How Much Your Car Really Costs You?

Sometimes I think that my Honda Element costs me a fortune. I especially feel this way when I fill the car up with gas. Or when we take it for an oil change. Somehow we always end up with repairs, and, as I call it, despairs. However, I have to admit that our Honda is a good car. We don’t really spend much on it.

How much did you spend on your car last year? This year? Do you keep track? I don’t. I start worrying about the cost when we have problems, or have some repairs coming up. Other than that I don’t worry much about the cost of Honda ownership.

Gas

According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report the average price of gas in Utah as of July 2,2012 was $3.59. I have to admit that it is the major expense for us. Every time I fill up the tank, I pay about $40. Our Honda Element gets excellent mileage, therefore we fill up the tank twice a month. Total annual cost: $960.

Insurance

We have full insurance coverage because we have a car loan. However, we have really good insurance (or so we think.) Our premium on Honda is $40 a month. Total annual cost: $480.

Maintenance

We had to do some repairs this year. We did update a few worn out parts, filters and belts. Our maintenance cost this year has been about $300. Let’s hope this is the end of it.

Interest on Car Loan

We got a five year car loan. Let me tell you that if we could we would have tried to avoid getting a car loan. But we had to get a loan. I wish it would be for at least three years and not five. But we did what we did, and our total interest cost in 2011 was $400.

Registration and Taxes – total annual cost $150.

Total Annual Cost of Owning Honda – $1,850.

The Honda that we bought a few years ago, was a used car. Some people prefer new cars, some, like us, go for used cars. We shopped around quite a bit before pulling the trigger, looking both at local dealerships and on used car sites like Evan Halshaw. I believe that if you shop around, do your research, you can find a good used car that is three to five years old. I look at a depreciation effect when it comes to new cars. Some new cars lose almost 40% of their value when you drive it off the lot.

We are planning to drive our Honda for a long time, probably until we run it into the ground. We hope that the cost of owning our Honda will go down eventually. We will pay off the loan, reduce our insurance premiums, and unless our maintenance cost significantly go up, we should be able to reduce our total annual ownership cost.

Six Things We Are Doing To Reduce Our Honda’s Running Cost

  1. We are trying to use it less.
  2. We are trying to use public transportation more.
  3. We are trying to walk more.
  4. We are regularly checking tires for low pressure.
  5. We are trying to maintain a regular car maintenance schedule.
  6. We are trying to pay off our car loan.

Do you know how much your car really cost you? 

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26 thoughts on “How Much Your Car Really Costs You?

  1. Jean

    That is really a lot of money. I will have to do the same analysis and see what mines costs me per year. I don’t even want to guess.

    Reply
  2. Michelle

    Our cars used to cost us around $1,000 a month (car payments, insurance, gas), but now that my car payments are gone and gas is slightly down, we are paying around $400 a month for everything. Still a lot though!

    Reply
  3. Michelle

    Our cars cost us about $700/mo for 1 payment (other is paid off), gas, and maintenance. That might be low if I look at all the times we’ve had bigger expenses pop up. It’s been a while though. Hope we’re not “due” for something to break down…ha.

    Reply
  4. L Bee and the Money Tree

    This is a great post as I have just returned from New York and have an old family car as my main mode of transportation. Come Monday I am going to have to get tag, title and insurance on it and I need to budget for the rest of the year.

    Cars are so expensive!A h!

    Reply
  5. Bennett

    Hmmm… about $700/year on gas and repairs for my little Honda Accord (I don’t drive much and work close to home).

    Car insurance can really ramp things up if you do something (or things) stupid, though. Mine is $1200/year because of my poor driving history. Everything is scheduled to roll off my record this month, but I estimate the tickets I got for speeding (more than once) and failing to make a complete stop at a stop sign have cost me $2160 in insurance, alone, over the course of three years. Lesson learned there. It’s no wonder I drive like a grandpa now.

    Reply
  6. Lance@MoneyLife&More

    Depreciation will hit both new and used cars but I agree new cars depreciate faster. Maintenance can be more expensive in years in which you have to replace tires or brakes or timing belts. Congrats on keeping your costs as low as you have, because they can get a lot higher 🙂

    Reply
  7. Jai Catalano

    We only use our car for work and maybe weekend trips with the kids. However to get everywhere else we walk as NYC is a walkable place. Where do we park? The street of course.

    Reply
  8. Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think

    I drive a 2007 Honda Civic that has about 42K miles on it. I bought it new and I fully intend on driving it until it’s pretty much useless. Although gas prices are expensive, I acknowledge it could be a lot worse had I chosen to buy a gas guzzler years back. Oh, and insurance is only about $50 a month which I think is pretty reasonable.

    Reply
  9. Jacob @ iHeartBudgets

    Our cars are 2 old Hondas, and probably cost about $255 a month ($160 for gas, $20 for maintenance, $75 for insurance). I do all my own maintenance on the cheap, and these cars run like champs. I guess that’s about $3,000 a year, plus $120 for taxes/registration. So $3,120. So, divided by two, that’s $1,560 per car per year.

    Kinda expensive, now that I look at it, even for a “cheap” car. I’ve been trying to ride the bus more to cut down on gas, so hopefully I can get our bill down to $100 a month.

    Reply
  10. Barbara Friedberg

    aloysa, It’s all tracked in the budget and it’s a lot!!! But our cars are both really old and no car loans!!! Stay away from the Honda dealer for repairs, they gouged us!

    Reply
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  12. Jackie

    My car didn’t cost much at all until it met up with a tree this past winter. So this year’s costs for it are pretty up there after the repairs, but overall it hasn’t been bad at all. I think looking at the total cost of ownership is a great idea, because many people forget about all the associated costs.

    Reply
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  16. kevin@lemonlaws

    The maintenance factor in this equation can also change drastically, if something major on your car ends up needing to be repaired. I like the list at the end of the article also about how to reduce the cost, maybe throw in optimizing your plans to go somewhere. For example, if your going by the store on the way home stop and get what you need on your route instead of going back a different time.

    Reply
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