ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

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teacher_in_tx
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ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by teacher_in_tx »

My grand total in monthly spending is $1594 including everything (rent, automobile, food, utilities, cell phone, haircuts, etc.).

$951 of that each month is that my automobile!

Car payment: $380 (fixed)
Car insurance: $134 (fixed for now)
Gasoline: $327 (12-month rolling average)
Car Service/Parts: $110 (12-month rolling average)
--
Total: $951 monthly

My car is a 2009 Honda Civic Si. My commute to work is long and accounts for most of my gasoline expense.

The problem: I live in the city, but I teach in a rural school district. The commute is fast (70mph speed limit), but the commute is expensive in terms of mileage.

My auto loan is with PenFed at 3.99%. My car insurance is as low as it can be (I use Geico, and I comparison shop for insurance every couple of months. As of last week, Geico is still the lowest).

My options, as I see them --

- Trade my Honda Civic Si for a less-expensive used car. Perhaps save some money, but will it really be a lot?
- Move out to the country, in the rural area near the school. But then I lose my $287/month housing with all bills included, unless I can replicate this low-cost housing out in the country. Even so, I do not particularly desire to live a rural area.
- Switch jobs -- e.g. teach closer to the city. I could do this, but I really love my district, and I would be hesitant to switch.

Any advice? Am I over-reacting on my monthly car expense? One of my frugal friends reminds me that operating a car is inherently expensive. I just hate to see nearly 2/3 of my otherwise relatively-frugal monthly budget going towards a car.

-mike
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Post by KCJayhawker »

You are over-reacting. Given you cheap housing costs in the city it's a trade off. Relax and move on to something else.
tim1999
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Post by tim1999 »

Once the car is paid off, your monthly expenses go down by $380. How long until that?

I wouldn't worry about the situation. Short of moving or changing jobs (which are kind of silly just to get car expenses down by a couple hundred bucks, unless you're flat broke, and knowing what teachers generally earn and what you're spending monthly, you're not), there isn't much you can do. You said you shop around on the insurance, and Civics generally get good gas mileage. I think you've already made the best of the situation.
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Post by Opponent Process »

I would also recommend doing nothing. seems like you have a nice lifestyle in place that you don't want to wreck.
Last edited by Opponent Process on Mon May 31, 2010 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by YDNAL »

teacher_in_tx wrote:My grand total in monthly spending is $1594 including everything (rent, automobile, food, utilities, cell phone, haircuts, etc.).

$951 of that each month is that my automobile!

Car payment: $380 (fixed)
Car insurance: $134 (fixed for now)
Gasoline: $327 (12-month rolling average)
Car Service/Parts: $110 (12-month rolling average)
--
Total: $951 monthly

My car is a 2009 Honda Civic Si. My commute to work is long and accounts for most of my gasoline expense.
Mike,

It seems that everything balances-out at the macro level (total expense).
  1. The inexpensive City rent and other controllable expenses make up for the car expense - needed for the long commute in a job you really like while making a positive contribution to society.
  2. When the Civic is paid-off, continue making payments to yourself (saving) for the next car purchase. Then, you may consider a Hybrid with better mileage.
Thank you for your part in educating our children.
Last edited by YDNAL on Mon May 31, 2010 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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teacher_in_tx
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Post by teacher_in_tx »

Thanks for the replies, everyone.

I'll probably just not change anything regarding the automobile. Meh, I just hate to spend so much on transportation expenses. Oh well.

Thanks again. :)

-mike
bb
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Post by bb »

don't forget to add in the annual depriciation :)
fundseeker
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Post by fundseeker »

Mike, That $110/month seems like a lot for service and parts. If you are just driving into the dealer every 15k or 30k and letting them do their thing for hundreds at a time, there might be a cheaper alternative. If those are mostly highway miles, you may just need a simple oil change every once in a while, and you can easily do that yourself if you have the interest. The dealers charge a huge amount just to check fluid levels. This might not save much, but it will save you money. And, I agree with others about getting it paid off and then drive it for several more years. Trading cars is usually very expensive. Tom
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Post by natureexplorer »

What about trying to find a car pool?

What about public transportation?

By the way, paying off the car loan will not only save you the car note but will also give you greater flexibility on the insurance. For example you could drop everything but liability. Not that I recommend it, but as the car gets older certainly something to consider.

Also, a Civis Si is a lot more expensive than a regular Civic for intial investment, maintenance and gas. Probably you should have bought a cheaper car to begin with but probably not worth downgrading in your situation.

I would look for a job closer by, not so much to save on car expenses but on time.
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Babakhani
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Post by Babakhani »

Use synthetic oil. You will pay more on oil but decrease pay on service since you do the oil change every 15k miles. Also learn to do your own oil change.

Drive slower on the highway. Just going 60 instead of 70 will save you a lot in exchange for 10 extra min of driving.

You already have a fuel efficient car. Your monthly payment is high so I am guessing you have a 36-48 month financing. I would just stay the course and wait out the car payment. Once you are done with the payments, I would open a fund and put 150-200$ into it per month so that in 10 years when it's time to buy, you just pay cash.
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Post by sport »

natureexplorer wrote:

Also, a Civis Si is a lot more expensive than a regular Civic for intial investment, maintenance and gas.
The Si is also probably much more expensive to insure.

Jeff
fundseeker
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Post by fundseeker »

Mike, Two other thoughts are,

1. If you car calls for premium unleaded, and I'll bet it does, I have read that most cars will run just fine on regular. You can do a little research about that, but I would at least go down to medium grade.

2. If you can handle a higher dedeuctible, say $500, your rates might be much lower.

Tom
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teacher_in_tx
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Post by teacher_in_tx »

jsl11 wrote:
natureexplorer wrote:

Also, a Civis Si is a lot more expensive than a regular Civic for intial investment, maintenance and gas.
The Si is also probably much more expensive to insure.

Jeff
That part is interesting. Geico tells me that the Si has the same liability insurance cost as a non-Si -- I re-ran the numbers with one of their representatives a few minutes ago.

In terms of collision/comprehensive, there seems to be a premium surcharge for me on the Si of around $83 every six months.

That said, if I was doing the car purchase again, I would opt for a Honda Civic LX, certainly. Initial investment, maintenance, and gas would all factor in, along with insurance to a lesser extent.

-mike
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Post by LadyGeek »

fundseeker wrote:1. If you car calls for premium unleaded, and I'll bet it does, I have read that most cars will run just fine on regular. You can do a little research about that, but I would at least go down to medium grade. Tom
Caution. Use what's recommended in the owner's manual. Shop for the cheapest price, but get the minimum octane rating needed for your car. No less. More is OK, but there's no real benefit.

Another tip: Make sure the tires have the correct pressure, look in the owner's manual (not what's on the side of the tire!). That's for safety and to get you the best balance of performance and gas mileage.
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market timer
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by market timer »

teacher_in_tx wrote:My grand total in monthly spending is $1594 including everything (rent, automobile, food, utilities, cell phone, haircuts, etc.).

$951 of that each month is that my automobile!

Car payment: $380 (fixed)
Yes, you are overestimating your auto expense. The true auto expense is your car's depreciation rate, plus the other factors you listed, not the $380 loan payment. The monthly loan payment is a form of savings. Your car will have some trade-in value, and considerably higher replacement value, well after your loan has been repaid.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by nisiprius »

aaronl wrote:You're spending a lot of money on gas.
Probably not. It isn't that big a part of the cost of car ownership. It seems bigger than it is because a) it's out of pocket, and b) it's directly related to actual driving. But, do the math.

If you are getting 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 mpg at $5.00 per gallon, then you are spending a total of $0.25, $0.20, $0.17, $0.14, $0.12, or $0.11 per mile on gas.

In the original poster's case, I believe the car gets about 30 mpg highway, and the driving is mostly highway like, so the cost of gas is around $0.08 a mile. Compare that with the AAA figures:

Image

Or compare it with the following which I believe to be frugal estimates and not too far off our own driving costs. Say you buy the car new for $25,000. Say you keep it 10 years and drive it 150,000 miles. Sell it for $1,000. Say $1,000 a year in insurance. $2,000 a year in maintenance (yes, you can change the oil yourself, but you're going to buy several new sets of tires at $500 a pop, a timing belt, a set or two of headlamps which are ungodly expensive these days--whatever happened to the days when the government required them to be standardized and cheap? Good wiper blades... in 150,000 miles it's likely to end up in the body shop at least once... a few wheel alignments... a couple of "midlife crisis" replacements, an exhaust system maybe, a battery maybe, an air conditioner recharge maybe....)

OK. That's $25,000 plus $10,000 + $20,000 - $1,000 = $54,000 = $0.36 a mile for everything but gas, and $0.10 to $0.25 a mile for gas.

Gas is maybe 1/3 or less of the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Last edited by nisiprius on Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:12 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by mithrandir »

jsl11 wrote:
natureexplorer wrote:

Also, a Civis Si is a lot more expensive than a regular Civic for intial investment, maintenance and gas.
The Si is also probably much more expensive to insure.

Jeff
Especially if you live in an urban area. Some insurers would not write a policy on a Civic Si within city limits (depending on the city and driver, of course).
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Post by rec7 »

I would move if you lived close there would be no need for a newer car. But that is me.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by The Wizard »

market timer wrote: Yes, you are overestimating your auto expense. The true auto expense is your car's depreciation rate, plus the other factors you listed, not the $380 loan payment. The monthly loan payment is a form of savings. Your car will have some trade-in value, and considerably higher replacement value, well after your loan has been repaid.
Settle down, MT.
We're talking out of pocket expenses here.
Depreciation on motor vehicles is an academic exercise with no benefit whatsoever until the time comes to sell the vehicle and purchase another.
Even then, it's the MARKET VALUE of the vehicle that comes into play, not some clever spreadsheet formula iterated over time.
Thank you...
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Post by The Wizard »

Babakhani wrote:You already have a fuel efficient car. Your monthly payment is high so I am guessing you have a 36-48 month financing. I would just stay the course and wait out the car payment. Once you are done with the payments, I would open a fund and put 150-200$ into it per month so that in 10 years when it's time to buy, you just pay cash.
No.
To extent possible, pay EXTRA couple hundred per month to pay off car loan early.
Saving in advance for next wonderful car is good idea, so long as other finances are in good shape...
catchup
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Post by catchup »

I would find out if these costs are at all tax deductible. Perhaps if you received any income as a self-employed contracter or something?
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by monkey_business »

Cars are a big expense, no doubt about it. I don't see much you can do to lower it, unless you just buy a much cheaper car (like a 2003- Civic). The only thing that really seems odd is your maintenance expense. Your car is new, what's costing you $1,200+ a year to maintain? Even if you drive a lot, in a one year old car, you wouldn't need to do anything except for a few oil/fluid changes and a couple filters.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by Dagwood »

monkey_business wrote:Cars are a big expense, no doubt about it. I don't see much you can do to lower it, unless you just buy a much cheaper car (like a 2003- Civic). The only thing that really seems odd is your maintenance expense. Your car is new, what's costing you $1,200+ a year to maintain? Even if you drive a lot, in a one year old car, you wouldn't need to do anything except for a few oil/fluid changes and a couple filters.
Major services on a Honda can easily run $300-$500. Then add in new tires, brakes, and other wear items if you drive a great deal and that's how it adds up.

Any car will incur maintenance costs as it ages. Hondas are no different. Of course, if you do not maintain the car, then it will cost less to maintain it, until something very costly breaks or the car otherwise becomes miserable to drive / own.
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Post by ruralavalon »

This won't help now (I agree with those who say don't do anything now), but next time buy a 1 -2 year old used car after having a good mechanic look it over, for cash.
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Post by Startled Cat »

I don't know the financial details of swapping your current car for a different one, so I can't make any direct recommendations, but you may be surprised how much more economical some options are. I paid $2800 for my current vehicle, a 2000 Toyota Echo with had a clean title, 82k miles, and no major flaws. I've been averaging >42 MPG, and the car is no Civic Si but it's so light that it's very quick for an economy car. I spend $49/month on liability insurance, and the only maintenance expenses in the first year have been oil changes and the replacement taillight bulb and wiper blades I picked up. All the scheduled maintenance is very minor and cheap, due to design choices like lack of a timing belt to replace. The car will probably last much longer than I'll want to keep it, although it will probably need new tires, brakes, clutch, etc. along the way. Of course, there are drawbacks, like no A/C, no power steering, no power locks/windows, and no warranty, but you don't have to go to such an extreme to save a lot of money on transportation. Granted, you cover a lot of miles, so the lifetime of a heavily depreciated car might not be as infinite for you, and you might need to buy a new one every few years. But if the price is right, it could still make sense.

You're spending a lot of money on gas. The one thing you can do to reduce this expense without switching cars or driving less is to learn how to drive more efficiently. cleanmpg.com is a great resource for this (start with the "Beating the EPA" article).
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Post by nisiprius »

aaronl wrote:You're spending a lot of money on gas.
Probably not. It isn't that big a part of the cost of car ownership. It seems bigger than it is because a) it's out of pocket, and b) it's directly related to actual driving. But, do the math.

If you are getting 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 mpg at $5.00 per gallon, then you are spending a total of $0.25, $0.20, $0.17, $0.14, $0.12, or $0.11 per mile on gas.

In the original poster's case, I believe the car gets about 30 mpg highway, and the driving is mostly highway like, so the cost of gas is around $0.17 a mile. Compare that with the AAA figures:

Image

Or compare it with the following which I believe to be frugal estimates and not too far off our own driving costs. Say you buy the car new for $25,000. Say you keep it 10 years and drive it 150,000 miles. Sell it for $1,000. Say $1,000 a year in insurance. $2,000 a year in maintenance (yes, you can change the oil yourself, but you're going to buy several new sets of tires at $500 a pop, a timing belt, a set or two of headlamps which are ungodly expensive these days--whatever happened to the days when the government required them to be standardized and cheap? Good wiper blades... in 150,000 miles it's likely to end up in the body shop at least once... a few wheel alignments... a couple of "midlife crisis" replacements, an exhaust system maybe, a battery maybe, an air conditioner recharge maybe....)

OK. That's $25,000 plus $10,000 + $20,000 - $1,000 = $54,000 = $0.36 a mile for everything but gas, and $0.10 to $0.25 a mile for gas.

Even at $5 a gallon, gas is maybe 1/3 or less of the total cost of ownership (TCO).
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Post by Babakhani »

The Wizard wrote:
Babakhani wrote:You already have a fuel efficient car. Your monthly payment is high so I am guessing you have a 36-48 month financing. I would just stay the course and wait out the car payment. Once you are done with the payments, I would open a fund and put 150-200$ into it per month so that in 10 years when it's time to buy, you just pay cash.
No.
To extent possible, pay EXTRA couple hundred per month to pay off car loan early.
Saving in advance for next wonderful car is good idea, so long as other finances are in good shape...
I meant once the payments are done, put money aside. Even if he could afford it, I would not pay that much extra per month at the moment. The OP has a decent rate and I would rather use that money to invest.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by amarone »

teacher_in_tx wrote:M
Car Service/Parts: $110 (12-month rolling average)
This is the one that seems out of line for such a new car. Do you use the dealer for service and do you let them do whatever they recommend? Many dealers have a "dealer recommended service" on top of the factory-recommended service. Decline it - it is pure upsell (according to a friend of mine in the auto dealer business).

I have a smallish Japanese car and in its first three and a half years of life I averaged $25/month in service and parts (although, to be fair, I did lower mileage than you - about 15k/year), and over 60% of that was a new set of tires.

Ultimately, I stopped going to the dealer and used a local mechanic that I trust. Over the last two and a half years, which brings the car up to its 10th birthday, I still spent only $85/month, and that includes a new roof (it is a convertible). Excluding the roof, it has cost me $37/month.
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Post by jej »

The suggestion to use synthetic motor oil is a good one. In addition to the extended service intervals mentioned above, it will increase your gas milage. You will make gains if you change all your fluids to synthetics. This takes real synthetics, not blended or partial or whatever. Its a one-way trip. You cannot go back to using regular fluids once you use synthetics, unless you tear down the engine. Do the changes yourself, of course.

You can also change to a washable K&N air filter. Lasts forever. Gives better air flow and better air cleaning. You'll save both on the filter and with your milage. You can wash in the expensive stuff K&N sells, or in Simple Green, or in dish detergent. Oil with the right stuff from K&N.

Empty your car of excess junk, if any. If you have accumulated a couple hundred pounds of stuff, it makes a difference.

Make sure your tire pressure is perfect, always.

Driving slower helps a lot. Personally, not worth it to me.

These are all just pennies on the dollar each, but they add up. The big cost, depreciation, is best addressed by keeping the car forever. The synthetics and these other measures will help you do that.

jej
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Post by tadamsmar »

I guess you have looked for a vanpool, carpool, mass transit?

Is there a ride-sharing database where you can sign up in your area?

What city do you live in?
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Post by DSInvestor »

What are the deductibles on your car insurance policy? If you have a good amount of emergency cash reserves, you may be comfortable with higher deductibles which lower your insurance costs.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by Imperabo »

The Wizard wrote:
market timer wrote: Yes, you are overestimating your auto expense. The true auto expense is your car's depreciation rate, plus the other factors you listed, not the $380 loan payment. The monthly loan payment is a form of savings. Your car will have some trade-in value, and considerably higher replacement value, well after your loan has been repaid.
Settle down, MT.
We're talking out of pocket expenses here.
Depreciation on motor vehicles is an academic exercise with no benefit whatsoever until the time comes to sell the vehicle and purchase another.
Even then, it's the MARKET VALUE of the vehicle that comes into play, not some clever spreadsheet formula iterated over time.
Thank you...
I'm surprised to see such an outlook in a forum focused on long term investing. Market Timer is right.
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Post by Imperabo »

I agree with looking at a higher deductible, if you can afford to self-insure a little.
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Post by Startled Cat »

nisiprius wrote:
aaronl wrote:You're spending a lot of money on gas.
Probably not. It isn't that big a part of the cost of car ownership.
I guess it's all relative. I spend about $30/month on gas, so the $327/month figure struck me as quite a lot. At that rate of gas consumption, one could save significant money by following some of the tips from the article I linked.

Also, your TCO numbers sound quite high to me. Maybe since I've only owned used Japanese compact cars I'm living in a bubble, though. When I was shopping for a car a year ago, Honda Civics with 150k were going for well more than $1000 - at least several times that. I just checked KBB, and a 2000 Civic LX in good condition with 150k has an estimated private party value of $3600. And that model didn't cost nearly $25k new - I would guess $16k-$18k in today's dollars. So I would estimate depreciation over 10 years at $13.5k, not $24k, unless it's some fancy model of car. That's if you buy new, which I wouldn't consider doing at this point in my life. If you get a used car at the right point on the depreciation curve, you can minimize what you lose to depreciation. Take my $2800 car for example: there's no way I'll lose more than $2800 to depreciation. In fact, I might be able to sell it for close to the purchase price in a few years.

So depreciation is somewhere between zero and ~$15k over the time you own a basic car. Insurance? $1000 sounds a little high to me, but I realize it has a high variance. Maintenance? $2000/year sounds shockingly high to me. A new clutch, new tires, and new brake pads would probably run ~$1500 at the high end for my car, and there's no way that those items would be replaced every 15,000 miles. A timing belt generally needs to be replaced once or twice in a car's lifetime, and you can avoid that expense entirely by getting a car that uses a timing chain instead. My previous car had a timing belt, and it cost me about $600 for the major service which involved replacing the timing belt, replacing several fluids, replacing spark plugs, etc.
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Post by gunn_show »

KCJayhawker wrote:You are over-reacting. Given you cheap housing costs in the city it's a trade off. Relax and move on to something else.
+1 agreed

And regarding a few posts down, about the Si model vs LX, if you are spending that much time in the car, you are better off driving the nicer faster model than the boring LX. Might as well have some fun driving all that way.

GEICO gives you preferred rate, even at your age, because they take into account what you do for a living (yes I used to work there) and they rate teachers very high. I would imagine it tough to find any insurance cheaper, and especially as highly rated as GEICO in terms of financial stability and 24 hour service. I would stay put. Also, a lot of the insurance cost is miles, they have brackets that jack up the rates, so I am sure you are falling into the expensive bracket. You could cheat that, but risky, could cause them to deny a future claim based on false information.
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Post by SamB »

I own a 2009 Honda Civic LX. What are you spending $110/mo on? Compared to my 15 year old Subaru, the Honda needs practically no maintenance. Change the oil and filters when required and rotate the tires if you feel like it. You can go three years before the coolant and brake fluid change. You might consider purging the transmission fluid at 50K miles, but the regular maintenance schedule says you can go to 100K miles. My Subaru is a perpetual oil leaking disaster, not to mention the usual timing belt/water pump change out every 50K miles. Oops, make that 45K miles. I have never gotten more than that on the piece of crap water pumps that Subaru uses. Then there are the wheel bearing failures, front and back on the Subaru, which you are unlikely to see on the Honda unless you drive like a maniac.

Sam
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ElJay
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Post by ElJay »

I also wonder about $1300 in annual maintenance on a newish car. I drive in a rather crazy manner and I end up spending about $500-600 every couple of years on tires. Add on a couple of oil changes a year as well (every ~6k miles). Brake job periodically... But $110/mo? That seems really high no matter how many miles you're putting on the vehicle.

To me, the biggest cost here is your time in the car going to and from work... If you don't mind that, I wouldn't sweat the money.
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by grabiner »

teacher_in_tx wrote:My grand total in monthly spending is $1594 including everything (rent, automobile, food, utilities, cell phone, haircuts, etc.).

$951 of that each month is that my automobile!

Car payment: $380 (fixed)
Car insurance: $134 (fixed for now)
Gasoline: $327 (12-month rolling average)
Car Service/Parts: $110 (12-month rolling average)
--
Total: $951 monthly

My car is a 2009 Honda Civic Si. My commute to work is long and accounts for most of my gasoline expense.

The problem: I live in the city, but I teach in a rural school district. The commute is fast (70mph speed limit), but the commute is expensive in terms of mileage.
I drive a 2007 Civic LX and get 32 MPG, so I'm guessing you get about the same and pay $3 a gallon for premium gasoline. That would be 100 gallons a month, or 3200 miles. Do you have a 70-mile commute (2800 miles a month based on 20 working days)?

That also explains the service costs. If you drive a car 3200 miles a month, you'll need to change the oil every two months, have a minor service (15K) every five months, and have a major service (30K) every nine months. I don't know the costs for the Civic Si, but $400 for a 30K service is common, particularly since you are probably out of warranty by now and occasionally have to replace things.

Given the unavoidable operating costs, the most important decision you made was to buy a car that will last a long time; Hondas are very reliable. At 38,000 miles a year, you need a reliable car so that it will outlast your loan, and even with the loan, you'll probably need to replace the car after six years (230,000 miles).
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FrugalInvestor
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Post by FrugalInvestor »

Babakhani wrote:Drive slower on the highway. Just going 60 instead of 70 will save you a lot in exchange for 10 extra min of driving.
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the vehicle, engine, gearing, etc. Before just assuming this track your mileage at normal speed for a number of days and then slow down for the next few days and track it again. It may or may not make a discernible difference.
Have a plan, stay the course and simplify. Then ignore the noise!
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celia
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Post by celia »

I don't think your car expenses are too high, but that your living expenses are too low! If you were to compare your expenses to the expenses of someone else with the same income, you would find that you are lower in all categories, except for transportation. I hope your goal is not to grow your assets so much that you lose out on enjoying life.
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gunn_show
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by gunn_show »

grabiner wrote:
teacher_in_tx wrote:My grand total in monthly spending is $1594 including everything (rent, automobile, food, utilities, cell phone, haircuts, etc.).

$951 of that each month is that my automobile!

Car payment: $380 (fixed)
Car insurance: $134 (fixed for now)
Gasoline: $327 (12-month rolling average)
Car Service/Parts: $110 (12-month rolling average)
--
Total: $951 monthly

My car is a 2009 Honda Civic Si. My commute to work is long and accounts for most of my gasoline expense.

The problem: I live in the city, but I teach in a rural school district. The commute is fast (70mph speed limit), but the commute is expensive in terms of mileage.
I drive a 2007 Civic LX and get 32 MPG, so I'm guessing you get about the same and pay $3 a gallon for premium gasoline. That would be 100 gallons a month, or 3200 miles. Do you have a 70-mile commute (2800 miles a month based on 20 working days)?
Civic Si should not be premium. That is a 4cyl 160hp car, I had the same engine mounted in my old Integra, and it did not need premium. Shoot, I just sold my Honda S2000, a 4cyl with 250 hp 2.2liter, and I knew guys that used regular in their S (although for that car I do not recommend).

If you are using premium, stop, unless full recommended by the manual, and you hear a pinging noise in the engine.
"The best life hack of all is to just put the work in and never give up." Bas Rutten
fundseeker
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Post by fundseeker »

I do not believe the OP ever really said what the $110 per month for service/repairs includes, but if he is paying the dealer for 15k and 30k, etc., services, he ought to stop getting ripped off. Check out the long list of things they say they do, and it is mostly just check this and inspect that. And, some things they claim to do might not even be listed in the owners manual. Plus, if they inspect this or that, it is very likely they will find something to repair or replace. You can save a lot of money by opening the hood, looking at the levels of the oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, and power steering fluid, buy those fluids from Honda, and top them off yourself. Even brake pad replacement is simple, and the dealer wants hundreds of dollars to do that and turn the rotors, which is usually unnecessary and just leads to rotor replacement. I admit not everyone should be working on their own cars, but most people can do this. And, if these are highway miles, he should not need brakes or tires for tens of thousands of miles. Again, avoid the dealer for routine service. Thanks for listening. I will step off my soapbox for now. Tom
amarone
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Post by amarone »

fundseeker wrote:I do not believe the OP ever really said what the $110 per month for service/repairs includes, but if he is paying the dealer for 15k and 30k, etc., services, he ought to stop getting ripped off. Check out the long list of things they say they do, and it is mostly just check this and inspect that. And, some things they claim to do might not even be listed in the owners manual. Plus, if they inspect this or that, it is very likely they will find something to repair or replace.
Yep. I go to my local mechanic every 7,500 miles for an oil change and inspection. For most things they do not automatically change them at certain mileages (some they do, e.g. timing belt), but at each oil change they check them. Usually, I need no extra work (something which never happened when I used the dealer) - and this is on two cars with 300,000 miles on the clock between them. I pay just $30 for this oil change and inspection.
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tadamsmar
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Post by tadamsmar »

You could rent a place close to where you work. Then you could perhaps justify getting a cheaper less reliable car.

Or you could change jobs.
Dagwood
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Post by Dagwood »

fundseeker wrote:I do not believe the OP ever really said what the $110 per month for service/repairs includes, but if he is paying the dealer for 15k and 30k, etc., services, he ought to stop getting ripped off. Check out the long list of things they say they do, and it is mostly just check this and inspect that. And, some things they claim to do might not even be listed in the owners manual. Plus, if they inspect this or that, it is very likely they will find something to repair or replace.

The purpose of the inspection regimen that is specified in the manual of most cars is to catch problems before they become serious and before they cause you to get stuck. As someone who spent a fair amount of my youth wrenching on cars as a hobby, and as a continued gear head, I assure you that on a car with north of 60k miles -- irrespective of the make -- there are components that are reaching the end of their useful lifespan. If the shop you are using is not finding such things as the car ages, especially as it closes in on 100k miles, then they are either too lax standards-wise or not looking closely enough. Now, if you don't really care -- if a car that pulls to the left or right, is low on power, wallows over bumps, makes various odd noises and things of that ilk doesn't bother you, then by all means go ahead and continue to insist that a car with 100k miles needs nothing other than oil changes. If however, you'd prefer to drive a car, irrespective of make, that doesn't make you dread driving it and that is comfortable, reliable, and in order, then those inspection items, and the resulting phone calls that this or that needs to be replaced, are much more preferable to discovering that something is terribly wrong while you cruise on the interstate, with the resulting inconvenience and frustration associated with being broken down.

Or you could choose to continue to believe that the manufacturer's recommended inspection intervals, and the resulting parts that are found to be worn on the car as it ages, are a conspiracy to rip you off. Not to say that everyone in the world is honest -- they aren't -- but unnecessary car repairs are about the easiest thing in the world to get caught on -- just ask for the old part that is worn or the diagnostic read-out, or ask to be shown the car by the tech while it is on the lift. Because it is so easy to get caught, most dealers, and most reputable shops, do not suggest repairs that are unnecessary. Some are more conservative than others, and of course there is a conflict of interest there -- but the shops that have been in business for a while understand what Buffett has long said to the effect that if you understand how long it takes to build a reputation, and how quickly it can be ruined, you will be careful with how you behave.
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Post by smackboy1 »

Here are some cost saving tips I've learned over the years and over many cars. The biggest $ saving is probably maintenance and repair:

- Learn to do your own maintenance. Changing oil + filter, air filter, checking fluid levels, rotating tires etc. are simple to do and save $. More advanced stuff like brake maintenance can also save $ (but requires more experience and caution). At the very least, learn about how your car works so you can talk meaningfully to the mechanic that is going to charge you $ to fix the car. If the check engine light comes on, before taking it to the shop which will charge $50-100 just to read the error code, take the car to Pep Boys or Autozone or a similar national chain. They will often let you borrow the OBD II scan tool for free so you can read the error code yourself in the parking lot - and if you want you can even clear the code. There is nothing worse than paying the dealer $100 to reset the CEL just because you left your gas cap off. I am amazed at how often a mechanic can misdiagnose a problem. Or worse, just start replacing parts until the problem goes away. E.g. I had an oil leak under the car. The dealer diagnosed it as a leaking power steering pump which would have cost me $1,000 out of pocket to replace. But I knew there was no steering problems, the reservoir was full, and the leaking fluid was engine oil not power steering fluid. It took 2 days of me insisting that the dealer was wrong before the mechanic found the oil leak on the engine - which was covered under the powertrain warranty. It's like going to the doctor or going to any other professional, you have to get educated and advocate for yourself to get the best service.

- Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Under inflated tires have increased rolling resistance. Some people over inflate their tires slightly to improve mileage at the cost of slightly reduced traction and a harder ride. Rotate the tires every 6,000 miles or so for even wear. BTW, nitrogen is a complete waste of $.

- Use a full synthetic oil in the thinnest grade recommended by the manufacturer (I use a 0W20). The thinner the oil the less work the engine has to do to pump it. Full synthetic oils are a bit more expensive but save $ because they last longer and provide better protection. A car can go 10-15,000 miles between oil + filter changes with full synthetic oil. Probably twice the manufacturer's suggested oil change interval with conventional oil.

- Use the manufacturer's recommended fuel octane. Using a higher octane will not provide any performance benefit and just waste $. Contrary to myth, using a lower grade will not save $ because the engine will retard the timing and engine performance,including fuel economy, will suffer.

- Buy gas with a credit card which gives % rebate. The Shell card has 5% rebate on Shell gas.

- Except in stop and go traffic, keep the windows closed to reduce aerodynamic drag.

- On the highway between 55-65 MPH is optimal for fuel economy. Going faster reduces fuel economy. If the road is flat and clear just set the cruise control (but don't be blocking the left lane!).

- Don't idle to warm up the engine. Just start the car and drive. The faster the engine gets to operating temp the more fuel efficient it is and the quickest way to warm it up is to drive it.

- I would avoid using aftermarket "performance enhancing" parts or additives. Honda engineered the car to last a long long time. Properly maintained, it can easily go to 200,000 miles or more.

- If you do the calculations, it almost never pays to buy a new car vs. keeping an older car running.
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
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monkey_business
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Re: ARG! Can I reduce my car expense?

Post by monkey_business »

tommy_gunn wrote:Civic Si should not be premium. That is a 4cyl 160hp car, I had the same engine mounted in my old Integra, and it did not need premium. Shoot, I just sold my Honda S2000, a 4cyl with 250 hp 2.2liter, and I knew guys that used regular in their S (although for that car I do not recommend).

If you are using premium, stop, unless full recommended by the manual, and you hear a pinging noise in the engine.
I think you're confusing something. The Si has close to 200hp, not 160, and I am pretty sure it needs premium. You're probably thinking of the old models.
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Post by Valuethinker »

smackboy1 wrote:Here are some cost saving tips I've learned over the years and over many cars. The biggest $ saving is probably maintenance and repair:

- Learn to do your own maintenance. Changing oil + filter, air filter, checking fluid levels, rotating tires etc. are simple to do and save $. More advanced stuff like brake maintenance can also save $ (but requires more experience and caution). At the very least, learn about how your car works so you can talk meaningfully to the mechanic that is going to charge you $ to fix the car. If the check engine light comes on, before taking it to the shop which will charge $50-100 just to read the error code, take the car to Pep Boys or Autozone or a similar national chain. They will often let you borrow the OBD II scan tool for free so you can read the error code yourself in the parking lot - and if you want you can even clear the code. There is nothing worse than paying the dealer $100 to reset the CEL just because you left your gas cap off. I am amazed at how often a mechanic can misdiagnose a problem. Or worse, just start replacing parts until the problem goes away. E.g. I had an oil leak under the car. The dealer diagnosed it as a leaking power steering pump which would have cost me $1,000 out of pocket to replace. But I knew there was no steering problems, the reservoir was full, and the leaking fluid was engine oil not power steering fluid. It took 2 days of me insisting that the dealer was wrong before the mechanic found the oil leak on the engine - which was covered under the powertrain warranty. It's like going to the doctor or going to any other professional, you have to get educated and advocate for yourself to get the best service.

- Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Under inflated tires have increased rolling resistance. Some people over inflate their tires slightly to improve mileage at the cost of slightly reduced traction and a harder ride. Rotate the tires every 6,000 miles or so for even wear. BTW, nitrogen is a complete waste of $.

- Use a full synthetic oil in the thinnest grade recommended by the manufacturer (I use a 0W20). The thinner the oil the less work the engine has to do to pump it. Full synthetic oils are a bit more expensive but save $ because they last longer and provide better protection. A car can go 10-15,000 miles between oil + filter changes with full synthetic oil. Probably twice the manufacturer's suggested oil change interval with conventional oil.

- Use the manufacturer's recommended fuel octane. Using a higher octane will not provide any performance benefit and just waste $. Contrary to myth, using a lower grade will not save $ because the engine will retard the timing and engine performance,including fuel economy, will suffer.

- Buy gas with a credit card which gives % rebate. The Shell card has 5% rebate on Shell gas.

- Except in stop and go traffic, keep the windows closed to reduce aerodynamic drag.

- On the highway between 55-65 MPH is optimal for fuel economy. Going faster reduces fuel economy. If the road is flat and clear just set the cruise control (but don't be blocking the left lane!).

- Don't idle to warm up the engine. Just start the car and drive. The faster the engine gets to operating temp the more fuel efficient it is and the quickest way to warm it up is to drive it.

- I would avoid using aftermarket "performance enhancing" parts or additives. Honda engineered the car to last a long long time. Properly maintained, it can easily go to 200,000 miles or more.

- If you do the calculations, it almost never pays to buy a new car vs. keeping an older car running.
This is excellent advice.

My first thoughts were 'does he change his own oil?' and 'does he drive at 70mph?'.

Just driving at 60mph will save at least 10% on gas consumption (and that's a heck of alot of miles OP is doing).

Changing your own oil could also save money.

At this mileage, OP will probably only have the car 4-5 years. At which point, he/she should consider a more fuel efficient vehicle.

If you like where you live, and the commute is tolerable, this a very good thing. I'm a city person, and would not want to move out to a rural area isolated from shopping, entertainment, friends etc.

Conversely many hate the city and their dream would be to have a job in the country, and live there.

But I think where and how you live is a big part of what makes you happy, and I would be loathe to move unless it was a real financial issue.
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jeffyscott
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Post by jeffyscott »

I'm amazed that several responses have claimed that significant money can be saved by changing your own oil. An oil change, at least where I live, costs about $25. The cost of buying your own oil and filter would be around $20. So the savings is maybe $5 per oil change and certainly not more than $10.

Also, considering the miles driven, guessing at about 40,000 mi per year, the maintenance and repair costs do not seem high at what comes to $0.033 per mile.

$134 per month for insurance seems high to me, since my cost is about $40 per month, but I am old with a good driving record, live in a low cost state for insurance, and have the highest deductible offered ($1000).

BP also offers a credit card with 5% rebates on their gas.
The two greatest enemies of the equity fund investor are expenses and emotions. ― John C. Bogle
brianH
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Post by brianH »

jeffyscott wrote:I'm amazed that several responses have claimed that significant money can be saved by changing your own oil. An oil change, at least where I live, costs about $25. The cost of buying your own oil and filter would be around $20. So the savings is maybe $5 per oil change and certainly not more than $10.
For synthetic oil the savings is much more noticeable, since the cars that require it are usually 'luxury' models and the shops up the price. I started doing my own when I was told that I could not bring my own oil to avoid paying $7/qt for oil I could obtain at Walmart for $4/qt (this was in addition to the change-fee).

Whether saving $10 ($20 synthetic) is worth getting your hands dirty is a personal choice, but I've found that a change takes me 30 minutes including dropping off the old stuff. That is less time than driving to a place, waiting, and paying in most cases.

Doing other services yourself can result in jaw-dropping savings. Local shops wanted >$200 to change my manual transmission fluid. It was easy, and I did it for <$50 including some tools (funnels/tubes) that I didn't have.
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