Cost of a car
December 15, 2009 1:51 PM   Subscribe

How do I calculate if getting a car is worth it?

Moving from NYC, I haven't had a car in many years. However, now that I'm in Baltimore it seems that many jobs are out in places where you need a car to reach. Having never, bought, leased, cared for, or had anything to do with a car ever in my life, how much money should I expect this to cost me yearly if I go the lowest cost route possible? Currently, I've got about 200 dollars a month to put towards anything car related.

I'm trying to figure out when comparing salaries what makes sense. For example I might only be able to find a job that pays 30k in the city, but there is job for 35k somewhere I could drive to. However, having a car costs 7k a year so I'd actually be losing money taking the job.
posted by josher71 to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Figure out what your insurance would cost. Geico and a few other national chains have free online quotes that (in my experience) are accurate. If you're a male under 25, your insurance premiums will be pretty high no matter what.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2009


Monthly cost of car (if leased, or purchased with a loan)
Monthly cost of gas (x miles per week, figure out the MPG, multiple out for monthly cost)
Monthly cost of insurance (liability-only might be OK if it's an old junker)
Monthly cost for repairs (I set aside X per month, every month, to handle future repairs, oil changes, etc)

For reference, I spend about $500 a month for my loan (~$280, 2004 CR-V just purchased for $12.5k), gas (~$80), insurance (~$60), and repair fund (~$80). That's $6,000 a year.
posted by nitsuj at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2009

There are the true cost to own, car cost, and real costs of car ownership calculators. AAA estimates that it costs $9,641 to drive a medium sedan 15,000 miles. You should also keep in mind that the cost of gas will increase.
posted by oceano at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2009

View this before you do anything. I wish I had taken this route about 20 years ago. You can do this and come out ahead... way ahead.
posted by ecorrocio at 2:17 PM on December 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

If you end up not having to commute, but still think you might want a car for some things, think about joining a carshare (ZipCar, for example). I'm in a non-profit version in my hometown, and it's pretty much the greatest thing ever.
posted by you're a kitty! at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2009

I pay about $1000/year for liability-only insurance in Baltimore, but I've had quite a few accidents. I generally buy old beaters though, around $2000 or so.
posted by electroboy at 11:07 AM on December 16, 2009

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