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    Thread: Do you know much your car actually costs to own?

    1. Member
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      06-28-2019 06:41 PM #1
      Anyone done a TCO (total cost of ownership) on their car before?

      I did recently, as this was my first new car, I've tracked all expenses.

      Anyone like to guess what the monthly or $/mi cost has been?

      2016 GSW S, paid $18,5xx roughly, plus TTL (in CA)
      And my number takes into account ALL expenses - insurance, maintenance (DIY for me, $0 labor), fuel, registration, etc and backs out current equity (assumes I can sell the car for KBB or ~$11k currently)

      Currently at 54k miles, price per month/mile should drop over more time, I would hope.

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    3. 06-28-2019 07:05 PM #2
      Depreciation isn't part of your formula?

    4. Member KarstGeo's Avatar
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      06-28-2019 08:58 PM #3
      Of course. That's what people who aren't broke people do

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    6. Member KarstGeo's Avatar
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      06-28-2019 09:03 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by palincss View Post
      Depreciation isn't part of your formula?
      Yep...need that one for sure.

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      06-28-2019 10:22 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by KarstGeo View Post
      Yep...need that one for sure.

      Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
      Yep. Because unless you drive your car into the ground and give it to the scrapper when your'e done, resale value is key to this equation. And no matter how great a deal you've gotten on a VW, no matter how cheap the insurance, no matter how good on gas the car is, no matter how cheap the maintenance... VW's low resale value will screw you over if you sell your car.
      OBDeleven coding mods done on my 2017 GSW S

      past VAGs: '69 Type 3 Variant • 1984 GTI • '85 Scirocco Wolfsburg Edition • '86 Scirocco • '86 Audi 4000S

    8. Member MidnightGSW's Avatar
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      06-28-2019 11:16 PM #6
      Most people aren't burdened with such anal-retentive lifestyle!
      How hard can it be!

    9. Member dr_spock's Avatar
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      06-29-2019 12:29 AM #7
      I have a spreadsheet tracking of maintenance, repairs, new and replacement parts. I have 21 years of data for my 1998 NB. It is fun to look back. Earlier this year I replaced my battery and the spreadsheet showed that the previous OEM battery lasted 12 years. Maintenance, repairs, and parts come out to $748 Canadian dollars per year or 6 cents per kilometer. (Costs per year went down after I learned to do things myself.) I don't have insurance, registration, and fuel costs tallied.

      I recently factory ordered a GSW 6sp. Too broke and late now to worry about VW depreciation. :-)

    10. Member KarstGeo's Avatar
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      06-29-2019 06:56 AM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
      Yep. Because unless you drive your car into the ground and give it to the scrapper when your'e done, resale value is key to this equation. And no matter how great a deal you've gotten on a VW, no matter how cheap the insurance, no matter how good on gas the car is, no matter how cheap the maintenance... VW's low resale value will screw you over if you sell your car.
      And that's why I do just that...pay them off asap and drive them forever.

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    11. 06-29-2019 08:06 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
      Yep. Because unless you drive your car into the ground and give it to the scrapper when your'e done, resale value is key to this equation. And no matter how great a deal you've gotten on a VW, no matter how cheap the insurance, no matter how good on gas the car is, no matter how cheap the maintenance... VW's low resale value will screw you over if you sell your car.
      You could substitute practically any other manufacturer's name for "VW" in this quote and it would still be true. What's more, there are plenty of makes and models with far worse depreciation than the VW Golf. Depreciation for a 2017 BMW 3-series is 19.021% vs 11.26% for a 2017 VW Golf and 28.26% for a 2017 Mercedes E-class (per usedfirst.com) to pick two German competitors with wagons.

    12. Member Dave Weitzenhof's Avatar
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      06-29-2019 09:14 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by KarstGeo View Post
      And that's why I do just that...pay them off asap and drive them forever.
      Yup. Just look at my vehicles list on the left. We drive them until they are costing more to maintain than they're worth.
      Dave

    13. Member KarstGeo's Avatar
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      06-29-2019 12:51 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Weitzenhof View Post
      Yup. Just look at my vehicles list on the left. We drive them until they are costing more to maintain than they're worth.
      And that's the only way I can justify buying new - v. long term ownership so that big depreciation hit gets spread out.
      2018 Atlas SEL VR6 4Motion
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    14. 06-29-2019 01:46 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by palincss View Post
      Depreciation isn't part of your formula?

      "number takes into account ALL expenses - insurance, maintenance (DIY for me, $0 labor), fuel, registration, etc and backs out current equity (assumes I can sell the car for KBB or ~$11k currently)"

      I think backing out the equity covers the depreciation part of things.

      I'll guess it comes out to $.37 a mile, +/- .05.

      When I had to drive a ton for work, I managed to operate a car for about less than $.15 a mile. Given that I was getting reimbursed at $.45 a mile, this was a great deal!

      If low TCO is your main goal and you want a wagon, I'd suggest the following:

      -get a used Prius V for 10-12K
      -pay cash
      -don't carry full coverage
      -buy the longest wearing tires you can find
      -do your own maintenance and repairs
      -drive a lot

      I know I'm paying more for the Alltrack, but I'm at a point in life where I finally don't really care if I'm paying more per mile.

    15. Member EBG 1.8T's Avatar
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      06-29-2019 02:29 PM #13
      If I was worried about depreciation or cost of ownership I probably wouldn’t buy a VW.
      2017 VW Golf Alltrack SEL
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      06-29-2019 04:01 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by KarstGeo View Post
      And that's why I do just that...pay them off asap and drive them forever.

      Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
      What difference does paying them off sooner or later make? Unless you're paying cash, the cost of borrowing is the same. I think the most I've ever had for an interest rate from VW is 1.9% which is way lower than any bank can offer me. So for 500 bucks why not use their money instead of yours ?

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      06-29-2019 05:49 PM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by palincss View Post
      You could substitute practically any other manufacturer's name for "VW" in this quote and it would still be true. What's more, there are plenty of makes and models with far worse depreciation than the VW Golf. Depreciation for a 2017 BMW 3-series is 19.021% vs 11.26% for a 2017 VW Golf and 28.26% for a 2017 Mercedes E-class (per usedfirst.com) to pick two German competitors with wagons.
      I'd say you could substitute any German mfr's name, or European name, or American name, and it would still be true. But some Japanese brands really hold their value, and sometimes a particular model at a particular time is in high demand as a used car, and its resale value will reflect that. I learned that when we traded our 2006 Mazda3 after four years (we didn't want to, but we had to up-size). The dealer said they couldn't keep enough used 3's on the lot. I got $12k trade for a car for which I paid $17.7k four years earlier... $2k over NADA trade.. That's 33.5% depreciation... over four years. Zero repair costs, and only minor maintenance costs. And we got to enjoy having the car since new.
      OBDeleven coding mods done on my 2017 GSW S

      past VAGs: '69 Type 3 Variant • 1984 GTI • '85 Scirocco Wolfsburg Edition • '86 Scirocco • '86 Audi 4000S

    18. 06-29-2019 06:13 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by StreetGLi View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by KarstGeo View Post
      And that's why I do just that...pay them off asap and drive them forever.

      Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
      What difference does paying them off sooner or later make? Unless you're paying cash, the cost of borrowing is the same. I think the most I've ever had for an interest rate from VW is 1.9% which is way lower than any bank can offer me. So for 500 bucks why not use their money instead of yours ?

      Sent from my LG-H873 using Tapatalk
      You can make the case that using financing—especially when it’s really low like 1.9%—and instead investing one’s cash elsewhere like an S&P index fund is a better use of money.

      With that said, how long you finance of course affects the cost. Assuming a 3% rate and a financed amount around $18K, the interest paid on a 36 month Ioan would be $875 versus $1450 on a 60 month loan. Not a huge difference, but not trivial.

    19. Member KarstGeo's Avatar
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      06-29-2019 07:18 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by StreetGLi View Post
      What difference does paying them off sooner or later make? Unless you're paying cash, the cost of borrowing is the same. I think the most I've ever had for an interest rate from VW is 1.9% which is way lower than any bank can offer me. So for 500 bucks why not use their money instead of yours ?

      Sent from my LG-H873 using Tapatalk
      Because I don't like oweing people money...there's just something nice about having the title and not giving a flip. No issues taking a loan and yes if I can borrow $20k at 1.9 and keep $20k in an investment making 8 I'm doing great but the reality is that people don't do that...they spend it. I like that my balance sheet has lots assets and one liability...my house.

      Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
      2018 Atlas SEL VR6 4Motion
      2018 Golf Sportwagen S 4Motion DSG - Unitronic IS20 yadda yadda yadda
      12.34/110.84/1.90 60' on the Dragy
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      06-29-2019 08:53 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by KarstGeo View Post
      Because I don't like oweing people money...there's just something nice about having the title and not giving a flip. No issues taking a loan and yes if I can borrow $20k at 1.9 and keep $20k in an investment making 8 I'm doing great but the reality is that people don't do that...they spend it. I like that my balance sheet has lots assets and one liability...my house.

      Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
      I bought my GSW with 0%/72mo. I do invest the cash that this frees up by maxing out my retirement and my kids' college accounts, and any other investment accounts I might have. It also frees up money for capital improvements to my house, which I might otherwise have to finance at >5% on a HELOC.
      OBDeleven coding mods done on my 2017 GSW S

      past VAGs: '69 Type 3 Variant • 1984 GTI • '85 Scirocco Wolfsburg Edition • '86 Scirocco • '86 Audi 4000S

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      06-29-2019 09:16 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Jack Watts View Post
      "number takes into account ALL expenses - insurance, maintenance (DIY for me, $0 labor), fuel, registration, etc and backs out current equity (assumes I can sell the car for KBB or ~$11k currently)"

      I think backing out the equity covers the depreciation part of things.

      I'll guess it comes out to $.37 a mile, +/- .05.

      When I had to drive a ton for work, I managed to operate a car for about less than $.15 a mile. Given that I was getting reimbursed at $.45 a mile, this was a great deal!

      If low TCO is your main goal and you want a wagon, I'd suggest the following:

      -get a used Prius V for 10-12K
      -pay cash
      -don't carry full coverage
      -buy the longest wearing tires you can find
      -do your own maintenance and repairs
      -drive a lot

      I know I'm paying more for the Alltrack, but I'm at a point in life where I finally don't really care if I'm paying more per mile.
      Nailed it, pretty on - the depreciation is accounted for with current resale value and my calcs put me at ~$.34/mi currently.

      Deets:
      So here's my expenses to date, after 40 months of ownership and 54k miles:

      Purchase: $20,896.02
      Fuel: $4,248.62
      Routine Maint: $662.16
      Repairs: $0
      "Warm & Fuzzy": $548.50 ("wants", not "needs", like: mods like aero panels, dogbone insert, crossbars, etc)
      Insurance: $2441 (paid through 11/2019)
      Registration: $730
      Est. KBB pvt party: ($11,000)

      Net Cost: $18,526.30 or $463.16/month or $0.3431 per mile

      Further thoughts are on a thread at Bogleheads: https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/vie...?f=11&t=284407

      I imagine cost per mile/month should drop as I log more miles, unless repairs creep in.

    22. 06-30-2019 11:43 AM #20
      Then there's another issue. What you do with your car. If you drive it by yourself day in and day out back and forth to work. Then you are not really getting the value out of it as opposed to if you are hauling your family around or stuff. On top of that, where do you live. Do you have a European style public transportation system where you could use and not drive the car? Probably not. Then there's the personal satisfaction. Do you like the car and enjoy driving it or would a clapped out Prius give you the same satisfaction?

      One of my examples is my Eurovan. I like driving it. I can camp in it, haul lots of lumber, tow a racecar, haul garbage and a whole slew of other things. Over my 16 years of ownership, it's done just fine. Plus I used it for business for many years and wrote off the mileage and maintenance. Bought it for 30K and it was paid off in 2007. It's cheap to insure and I still get tons of use out of it. It costs me money for parts but I expect that.

      If you are looking for cost of ownership, then any new car is a terrible way to go. Buy used and live that life. Get a used scooter and bicycle while you are at it and put even less miles on it. Walking works too. Rent a cheap apartment, shop at thrift stores while you are at it. Plus, never have kids. Soon, you'll be like Warren Buffett.

    23. 07-01-2019 08:01 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by jjvincent View Post
      Then there's another issue. What you do with your car. If you drive it by yourself day in and day out back and forth to work. Then you are not really getting the value out of it as opposed to if you are hauling your family around or stuff. On top of that, where do you live. Do you have a European style public transportation system where you could use and not drive the car? Probably not. Then there's the personal satisfaction. Do you like the car and enjoy driving it or would a clapped out Prius give you the same satisfaction?

      One of my examples is my Eurovan. I like driving it. I can camp in it, haul lots of lumber, tow a racecar, haul garbage and a whole slew of other things. Over my 16 years of ownership, it's done just fine. Plus I used it for business for many years and wrote off the mileage and maintenance. Bought it for 30K and it was paid off in 2007. It's cheap to insure and I still get tons of use out of it. It costs me money for parts but I expect that.

      If you are looking for cost of ownership, then any new car is a terrible way to go. Buy used and live that life. Get a used scooter and bicycle while you are at it and put even less miles on it. Walking works too. Rent a cheap apartment, shop at thrift stores while you are at it. Plus, never have kids. Soon, you'll be like Warren Buffett.
      It's funny, not having kids, shopping at thrift stores and using my bike or feet as my primary mode of transportation for most of my life has definitely enabled me to waste money on cars I want to drive. I'd just suggesting buying a house instead of renting, then renting out part of it to cover your costs...

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      07-05-2019 08:32 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
      Yep. Because unless you drive your car into the ground and give it to the scrapper when your'e done, resale value is key to this equation. And no matter how great a deal you've gotten on a VW, no matter how cheap the insurance, no matter how good on gas the car is, no matter how cheap the maintenance... VW's low resale value will screw you over if you sell your car.
      Several years ago, a major car magazine did a COO comparison between a Porsche 911 and a Ford Escort. COO for the 911 was actually lower because of resale value and long term durability. Personally the worst car I’ve owned in my life was a Volvo S60 R-Line, that cost $46k new and a mere 11k miles later netted me $21k. About 60% depreciation over <5 years and a handful of miles. My last MK VI GTI, on the other hand, bought CPO for $18k, sold for $12k 5 years later when I bought a MK VII GTI. Stellar resale, but still short of the 911 benchmark. My WORST 911 I paid $42k for it and sold 10 years later for $47k. The 993 series in my garage cost $27k (a screaming deal at low tide in ‘09), and today is worth 2X minimum. My experience with VW brands has been nothing short of remarkable, but I go for enthusiast cars, and reselling them is simple because there’s an ample supply of potential buyers.

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      07-05-2019 12:57 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by EyeNoCars View Post
      Several years ago, a major car magazine did a COO comparison between a Porsche 911 and a Ford Escort. COO for the 911 was actually lower because of resale value and long term durability. Personally the worst car I’ve owned in my life was a Volvo S60 R-Line, that cost $46k new and a mere 11k miles later netted me $21k. About 60% depreciation over <5 years and a handful of miles. My last MK VI GTI, on the other hand, bought CPO for $18k, sold for $12k 5 years later when I bought a MK VII GTI. Stellar resale, but still short of the 911 benchmark. My WORST 911 I paid $42k for it and sold 10 years later for $47k. The 993 series in my garage cost $27k (a screaming deal at low tide in ‘09), and today is worth 2X minimum. My experience with VW brands has been nothing short of remarkable, but I go for enthusiast cars, and reselling them is simple because there’s an ample supply of potential buyers.
      Totally makes sense. If you buy an exotic car and baby it, you may get lucky and see it grow in value. It doesn't even have to be exotic. Look at the owners of Buick Grand National from back in the 80's. It was just a special edition muscle car made in low numbers. They're worth a mint now. Or a VW microbus that's been preserved from rusting. Sometimes you never know.
      OBDeleven coding mods done on my 2017 GSW S

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    26. n00b
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      07-05-2019 08:45 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by surfstar View Post
      Nailed it, pretty on - the depreciation is accounted for with current resale value and my calcs put me at ~$.34/mi currently.

      Deets:
      So here's my expenses to date, after 40 months of ownership and 54k miles:

      Purchase: $20,896.02
      Fuel: $4,248.62
      Routine Maint: $662.16
      Repairs: $0
      "Warm & Fuzzy": $548.50 ("wants", not "needs", like: mods like aero panels, dogbone insert, crossbars, etc)
      Insurance: $2441 (paid through 11/2019)
      Registration: $730
      Est. KBB pvt party: ($11,000)

      Net Cost: $18,526.30 or $463.16/month or $0.3431 per mile

      Further thoughts are on a thread at Bogleheads: https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/vie...?f=11&t=284407

      I imagine cost per mile/month should drop as I log more miles, unless repairs creep in.
      I was recently involved in a five car accident (I was third of the five with two full size pickup trucks behind me) in a 2003 Mercedes S500 which was purchased with ~133k miles, and had ~234k at the time of the accident. Unfortunately it was totalled (I was no worse for wear after being hit twice from the rear), and I was compensated according to the going value of that particular car. I was planning to drive it into the ground, so not really considering a sale price.

      However, I had tracked all car related expenese (including the purchase price, but excluding insurance and registration, as those will be similar with any car of that age), and was paying $0.389/mile (all in, not Net Cost) at the time of the accident. Over the six years and 101k miles I had the car I spent ~$14k for fuel, and ~$15k for service and repairs.

      As cars are a necessary expense, and with Google Sheets, and Google forms it is easy to track this kind of thing (simply enter the data at the gas station, or shop), tracking becomes very easy, and the decision to spend money on repairs also becomes easier (as an example, an increase of $0.02/mile for a repair, or much more to start over with a new/used car). This helps quanitfy how much is too much to spend on a repair, although I never reached that number, whatever it may be.

      In the end, I would have preferred not to have been involved in the accident (the rear facing dash-cam video got the insurance company of the truck directly behind me to concede their shared liability), and am now driving a 2014 Passat (petrol), which is so much better on fuel economy, but not nearly as comfortable a ride.

      So far, with only four fill-ups in the Passat, and less than 2K miles, I'm already down to less than $5/mile ... which took nearly 2500 miles with the Benz, so the trend so far is good.

      As another point of reference, I had a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan for 14 years, 269k miles, $35k in fuel, but only $8.6k in service/repairs, and it was at $0.268/mile when we donated it to charity. This too is a good point of reference as to what reliable looks like. There were what I considered major repairs at the time in that vehicle, but in hindsight, that was an economical vehicle, and had I been doing this tracking at its end of life, I may have decided to keep it.

      Cost per mile will continue to trend downward as long as you own a vehicle, but at some point will sort of level off. I hit the low point of $0.367/mile with the Benz at 221k miles, and then had some service expenses (brakes that were long overdue) that brought it back up a bit ($0.022/mile), at which point it started dropping off again at every fuel fill.

      So again, I find this tracking to be good for helping with the decision of repair or replace (at the vehicle level), but for me it will always gravitate toward repair. The car is a tool to be used, and it will wear and break, the Benz was wonderful, and the Passat is good (not my first VW) and I hope will prove reliable, but I am tracking for this purpose, no to see what unlikley monetary advance I might get ... or to determine the price to sell, after all, the market is the determining factor there. It has to be worth it to the buyer, and will always have some value to the seller (probably more than the buyer is willing to pay).

      Sorry for the long post, I was intriqued to find a like mind out there (what does my car really cost me?).

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      08-01-2020 11:49 PM #25
      Just about another year of ownership has gone by, so I'll update my number, in case anyone cares

      So here's my expenses to date, after 52.9 months of ownership and 64,350 miles, compared to previous (40mo/53k) #s:

      Purchase: $20,896.02* / $21,233.98
      Fuel: $4,248.62 / $5,259.22
      Routine Maint: $662.16 / $755.16
      Repairs: $0 / $0
      "Warm & Fuzzy": $548.50 / $627.50
      Insurance: $2441 / $3,196 (paid through 11/2020)
      Registration: $730 / $978 (paid through 3/2021)
      Est. KBB pvt party: ($11,000) / ($10,000)

      Net Cost: $18,863.30* or $471.58/month or $0.3559 per mile / $22,049.86 or $416.60 mo or $0.343 per mile
      *(note I missed a payment in previous calculation, this has gone up by $337 to be accurate)

      Cost per month has dropped by $55 (depreciation curve flattening). Also less miles per year than average due to COVID, and wife got a 2020 Prius Prime in Oct 2019, which is even better on gas (and TCO), so some mileage has been transferred to that vehicle.

      Cost per month breakdown:
      Depreciation: 212.25 50.95%
      Fuel: 99.37 23.85%
      Insurance: 60.38 14.49%
      Registration: 18.48 4.44%
      Maintenance: 14.27 3.42%
      Warm&Fuzzy: 11.86 2.85%
      Repairs: 0.00
      Total: 416.60

      Fuel note - average $/gal of gas during ownership: $3.11 - those who live in cheaper states will have fuel be a lower % of cost, especially if you bought a higher priced model - then your insurance and depreciation is likely higher as well. Although the lower gas price is partially or fully offset by my 38.44 mpg lifetime average so far.

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