Until the Robot Cars Arrive, Here Is How Much You’re Paying Per Year of Car Ownership
Nicole Dieker

One solution to the problem of high car expenses is simply to use one’s car less. I bought my car six years ago. It was used, so I got it checked out by a mechanic for $80 and paid $5,000 (plus the $80 I spent checking out another car that was in no condition to buy). I also had to put new tires on it for about $120. Since then, I’ve required one change of tires ($140), two new batteries (about $160), once new taillight ($90), and one expensive repair ($900). I pay about $60 for a lube, oil, and filter plus a bit more for miscellaneous expenses, like new windshield wipers and check-ups (Let’s say about $500 so far.). Insurance is $200/ year. I also pay about $35 for a tank of gas on average. The thing is, though, I live close enough to my primary job to walk, and most of my other work is completed online. I also live in easy walking distance of entertainment and restaurants, so I only drive my car to get groceries, to travel to the far-flung restaurants/ shops/ hiking trails/ friends’ houses, or to leave town. Consequently, I put about 2,000 miles on my car per year.

With such low usage, I only need one oil change per year, and I only buy gas about 6 times per year. So, adding up all of those expenses:

Base costs + repairs= $7,130

Regular yearly costs=$470 x 6 = $2,820 total so far.

So, $9,950 / 6 = $1,658 to drive per year.

Plus time saved on waiting for buses/ taxis/ Ubers.

So the moral of the story? Buy a used car in good condition after it’s had time to depreciate in value, and live close to places you frequently travel to if at all possible. That lifestyle is fairly cheap (though I may lose a little more money by living so close to good restaurants and thus being tempted to visit them more often).

I’m lucky in my location, of course, so I imagine that my costs would be closer to $3,000 or $4,000/year if I had to commute a decent distance to work and play.

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