The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 August 2006

Paying through the nose

Jerry Reed, in "Lord, Mr. Ford" (1973):

Well, I figured it up and over a period of time
This four thousand dollar car of mine
Costs fourteen thousand dollars and ninety-nine cents.

In the previous article, a Seattle Weekly writer quoted the cost of driving around town at "almost $1 per mile." This got me thinking about how much I've been paying. Of course, the driver isn't the only person who incurs costs when a motor vehicle is operated, but since he didn't quantify those, neither will I.

So here are the numbers, as best as I can determine them, from my previous car, since its books are effectively closed at this time:

Selling price including destination charge: $20,100
Trade-in less amount upside down: ($2,600)
Rebate: ($2,000)
Gap insurance and similar things: $1,000
Finance charge (60 months): $6,800
Total purchase price: $23,300
Less salvage value: ($6,100)
Net cost of vehicle itself: $17,200

Taxes and licenses (six years): $1,100
Insurance: $7,400
Gasoline (@ 24 mpg, average 2.00/gal): $4,700
Repairs and maintenance: $2,300
Miscellaneous expenses (parking, etc.): $200
Total: $15,700

Total expenditures: $32,900
Number of miles driven: 55,700
Expense per mile: 59 cents

The painful part, of course, was remembering that gas was cheap enough five or six years ago to keep the overall average for the period right around two bucks despite today's $3-ish numbers. Had I paid three dollars a gallon for the entire period, it would have added a little more than four cents per mile to the total.

Posted at 7:16 AM to Driver's Seat


I think subtracting the value of your trade-in is an accounting error. The proceeds from the sale of your former vehicle should be balanced against that vehicle's costs, not your new car's.

Posted by: Sean Gleeson at 8:12 AM on 1 August 2006

I thought about that, but I considered it to be part of the down payment, and therefore a reduction of the total price. Which is one of many reasons why I am not an accountant.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:21 AM on 1 August 2006