# True Cost/Mile to Drive Car

#### TromboneAl

##### Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
I recently redid my car cost/mile spreadsheet. Since it's a long way to town, it's important to know how much each trip costs.

I've left all non-mileage-related costs (DMV, insurance) off this calculation.

I made the assumption that I would drive this car x number of miles and drop it off at the dump, so depreciation is simply the original cost / x.

The other assumption is that I'd spend about 12K on repairs/maintenance during the life of the car. Judging from the car's first 120K miles, that's way high, but as it gets older it's going to need more work.

The result for my Echo is 20 cents per mile. Can you think of anything that I forgot?

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I would tend to include insurance here as well and depending on reason for this might include rental vehicle cost when traveling and not using this vehicle.

I too would include insurance, also registration, and sales tax on purchase if applicable. How about tolls? I guess it would depend on where you live, and how much you use toll roads.

Al,

I agree w/ you on the high estimate 12K repair/maintenance. 6K to 8K is probably more realistic.

I remember doing the same calculation for my very first new car, a 86 Corolla. I gave the car way in 96, at 180kmiles. Tallied all the costs and came up with 10.7 cents.

9,000 price paid
5,625 gas, 32mpg, \$1.2/gal
2,400 repairs
1,140 oil changes and tires
--------
19,290 total.

I could have easily sold that car for \$1,000, bringing the cost down to 10 cent/mile.

TromboneAl said:
I've left all non-mileage-related costs (DMV, insurance) off this calculation.
I don't know if DMV/registration & insurance would raise the totals. Are they just a pain to add in or are they significant?

In our case we only bought \$1400 of gas in 2006 but we spent nearly \$300 on registrations & inspections and another \$750 of insurance.

As the repair costs rack up, I suppose that discount coupons & credit-card rebates could also become a significant factor. But probably only 1-2 cents per mile.

Are parking garages & meters, and speeding/parking fines significant?

Nords said:
we spent nearly \$300 on registrations & inspections

In Houston, annual inspection is \$39.50. Registration is around \$50 regardless of age and value of the vehicle. Even with scorpions, snakes, and now Ebola, Texas ain't that bad!

Oh, last year we spent around \$30 for parking. Mostly at the airport.

TA.....

I don't think you can predict the total cost of owning the car for x years and x miles and reduce that to a pennies/mile figure that would be accurate for each mile driven. You'll only have an average applicable to owning and driving that car over a long period of time.

For example, depreciation. Once you know how much the car depreciated over how long and how many miles, you can easily calculate dollars of depreciation/miles to get a ratio. But while you're forecasting ahead, remember that depreciation isn't linear. Depreciation per mile was very high the first few thousand miles you owned the car. Once you have 200K+ miles on it, another 1K miles probably won't change the value of the car at all.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while you can calcualate/estimate an average cost per mile to drive a car you're going to own for a long time, that figure may not be a very accurate representation of what it's going to cost you to drive the next mile......or the next trip to town..... You may be trying to measure with a micrometer and then cut with an axe.

There are really two questions... what does it cost to own a car, and what does it cost to drive a car.

The ownership costs are paid by the year rather than by the mile: depreciation, registration, insurance, some maintenance, aftermarket accessories.

Then there are the usage costs which increase proportionally to mileage driven: gas, most maintenance, mechanical repairs, body repairs, cleaning costs, traffic tickets, insurance deductibles, parking, parking tickets.

If your question is what does it cost me to drive into town, then you only are concerned about the usage costs (unless you are considering selling the car to use another form of transport).

I think you did well for a musician. I'm not sure if you included everything.
Was purchase tax included?
Annual registration & other taxes
Annual inspection
Insurance

The maintance costs do look high.

How many years do you think you'll keep the car?

TA
If you have not already discovered, check out www.Edmunds.com. You can look up most vehicles under 10 yrs old, find the TCO link (Total Cost Ownership) and check it out. It includes depreciation, operating cost, etc.
Your costs will of course vary by drivng style and local taxes situations but you can get a pretty good rule of thumb.
nwsteve

AL,
Good job on getting 250k miles out of your car -- that seems like a lot, but I don't drive that much -- it would take me nearly 30 years to rack up that mileage.

As other posters have mentioned, insurance really belongs in this calculation, along with other annual fees. They really add up. If you pay \$1000 for insurance and \$100 for various annual inspections/registrations each year, and drive 15,000 miles a year, you've added
\$1100/15000= 7.3 cents per mile to your calcs.

Still, I think the IRS numbers are more based around people leasing cars, or burning up the depreciation from the first few years of ownership, so holding onto a car for the long run will definitely come in cheaper than the 48.5 cents they are allotting now.

I think my employer's fleet did some calcs on a Dodge NEON costing in the 18 cents per mile range...so sounds about right...I agree on the speeding tickets, but probably dont get a lot of those with a echo...

free4now said:
There are really two questions... what does it cost to own a car, and what does it cost to drive a car.

Not necessarily WRT depreciation. If you live in a rural area with no road salt, and thus can realistically plan to wear out a car, rather than rust it out or give up because it is obsolete, then you can just take what you paid less salvage and divide by expected total miles.

I do think also that 250,000 is a lot of miles, and that not many millionaires are going to be happy with they are driving during the last 100,000 of that total!

ha

When you look at how I use this number, I think you'll see that the DMV and insurance numbers shouldn't be included.

8 AM, and I'm deciding: do I drive to x location (10 miles away) or y location (60 miles away) to go surfing today. Part of the decision is based on how much extra it will cost to drive those extra 100 miles.

If my estimate is correct, then the day I sell or junk my car, my net worth will be \$20 higher if I don't drive to y location. The insurance or DMV numbers won't have any effect on this value.

Another example: how much will free firewood cost, if I have to make 4 60 mile round trips to collect it?

I agree that it's hard to estimate, but you make your best guess and go with that. I really want a feeling for how much a particular trip will cost.

As for getting 250,000 miles from the car -- we'll see. It's got 111,000 right now, and it feels no different from the day we drove it off the lot. So, almost halfway there.

Al,
I see, you're looking for the marginal cost of another trip (.e.g to collect firewood) vs the average cost per mile you pay to run your car (which would include the loads) At the margin, you only deal with gas and some wear/tear and depreciation -- miniscule on the latter.

So did you drive to get the wood? Has it been sitting out in the rain all winter! Actually now you've got a season to dry it out so it might not matter.

Sam said:
In Houston, annual inspection is \$39.50. Registration is around \$50 regardless of age and value of the vehicle. Even with scorpions, snakes, and now Ebola, Texas ain't that bad!

Oh, last year we spent around \$30 for parking. Mostly at the airport.

im laughing at 30 a year for parking.. here in new york meters run us about 30 a month as theres meters every where there is shopping.

it cost us 270.00 a month for 2 parking spots in our building.

mathjak107 said:
it cost us 270.00 a month for 2 parking spots in our building.

Where have you been? You haven't posted in a "coon's age"............

I've kept a running total for my 2000 Intrepid, purchased 11/6/99. It now has 130,000 miles on it. Including EVERYTHING (purchase price, interest paid, repairs, maintenance, registration, insurance, emissions tests and gasoline) as of the end of Year 7 (11/6/2006) I was at roughly 33 cents per mile. I might've missed adding a quart of oil here and there, but overall that's just about everything.

The total cost as of the end of year 7 was roughly \$41,000, and at that point the car had about 124,000 miles on it. So far in Year 8 I haven't had to put much into it. \$80 for a new tire and alignment. \$40 for an air filter, pcv valve, case of oil, and filter. It's going into the repair shop soon though, to check the belts, hoses, brakes, a leak in the transmission cooling lines that run to the radiator, and other odds and ends.

Y'know, for all the ragging Chrysler takes for quality control and such, this Intrepid has been a pretty good car. I swear, if the domestics could make every one that rolls off the assembly line as reliable as this one has been, they wouldn't be in the pickle they are today!

Andre1969 said:
I've kept a running total for my 2000 Intrepid, purchased 11/6/99. It now has 130,000 miles on it. Including EVERYTHING (purchase price, interest paid, repairs, maintenance, registration, insurance, emissions tests and gasoline) as of the end of Year 7 (11/6/2006) I was at roughly 33 cents per mile. I might've missed adding a quart of oil here and there, but overall that's just about everything.

The total cost as of the end of year 7 was roughly \$41,000, and at that point the car had about 124,000 miles on it. So far in Year 8 I haven't had to put much into it. \$80 for a new tire and alignment. \$40 for an air filter, pcv valve, case of oil, and filter. It's going into the repair shop soon though, to check the belts, hoses, brakes, a leak in the transmission cooling lines that run to the radiator, and other odds and ends.

Y'know, for all the ragging Chrysler takes for quality control and such, this Intrepid has been a pretty good car. I swear, if the domestics could make every one that rolls off the assembly line as reliable as this one has been, they wouldn't be in the pickle they are today!

What kind of engine does it have? I had a 97 Eagle Vision with a 3.5 that was a LEMON............

What kind of engine does it have? I had a 97 Eagle Vision with a 3.5 that was a LEMON

I have the 2.7 V-6, which is supposed to be sludge-prone and VERY expensive to rebuild. The 3.2/3.5 (same basic design, just different displacements) is supposed to be a much more reliable engine, but I guess I can't complain about mine.

There's a lady here at work who used to have a 1994 Eagle Vision, a basic model with the 3.3 pushrod engine. She swore it was a piece of junk, but the last time I talked to her, she had something like 160,000 miles on it, and it was still on its original engine and, even more astounding, its original transmission! I think the biggest problems they tended to have with it were electronic stuff like sensors and such that would cause it to run like crap, stall out, etc.

I think the main reason my Intrepid was so reliable was because I bought a 5/100K extended warranty. The standard was just 3/36K bumper-to-bumper, and I ended up hitting 36K miles in about 13 months! I'm sure that, had I not purchased that extended warranty, the car would've been a piece of junk! : But, to its credit, it didn't totally crap out at 100,000 miles, either! And I was kind of expecting it to.

While it's been a good car, I don't know if I'd buy another Chrysler product. They just don't make anything that excites me anymore, except for the Charger/300. And they have too much Mercedes componentry in them, which bothers me. The reliability/maintenance/repair costs of a Benz coupled with the depreciation of a Chrysler product just seem like a recipe for disaster!

Andre1969 said:
What kind of engine does it have? I had a 97 Eagle Vision with a 3.5 that was a LEMON

...There's a lady here at work who used to have a 1994 Eagle Vision, a basic model with the 3.3 pushrod engine. She swore it was a piece of junk, but the last time I talked to her, she had something like 160,000 miles on it, and it was still on its original engine and, even more astounding, its original transmission!...

Hmm. I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla with 118,117 miles on it as of today and the only non-original items on the car are the tires, the battery, the timing belt (replaced at 60K as a preventive maintenance item at Toyota's suggestion), and the starter contacts.

2Cor521

So did you drive to get the wood? Has it been sitting out in the rain all winter! Actually now you've got a season to dry it out so it might not matter.

mathjak107 said:
here in new york meters run us about 30 a month as theres meters every where there is shopping.

Hey mathjak -- at least you found parking meters. What about mid-town parking garages -- that \$30 would buy you about an hour of parking on a weekday. Always shudder when I have to drive into the City...

Andre1969 said:
[
I have the 2.7 V-6, which is supposed to be sludge-prone and VERY expensive to rebuild. The 3.2/3.5 (same basic design, just different displacements) is supposed to be a much more reliable engine, but I guess I can't complain about mine.

There's a lady here at work who used to have a 1994 Eagle Vision, a basic model with the 3.3 pushrod engine. She swore it was a piece of junk, but the last time I talked to her, she had something like 160,000 miles on it, and it was still on its original engine and, even more astounding, its original transmission! I think the biggest problems they tended to have with it were electronic stuff like sensors and such that would cause it to run like crap, stall out, etc.

I think the main reason my Intrepid was so reliable was because I bought a 5/100K extended warranty. The standard was just 3/36K bumper-to-bumper, and I ended up hitting 36K miles in about 13 months! I'm sure that, had I not purchased that extended warranty, the car would've been a piece of junk! : But, to its credit, it didn't totally crap out at 100,000 miles, either! And I was kind of expecting it to.

While it's been a good car, I don't know if I'd buy another Chrysler product. They just don't make anything that excites me anymore, except for the Charger/300. And they have too much Mercedes componentry in them, which bothers me. The reliability/maintenance/repair costs of a Benz coupled with the depreciation of a Chrysler product just seem like a recipe for disaster!

Even after my experience, I bought a used Grand Caravan and a new Town and Country. At the time, Honda and Toyota were not up to speed on the SIZE of their vans. Now that the Sienna and Odyssey are as big as a T&C, there's no reason to buy one.

Plus, I got \$7000 below invoice, which I am sure is a deal not to be repeated...........

SecondCor521 said:
Hmm. I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla with 118,117 miles on it as of today and the only non-original items on the car are the tires, the battery, the timing belt (replaced at 60K as a preventive maintenance item at Toyota's suggestion), and the starter contacts.

2Cor521

Yeah, but for a 1994 Mopar with the 4-speed automatic transmission to make it to 160,000 miles on its original transmission is nothing short of a miracle! . In fact, I think all of their transmissions were pretty troublesome by that time. The one exception may have been the Neon transmission, a fairly simple 3-speed unit that dated back to the 1978 Horizon/Omni. Chrysler had a decade and a half to work the bugs out of that one.

My uncle has an '03 Corolla that he bought early in the model year, Memorial Day weekend, 2002. It has about 130,000 miles on it now, and it's been pretty reliable, although that 30/60/90 maintenance crap they talk him into gets pretty expensive. And now the catalytic converter is going bad, a repair that I've seen quoted at anywhere from \$1300-2000! Although I've seen these universal things on the internet for around \$99...

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