Saturday, July 05, 2008

3 cars, 2 drivers: is an extra car worth it?

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Jude and I have been discussing getting a newer, larger car for our family. Currently, we have a 1998 Chevy Truck (Jude's work vehicle - 371,000 miles) and my 1996 Saturn SL (226,000 miles) . We've been doing some research about the model in which we would be interested, the insurance costs, the difference in fuel economy.

Jude raised the question - would it be worth keeping the Saturn as an extra car, instead of simply replacing it with a large sedan? I've already discussed to some degree the reasons we are considering a new car.

The savings would be fuel-related, and here are the places we think there might be a benefit.

Going different directions - there are several times during the course the year when Jude and I both need vehicles at the same time, aside from Jude's work. If Jude could take a car instead of his truck, he could save about 12 mpg in fuel economy, compared to driving the truck. Based simply on recollection, there about 5 trips of 200 miles each in a year (or about 1000 miles)

Running Errands - During my weekly shopping trips, I don't need a bigger vehicle. I can fit what I need in the Saturn - about 40 miles each week.

Taxes - We would be able to deduct most of the insurance expense of Jude truck, because there would be much less personal use of the vehicle.

Additional notes - having a third car would not completely replace the personal use of the truck. There are times when a truck it the thing to use - hauling trailers, helping people move, construction projects - those are regular parts of our lives, and we would end up using the truck, anyway for those events.

The Cost Break Down

To keep the Saturn, we would pay about $240 a year for liability insurance. Property tax is about $60. Add on about $150 of maintenance costs (this is over shooting a little - it includes oil changes, air filters, and maybe something else?) Cost to keep the Saturn (barring any major repairs) - $450

If fuel prices stay where they are or go even higher that's where we'll see the savings. Let's pretend that gas will stay at $4.00 a gallon for the next year.

If Jude drove the large sedan instead of the truck for 1000 miles, and the sedan gets about 25 mpg versus the truck's 13 mpg, then there would be a 12 mpg advantage, or saving 83 gallons of gas. That's $332.00.

If I drove the Saturn every week instead of the sedan (40 miles/week, for 46 weeks per year (vacation, you know?)) that's 1,840 miles in a year. The Saturn gets about 36 mpg . That would be an 11 mpg difference - 167 gallons saved, or $668.

A total fuel savings of $1000.

Total cost savings - $550!

I think for our family, it would be worth keeping the Saturn as a third car (until the repairs become too costly) It appears that it would be cheaper to have 3 cars, instead of just getting a larger sedan to replace the Saturn. Way to go, plasti-car!


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