Shocking car cost calculations

grab bag, misc

Okay, so maybe this is a total “duh!” observation, but I’ve just come to the stark realization of how insanely expensive it is to own a car in the Bay Area.

And no, I’m not even talking about gas prices.

You see, my current 1992 car is about ready to join that great pile in the sky (or junkyard) known as Car Heaven.  Let’s just say he’s seen better days.  So, environmentally-concerned and smart-researcher guy that I am, I’ve been learning towards buying a Toyota Prius hybrid gas/electric car. 

But ouch!  Let me share some of the approximate costs with you…

Over a hypothetical 12 year life of the car:
– $25,000 (at a pretty low base level, and not taking into account interest or the net present value of money, but including taxes, fees, etc.)
– $12,000 for insurance ($1K per year)
– $ 6,000 for routine maintenance and repair ($500 per year in oil changes, etc.)———————-
That’s $43,000.

And that doesn’t include:
– Gas
– Parking
– Parking tickets
– Costs of accidents

*  *  *

That $43,000 works out to be about $300 per month.

Given that I’ll soon easily be able to take public transit to work, the only time I’ll need a car is when going out on the town with friends and such.  Let’s say that’s an average of 10 times a month.

Clearly, that works out to $30 per trip.  With ZipCar, I’d pay $7.25/hr (no mileage or gas charges).  Or given the compactness of San Francisco, I could probably inexpensively grab a taxi for most of those 10 outings (or, of equal likelihood, bum a ride home with friends and just help with gas costs).

*  *  *

In other words, I could just ditch the car and end up saving an enormous amount of money over the long haul, not have to worry about parking tickets, getting dinged in the parking lot, having windows broken (which has happened three times to my crappy old car in my six years here in San Francisco), and so on.

Sure, the Prius is sexy.  In some ways it’d be very convenient (I could drive to work without having to worry about bus schedules), and I can imagine appreciating having a car when visiting friends in Sacramento and such.  But now I know the cost!

4 comments… add one
  • walkman May 15, 2006

    Adam,
    although the car is not for everyone, and you probably don’t need it, it’s hard to quantify convenience. You can just get up, hop on your car and go anywhere you want, even if it’s 4am.

    If eveything was dollars and sense, people would never buy a new car; why spend $50K for a Lexus when a Tercel will take back and forth just as well?
    In your case, keeping your old car would cost you much less than $300 a month. Sure they would be some headaches and the car is 12 years old (might not look as sexy), but then, waiting for the bus, renting, dropping the car off, worrying about a scratch on a leased car etc. add up too. Is waiting x minutes for the bus each day worth $10 a day? How about fear of missing it and so on? All those have a price.

  • James Apr 3, 2008

    Hi Adam, Now a days in India,

    Tata Motors Luanches very compact car named as “Neno”

    It’s cost is $ 2.5 k

    Which is the cheapest car in world as well as it’s eco friendly too.

  • Vehicle Wraps Aug 9, 2008

    Hi Adam,

    If You drive enough miles you can get a car sponsor, and you might have a better chance due to owning a Prius.

  • Oil reserves are exaggerated. Shell reduced its estimated reserves by 32% in 2007 after the Board initiated an investigation. The CEO was lying about reserves to keep the stock up. No OPEC country allows independent verification. So the bottom line is that this author is too optimistic. By the way, given the declines in the big oil fields, we would need to discover a country every three years to keep production commensurate with demand. .

What do you think?