Part 2: Car: True Cost of a Vehicle


How much does this 1999 Isuzu Rodeo cost us?

Right now we have put over 3,000 miles on it and it has cost us 51 cents a mile!  Not too bad!

How to calculate the true cost of a vehicle and why it makes sense to buy a used vehicle. Plus, this is the time to buy used vehicles because they are the cheapest.

In a strange way the more you drive the lower the cost per mile because the originial purchase price will spread across more miles.

Here is a spreadsheet you can download and use to calculate your cost per mile.

Click here to download car-cost-gas-log.ODS Spreadsheet

Fill in the grey fields and the yellow fields will calculate for you.

If you have car payments include them as separate transactions each month so you can see the money you have put into the vehicle.   As we all know cars depreciate and rarely appreciate, so it is a great way to see the actual cost of having the vehicle.  Remember to also include taxes and insurance.

Why calculate the true cost of the vehicle?

If you don’t drive the vehicle that much and the vehicle costs you about $30 + a day to drive it plus keep it because of car payments it might make sense to look for a cheaper vehicle.

How to find cheaper vehicles?

One of my all time favorite places to find cheaper vehicles is Craigslist and your local paper. That way you are either working with an owner or a local dealer.  I prefer owner.

Always have a mechanic look over the vehicle before buying.  This checkup can cost about $50 to $75 and is worth every penny because a mechanic can find out if the vehicle had been in a really bad accident.  A great place to learn about mechanics is at Car Talk.  Click here to visit Car Talk Mechanics Files. Your local mechanic can recommend cars that they are comfortable working on and that they know are reliable.  They also might know of owners interested in selling or dealers that have good deals too.

The next place is EBAY motors as long as you can see the vehicle before purchasing it and you are comfortable with that format. We have had a great luck selling and buying on EBAY.  I recommend looking for vehicles in your local area only.

Next look at dealers in your area but be aware that they will try and get the highest price out of you.  Right now they want to sell cars and especially with financing so you can get some good deals if you look hard enough and work a deal with them too.