Ever wonder what your car really costs you? Not just the purchase price, but the gas, repairs and maintenance, insurance, license, registration and, if you're lucky like me, car taxes?
I figured it out this morning, just for fun. I had finished reading an article in Kiplinger's about whether hybrids are worth the price, and they mentioned that the Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid are tied for lowest total ownership costs over five years, at $39,780.
So I decided to see how much my '99 Honda Civic HX has cost me since I purchased it. I track all my expenses anyway, so it was easy to do.
Here's the breakdown.
Purchase Price: January 1999: $14,500
Year Tax/Reg Gas Repairs Ins
1999 1175 639 200 813
2000 365 409 235 718
2001 507 516 507 874
2002 325 370 739 894
2003 302 520 466 719
2004 149 393 945 796
2005 214 377 614 655
2006 130 496 1020 393
2007 206 514 1029 388
2008 YTD 89 888 980 378
Totals 3462 5122 6735 6628
10% 15% 20% 20%
Total costs: $36,447
Minus sale of old car: 2,850
Balance: $33,597 divided by 10 years of ownership = $3,360 per year to operate.
Just think how much you'd save if you used your legs, bicycle or public transit to get to work.
A few interesting items to note:
1. Total costs for state taxes and registration, etc. fees was a substantial (10%) part of overall ownership costs.
2. Gas and repairs each accounted for 15% of total costs while insurance counted for 20%.
3. The cost of the car purchase itself represented 35% of overall costs over the 10-year period.
4. Gas, interestingly, didn't show a unilateral upward projectory leading to 2008. In the year I bought it, I spent $639 for gas, which is more than I spent in 2007. 2008 is already the year showing the most spent on gas for the whole time I've owned the car.
5. The cost of repairs has steadily risen each year. Guess that's to be expected.
6. Insurance, happily, has fallen, especially from 2006 on, which is when I dropped the collision/comprehensive on the car, in year 8.
So I spent less money to operate my car for 10 years than the new Prius and Honda hybrids will cost over 5 years. While gas costs for these hybrids will be lower than my costs, I don't think that alone makes up for equally high expenses for registration, insurance and repairs, not to mention the purchase price. Unless, of course, you really need a new car. But otherwise it's clear that coaxing an old car along is a great deal cheaper than buying a new one.
So while I grumbled a bit last week to pay over $650 for repairs to my car's emissions system, it's still a small price to pay compared to new car ownership costs. But you knew that already, didn't you?
The Real Cost of Owning a Car
September 6th, 2008 at 10:04 am