Lowest cost to run?

freedeeJanuary 29, 2008

I need to buy a used car for my brother in Florida. I tried to research comparisons of the cost to own cars, and didn't have any luck. Does anyone know where I can find a comparison chart on car ownership?

We are looking ofr a car with good gas mileage and it can be small. We are looking so spend under 4,000.-

Thanks so much for your help.

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The Edmunds car site has a feature called True Cost to Own, which factors in depreciation, fuel, insurance, repairs, etc., and comes up with a true cost to own. However, it only goes back to 2003, and many of the vehicles you are going to be considering for $4,000 would be older than that. The site might still be helpful to find makes/models that tend to have a low cost per mile of ownership, even if the one you are considering buying is older than 2003.

However, on a $4,000 car, the Edmunds site could also steer you in the wrong direction, because depreciation is your friend and not your enemy. Unlike the new car or newer used car buyer who wants a vehicle that holds its value, you want a vehicle that has lost most of its value, because that means you get a newer car, with less miles, for your $4,000. The GM N-cars come to mind as a possible good deal (Grand Am, 2003 and earlier Chev. Malibu) because they're inexpensive to buy and pretty cheap to repair, too. The Ford Ranger is a workhorse that's pretty good on gas if it has a 4-cylinder, and it hasn't been changed substantially in almost 20 years, so it's easy to find parts for, and they're relatively cheap. There are tons available used for low prices.

Here is a link that might be useful: Edmunds True Cost to Own

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Thanks so much for your reply. That was very helpful. I wasted alot of time searching and didn't find that site.

I'm going to post another question about buying a car on ebay. I found some deals that seem to good to be true.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 4:48PM
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Not sure what that site is telling me. I looked up a couple cars, one being an HHR. The table shows the cost to maintain a 2008 as high, and a 2007 as low. How can that be? Odds are the '08 has had more bugs worked out than the '07. Also, the '08 would have a fresh warranty. I can see the overall cost to own a used '07 being less than an '08 due to depreciation, but maintenance costs? Someone will have to explain that one to me.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 2:56PM
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Gary, I'm comparing the 2007 HHR to the 2008 HHR. I think what you might be seeing is a difference in what Edmunds calls "operating expenses" compared to what you do. As you said, the 2007 HHR shows the little arrow points on the operating cost and depreciation cost scales at the lowest point. However, the 2008 HHR shows operating cost between medium and high, while depreciation cost is at the medium point.

However, if you look at the numbers on the table, the numbers for maintenance are identical for the '07 and the '08, going from $225 the first year to $1,876 the fifth (not sure how you'd spend $1,876 on maintenance -- remembering that repairs are a separate category -- but that's what they say). Repairs, however, come in lower on the new one ($754 on the '08 versus $1,176 on the '07).

But apparently for the purpose of placing the arrows on the scales, they categorize everything but depreciation as "operating expense" -- so operating expense includes fuel, interest, maintenance, repair, insurance, taxes and fees. So it's the interest, taxes, and insurance that push the "operating" cost of the '08 higher than the '07, not the maintenance and repair.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 5:58PM
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