Do you understand the true cost of owning your car? Many people simply do not. DC Streets Blog recently ran a piece, Our Mobile Money Pits: The True Cost of Cars, reporting that in 2009 the average price of a single new vehicle was $27,000. This paled in comparison to their estimate that in a lifetime of car ownership, an American family will likely “invest” almost $1 million in its vehicles.
Regardless of whether you agree with this statistical argument or not, there is merit inherent in what has been said. The cost of owning a car extends far beyond the price per gallon you pay to fill your tank. Consider your annual insurance premiums which can fluctuate depending on the plan and corresponding deductible. Then, there is the cost of routine maintenance (oil change, tire rotation, part replacement, etc.) – which typically increases with vehicle age – and a vehicle’s reliability, value, and make and model to also consider.
To further extend this point, automobile accidents can have long-term financial implications as insurance costs increase and car repair bills mount. These factors shouldn’t surprise anyone; in fact most people probably are aware of these costs. I think it’s fair to say, though, that we tend to think less about them on a day-to-day basis or when purchasing a new car, because they are probable costs. That is, they are not definite, and it’s easy for people to look past them. Consider that,
while rent or mortgage remains the largest budget item for the average household, transportation now comes in a close second, and in some zip codes it even exceeds housing. Transportation swallows one out of every five dollars earned by the average American family, double the bite it took in 1960. (DC Streets Blog)
Fact is, we live in a car dependent society. It’s easy to forget about the costs of car ownership when driving to work is the most convenient and viable option. But does the way people view the cost of owning a car breed mass transportation apathy and indifference toward the advancement of mobility and transportation alternatives? If we assume the car is the only realistic option and ignore the financial burden, who is going to influence public officials or raise awareness surrounding new transportation initiatives? Do you agree, disagree?