On February 3, 2000 I surprised my wife with a car she had been dreaming about: a brand new 2000 Volkswagen Passat GLX V6 Sedan with automatic Tiptronic transmission, black metallic paint, and a 6-disc CD changer.
I believe the sticker price was $31,430.
We paid a total of $29,683 in cash (actually it was a personal check, but “cash” sounds better), as follows: $27,800 purchase price, plus $1,668 sales tax, plus $140 registration fee, plus $75 miscellaneous dealership fee.
In addition to regular maintenance like oil changes and tire rotation, here are the dates and amounts for major repairs:
Dec 2003 $420 three new tires (used full-size spare as fourth tire)
Feb 2005 $165 coolant leak diagnosis and simple repair
Feb 2005 $1,747 repaired/replaced cam seals leaking oil, 100k mile major service, replaced coolant pump, timing belt
Oct 2005 $312 replaced stripped lug nut, new battery, new headlight
May 2007 $704 new rear brakes + new rear tie rod
Aug 2008 $472 replaced front right axle shaft
Aug 2008 $472 four new tires
Sep 2008 $796 new right front suspension control arm + link + alignment
Nov 2008 $265 tuneup w/ filters, belts, etc
Dec 2008 $55 check hydraulic control assembly
Jul 2009 $1,361 replace left catalytic converter
Sep 2009 $454 new front brakes
Oct 2009 $1,345 replace right catalytic converter
Nov 2009 $167 check engine light evaluation and reset
Apr 2010 $382 repair short in wiring
Apr 2010 $112 evaluate and reset diagnostic computer
Jul 2010 $668 repair air conditioning
Aug 2010 $522 replace cracked aluminum rim + tire
Oct 2010 $353 replace front left axle
Feb 2011 $91 new wiper blades, tire rotation, oil, etc.
Mar 2011 $683 purchase & install new motor mounts
Total repairs: $11,546
Average repair: $550
Average number of months between repairs since purchase: 6.5
Number of incidents: 21
Lowest Amount: $55
Highest Amount: $1,747
*does not include oil changes or $319 for cracked windshield replacement in 2008
Assuming we sell this car in the next few days for about $1,200 that will be 137 months of ownership, during which we’ve driven nearly 179,000 miles (about 1,300 miles per month).
Our $29,683 total purchase cost divided by 137 months = $216.66 per month
Our $29,683 total purchase cost divided by 179,000 miles = $0.168 per mile
Our $11,546 total repair costs divided by 137 months = $82.28 per month
Our $11,546 total repair costs divided by 179,000 miles = $0.0645 per mile
Our $29,683 total purchase cost plus $11,546 total repair costs (not counting basic oil changes, etc) = $41,229 total purchase plus repair costs
Our $41,229 total purchase plus repair costs divided by 137 months = $300.94 per month
Our $41,229 total purchase plus repair costs divided by 179,000 miles = $0.2303 per mile
The numbers above do not account for the time-value of money, or the eventual selling price of the car.
Obviously this is one single experience, but it does inform how expensive owning a $30,000 car can be, even when “driving it into the ground.” Cam seals leaking oil ($1,747), plus the right and left catalytic converters ($2,706) were the major repair bills, but there were plenty of others above $400 along the way.
So, what’s your opinion? What is the best way to acquire a car if it’s to be used 5+ days per week and driven 1,000+ miles per month? Buy? Lease? Grand theft auto?