[my] real world vehicle TCO (total cost of ownership)

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The thread that started it for me. (I posted this on Bogleheads - the BITOG of index investing, and thought it would be good to share on here too. If too long, see summary below) Back on March 6th of 2016, at the age of 35, I purchased my first ever truly new vehicle: a 2016 VW Golf Sportwagen. It had 11 miles on it when I test drove it - with shipping packaging/stickers still - I was likely the first customer to ever drive it. Prior to this purchase, my "newest" vehicle was a 2005 Saturn Vue, purchased in 2012 with ~80k miles on it for $7200 - that was low for me! Under 100k - dang, that felt like a new car then. Going back to post-dieselgate VW, Winter 2015... I found myself reading up on the new Golf VII models and how well they drove, got rave reviews, etc. Hmm... how much does a wagon cost... Oh wow, with VWs troubles, you can get some really good deals - I continued to research (had read bad things of VW reliability in the past) and kept looking for deals. Test drove one locally, a 2015 for a good price, but really wanted the 2016 for cloth seats (the "vtex" pleather was too warm in summer, and a larger infotainment screen with backup camera and Android Auto - which was like getting navigation for free). Preferred the Silk Blue, with the dark grey/black interior and a 5 speed stick - the "base" model. The stick shift seemed to get the best mileage based on reports I'd read, plus it had the lowest MSRP - win, win. The lowly S model was very loaded coming from all my years of used cars. Great safety rating, all the conveniences I could want, drove sporty, yet quiet and felt well put together and was a step above in terms of quality, fit and finish for anything else you could buy new at the price I paid. Negotiated on 1 of 2 Silk Blue, 5MT, black interior that existed in California at the time. Drove 4.5 hours (each way) to buy it, was about to walk out over $700 price difference, when the finance manager met the price we wanted. Was $18,5xx I believe. I just paid off my Penfed loan today, after 40 months, so I know that I spent $20,896.02 all in: purchase price, interest payments, tax, title and license fees (not cheap in CA). Still not bad as the MSRP was $22,445, + destination. I decided to fully track expenses on this, instead of just gas and MPG like I had with previous cars. Prior to purchase I had estimated that a TCO over 11 years would be about $44k. We shall see if I keep it that long (not likely), but at least how it is lining up. One eye opening item (for me at least) was seeing just how much insurance and registration adds up, over time. We've used Geico for years and they were always the best price when I shopped around, and without owning expensive cars and having great driving records, our premiums were never high, but they still add up. 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 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 (now at 43 months and 60k mi, I'm at ~$465/mo -recent oil change, cabin/air filters, and headlight bulbs account for increase) *I get awesome MPG - 38.4 average so far. Part of that comes from my "warm and fuzzy" purchases (things that include roof racks, coil spring helper bags for heavy loads, etc - "want" items), which included OEM underbody aero panels that come on some Euro VW and/or Hybrid models for better efficiency. They should have paid for themselves by now with hwy MPG savings. Of course I leave the racks off except when needed - I'm all for efficiency. *CA gas - I have averaged $3.03 per gallon, 87, with this car *I DIY my maintenance. Details of that $662.16 include: $80 for oil extractor, $25 oil change/tire rotations, $25 spent on purchasing wax, $14 for Philips xtravision headlights, $10 cabin filter, $280 for new tires + installation (@ 46k mi), $5 keyfob battery, $42 on spark plugs... Other misc. notes: it felt weird to sell my Vue - it was a perfectly functioning car, why would I get rid of it? I spent more time detailing it and posting photos, than it was listed on CL for. Asked $2800, got $2500 within 3 hours of listing. Great timing and the kid who ended up with it got a solid, reliable car (also a 5sp stick) with ~145k when sold. I ran many purchase scenarios, and determined that a well-bought new car, wouldn't cost that much more than buying and selling used cars, over the long term. We get to drive around in a newer, featured, and most importantly, safer vehicle, without much increase in cost. Of course we have low expectations as you can see by my "expensive" new car purchase price laugh This wagon holds as much stuff (for camping/climbing/surfing) as my old Saturn Vue, yet returns 10 MPG better, is fun to drive, quieter and safer. I hope to continue to own it to 100k or 150k miles, if no major issues come up. A new Outback/Forester would likely replace it, based on cars available at this time. (we could use a little more room for gear and ground clearance on occasion for our trips - and would love the standard safety feature upgrade) Just wanted to share my experience - if you made it this far, thanks for reading! BITOG P.S. - I use M1 0w40 (bought with rebates of course!) and Mann/VW/Hastings filters, RLI Bio-plus in fuel, LC20 in oil Pic shows why we bought a wagon! Holds all that camping and climbing gear, 2x inflatable SUP boards, etc, and gets near 40 mpg!

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Sounds like you're doing a great job of motoring frugally while still riding in a very practical and nice vehicle. I think you found a nice balance.
 
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Nice writeup! Sounds like the VW treated you well, and it is a sharp looking wagon no arguing that. Smart choice with the manuals on both cars. Also I envy your storage space, I have to get at least that much gear in a G37 sedan + a 70lb dog who has multiple large memory foam beds and low key expects to be driven around on them like some kind of canine roman emperor.
 

surfstar

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^you can get a 4motion GSW or the slightly lifted Alltrack and give it a tune - that'll get you close (those also have 6spd MTX or the DSG, "regular" GSWs only get a "slushbox" in auto version) Just spent a while waxing it (its been a while - too many camping/climbing trips, great excuse) (Collinite 2x/yr) [Linked Image]
 
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surfstar

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Since we're likely to upgrade my wife's 2012 Mazda2 in the next year, I've been playing with TCO estimates... http://costcalculator.ce.gatech.edu/#tableTollsData is a great resource. I come up with $.26/mi for the ownership of my Saturn Vue. Which is also the estimate I've been coming up with for purchasing a used Kia Niro / Hyundai Ioniq, or $..29/mi for a new/CPO Prius. Running those cars to 100-150k miles. Due to the high mpg, if we get a hybrid, we'd try to limit the miles on the other vehicle (as said, likely a new Forester or Outback), which would cost more to run. My 2nd car that I owned for a long time and put on tons of miles, I estimate cost only $.16/mi. It was a 1993 Mazda MX6, bought in 2001 with 82k miles. I kept it until 345k. As we get older, have more savings and expenses, I can see the benefit of having a newer, safer vehicle. We do lots of weekend road trips. Looking forward to getting vehicles with advanced safety tech, like the new Toyotas, Hyundais and Subarus have (equipped on entry-level models). This is likely my last stick shift too - only a little sad about that. Funny enough, I've never owned one that had more than 5 speeds - always driving used cars and then this GSW kept the older, cheaper 5 spd (with wide ratios, which works great with the torquey turbo 4) cheers
 
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Strange it has a 5 speed. I thought all of the VW manuals went to 6 speeds years back. My '15 Passat had a 6 speed m/t. Your cost of ownership has been easily bested by my purchase of two new '15 models in '17. Got caught on the dealer lot when the EPA said no more selling. I bought the Golf S DSG TDI and the Golf Sportwagen DSG TDI for the combined price of $37,000. These cars also have an extremely comprehensive 162k mile warranty after the initial 3/36 bumper to bumper runs out next May. I average above 40mpg on both, well above on my freeway commuter. I have only performed maintenance items so far, hope it stays that way. I do like that color.

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Originally Posted by sloinker
Strange it has a 5 speed. I thought all of the VW manuals went to 6 speeds years back. My '15 Passat had a 6 speed m/t. Your cost of ownership has been easily bested by my purchase of two new '15 models in '17. Got caught on the dealer lot when the EPA said no more selling. I bought the Golf S DSG TDI and the Golf Sportwagen DSG TDI for the combined price of $37,000. These cars also have an extremely comprehensive 162k mile warranty after the initial 3/36 bumper to bumper runs out next May. I average above 40mpg on both, well above on my freeway commuter. I have only performed maintenance items so far, hope it stays that way. I do like that color.
My 17 is a 5 speed. 19+ is a 6 speed. I have driven some older TDIs that where 6 speeds.
 
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These are an even better value now that they are plentiful in the used market. 2016+ is the way to go and i've seen nice examples for 12k. Shame they will be discontinued in the united states of crossovers.
 
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I did some quick TOC calculations for my Rav4 and came up with $0.17 per mile. Over half the cost was for gasoline.
 

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Originally Posted by sloinker
Strange it has a 5 speed. I thought all of the VW manuals went to 6 speeds years back. My '15 Passat had a 6 speed m/t. Your cost of ownership has been easily bested by my purchase of two new '15 models in '17. Got caught on the dealer lot when the EPA said no more selling. I bought the Golf S DSG TDI and the Golf Sportwagen DSG TDI for the combined price of $37,000. These cars also have an extremely comprehensive 162k mile warranty after the initial 3/36 bumper to bumper runs out next May. I average above 40mpg on both, well above on my freeway commuter. I have only performed maintenance items so far, hope it stays that way. I do like that color.
If I didn't already have the TSI, I might have went for a TDI - those warranty's made them a deal. I did manage to find a couple TDIs that were able to be "flipped" back to VW and made a few bucks wink Yeah the 5spd MT was mated to the 1.8 TSI and the newest 1.4 TSI have a 6sp MT and an 8sp ATX now (and a great warranty for 2018/2019 years). Shame that 2019 is the last wagon year - stupid crossovers (although we are likely getting one in 2-3 years, but we actually go offroad and have in the GSW). A 2019 with the 1.4T should best my mpg #s by almost 10% - wish I had that engine/trans combo, as mine is plenty fast enough and I'd definitely take some more mpg over hp.
 
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Thanks for the great write up. People tend to discount all of the other associated costs of ownership. You correctly noted them.
 
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I dont think you really want the 1.4 Surfstar. The 6mt would be nice but the 1.8 is such a great engine. Only if you are stuck idling a lot would you see significant MPG improvements on top of what you are pulling off. 1.4 is in boost more, and is more limited in power potential. Maybe you get 10% better on the 1.4 at the expense of engine longevity and future tuning/upgrade. What is that, a cent per mile in fuel? All your other costs would be the same. Maybe get another vehicle for offroad trips and lower your golf an inch. That would get you better mileage and handling. A simple flash tune turns a 1.8 GSW into a beast. Since it is a shorter stroke version of the GTI engine it can handle a bump to the 250-300hp range without breaking a sweat. Not sure if the 1.4 can be turned up safely. I did the IS20 turbo and tune and its arguably overpowered for front wheel drive. I suggest the basic APR 87 stock turbo tune as that would be a good level of power for fwd. I would have done that one if i didnt have a nice GTI turbo fall in my lap. Fuel econ wont go down if your not roasting tires.
 

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Originally Posted by Cujet
Thanks for the great write up. People tend to discount all of the other associated costs of ownership. You correctly noted them.
After running the numbers, I convinced myself that a new car wasn't that much more than a couple of used ones, so I figured I needed to track everything to see if my hypothesis holds up. *knock on wood* no repairs so far (but I'm also using Geico's mechanical breakdown insurance - only an extra $50/yr and its basically an extended warranty to 7yr/100k with a $250 deductible.) I've almost spent 25% of the purchase price on fuel so far and I'm only at 60k miles. Yes CA has higher gas prices, but I'm also averaging 38.4 mpg - the EPA hwy rating is 35/36! Dareo - yeah, the 1.8 is great. Plenty of power and awesome economy. I think the 1.4 would definitely be in boost more when our wagon if fully loaded on road trips. Likely less than 10% increase in mpg as you've noted. I'm on stock 195 width 15s still - no way it could handle a tune. I can't floor 1st gear even on smooth/fresh pavement - way too easy to overcome grip. I bet yours is quite fun with the turbo and tune!
 
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This winter will be my first tuned run of the stock wheels wearing X ice tires. I probably wont be able to floor it until 3rd gear on those. I run a general summer tire in warmer seasons, i think 225 45 17 and it shreds those in 1st and often 2nd. You just learn to be careful with the gas pedal. The summer rubber does cost gas mileage but the tune itself, assuming self control is in place, does not. It actually does pretty well when hot rodding it around considering the power generated. The 1.8 just runs so well stock or APR tuned. If i was buying the car again today it would be an AWD S trim, probably the same blue you have, 6MT, APR Plus tune. However, i moved, and now driving in a 4 mile radius for nearly everything so i wish my golf was a mustang gt or something. MPG is of low concern to me now.
 
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Nice. I didn't properly track TCO on my TDi but a quick look at my scant records showed 6.9c/m for fuel; depreciation was was 7.9c/m. Repairs had to be at least 2c/m and I'd guess nearly that for maintenance too. That car wasn't a good cheap one but it was what I wanted at the time. 21c/m for a guess? My current commuter is hanging out around 17c/m, for depreciation, fuel, repairs, reg & ins. I shudder to think what the numbers will like if I run my truck.
 
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