They have computed costs both on a cost per mile basis and on a cost per year basis (assuming some average cost per mile). I first looked at the easy road and looked at the cost per year... Hmmm, looks like by their data I spend more than $22,000 on vehicles every year. No so fast there Bub. Something is wrong here. Comparing that data to my automagically generated charts on yearly expenses (and yes, I do that), my cars are about 70% of my yearly expenses. Not.
So I'd better go with their cost per mile...
Cost per MileI'll focus on what I have... and to be totally honest, I have way more cars than I need. For 2 adult drivers that mostly hang together we have 4 vehicles. That is probably about 2.5 times more vehicles than we can justify -- especially for bums that don't have a productive job. Mind you: I am using their data here... I am being ultra conservative with their numbers. The lowest cost per mile they list is for 10,000 miles/year. Our cars do half of that right now, so in using their numbers, I am way underestimating.
- Medium sedan (serious underestimate for a Mustang). The article has 71.9 cents/mile for 10K. According to my handy-dandy, homebuilt maintenance database mileage report, this car did 4700 miles last year, for a cost of $3379.
- SUV. 91.0 cents per mile for 10K miles. This car did 5089 miles in the last year for a cost of $4630.99
- SUV (best match for a POS pickup truck). 91.0 cents/mile. Sally did 551 miles, for a total of $501.41
- small sedan (hmm, there is no category for aging, rusty British antique). 55.1 cents per mile is probably a vast underestimate... but since the odometer is broken I will have to wild ass guess 750 miles for a total of $413.25.
Actual costNow I have only had the entire 4 car corral for about 2.3 years. So I am averaging costs across that amount of time. It would be better if I could go back further and do extrapolations, but -- you know me -- that sounds like work.
- license/fees: 778.75 for 2.33 years = 334.23 (for 4 autos... which is waaaay under their costs. I must live somewhere cheap by comparison.)
- insurance: $3560.85 for 2.5 years = 1424 (again for 4 autos... my cost for 4 cars is about what they estimate for one. More on that later...)
- gas: $4839 for 2.33 years = 2077 (again for 4 autos)
- repair/maintenance: $2029 for 2.33 years = 871 (for 4)
Am I saying the AAA data is a bunch of bull? No, I am not. In fact, I suspect it is purely empirical data. And I suspect that there are lots of folks like me that drag the averages down. In other words: there are a whole slew of folks that have costs vastly above the AAA data. And I think this says a whole lot more than "how shiny is your car?"
How'd you do that?It's should be bloody obvious, but the trick is: the newest car is 10 years old. The oldest car is 34 years old. The average age is 21.5 years. But, using their formula:
- fuel: I used actual costs
- maintenance: I used actual costs. Don't even talk about how old cars are maintenance nightmares. My 1990's vintage Fords have had surprisingly little go wrong (even if I have bitched about the freaking blend door a few times.)
- tires: who doesn't include the cost of tires in the cost of maintenance? Oh, I might add the tire thing in AAA's data is BS. It looks like they figure you buy one set a year per car. My figures show one set of tires out of 4 cars in 2.3 years. That was what was actually replaced. I suspect I get more like 5 years per set -- and got probably 20 years out of the last set on the Triumph. (Not recommended... they do age and deteriorate.)
- insurance: their costs are based on full coverage. Guess who needs full coverage? People with new cars. If you have a 21 year old average, you do not need it. I might mention I live in a state that has one of the highest insurance rates around... yet my cost is way lower than the AAA average.
- license, registration, taxes: I think I might get off easy due to the state I live in.
- depreciation: aaaah. Here's your problem. Okay, first off let me give you a little lesson on depreciation. Depreciation is actuary gymnastics. It's a means to justify something you cannot afford. You decide "I need a new car every 4 years." and poof! You have a 4 year depreciation schedule. Well, let me let you in on a little secret: If you keep your car on an open ended schedule -- until the wheels fall off -- you approach an infinitesimal depreciation. It's only when you plan on replacement that you can depreciate. I assure you, by any schedule you can find, my depreciation expenses are nil.
- finance: here's an easy lesson for you: If you are financing something that is approaching zero value, you're not doing it right. Buy what you can afford. If you can afford a Maserati -- plunk down the cash. If not, I hear you can get a rusty pickup truck for about $25 (cash or pizza trade).