By on August 30, 2021

The average cost of owning a vehicle is now $9,666 per year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). While the sum is up substantially over the 2019 average of $9,282, 2020 was sitting at a much tighter $9,561.

Of course, none of this means anything to you unless you happen to drive the most typical vehicle in the most likely manner imaginable. The problem with coming up with a representative figure is that it doesn’t actually represent any one driver or automobile. But AAA was good enough to provide some basic calculation tools to help determine where you fall on the spectrum and some pointers on how to bring those rates down. Though the biggest factor remains which hunk of metal happens to be occupying your driveway. 

Running a half-ton pickup with a monstrous motor? AAA has some bad, albeit predictable, news for you relating to your decision to own something from a segment boasting the highest overall driving costs at 77.3 cents a mile.

If that seems a little steep, maybe it’s time to get back into sedans. While not nearly as popular as they once were, they remain a solid value and are typically much more engaging to drive than crossovers. The smaller ones also happen to be the most affordable segment at 48.2 cents per mile. But if we’re sticking with averages, we should probably be talking about crossovers that will run you near 56.3 cents per mile.

But this is assuming you’re averaging 15,000 miles each year. Drive a little more and you’re likely to be saving more. Drive a little less and you’re basically paying to have the car take up space for a few more cents per day. But there is a myriad of factors AAA had to consider before it could reach a determination for any one segment. The main ones are obvious — expensive vehicles that guzzle fuel and need a lot of extra maintenance aren’t going to be a blessing to your bank account.

Though there’s plenty more to consider, including the average insurance rates, the kind of financing rates each segment is likely to get, registration fees, and the dreaded deprecation rate. Some of those can be a game-changer. For example, you might think electric vehicles would have to be cheaper to own than just about anything. But AAA has them at 61.9 cents per day due to their comparatively high level of deprecation. Hybrids weren’t much better at 60 cents per mile, despite the similar focus on efficiency, and both segments tend to yield MSRPs notably steeper their a similarly sized vehicle that’s entirely dependent upon liquid fuel. That said, there will be exceptions to the rules in literally every segment.

The only sweeping generalization able to be made is that size of a car can heavily influence how much you’re spending to own it each year. Opting for a big car is typically more expensive than a smaller one, something that’s likely to be true upon the initial purchase and will remain true well into the unit’s lifespan. This likewise goes for how you treat it. A heavily modified vehicle subjected to routine abuse on a racetrack isn’t a business venture, just a fun way to lose money.

[Image: New Africa/Shutterstock.com]

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85 Comments on “Study: Average Annual Vehicle Ownership Cost Nearly $10,000...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m doing better than that, roughly calculated at $4717 per year. I credit that with buying a reliable Acura and keeping it for 7.5 years. My Lotus Elan is not very good on dollars per mile, but over the span of 20 years it’s about $3500.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “My Lotus Elan is not very good on dollars per mile, but over the span of 20 years it’s about $3500.”

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Spread out, my fleet cost it probably about $5-6k annually. This year I spent more than usual as I had the oil pan gasket on my 06 GTO replaced which required the subframe to be removed. Otherwise it’s usually the cost of inspection and gas. I might put 1k miles on it per year recently.
      The LGT wagon had a vibration I had addressed for a few hundred bucks. It sees about 3k miles per year.
      The Land Ark sits and sits. And it seems like the only time I take it out is to take it to a shop. Over the past 10 years I’ve easily spent more than $100 per mile on it. And a lot of that mileage is to and from the shop.

    • 0 avatar
      GoNavy99

      That’s great Fred, but we all know that cars don’t last forever. How much have you calculated as to how much you need to set aside annually to replace the current car? Because that should be included in your annual calculations.

  • avatar
    Drew8MR

    I buy and drive beaters, so my annual cost of street driven cars is pretty low. I bought my current DD for $500, insurance is under a hundred, about 200 gallons of gas annually at say, $4. Throw in a couple hundred bucks in consumables.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Impressive, what is it?

      • 0 avatar
        Drew8MR

        97 Tercel. Gets over 30 even when you flog it mercilessly,because hey, 93 HP. 6K miles a year is nothing, so where I sit isn’t really that important. SoCal as well, so weather isn’t an issue. Now, do I have hobby cars that cost a bit more per mile? For sure, because that’s where I’d rather spend my enthusiast dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      One has to be careful about buying beaters. In the 80’s I got into a discussion with friends over buying new versus used. I had a Ford Ranger bought new. We did some napkin math and my truck turned out to be cheaper than a fleet of beaters.

      On a different note, AAA might show pickups are more expensive to own per year on fuel but I’ve found I’ve had very little in the way of repairs. A car or CUV exposed to the same use as my pickup would need more repairs.

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        Don’t forget about all the privilege one must have to own a beater….

        Privilege doesn’t come cheap, despite so many being born with it and doing absolutely nothing to maintain it.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @psychoboy – explain further?

          • 0 avatar
            psychoboy

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/no-fixed-abode-gotta-rich-cheap-car/

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I’ve always thought that was the worst Baruth article.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ajla

            I always thought one of the, if not the best.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I know a lot of readers liked it, enough so that it still gets brought up 6 years later, but I don’t see the appeal:

            0. Just in general the idea that someone driving an ’02 Buick Century to their Arby’s job is *more privileged* or more “rich” versus someone leasing a new Accord every three years strains me.

            1. The examples he used (Farah and Tavarish) weren’t giving general consumer advice. They were writing semi-goofball articles about old luxury cars on automotive hobbyist websites.

            2. No one is going to begrudge the working 3-shifts single mother on their purchase of a Bronco Sport or Corolla LE because they want a warranty and updated crash safety.

            3. It is highly unlikely that the working 3-shifts single mother was making a decision between a 2021 Corolla, an ’88 560SEL, or a ’99 Taurus in the first place.

            4. He focuses completely on owning old luxury cars.

            5.”Every know-it-all on the Internet will tell you that such a car is as good as — nay, better than — a leased 2015 Ford Focus.” Who the f*ck is he referring to here?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ajla

            My interpretation was for the general public despite divine authority the 97 Riviera north of 140K was not a good choice of solitary vehicle and the normies are better served by newish ride with a warranty and payment. I think where the luxury aspect came in was the style of Jalopnik articles his friends wrote and they fact they were dealing with an LS400 (they were writing things to the effect of “why buy a new Focus when you can buy the 2006 Mercedes S550 for the same money!”).

            I think the “privilege” angle was both a slight against the radical (and loony) shaming of successful people but also pointing out people such as he, Tavarish et al, and we TTACers are in somewhat of a position to run these old cars as DDs because we have the tools, know how, or other resources to keep them going. Whereas normies simply do not and they can easily get buried in junk cars (such as an X-Type for example :D). Now said normie could apply themselves and gain the necessary wisdom to do so, but his hypothetical single mother realistically is not able to do so.

            I think he also made good points on the state of sh!tty jobs in ‘Murica, since outside of a few key industries jobs *really* suck. Running from McJob to McJob in the million mile LS400 could eventually lead to a dismissal when the Lexus breaks down. Generally speaking this isn’t the case in the corporate world.

          • 0 avatar

            Ajla-

            Thanks for this. That article has annoyed me for years. He makes some good points but lets be realistic about it, if you spend alot of time with working poor, new cars are a rare thing indeed. It also ignores that good credit is real rarity the lower your income gets makes it even harder from a reality stand point.

        • 0 avatar
          Drew8MR

          True enough, because if you have a commute you really need 2 beaters. I’m lucky because I can bus super easily, it just triples my commute time. Plus, I could drive one of the racecars or just ride my bike. But I also try and set up my life so I don’t need to drive any more than necessary.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It all depends on the beater (choice). Audi A4 anyone? Yeah if it’s fun, but IDK.

            From my 1st car, I’ve always had a parts-car when they became cheap, easily totaled. It wasn’t by design, my 1st buy was a totaled Fox 5.0 Mustang and quickly found out the eccnomic getting a “total” fixed. Luckily finding another totaled 5.0 wasn’t too hard, so to DYI a good one out of 2.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Part of the equation when buying beaters is simply this, not everyone is good at pulling wrenches or even wants to do that.

            I don’t mind wrenching when I have the time and it’s not my daily.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Being mechanically inclined helps, or required especially with Euro cars. Yeah I’ll pay a shop when it’s work I can because it’s my DD. Nine of 10 I can do in an afternoon or less. Yesterday I replaced the drivers belt pretensioner buckle assembly in a hour for zero costs.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          Privilege?

          “The three of us had the time and the inclination to handle it. We weren’t responsible for children or parents or animals or anything, really. If it had taken all day… well, it would have taken all day, and nobody would have been any the worse off for it. Privilege!”

          that was the worst, snot-nosed writing I can imagine. It’s not “privilege” not to be responsible for children or parents or animals or anything; no, that’s the result of a CHOICE.

          Those who have children? That’s a CHOICE. And choices have CONSEQUENCES. And those consequences force you (if you’re at all responsible) to make even MORE choices that you might not have made if children weren’t in play.

          It’s not privilege. It’s simply the consequence of a choice. And you know what people with kids shouldn’t do? Any of that article, period. And most of them know that.

          But some don’t, and they whine and moan about the position they put themselves into as if it’s MY problem to solve FOR them–as if they have no responsibility at all for their world.

          Screw them.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      My best result was when I obtained ’89 240SX for roughly $2,500. Drove 100K and 6 years, sold for $800. There was a couple of grand of repairs.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @slavuta – you hit the sweet spot for peak Japan there. I was in the same boat with a Stanza. The depreciation was already over with, 40 mpg easily with the 5-speed, just tires, oil changes, a battery while I was in college, and fix a fender bender. That’s it. Insurance on my 20 year old self was dirt cheap, it was rock solid reliable, rusted like a old Vega, and would not die.
        I think there was a timing belt and a tune up in there somewhere, but given the car made it well over 200K before someone t-boned it, like your 240SX and the Tercel above, some cars are just cheap to run. (…or were cheap to run!)

      • 0 avatar

        Initial_D is in the house !

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Doing some back of napkin math with the aid of my rolling 12 month budget spreadsheet, I spent about $4,500 between three vehicles in the last year…gas, insurance and maintenance. We’re both working from home still, so even though our commutes were relatively short, we probably would have spent another $1000 if we’d been going into the office.

      I don’t think you can go wrong owning a largely depreciated, well cared for, and very common vehicle, which all of mine are. If you can do a little wrenching yourself, bonus.

    • 0 avatar
      GoNavy99

      What in the world are you doing on a car enthusiast site? It’s like going on a cooking site and talking about how you save money by eating lentils everyday. Sounds lovely.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        “What in the world are you doing on a car enthusiast site?”

        The majority of vehicles enjoy a long (and potentially rich) life after they have left the original owner’s hands.

        There are car enthusiasts who spend a lot more than $10,000 per vehicle per year (because who wants “Average”?), and there are car enthusiasts who spend a lot less. The level of involvement isn’t directly tied to the level of financial outlay.

        But if you are looking for validation, GoNavy99, you yourself personally spend the Exact Right Amount on your vehicle(s) every year, year in and year out, without fail. Anyone who spends more is a haughty arrogant (and probably lying thieving cheating) profligate spendthrift, and anyone who spends less is a miserly scrimping (and probably shiftless loafing indolent) stingy ascetic.

        [Now as for myself, I enjoy driving 73mph in a 70mph zone. Anyone driving slower is a dawdling laggard, and anyone driving faster is a savage maniac. So there.]

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think we have some Enron math going on here.

    Corolla: 15,000 / 28mpg = 536 x $3.00 = $1607

    Insurance: $818

    Dealer oil change: $50 x 3 = $150.

    TOTAL: $2575

    Even if I halve the mileage (14mpg) its $4182. They are adding depreciation (ha! used cars only go UP), maintenance (a big variable), and finance. I’m sure AAA would never want to pump the figure up so they get some media air time. Never.

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”.
    -Attributed to Mark Twain

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      For most people cars have a finite lifespan. If you buy new Corolla I figure 13 years 200k miles before you have a repair that just doesn’t make sense given the age and mileage. If that’s the case you need to account for that consumable.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That new Corolla’s monthly payment for a 60-month note will be about $400, or $0.32/mile, but trading at the end of 5 years might recover about $0.10/mile of that.

      Tires every 30k miles will run about $600, or $0.02/mile.

      Maintenance might be a couple filters and some wipers, and a set of brakes, so maybe another $0.01/mile.

      So, taking your $2575 to start, that’s about $0.03/mile. Adding in my numbers, that comes to maybe $0.28/mile – still a far cry from the AAA numbers.

      Still – in the ‘water is wet’ category – smaller cars are generally cheaper to buy and operate.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        You win by buying that 5th year Corolla and selling at 10. Or a Tacoma or Wrangler (well, same as Corolla, you lose in ways not listed, like death wobble or leg cramps) since it’s not about payments, how much you put out and interest, just depreciation (vs repairs?).

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        After 3 years of ownership the average Toyota owner has 1,08 problems per year. A Corolla comes with a 3/36 mile warrant (5 year 60k powertrain). Given the 1.08 problems per year what would be fair to put aside – 500/year?

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          @jmo

          I agree with your logic, though I have spent zero other than inspection including the oil changes which until recently were free. Nov 2018 to now, 22K otc.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’m not sure I agree with payment as a data point, except for once prior to 2018 I never carried a “car” payment and could write a check for the car note being rented to me now.

  • avatar
    mpalczew

    Average is not a good summary statistic to use for these types of values. It can be thrown off by a few high values. Certainly does not represent “the most typical vehicle in the most likely manner imaginable”. That would be the median. It’s why property values are typically expressed as median.

    as an aside. You can line up 99 typical height people, and then add the tallest person in the world. It won’t change the average much. If you line up 99 typical wealth people and throw in the wealthiest person it the world, it will change the average wealth of the group in a big way.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    From the AAA summary (*emphasis mine*):

    “Tires — As the *ONLY PART OF YOUR VEHICLE IN CONTACT WITH THE ROAD*, tires have a major effect on ride, handling, braking and safety.”

    This is certainly not the case with the vehicles in my household fleet, and I deeply resent the classism inherent in that statement. :-)

    [My dear friend Margeaux who lives around the corner down by the golf course is also offended, wanting to know why AAA didn’t include luxury SUV’s.]

  • avatar
    ajla

    I think if I was looking to save money on vehicle-related expenses then I’d have an altogether different shopping list.

  • avatar
    IH_Fever

    5.7 Tundra. 15k/year. [email protected] $3/gal = $3460 in fuel (it actually averages about 14.5 with my commute but let’s assume city). Payment and insurance is about $450/month. Throw in $250 for oil and maintenance. About $9100 a year or $0.60 a mile. Gets lots of smiles per gallon though. :)

  • avatar
    gasser

    How to get your annual auto costs down: buy a good quality car and keep it for years. We are still DDing our 2005 Lexus SC 430 (bought used in 2006). Maintenance on a Lexus isn’t too bad at our Indy shop. Gas mileage is low, but we only drive it about 4K/year. Tires are Continental LS and last a LONG time. The depreciation of about $35K over 15 years really lowers the cost of driving it. The cost of registering the car and insuring it are a lot lower for an old car. We have smiles on our faces every time we take it out on the road.
    If you have a long commute and/or a lot of kids, your formula will vary. I’m just suggesting one solution to that $10K/year figure.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Everyone’s buying trucks, SUVs and CUVs, and they cost more to run. No surprise here.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Say it isn’t so. But if your biggest expense is fueling the beast with outstanding reliability, who cares? A beater doesn’t have to be miserable (nor busted up). Also you can relax on maintenance. Well not completely but I just run full-synthetic oil and 20K mile changes or more, just topping off.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I’m curious what the consensus is on repair costs to take a Corolla from 5 year/60k to 10 year/120k. According to the stats 1 problem a year is the average. Say $500/year?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    For 2009 4cyl Highlander, I’ve spent $20K in 10 years on depreciation + $10K insurance (rounded to 1K) + $4000 maint. This is $3,400/year without gas. Where is $9,282??

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Buy a new $50,000 cuv and keep for 5 years as it depreciates in half = $5,000 per year. Add $2500 for gas, $1500 for insurance, $1000 for maintenance. Why is it so difficult to imagine a different circumstance than your own?

  • avatar
    psychoboy

    05 Dodge Sprinter. Purchased May of 12 for $8k. 30k miles and $5k in fuel. Approximately $3k in upgrades, repairs, and maintenance (brakes, tires, oil changes, alternator, egr, back up camera, hitch and harness). $16k over 111 months is $144, plus $40/month for insurance is less than $2500 a year. Could sell tomorrow for $8k easily, bringing the annual cost of ownership down to $1350 or so.

    06 Honda Accord. Purchased October of 12 of $2k. 92k miles and $9k in fuel. Approximately $3k in repairs and maintenance (windshield, ECU, brakes, tires, spool valve). $14k over 92 months is $152, plus $30/month for insurance is less than $2250 a year. Sold in July of 20 with a blown clutch for $1500, bringing annual cost of ownership to just over $2k.

    Then again, I’m privileged to be able to afford to own such wonderments. If I weren’t born a middle class suburban white male, I might have to own nicer, newer cars, with the car payments and full coverage insurance that goes along with them.

  • avatar

    I’m cheap but here ya go

    2004 300 M bought 4 years ago, 18,000 miles a year without including current value (probably around 2k) I come up with $4486 a year or $0.25 a mile, trying to include all costs gas reg repairs purchase price property tax, it’s still that low, gas and insurance are the two most expensive items.
    2016 Pilot owned a year driven 7k miles Including dealer trade in value, comes out at $3195 for the year and about $0.45 a mile.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      In 2010 I briefly considered a 300M, but then I found the Church.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s been pretty good, only 2 cars I have owned that have been more reliable a 93 Eagle summit (mitsu mirage) and a 87 Toyota pickup with the 22R.
        The 300M driving the past 72000 miles has had the following items repaired or replaced
        New brake lines (rust)
        One new caliper (rust)
        New rotors and pads
        New fuel line fittings (cheap plastic)
        One front wheel bearing
        Inner tie rod bushings
        New timing belt and water pump (schedule maintenance)
        Cam shaft sensor
        One set of tires.
        Not to bad for a 17 year old car that cost 3k.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I am at about $8k per year when I factor in gas, payments, likely value at end of ownership. I have two new cars, not particularly thirsty or expensive, both under warranty, unlikely to keep either more than 6 years. Insurance is really high in Michigan so I think that skews it a little higher.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I deeply suspect the esteemed author falls into the “math is hard category”. Carmax should help with your vehicle buying decision. Look at two different vehicles. Compare the costs of their extended warranties. That should factor heavily into your decision. This isn’t rocket science. Why the extended warranty? In larger cities apartment dwellers, condo residents, and even HOA communities have restrictions on vehicle maintenance.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I spread my driving out over several vehicles: a 2010 F-150 SCab; a 2001 C70 ragtop ( i thought that it was a 2003. wrong ) and a 2007 CTS-V. I wrench on all of them. They all get 15 MPG, probably. I dunno. They all burn clean so I don’t care.

    No car payments, as I bought all of them straight out. Insurance is manageable at a few hundos a month. The joys of both working on them and saving thousands of dollars in shop time is bested only by the pleasure of not walking the eight miles to work every day.

    Yes, it’s a group comprising two large V8s and a turbo 5 – two of which require premium fuel – but even that expenditure is better than pushing them.

    They’re all plenty of fun to drive so I don’t really care if I’m above the mean/median/mode, or below.

    tl;dr BUY TOOLS AND USE THEM!

  • avatar
    dal20402

    A looooot of people in this thread are either doing work themselves or… overlooking… maintenance expenses.

    I have three cars: 2019 Bolt, 2016 Highlander Hybrid, 1995 Acura Legend. They get driven about 5k/year (Bolt), 7k/year (Highlander, mostly road trips), and 3k/year (Legend). The Bolt is cheap to maintain because EV, but both of the other two cost some money. I’m not doing it myself because (1) time and (2) there is not a flat surface at my house to wrench on. The Highlander typically needs two oil changes, two tire swaps, and usually some other service each year, and it’s been a little over $1k/year to maintain during my ownership even though nothing at all has actually gone wrong. The Acura has 202k miles and has had most of the rubber in the car replaced over the last few years, along with a whole lot of other wear parts. I’ve spent an average of a bit over $2000/year keeping it happy. I could have saved some money by just allowing both of the cars to deteriorate to crap, I guess, but I don’t think that should be the basis for a fair picture of car-related expenses.

    Then you add annual registration (nearly $2k/year for the three cars in WA), gas/electricity, insurance, and depreciation for the two newer cars in non-2021 years, and I don’t think the estimate is far off at all.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Over $1K a year for two oil changes, two tire swaps and nonrepair “other” on the Highlander?

      FWIW, the maintenance and repair costs on the Stinger since I bought it in September 2018 has only been a set of Firehawk Indy 500s for $877 this May, $80 for engine and cabin air filters, and $30 for wipers. Then I guess car wash expenses too.

      As part of subprime brand perks the Kia dealer does free oil changes (which they claim are synthetic but maybe I should send in for an oil analysis before I trade it to find out) and free tire rotations for life. Then my paint and brake issues were both fully covered under warranty. Plus, they gave me a free cabin filter when it was due.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Definitely not cheap at $150/hour typical labor rate in Seattle, and ain’t no dealer around here giving out any freebies. The synthetic oil change by itself typically runs me a little over $100, and the same for each tire change. Then I had cabin air filters, a failing PCV valve, one alignment shortly after buying the car, and a $300 AGM 12V battery. I do see that I included mounting/balancing the snow tires and buying new TPMS sensors for them in my calculation, which probably isn’t fair. Without those things we’re closer to $900/year.

        I didn’t include wash/wax/detail, since I could do all of that at a lower standard than I do without affecting the car’s mechanical fitness.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The next car I buy will bring with it the first time I’ve ever paid for an oil change.
          None of the brands I’m looking at do free stuff and although I could DIY it I don’t want to get into a warranty argument on a $50K-$60K car.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Your Toyota’s battery was $300?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Yep. The car absolutely requires AGM because the battery is inside the passenger compartment (behind an access panel in the cargo area). The cheapest AGM batteries in this size are well over $200 and a high-quality one is closer to $300.

            The car had the original OEM battery from 2015 and I’m quite hard on batteries (my cars often sit for two weeks at a time between intensive weekend uses). It started requiring the “Prius jump start” (repeated cycles of the car) not long after the pandemic lockdown came into effect. So far so good with the replacement after 16 months.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ah I wonder if that’s the way the wind is blowing? The battery inside the compartment as opposed to hood or trunk.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree in general but that seems pricey I don’t live in a low cost area (CT) but it’s still way cheaper then that. Our pilot oil changes with synthetic are $65 with a coupon (sometimes $50 with a deal ) or $80 without I think. That’s at one of the more trustworthy places I assume some other spots would be cheaper.
      Near me BJ’s Town fair tire and Pepboys all do free tire rotation if you buy tires so never a reason to pay for that.
      That said in the next year or two the timing belt will be due an that is like 1100-1200 bucks.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Welcome to Seattle. To get lower-cost car service I’d have to drive for at least an hour north or south, and honestly the difference isn’t worth the time for me.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Yawn. And cue the “I drive an old $#!+box…lookee how smart I am” crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      As opposed to the “I’m underwater on a depreciating asset I can’t afford to maintain” crowd?

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Naa, I was thinking of the “made good enough decisions in aspects of ones life that don’t involve what they drive that you now own what you want Free and clear be it the older cars you have for entertainment or your commuters you drove new off the lot crowd”.

        If you like old cars and want to drive them, so be it. They have their own charms. But if your car is what makes or breaks you financially, you shouldn’t lecture anyone.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          If it’s paid off, a modern/future classic, like new form/function, fun maybe, never asks for more than scheduled maintenance, and keeps you away from the dealer criminals, hell it’s MAKING you money.

    • 0 avatar

      I see both sides of this. In general I’m an old shitbox guy but Also have a newer car with payments that doesn’t need much. I think there is a sweet spot there with cars that aren’t too pricey but also not a maintenance nightmare.
      I think the real issue is people like a friend of mine who messaged me last week that their 10 year old GM fullsize SUV that they make $400 a month payments on needs like 2K in work they can’t afford. In a perfect world they should be able to lease a new Pilot cheaper then that but poor credit means that won’t happen.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    All of our cars are paid off except the Pacifica we bought 15 months ago and that is getting paid off early. All but the 2000 Durango and Pacifica were purchased new. The Durango has 196k miles so no real depreciation, the 2018 Pacifica has 37k miles. The rest are all in between and have no significant depreciation and the Cobra replica varies with the market. My DD I drive about 11k miles per year and looking like $1585 per year at 27mpg mixed and general maintenance/tires/insurance.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’ve kept a spreadsheet of all the costs associated with my C7 over 3 years and 20k of mileage:
    $1,034 in gas
    $3,256 in maintenance – this includes new tires, new brake rotors & pads due to track useage. If the car wasn’t tracked this number drops to $1,702 because it needed new tires anyway.
    $440 in repairs – the most expensive being $221 due to a failed LED side marker

    Its a daily driver and track toy but doesn’t get driven that much due to WFH/COVID plus I have other vehicles I sometimes use. Depreciation is basically zero given the current used car bubble and the car is paid off already. I did not count insurance into my numbers simply because you gotta have it.

    Turns out owning a Corvette is not that bad at all since its been very reliable. Zero dealership visits as DIY for all the fluids and brakes.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    After a certain age, it becomes clear why a person owns (tolerates) a used Mercedes, BMW or Audi, and it isn’t because of the reliability. However, the flip side is the used Lincoln, Cadillac and Chrysler vehicles. In my experience a well maintained domestic with 75k miles has 75k more of trouble free driving. I’m not saying problem free, just not the kind that prevent driving. Said cars would start without heat, windows rolling up/down, sunroof staying open, having to use a butter knife to release the lockout or any of the easily recognizable problems of the marque. But, they always ran. Usually with alacrity, too. I’ve come to this conclusion based on the last 10 years of no payments and almost all repair done by me. After throwing the dice on a Cadillac Eldorado with the Northstar, my dear wife enjoyed it for 25k miles with only regular oil changes.I thought I was bulletproof, so again the dice flew and I learned all about air bag suspensions. They’re not hard, just different than we are used to thinking about. Then that car went a year and 10k with no further fixes and sold for more than purchase price. Now, thinking I cannot lose, an STS with RWD came across the garage and we hit another homerun. She still drives the car and only the switchgear inside has been trouble – yet still fixable. Now, feeling like the man of steel, I bought a low mile yet 25 year old XK8. All I can say is I’m glad I have a Mark as backup as it appears to have a steep learning curve.Yet, I’m guessing the Ford component has taken root as it always runs, just lights up like a Xmas tree while driving.The lesson for me is if you’re willing to spend a month looking, have cash and are willing to get dirty, a car doesn’t have to cost any money. But, just like those house flippers on TV, if it was easy everyone would do it. Plus, after 60 years in the business, these are my peeps, and I am used to their histrionics. Maybe that is the real key to cheap wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision

      @olddavid

      I dig it, sir. An XK8 is a ballsy move, though, I must say!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that XK8 was likely affected by the Nikasil defect:

      https://www.jaguarforums.com/forum/xk8-xkr-x100-17/nikasil-what-how-identify-faq-25912/

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        25 years old and cylinders balance and have within 10% of new compression. The Nikasil demon is a terrible affliction but doesn’t appear to have hit this car. We’ll see. We once got a BMW that was supposedly fragile due to this and being afraid of disaster caused me to take short money. The fact that I see the damn thing still driving in our neighborhood makes me less skeptical.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    96 S-10 with 535,000 miles. Insurance is 190 per year for PLPD, gets about 20mpg, needs about 500-1000 dollars worth of work every year driving 25k per year.

  • avatar
    GoNavy99

    Here comes the chance for all the militantly frugal to berate everybody over the fact that they’ve kept their ’82 Cutlass for 40 years now and we’re all dumb for having anything nicer that we don’t have the immediate cash for.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      I don’t see a lot of beration occurring above in the comments – but I do see your proactive counterberation. Did you perceive a slight where none was intended? (Or do I need to work on my reading comprehension?)

      No one called anyone dumb that I can see. But since you brought it up, we should talk about this:
      “How much have you calculated as to how much you need to set aside annually to replace the current car? Because that should be included in your annual calculations.”

      The AAA methodology should factor in the cost of the next vehicle when figuring the cost of the current vehicle? That would be a little strange. [What about the vehicle after that?]

  • avatar
    petey

    Dont forget about the x-factor on used cars. Its when something breaks on it, lets say the transmission gives up the ghost. Well, most people will have to think long and hard over whether to have it fixed or to have it towed away.
    And in the latter case, that would be a complete loss of a car for you. So if your car was valued at 3k, well, it won’t be worth anything in the junkyard. You just added 3k to your yearly average.
    Got to factor risk into the equation.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I have calculated this for nearly 40 years. As for much of that time I used a vehicle/vehicles for business purposes so had to track all of the costs.

    Currently two vehicles in the driveway, down from the five that I had just under two years ago.

    1. Leased. $302 per month tax in (just over $3,600 per year). Zero down. Maintenance costs are only oil/filter changes, etc. Negotiated a set of rims and winter tires. Do not expect to have to purchase new tires (mileage and age) or any unexpected maintenance (warranty) during the term of the lease. That cost allows me to drive a vehicle that is never more than 4 years old, has the latest ‘safety’ gadgets and gets better mileage.

    2. Now in its 12th year. Has outlasted 5 other vehicles intended to be its replacement. Purchase cost/price amortized comes to about $2,000 per year. Have had to buy multiple sets of tires. Rustproofing (Krown) every year. Battery replaced twice. We no longer use it for long trips. Maintenance includes brake jobs, fluid changes, etc.

    Insurance on the older vehicle is about $300 less per year.
    The older vehicle despite being lighter uses more fuel per mile.

    Which makes better sense financially?
    Which makes better sense regarding peace of mind?

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