I bought my first car in 2015. That will make it 3 years old this May. I wanted to see how much owning a car has cost me over the last few years. I have broken down the cost into their categories so I can really see where my money is going.
We do have to keep in mind that my maintenance costs over the last three years have been lower than they will be from here on out because I had a $500 gift card as a bonus when purchasing the car. I have just used up the card so year four maintenance will cost more.
The first year was the most expensive mainly because of the initial cost of the vehicle. I put a down payment of $10,000 on the car (about half of the total cost) to help reduce my monthly payments and interest. Any money I had left over at the end of each month after paying all my bills, I put towards the car loan to help pay it off as quickly as possible. My goal was to have it paid off in one year from purchase but it actually took me about a year and a half.
The first year also had some extra costs such as buying winter tires on rims. I also bought a blanket to keep in the trunk to keep the fabric clean and for emergencies where you need some extra warmth, as well as a snow brush (labeled as accessories).
Below are the totals for my first year of car ownership (all prices in CAD):
Car Payments: $19,504
Car Wash: $9
Rock Chip Repair: $63
Winter Tires: $1,088
Maintenance: $50 (having tires changed)
Grand Total for Year One: $22,681
In year two I was able to finish paying off my loan which was really exciting. I did have an unexpected cost due to having my license plate stolen which cost money to replace.
Below are the totals for year two:
Car Payments: $4,100
Car Wash: $26
Rock Chip Repair: $42
Grand Total for Year Two: $6,146
In year three things have gone pretty smooth. I had an unexpected cost when I scratched my car which they wanted to charge me $3700 to fix. Instead I bought some paint from a store for $20 and fixed it myself (minus the dents which are not a concern to me). Year three isn’t technically over until the end of May, but unless I have an unexpected cost, it shouldn’t change between now and then.
Year three totals are:
Car Wash: $25
Grand Total for Year Three: $2026
Some things of note are, I don’t drive to many places. I usually only drive to and from work so most of the time I only have to get gas a couple times a month. I do spend a little bit more in the summer because I will sometimes take my car when we go on camping trips.
I also don’t wash my car often. I usually try and wait until I take it in for a tire change/maintenance because they will normally wash my car for free. I will only wash it two or so extra times per year (so four times a year in total). If I’m lucky the rain will wash it for me.
I also looked up how much a monthly bus pass would cost me as a comparison. For a year on the bus, it would cost me $1164. While it would cost about $1000 less to take the bus compared to owning a car (now that it’s all paid off), the amount of time I save makes a big difference. It takes me about 20-30 minutes each way if I drive to work, or about three and a half hours per week. Taking the bus is over an hour in each direction, so about twelve and a half hours per week. That is a nine hour difference!
I think owning a car makes more sense at this point. Before buying a car, my workplace was closer. If they hadn’t moved my store location, buying a car wouldn’t have made sense. I used to walk to work each way in the same amount of time it takes me to drive to work now. But driving is a skill I wanted to have and having my store move gave me the incentive I needed to make the purchase. So far I’m happy with the decision.