Calculating the True Cost of Driving your car

By on April 10, 2014

Recently, I took the bus to an out of town meeting. As we headed out of the city, the thermostat dropped, snow flew, and winds whip up snow banks. Nonetheless, I made it to my appointment in a good mood with time to spare. Dozens of drivers, who insisted on driving their own vehicles on the highway during that blizzard, wound up in ditches anxiously waiting for tow truck drivers to rescue them. Not only didn’t they get their business done, many wound up with a hefty tow bill.

Getting a tow truck to pick you up during a snowstorm can be costly if you don’t belong to the Canadian Automobile Association or one its provincial affiliates. But even when the sun shines, leaving the car at home might be a good decision. That`s because ditching at least one set of your family’s wheels can fast track your savings.

Few Canadians seem willing to put savings ahead of the prestige of going everywhere by private car. Statistics Canada’s General Interest Survey, tells us that the proportion of people aged 18 and over who take a car everywhere, even if they have to be driven by someone else, rose from 68 per cent in 1992, to 70 per cent in 1998 and 74 per cent in 2005.

Astonishingly, during the same period, the number of people 18 and over who walked or bicycled declined from 25 per cent in 1992 to 19 per cent in 2005.

Our insistence on driving everywhere, and owning multiple family vehicles, could make our retirement plans, kids’ education, or home purchases unaffordable. According the Canadian Automobile Association’s Driving Costs 2013 Edition: Beyond the price tag: understanding your vehicle’s expenses, next to housing, your family’s automobile addiction is your largest expense.
To get a full picture of how much it costs to own your car, you have to look at both operating costs (which depend on how often and where you drive, the kind of car you drive, and what you spend on servicing and repairs ) and fixed costs (insurance, taxes, registration, finance, licences, and depreciation).

The CAA’s Driving Costs 2013 compared the costs of driving three 2013 vehicles: the 2013 Honda Civic LX (4 cylinder), 2013 Toyota Camry LE (4 cylinder), and the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox LT (4 cylinder).
The study found that Canadian averages for fixed costs on the selected models ranged from $6,482.16 to $8,854.80. Annual operating costs averaged between 14.53 cents to 16.67 cents per kilometre. Putting the full expense picture together, the costs of driving these three models ranged between $7,957.80 to drive the Civic LX 12,000 kilometres per year to $14,993.08 to drive the Equinox LT 32,000 kilometres per year.

Even if you and your spouse drive older model cars that you’re finished paying for, the costs of getting your family around town in them may surprise you.

The first step in taking charge of your transportation bill is knowing how big it is.

Use the Canadian Automobile Association’s calculator to calculate how much of a chunk of your family budget the vehicles in your household are taking. You can find it online on the CAA’s website.

Knowing just how much money you burn driving everywhere you go will probably make walking, biking or waiting at the bus stop, at least some of the time, a lot more attractive.

It’s true that not everyone can ditch the family car forever. If you ferry kids to school or soccer practice, live in a rural area, or use your car to earn a living, you may need to drive most days. But you can use your creativity to find ways to cut your driving costs. Why not start with a walk?  -TroyMedia

Jane Harris-Zsovan offers her readers practical money advice for the real world.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login