
    Gas 40k mils at 15 mpg 2666 gallons (that’s depressing)@ 3,50 thats $9331 in gas
    Repairs $16 for wheel cylinders
    $20 for tranny cooler line
    $25 for idle valve
    $18 for Ac recharge kit
    $100 for fluids etc
    $700 for tires
    $36 for windshield wipers
    $80 for shocks
    $50 ball joint
    All labor no cost (me)
    Total cost for three years $14676
    Split by three $4892 a yr
    And about $0.36 a mile
    Not bad really

  • avatar

    To me its interesting how evenly the cost per mile is ending up on these (new cars dont seem to be as bad as Ive always thought)of course i have no finance charges and low property taxes not included in most of these. But lets see if I can do better. Lets look at my previous commuter.
    1991 Eagle summit
    Purchase $1800
    Sold for $350
    Insurance (liab only) $400/yr 3 yrs $ 1200
    77000 miles in 3 years 31 avg mpg 2483 gallons @ 3.50 = $8693
    Repairs Wheel bearing $35.00
    Had exhaust welded $100
    Oil changes $140.00 (every 10k with dino and not an issue)
    Wipers $20
    Consumables tune up etc $110.00
    Two sets of 4 new tires $250.00 (townfair didnt like the $50 off 4 coupon when your buying 13′ tires but I got them to take after making a scene in a busy shop.
    Total $11998
    $3999 per year
    $0.15 a mile

  • avatar

    I found a cool app for my android phone called “my cars”. I’ve been tracking the costs for my wife’s car (2011 Sorrento) and my car (2005 WRX STi)for this year since end of January. The only thing NOT tracked is the car payment. Of course the 4 rotors+brake pads + install being around $800-$900 was a good chunk of that (Btw: STOCK OEM rotors+brake pads on the STi are $2500 from subaru. Are they nuts?)

    We’ve spend $2000 for 2800 miles between 20th of January and end of March or so. It’s a real eye-opener!

    Soon the motorcycle (sport-bike) will soon get put into the mix & with sport touring tires (Which I expect to get 10k out of) I expect the cost to be MUCH cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      Joshua Johnson

      The STi has Brembos right? If so, I feel your pain. The Jag dealer wanted “only” $1600 for a pad and rotor change on my car.

      Less than $250 and no more than two hours on a Saturday afternoon later, changed the pads myself; rotors still have plenty of life left. Brembos may be an expensive brake setup, but they are so easy to change compared to other types.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah it does.

        I got “aftermarket” rotors & pads from tirerack and with shipping & install it was still close to $1k.

        My rotors had already been resurfaced once….I think the stock pads just tear them up.

        This was a 4 rotor replacement + 2nd pad replacement at 46k miles & I do mostly highway driving.

  • avatar

    Great topic…I keep a rolling spreadsheet on the vehicles I’ve owned over the last few years to calculate cost per mile. So far the numbers come out as follows:

    1998 Chevy Blazer ZR2: purchased for $6k, drove 85k then sold, after all repairs/maintenance/gas/depreciation came out to $0.28/mile if averaged on $3 gas.

    2004 Mercury Mountaineer: currently still drive, purchased for $11k, have driven 74k so far, estimate total cost now to be about $0.32/mile ($3 gas again).

    2010 Malibu: purchased new and only two years old, so will clearly have the highest average cost so far at an estimated $0.44/mile (driven 35k so far), but that will come down over the next few years of course as the depreciation curve flattens out.

    The per mile calculation is the best way to clearly demonstrate that buying fully depreciated high mpg reliable cars is by far the most cost efficient means of driving.

  • avatar

    Some you pay too much in insurance for older cars. And in many cases could have purchased another used car in insurance paid.

  • avatar

    I have a good one: 1989 Mercedes 560 SEL. Purchased from ebay for $346.

    To get it running I did an oil change ($30), changed the fuel filter (included w/car), refurbished FPR ($27), and used passenger mirror ($35). Total = $92

    To get it registered w/historic plates = $151 total.
    Insurance for 6 months = $72 (5th car, live in the sticks)
    Drove it from November 2010-April 2011, 2120 Miles total.
    Gas @ 12mgg / 2120 = 177 gallons @ $3 per gallon = $531

    Total “out of pocket” = $1041
    That works out to almost .50 per mile …… BUT

    I then sold the car for $650, bringing that down to $391 OOP
    That works out to $.185 per mile …….. BUT

    I have a sch C business – all 2120 miles were business miles @ .50 per mile = $1060 in deductions. The cash that saved me was 13.3% SE taxes, + 25% fed income tax, + 5% state income tax = 43.3% = $459

    SO, net cost = negative $68. That works out to being paid 3 cents per mile to drive the old w-126!

  • avatar

    This was eye-opening! I hadn’t really sat down and worked it all out before. I use my car for everything, and it’s been pretty reliable and (relatively) inexpensive to keep on the road, but after going through all my receipts (4.5 years worth – mostly… I’m certain there’s another set of tires that’s missing) I figured I spent $21,400 on it, or just about $400 per month. Here’s the breakdown:

    $4500 Purchase: 2000 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon, 104,696 miles
    $2000 Depreciation: (worth$2500 even with 172k!)
    $957 Taxes, Title, Registration: To date –
    $4500 Insurance

    $3367 “Maintenance” – description below
    $764 “Repairs”
    $10,150 “Gas” 67,000 miles, avg 22mpg, avg $3.25 gas (DC area, 8/07-today)

    “Maintenance” includes:
    Knock Sensor, Upper Radiator Hoses, Timing Belt (104k miles), Tires & Alignment, Front Rotors, 4 Brake Pads, 2 Rack & Pinion Boots, Rear Tires (before I knew that shouldn’t be done on Subaru’s AWD), Midas Spark & Tune Package (wires, throttle plate cleaning, timing adj.), Rear Converter Gasket, Replace ACC Drive Belts, Alignment.

    “Repair” includes:
    LR quarter glass + re-wire radio antenna to non-glass integrated unit, Exhaust Repair, AC Leak fix + recharge

    along with other things I did myself, but didn’t keep records of – like oil changes! As I keep thinking of things I realize that what I thought of as an inexpensive blah daily driver is actually a pretty serious cash outlay!

    But! I’m at 11c per mile without “maintenance”, 16c per mile with, and 31c per mile with maintenance and gas…

    Now, for the Prius! We’ve had it for a year, but I expect the residual value on it is going to be at about what we bought it for.

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