lifestyle simple living transport

Another reason to give up your car

A couple of months ago I listed ten reasons to give up your car. Here’s one I missed: the cost.

According to a recent survey, the annual cost of running a car has risen to £3,089. That’s a 21% rise on last year, down to high oil prices and some bizarre shenanigans within the insurance industry.

Think about that figure for a second. If you weren’t running your own car, you could spend £50 a week on taxis and still come out better off. If you’re earning an average UK wage, almost 13% of your working hours go towards your car – that’s one whole morning a week. If you sold the car and got a bike, you could afford a six week sabbatical every year. Or perhaps you could tighten the belt a little more and just work four days a week. Hurrah.

7 comments

  1. Jeremy,

    Amen, brother! I figured I probably saved in the neighborhood of $3k-$5k last year by getting rid of my car and biking to work. Add to that the horrible industries you support with a car (oil companies – even if you have an hybrid – and the insurance “racket”).

    Plus, if I can’t make it to the gym for a few weeks, I’m still getting exercise everyday on the commute in.

    Cheers,
    Joshua

  2. Thing is, what-it-costs-to-run-a-car figures always include depreciation – and the figure is massive. If, however, you had a new car, and no intention of selling it, then those figures are fallacious, and the total comes crashing down (depreciation only comes into play if you sell.

    A modern car is easily capable of providing 20-30 years of sterling service if looked after and not crashed. Nobody actually NEEDS a new car every few years.

  3. That’s definitely true, depreciation on cars is very steep and I’ve never really understood why anybody buys a new car at all. Newer cars generally get better mileage however. If you traded up a 20 year old car for a 5 year old car, you’d probably save the money in petrol.

    However, the killer factor in the average here isn’t depreciation, it’s insurance. My brother passed his driving test this year. He needed a license for a new job, but he’s unlikely to be driving anytime soon – his insurance quote came in at over £4,000. For young drivers just out of university and starting at the bottom of the earnings ladder, you’re not looking at 10% of your wages. It’s more like a quarter or a third.

  4. Not only are depreciation and insurance large cost factors- maintenance and repair can be extremely costly as well. As an example, my boyfriend of 9 months bought a car about a year ago for $1300 (we are Americans currently living in Seattle). Not only does he pay $100/month for insurance, $120/month for gas, and $10/month on oil changes, but since I’ve met him, he has spent $800 on fixing the brakes due to a bad ABS computer and $250 on two new tires (his insurance only covers accidents). Yesterday morning he got in the car to go to work and the engine wouldn’t start. Who knows how much it will cost to fix it…

    Even though I do benefit from him owning a car if we go out of the city, I don’t own a car. I can take the bus to work and anywhere else I want to go in the city, or use a Zipcar (http://www.zipcar.com/is-it/). I only pay $40-$100/month for transportation…

    Owning a car just doesn’t add up!

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