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Car Expenses
Old 06-22-2007, 12:06 PM   #1
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Car Expenses

I'd be curious to know what it costs nowadays to own or lease, gass up, insure and repair a car in various parts of the country. I mean fill up the tank about once a week and hire someone to keep it in really good shape.

I bought a two-year-old red Maverick (named Ralph) in 1972 for $1,200 and sold it in 1980 for a song. Ever since, I've been telling myself that the money I would have spend on car ownership is funding my retirement account. Wondering what I would have to budget now and thinking I might retire to a place where I would want to own or lease an unimpressive car. I'm currently near enough to retirement that I'm enjoying myself and not living too cheaply; I'm saving about $700/month.

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Old 06-22-2007, 01:49 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
I'd be curious to know what it costs nowadays to own or lease, gass up, insure and repair a car in various parts of the country. I mean fill up the tank about once a week and hire someone to keep it in really good shape.
I bought a two-year-old red Maverick (named Ralph) in 1972 for $1,200 and sold it in 1980 for a song. Ever since, I've been telling myself that the money I would have spend on car ownership is funding my retirement account. Wondering what I would have to budget now and thinking I might retire to a place where I would want to own or lease an unimpressive car. I'm currently near enough to retirement that I'm enjoying myself and not living too cheaply; I'm saving about $700/month.
That's a highly individual decision-- preferences, driving habits, local prices.

For example I view a "cheap" car as $5000 and an "expensive" one as $15K. Hawaii has great weather (no winter slush or road salt), OK roads, and we garage our cars. We don't hope to win the Law of Gross Tonnage and we don't spend extra for safety features. We're not afraid to buy used and run 'em into the ground.

We tend to pay more for gas per gallon but we drive a lot less. We spend about $1400/year in Hawaii and we spent a lot more in San Diego a decade ago, even though San Diego gas cost a lot less per gallon.

We only carry liability and UM/UIM insurance-- $830/year total covers two mid-40s drivers with squeaky-clean records an old speeding ticket and two beaters. Mechanics charge about $75/hour but we do our own oil changes. We used to budget about $150/month on maintenance/repairs but our '97 Altima has proven to be much more reliable than our '94 Taurus or their predecessors.

If you're the kind of driver who doesn't care about leasing or owning the latest & shiniest, and if you have experience at buying used, then you'll do even better at it in ER. You'll have the time to cherry-pick and with no notice you'll be able to be the first buyer on the scene with a handful of cash.

And you'll look forward to the May/June "Moving to the Mainland!!!" sales...
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Old 06-22-2007, 04:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
I'd be curious to know what it costs nowadays to own or lease, gass up, insure and repair a car in various parts of the country. I mean fill up the tank about once a week and hire someone to keep it in really good shape.

I bought a two-year-old red Maverick (named Ralph) in 1972 for $1,200 and sold it in 1980 for a song. Ever since, I've been telling myself that the money I would have spend on car ownership is funding my retirement account. Wondering what I would have to budget now and thinking I might retire to a place where I would want to own or lease an unimpressive car. I'm currently near enough to retirement that I'm enjoying myself and not living too cheaply; I'm saving about $700/month.

Thanks,
Cuppa
2000 Camry Solara - -

purchase cost: $22,500 (new), cash, including TTL
gas: $450/year, ~13 gallons/month at this year's gas prices (very few miles on the car)
insurance: $396/year this year (minimum liability)
repairs: $0
oil and maintenance: $100/year
total costs: $1635/year = $136/month, assuming that I sold the car at the used car value listed on edmunds.com right now

On the other hand, I do plan to drive it for several more years, which should lower the average monthly cost a little bit more.
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Old 06-22-2007, 05:05 PM   #4
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2000 Camry Solara - -
purchase cost: $22,500 (new), cash, including TTL
gas: $450/year, ~13 gallons/month at this year's gas prices (very few miles on the car)
insurance: $396/year this year (minimum liability)
repairs: $0
oil and maintenance: $100/year
total costs: $1635/year = $136/month, assuming that I sold the car at the used car value listed on edmunds.com right now
I think your repair & maintenance is too low. Granted your Solara is a very reliable vehicle, and you don't drive a lot. But the car is getting old, and soon some components will need replacement. For long term planning purpose, I would budget on $400/year for this category considering the age of the vehicle. Struts, alternator, a/c compressor, CV shafts, muffler. All these components have a limited life time (around 100Kmile or about 8 years). And battery, tires, brake pads, hoses and belts have an even shorter life.
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Old 06-22-2007, 05:15 PM   #5
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I think your repair & maintenance is too low. Granted your Solara is a very reliable vehicle, and you don't drive a lot. But the car is getting old, and soon some components will need replacement. For long term planning purpose, I would budget on $400/year for this category considering the age of the vehicle. Struts, alternator, a/c compressor, CV shafts, muffler. All these components have a limited life time (around 100Kmile or about 8 years). And battery, tires, brake pads, hoses and belts have an even shorter life.
My repair and maintenance is what I have actually spent, not a guess. Absolutely nothing whatsoever has broken during the 7 years since I have had it. It's all in the past, not something to guess about, luckily.

I do agree that at some point, things will start to break. Hasn't happened yet. At that point, I would not choose to keep it (wouldn't be a good economical decision, as you have discerned).

Oh, and also (given my yearly mileage) it would take another 14 years (total: 21 years) for me to get to 100,000 miles. I only have 33,500 miles on it, though I really do drive it all that I want. So that is probably why you and I are thinking so differently, here. Or, if it's 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first, then I just haven't gotten there yet.

I don't even know what a CV shaft is. If things start breaking, I'm in deep doo-doo and it will be time to disassociate myself with this car as fast as I can. I've got the price of a brand new one in the bank, and I'm going to try to wait until ER (2-3 years) until I buy it. But I'm ready if I have to do that earlier.
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Old 06-22-2007, 05:20 PM   #6
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Nords, as usual, is right, that it is highly variable. I think the best you can do to estimate is just make sure you don't miss any expense categories.

Here are my categories and my off the top of my head guesses as to what the figures are:

Depreciation -- Bought my 1995 Toyota Corolla new in February 1995 for $16,400 out the door. It's worth maybe $3,500 now.
Insurance -- $30-ish a month for USAA moderately high liability coverage but no comp/collision. Call your insurance company.
Maintenance -- Try to figure up whatever maintenance you're going to do. I do my own oil changes every 3,333 miles, Costco rotates my tires every 10,000 miles, I never wash the thing. There are new tires, brakes, and batteries every so often.
Gas -- This is easy -- price per gallon * gas mileage ratio * miles driven. I seem to spend $20-$25 every couple of weeks.
Plates / registration -- $45 annually, with new plates every 7 years where I live.
Emissions test -- $15 annually.

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Old 06-22-2007, 05:48 PM   #7
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My repair and maintenance is what I have actually spent, not a guess. Absolutely nothing whatsoever has broken during the 7 years since I have had it. It's all in the past, not something to guess about, luckily.
I'm not surprised at all. Toyota's reputation is well deserved.

However, I would seriously consider replacing the accessory belt, and the upper and lower radiator hoses. They are not expensive, and they have reached end of life based on age. You'd would be stranded when one of them break. Just a friendly suggestion.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:03 PM   #8
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I'm not surprised at all. Toyota's reputation is well deserved.

However, I would seriously consider replacing the accessory belt, and the upper and lower radiator hoses. They are not expensive, and they have reached end of life based on age. You'd would be stranded when one of them break. Just a friendly suggestion.
Thanks! I didn't know about these things and appreciate the friendly suggestion. I do have the guys check the belts and hoses when I have the oil changed, and so far they have said everything is just fine.
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:09 PM   #9
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... It's worth maybe $3,500 now.
...
, I never wash the thing.
You're very optimistic! You never washed it, and you think it's worth that much?
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:31 PM   #10
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I can attest to the Solara's reliablity .My Solara is nine years old and except for tires ,brakes and a water pump no other repairs .I have 64000 miles on the car and plan to drive it until it drops or I fall in love with a new car .
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:33 PM   #11
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You're very optimistic! You never washed it, and you think it's worth that much?
You would expect a beautiful finish on a $3500 car? Whew, you must drive a hard bargain!
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Old 06-22-2007, 06:36 PM   #12
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I can attest to the Solara's reliablity .My Solara is nine years old and except for tires ,brakes and a water pump no other repairs .I have 64000 miles on the car and plan to drive it until it drops or I fall in love with a new car .
Wow! That's great! Extrapolating from my present mileage, I will have 43,000 miles on my Solara by the time it is nine years old, so I think I have reason to be pretty optimistic. So far in 7 years I have bought one set of el-cheapo tires, and a battery. I get an air filter when they tell me it needs one, even though it probably doesn't.

I forgot to include the yearly safety inspection and registration, but the cost of these in Louisiana averages out to only $1 or $2 per month total. No emissions checks here.
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:06 PM   #13
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I can attest to the Solara's reliablity .My Solara is nine years old and except for tires ,brakes and a water pump no other repairs .I have 64000 miles on the car and plan to drive it until it drops or I fall in love with a new car .
I planned to drive mine until it dropped. It dropped (started making funny noises) at age 18 (plus it's been out of production for more than 10 years).

Hope the next vehicle lasts at least 10 years.
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:18 PM   #14
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I planned to drive mine until it dropped. It dropped (started making funny noises) at age 18 (plus it's been out of production for more than 10 years).

Hope the next vehicle lasts at least 10 years.
What kind of vehicle did you get, or have you got it yet?
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:30 PM   #15
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What kind of vehicle did you get, or have you got it yet?
2005 Kia Rio
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:45 PM   #16
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2005 Kia Rio
That sounds like a LBYM car. Hope I wasn't too nosy, but I admire your frugality and just had to ask!
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Old 06-23-2007, 12:07 AM   #17
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Over the years, we've owned 5 Toyota Camrys. We purchased two of them new and the rest used. My wife does most of the driving of these cars, averaging 30,000 miles per year. I've always done the oil changes, tune ups and brake jobs myself. Timing belts need to be replaced every 60,000 miles and I leave this to a mechanic. Other than tires, batteries, and oxygen sensors, we've never had to spend money on other repairs. We've always stayed with the 4 cylinder and average 30 miles per gallon. Now that we're both retired, maintenance will decrease as we're driving less than 12,000 miles a year.
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Old 06-23-2007, 10:12 AM   #18
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You're very optimistic! You never washed it, and you think it's worth that much?
Just looked it up and I'm carrying it on the books at $2,875, which was from New Car Prices | Used Car Values - Official Kelley Blue Book Site a while ago.

As far as the paint job goes, it's decent for a 12 year old car, but there are nicks and chips here and there and it's dulled a little from the day I bought it.

"Never" is a strong word; I rarely wash it -- maybe a few times a year.

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Old 06-23-2007, 05:32 PM   #19
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I've got an 02 Silverado, 00 Jeep Wrangler and a 04 Honda VTX motorcycle - all bought new....and taken good care of. Repairs have been very few - like windsheild wipers new bulbs etc. I run synthetic oil throughout all the vehicles drivetrains - synthetic costs more up front but protects and can be driven further between changes.
I've got a clean DMV record, travel w/ the Silverado w/ a camper, use the Jeep and bike for fun trips and errands.
The truck is the most expensive and costs approx. $4900. per year all costs included(insur., regs., several small trips and a couple biggies). Of couse if I took a trip to Alaska and then south to Rio the cost would go up (hmmmmmmmm)
The bike about $900 per year
Jeep - $1900 per year

Not cheap....but alot of our entertainment comes from the camping trips, off roading trips and the bike rides -- well worth it!
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Old 06-24-2007, 08:12 PM   #20
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