04 March 2012

What Does it Really Cost to Own a Car?

In August 2005, just five short years after promising myself I'd never purchase a brand new car and take a financial hit for depreciation, I brought home "Kitten" - a brand new 2006 VW Golf TDI. I parked her in the garage and her diesel engine puuuuuuuuuuuurred. With a promise of 40+ mpg, Kitten was actually going to save me money and pay for herself in less than a decade.

It was the height of gas price wars and diesel was less expensive than unleaded. So, it was easy to justify my purchase based on increased fuel efficiency, less expensive fuel, and the fact that I needed a cute new car to go with my cute new haircut. (Note: I was driving a gas guzzling Ford F150 prior to that.)

A lot has changed in seven years! I still get 42 mpg, but now diesel is at a premium (and I grew my hair long again to avoid paying for frequent haircuts, but that's a whole different blog post - this one to be exact).

I went to my favorite mechanic today for a quote on some maintenance work for my beloved little VW because let's face it, after 88,000 miles, every little car deserves a new timing belt, an routine oil change, tires rotated, some factory recommended pumps & filters, and that valve-something-kit that will keep the oil from leaking in my garage.

His estimate: $2255

***insert sound of jaw dropping here*** 

I came home to contemplate the total cost of ownership again. My conclusion:

I hate having a car! 

If we could live within walking distance to work, church & groceries, I'd sell my beloved little VW in a heart beat. Unfortunately, we live in mid-size town in the mid-west. Everything is spread out and there's no such thing as public transportation. I'd switch to a moped, but with two kids in car seats and 6 months of cold/rain/snow/not-moped-weather, that'd be pretty ridiculous.

And although, I'm not real sentimental about most things, ... my car.. uh.. I love that thing.

  • She's reliable (as long as you don't feed her unleaded - been there, done that), 
  • she's small enough to park in "compact" spaces,  
  • I can fit just about anything in the hatch - even this vintage vanity I bought to make into nightstands, and 
  • my four year old has puked in that car at least once a year - those are some memory-making-moments!
Kelly Blue Book says in "good" condition, Kitten is worth about $10,000. If I were to sell it without fixing the oil leak, I'd have to take less. At this point, going carless is not an option. It's worth fixing and not replacing Kitten. 

So, I just wrote out a check for $271 to cover another 6 months of insurance.

Did I mention I hate having a car? 

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1 comment:

  1. Totally with you here. Can't live with them... and can't figure out how to live without them.