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The Real Cost of Driving

Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2009

By: David Retz (Expired article)

Solvang, California -

We usually estimate our cost of going somewhere by car based on the cost of gas. Not so! Did you know this is only about one third of your actual driving cost? An economical Ford Focus, for example, costs about 43 cents a mile; that means, a round-trip to LA is (in real expense) about $111.80. Read on to figure.

While fuel is a predominant cost in transportation, its really less than half of the total cost per mile. We often ignore other costs, considering them "incidental" expenses - but they're real.

Aside from fuel, here are some major charges associated with driving, with a downloadable Excel spreadsheet to prove it. You can figure out your own cost per mile, given the real expenses of maintenance, insurance, registration, and amazingly one of the largest: your amortized depreciation cost on your vehicle.
  • Registration Fee, SMOG Certification, Misc. Traffic Fees, Parking
  • Liability Insurance
  • Scheduled Maintenance (Oil Change, Tires, Brakes)
  • Unsheduled Repaires (parts & labor)
  • Amortized Depreciation Cost (over ownership period)
Note: this does not include the cost of financing using "auto loans". In that case, look at your loan agreement and find out the total cost including interest, and then use that as the amount paid for the car. This usually amounts to about a 50% (or more) increase of the actual cost of the car - amortized over a 4-5 year car loan period.

To download an excel spreadsheet: Cost Of Driving Spreadsheet

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