Car cost calculator

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May 4, 2005
Curious about how much I spend on car stuff, I made a little Excel spreadsheet. Really interesting. I was blown away by how overwhelming a cost tires are for me (2nd only to gas), far greater than all maintenance items put together.

Anyway, I'd like to share if anybody's interested. Is there a way to attach an Excel spreadsheet to a post?

- Glenn
The only way I've found to attach excel files are to copy them and save as a .jpg/gif/etc file, upload to your photo website and link as a photo.

During an OCI, I spend so much on gas (even getting 30+ MPG) compared to the oil, that I don't mind runnning M1 oil even if a dino would suffice. The $10-15 difference would get me a third of a tank of gas.

Since tires are up there, I search and search for a good wearing and performing tire for a good price. 60k mile H rating AA traction is what I found, just recently for my newest tires.
Depreciation and finance costs generally are higher than gasoline. After those three would be insurance (assuming 15m miles annually over five years).

See EDMUNDS TRUE COST TO OWN calculator for vehicles from the last five years.
In my case depreciation is zero. The car is a high mileage older BMW. If it's worth anything, it'll be worth just as much or just as little a year from now.

No, for me the biggest cost is gas, then tires, then insurance, then oil/filter changes, and it goes down from there. I drive it 30k a year which helps make for that balance. If I drove much less or used cheap tires, then yes insurance would move up to second place.

Certainly on a newer car depreciation could easily dwarf the fuel cost. One excellent reason to have older cars and keep them a long time, if you can hack doing that. I love these old things, so I'm happy.

Actually, the main reason I did the spreadsheet was to find out the accumulated cost of things like using techron, MMO, expensive vs. cheap oil, BMW vs Zerex coolant, and stuff like that. I did it so I can look at each of those on a cents-per mile, cents per gallon of gas, dollars per month/year, etc, whatever basis. It is very instructive. Including all fluids, additives and the like I only spend ~$300 a year on maintenance, while spending around $2200 on fuel, another $300 on insurance and $480 on tires. So, a few pennies here and there for better fluids or more frequent service intervals, or other stuff to keep it running a long time, is really pretty insubstantial when it comes to the big picture. And I learned that each time I fill up the tank, the $2.20 I pay for each gallon of gas corresponds to around $1.12 in other expenses, or around 50% of the fillup amount at todays gas prices.

- Glenn
Insurance appears to be a lower cost in the US, which makes the high number of uninsured drivers in some areas ever scarier. Do most US states have some type of consumer protection laws that prevent Insurance company ripoffs. What we have seen here in Canada is that Insurance companies jacked up rates for car insurance in the early 2000s not because of increased claim costs, but because they got burned on the stock market slide. So I end up paying an extra $80 a month on my car insurance so that they can afford to pay someone else's life insurance claim. I have no argument with the idea of pooling risk and costs that is the foundation of insurance, but why I should pay more for car insurance because the company invested foolishly is hard to swallow.

It seems that we get rooked in Ontario for insurance costs. In the early 1990s the idiot government of the day instituted a 'no fault' insurance plan, which seems to translate into "everyone's fault".

Anyhow, because I drive older cars that suffer minimal depreciation, but require more maintenance, my costs would rank:

1. Insurance
2. Regular maintenance
3. Gasoline
4. Tires
A spreadsheet is a great idea. I've done one in the past, and I've concluded it is far better to keep a car and drive it into the ground than trade it in for a car that gets a few more MPGs. Do your own car maintenance, too.

That's generous of you to want to post your spreadsheet, but you won't find too many takers becasuse of the chance of viruses. Personally, I wouldn't open an Excel spreadsheet posted on a forum. You're better off posting a PDF picture of the spreadsheet showing what you've done.
It is scary how much money we spend on our cars. what would be interesting to know when you should keep fixing a car and putting money into it or junk it. I guess everyone has their $$$ limit. I tend to think about not how much money I put in the car but if it was a maintenance or an unexpected repair. If your spending alot of $$$ on unexpected repairs, time to say goodbye
One of the factors that keeps me from trading vehicles more often is sales tax. Thats between several hundred to over a grand depending upon the sticker price.
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