Have You Ever Tallied Up All Your Vehicle-Related Subscriptions? You May Be Shocked

Car Talk tallied up the subscription costs folks pay today. Guess what? It costs more than the car!

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Let’s see… lemme add this up… carry the one, well… the total is… Zero.

I have none. No subscriptions at all.


We have sirrus, wife keeps calling when price jumps up for 12.95 a month for a year. I had no idea there was a subscription fee for self driving cars!


No fes here. No one is selling a self driving car.

/just the annual AAA membership, Dad used to have Sirius but didn’t find it worthy of the annual cost.

The very idea of “subscribing” to add-on services in a car is a foreign concept to me, something I cannot even wrap my head around. It makes just as much sense to me as the idea that the Earth is flat, or the moon is made of cheese. Anyone trying to convince me otherwise might as well be speaking some long-lost language that no one today could understand.

You know what else is a foreign concept to me? The idea of writing a check each month for a depreciating asset. The idea of financing a vehicle itself–let alone paying for add-on services on a monthly basis is a foreign concept which just makes no sense. An old car with no monthly payment and no “subscriptions” makes plenty of sense to me.


I think people must have to much disposable income. Sure I am retired but remember growing up if I spend $100 on this, that might be $100 I want someday. Now me and the wife buy it if you want it, we do not suffer day to day, had a retiree ask me when do the pension checks come in, I have no idea, I pay bills 2 times a month, and golf bud says you must be so rich you do not even care. I said we spend what we need to spend and save what we can.

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We one one vehicle that has Siris capability. It’s just not worth it.

I’ll NEVER EVERY buy and extended warranty. This is one of the DUMBEST purchases. I looked at what this article says the annual cost of Carshield is. $1,200/year. That’s absurd? Must be a typo. In any case I’d never get one.

Vehicle Wi-Fi…WHY? So my passengers can use my data. Use your own data. Pretty much everyone over the age of 10 these days owns a smart phone with a data plan.

I do have Spotify…The Free version. It does use my data, but I have unlimited minutes plan. And Spotify doesn’t use much data. A 4 hour trip listening to Spotify used less then 500mb. With the Free plan I have to listen to commercials. But the commercials are fewer then listening to any Radio station. And the Spotify sound quality is close to CD quality. Far better then any local station. And I get to listen to the music I like all the time.

AAA membership - NOPE. I have a rider on my Car insurance policy. $10/year.

Books-on-Tape. This can be FREE. Why pay for it?

The car world is marching ever faster to a subscription service model of car “ownership.” You won’t actually own the car, you will rent it from GM, Tesla or Lexus in a subscription model like many people do with their phones (not me!).

Leasing is just step one on the slippery slope. Extended warranty is step two. OnStar-like service is step three. Unlimited car-wash or oil change service is step four.

Roll them together from a single provider that will insure the the car as well and the future is all laid out with a single monthly price for the vehicle in the driveway.

GM was there in the 80s with sales and service, GMAC for financing, and MIC for insurance. Vertical integration on the build side and on the after-sale side. I don’t think GM had the foresight to offer it. I don’t think the public was ready for it.


If you write a check for a used vehicle there is not much chance of it increasing it’s value . You have many threads asking for help with your vehicles and not everyone wants to put up with that . Plus the fact that many peole have jobs that require they be there on time or those jobs just might not be there if they miss too many days. So having an late model dependable vehicle with payments could be called a necessary expense .

Or in our case having a vehicle payment might be cheaper than withdrawing funds from our brokerage account and paying taxes on it.


We used to have the towing coverage through our insurance, you’ve probably had better luck than us but the one time we called for a tow (minivan would stall after 30sec) they treated us like we were trying to get a free tow for a junk car. Even though it’s more expensive AAA has always come through for us and as quick as possible.

Get a different insurance company.

With the towing rider - I pay upfront, then get reimbursed by the insurance company. Only had to use it once but it was very easy. Submitted the towing claim on-line and had my check with 100% reimbursement in less then a week.

Problem with AAA is that in many areas in the country there aren’t a lot of AAA tow companies. Where my brother lives in central NY the closest AAA is 2-3 hours away. And HOPEFULLY the guys not busy. If he is then if you’re lucky he’ll show up the next day. Good luck with that.

I can call ANY valid tow company. I don’t need to wait for AAA.


We’ve had a different experience, Now it works the way you describe, you can use any company and get reimbursed going online. Years ago it wasn’t so simple.

That is the big problem I have with AAA

We have AARP, not sure who they go through, nothing except great reviews. Of course I could have saved money not having the plan, mostly for my daughter as she has had a few times to call, one was 40 miles to a mechanic bud when her timing chain broke. One for us was maybe 20 years ago, flat tire, busted a stud as the bolts were rusted, called, guy busted another stud, then towed us to a place he knew was open on Sunday, 60 miles maybe, shop got us fixed up and out by 11.30. Other was nail in the sidewall, tire shops all booked up on Friday as we were leaving Sat. Guy came out and had a heck of a time lowering spare as the plastic crank was broken. He wrestled with that for maybe 20 minutes, put the spare on and helped put the tire on the roof rack, so we could do the 500 mile drive. Got the tire replaced after the drive, sure it was a 17 year old spare, but I did not go over 80mph.

The only vehicle wireless service in either of my cars is my cell-phone for emergencies, the subscription for which is $10/year. Other than that, somehow I’m able to get by with listening to the radio. Oh the humanity!! … lol …


I remember the olden days, predictions were 2 to 300 a month for phone service. I thought that is insane, now have just over $400 a month for me, wife daughter cell, internet and dish tv.

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I still use a land-line phone for inside. I might be a rare commodity on this point, as it’s quite expensive, like $40/month. I prefer that method b/c of the better sound quality, and the functionality to screen calls that a separate answering machine provides. I’d guess 90% of the calls I receive are from telemarketers.


Off tangent, we have at&t for landline and internet, I called to disconnect the landline as all we get is junk calls, it was $50 a month if we kept the landline, $60 if we dropped it. Go figure.

We had a landline to a monitoring station going through a warehouse. The guy who owned the warehouse decided to remove all the wires, reason unknown, AT&T no longer running land lines and had to switch to a wireless solution.

AARP uses Allstate’s roadside assistance program, at a discount. As with AAA they dispatch whichever company they have a contract with that can get to you first. Might not be as useful in more rural areas but for our usual travels it works. My brother had to get a tow from Mt. Baker Ski Resort where he was working at the time which would have cost $300 and his $75/yr (at the time) AAA membership covered the tow and he still had 2 tows left on that plan. Back in the early 2000’s.

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