Non-depreciation cost of owning a car?
April 13, 2014 8:20 PM   Subscribe

My fiancee and I are thinking about buying a new or new-ish Toyota Matrix, but it's apparently really hard to get an accurate picture of how much it costs to own and operate a car that doesn't include depreciation. Any suggestions or insight?

Yes, depreciation is a real thing, but it isn't an added expense sucking cash out of your wallet every month.

Details: Ottawa, clean driving records, over 30.
posted by Decimask to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
In General, $100.00 dollars a month Insurance cost, $500.00 a year repair and maintenance (oil changes, etc), $40.00 a week gas. If sales tax is applied where you live, on 14,000 dollars it's generally something like $1200.00, plus a modest license and title fee.

Of course all these are huge variables. I'd start my contacting a reparable insurance agent, someone with a local office. Ask them to quote you cars that you are interested in prior to purchase.

Research the cars. You can go for something very, very fuel efficient...and get gas cost down to much of nothing, depending on your daily driving range. Spend ALOT of time researching to make sure the car you get is right for you.

Contact your local version of Canada's "Department of Motor Vehicles", and ask them percentage of sales tax, cost of license and title fees. You don't want to end up with a $40,000 dollar Prius that gets 180 MPG, and come to find out you have a $6,000.00 tax bill.

(If your local area applies Property tax, this will be a extra added cost. If you know who the "County Collector" is, then you more than likely have Property taxes.

This should get you off to a fairly good start. Good luck.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:41 PM on April 13, 2014

The Kelly Blue Book cost-to-own calculations are broken out by category, with deprecation specifically treated as a separate item that's added onto the operating costs. I share your frustration - if you plan to drive a car into the ground, deprecation isn't a real question the way gas costs or insurance is - but with a little extra legwork, and the right sources for your data, you should be able to get the numbers you're looking for without too much trouble.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:55 PM on April 13, 2014

...Oof. Sorry, my bad - I didn't notice the "Ottowa" part, and pointed you toward a US site that doesn't even include the Matrix as an option. Mea culpa.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:57 PM on April 13, 2014

I'm not sure if this factors into your considerations or not, but the Matrix has been discontinued, so potentially that could factor into upkeep (eg, parts replacement) if you're thinking really longterm...
posted by TwoStride at 9:01 PM on April 13, 2014

Wait, nevermind. I just ran across a post that claims the Matrix will still be carried in Canada but maybe only for another year? Lucky for you guys! It's a great little car.
posted by TwoStride at 9:09 PM on April 13, 2014

The Matrix has not been discontinued in Canada and is based on the Corolla platform so parts availability should be fine.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 PM on April 13, 2014

Even if a car is discontinued, parts will remain available for years. (From memory, in the US they are required to maintain availability for seven years, but that may be inaccurate.) And even if support is discontinued, there are used and aftermarket parts available. So that's not an immediate problem.

For the costs, this can't really be answered in the abstract. You usually will have insurance, maintenance, registration (and possibly required emissions and/or safety certification), and gas, but all of those will vary depending on the car, your location, and your driving habits. Sometimes parking is a separate cost and sometimes parking is just embedded in your housing cost. And then there are unpredictable costs, like uninsured repairs after getting run into, say. Maintenance gets averaged over the long term, but you pay it in big (and unpleasant) lumps -- tires might last for 50,000 miles, but you buy them on one afternoon, for example. And there are the transaction costs (tax, etc) of buying a vehicle -- again, paid once but averaged over the time you own it, if you want a per mile or per kilometer cost.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:20 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

your local version of Canada's "Department of Motor Vehicles"

That would be the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:21 PM on April 13, 2014

Just to chime in that yes, even if a car model was discontinued, if it's something like a Matrix (where there are a bazillion of them made for years) then parts will be available.

(My current car was discontinued four years ago; my last was discontinued three years before I bought it/fourteen years before I sold it, and the car before about the same. My first car was eight years old when I got it; it had been discontinued five years earlier, then I drove it for an additional twenty years. Never had a bit of trouble with parts for any of 'em.)
posted by easily confused at 2:47 AM on April 14, 2014

CAA has a car cost calculator
posted by exois at 7:03 AM on April 14, 2014

We've owned a 2010 toyota matrix base model for three years and about 30,000 miles (~53k on the odometer). It was a former rental. So far, there have been the following expenses (all in US Dollars)

Tires: Snow tires (about 500 USD) and really good tires to replace the cheap stock tires (about 500 USD). We expect these tires to last us for most of the rest of the life of the car(or as long as we own it), since they are warranted for 70-90 thousand miles a set.

Oil changes: 30-50 dollars, depending on the shop, every 5,000 miles.

Alignment each spring because we live in pothole country: less than 100 USD, comes along with the spring tire swap.

Car washes to get salt off in the winter: ~$20 a month

Insurance: A few hundred a year or more, depending on your local market. I have no idea how insurance works in Canada. A really dumb accident (I rear-ended a pickup) both ate the 500 dollar deductible and has significantly increased the amount we pay for insurance.

As others have mentioned, the Matrix is, for all intents and purposes, a Corolla with a hatch. Parts are cheap and plentiful, and will be forever. So far, we haven't had any maintenance issues, and don't expect to have any (except things that wear out, like brakes) until at least another 50,000 miles have gone by.
posted by rockindata at 7:06 AM on April 14, 2014

Another thing I'll add to the pile: Nowadays, the manufacturer should be able to give you a good forecast of recommended maintenance. In addition to the "consumables" like tires and brakes already listed, there are a lot of $100-200 things like "fuel system flushes" that shops will try to sell that aren't really necessary.
posted by cebailey at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2014

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