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Auto ownership costs

The attached link discusses the costs of keeping an.older car vs. getting a new one. The costs are not comparable to today’s, simply due to the time difference involved, but the methodology of the accounting is still sound. For the “The good old days were better, cars were easier to work on” crowd, I invite you to see what was considered normal maintenance in the past.

To my friend @Triedaq, an esteemed fellow geezer, I thought of you as I read this.

Sorry ADHD or whatever. Too much to read. My take, bought a 2003 Windstar, after all expenses with no major repairs and traded it in after 11 years due to whacko guages and lights with no probable working repair the cost was $218 A MONTH. Wife needs dependable vehicle for 250 mile road trip to visit her mom. Lease a car for $200 a month, total guarentee, no brakes no tires, then do it again, save $18 a month for no worries, that is my story. Though I still drive an 03 and run it till it dies, 2 sides to every coin.

You are talking apples to oranges, You can’t lease a Windstar equivalent for $200 or even $300 a month. A 7 passenger van just plain costs more to own than a small econocar like your wife drives. Every lease I have seen recently comes with bank fees and what if you go over on the miles . They also require $100,000/$300,00 full coverage insurance.

Yes you are right, first 3 years was the 2014 optima, $200 a month, not a van for sure but it met all our needs, upgraded to a 2017 Rav4, all the bells and whistles for $300 A Month, no down payment for either, Not going over on miles, Insurance was pretty much the same except for the $5 a month for Gap insurance I learned about on this board. Always had 150/300k coverage so no problem there.

As a car ages the risk of ownership increases. That risk is the possibility of an expensive failure. Drive long enough and more risk comes from parts availability. Tempering that risk is the desire and ability to service your own car and to what point. I will do brakes but I am getting close to the point of not replacing a transmission.

The risks are unknowns so can only be estimated. That mucks up the financial decision point. Same for the risk of accident. I can spend $3K to repair a trsnsmission on a car worth $5K that gets totaled a week later in a minor fender bender. That can’t be predicted.

Leasing cars or buying new every 4 years somthe car is never out of warranty is essentially like buying “driving insurance”. No different than buying a home warranty or extended warranty on a new purchase. And most money- minder types like recommend against that. But people still buy 'em cause they sleep better at night and there is value in that, too.

Oh, no! Wait a minute, my state requires that! If the state requires insurance and dictates the minimum coverage, is it a tax? It sure acts like one, IMO.

Think of it instead, as an unfunded mandate.

Oh, you mean, like, a tax, or maybe a government revenue stream!

For most buyers, the biggest cost is the original purchase price. Buy something you can pay cash for and it should bring the cost down.

As far as lease vs buy, if your mileage needs fit the lease, then buying makes sense only when you keep the car for more than 7 yrs. So if you are going to get bored of the car in 3 yrs, might as well lease.

In my case, I usually buy 1-3 yr old used cars and try to get rid of them before they become a constant money pit.

I tend to buy ( or lease ) new every 3 years for the peace of mind of always being " in warranty" and not having to worry about maintenance other than oil changes. I’ll hopefully be turning in the current car in August and not needing another.

I find it pretty easy to figure out fun ways to spend the $$'s each month I’d otherwise be spending on new car payments. However, if you just don’t want the burden of doing your own repairs, maybe you have no time for that in your schedule even if you wanted to do it, somewhere around the 10 year mark I’d say is the time for a trade in. If you have to pay an invoice for parts and labor for each service you need, the economics change. A lot.

Bought a new Camry 7 1/2 years ago, fluids,filters, and brakes and tires so far. For some reason Toyota extended the transmission warranty to 10 years/150,000 miles on this car and insists it needs no fluid changes just inspect for leaks or bring it in if a transmission temp light comes on, so I am doing nothing to the transmission before 10 years so as not to endanger the warranty.

The extended warranty is for the torque converter, most of them develop a shudder around 35-45 MPH speed, somewhere between 40K miles to 100K miles.

Also, on the transmission fluid, check your manual, I believe for severe driving condition (which is pretty much every condition known to us) you will have to change the fluid. There are videos online on how to do it or have the dealer wash the fluid/wallet.

Wait. What? Are you implying that is a bad thing or good thing?

I own a half dozen cars and have $250,000/$500,000 liability and Full coverage collision with no deductible, uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage, etcetera, on all of them.

That minimal level of liability is required by my Liability Umbrella Policy, which covers well beyond these basic car policies..

For anybody with assets valuable enough to protect, having this insurance is just common sense.

Inadequately insured? Some people consider it a savings and take their chances. I can’t leave it to chance.



Think of it as the state making sure that if you crash into me, I’m not going to take everything you own including your dog to pay the damages.

Driving is a privilege, not a right. Part of earning that privilege includes your being responsible enough to mitigate the potential harm you can cause while operating a 2-ton death machine. Unfortunately, some people can’t be bothered to be responsible unless they’re forced to, and the rest of us who are responsible should not have to suffer for their stupidity.


When I point out the insurance requirement for a leased car, I have no idea of the assets or pocketbook of potential readers, just pointing out that there is a cost difference in the between a 100/300 full coverage policy and our states 10/20 liability only requirement.

I am definitely not a fan of mandates or unnecessary laws that cannot or will not be enforced. However, I agree with @ shadowfax. I want other motorists to have liability coverage.

Furthermore, in my opinion, 10/20 liability is a joke and should never be allowed as a minimum. Our state has a higher minimum requirement, but my agent will not insure anybody for that minimum as it is inadequate. She will lose a customer over it and send them elsewhere for insurance.


I did not advocate for 10/20 liability, just pointed out what it was, also if you have an old car, no need for collision but it is required for a lease or a new car loan for that matter.

I know I should carry auto insurance, and I would whether the state required it or not, since I have too much to lose without it. I also think the requirement is good for all state residents. If the state doesn’t collect the fee, it can’t be a tax. I was just having a little fun with the requirement and who initiated it.

I haven’t looked at all this and the comments but I did have a similar conversation with a guy at work 30 years ago. I bought new cars and he always fixed old ones. So we sat down and listed all the stuff he had to fix and how often and compared it to just buying a new car. I won.