What it really costs to drive a mile

After some discussion in my previous post, I dug a little deeper into what it really costs me to drive my car one mile. To do this, I took all of the costs that I put into my car, outside of parking costs, and summed them all up. The costs that I included were:

  • Gas
  • Insurance
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance (e.g., Oil Change, Car Washes)
  • Lease Payments (including Down Payment)

What I found actually shocked me.

It costs me on average $1.23 to drive my car 1 mile. If you remove the 1st month of car payments (which includes a hefty down payment), it averages around $1.00 to drive 1 mile.

I want that to be on its own line since it is kinda shocking. That is more than double what AAA says the national average is.

So, where I had said it only costs me $3.50 to go to and from work was completely inaccurate. It actually costs me $29.52 to drive to and from work each day. It’s pretty incredible that it costs that much. But, even if I took the bus to work each day, my costs wouldn’t fall to zero. I have fixed costs to keep my car running. I still need to pay my lease, insurance, and gas costs. In addition, I may save out on an oil change or two, but since my lease on my car has less than two years left, I would bet that I’d only save out on one oil change.

The next thinking is what would I actually save if I didn’t drive to work at all. For me this is not completely real world, as of yet, but I want to see what it would be like if I didn’t drive to work at all. I would save 552 miles on my car, and roughly $96 on gas.

If I drove half of the month and bussed the other half I’d drive only 324 miles (I’d still need to drive to and from a location where I can catch a bus) and gas would cost me $56.54. That’d save me $39.79 a month.

If you increase the public transit ridership even more, lets say, to three days a week. I’d only drive 240 miles and gas would only cost $41.88, saving me $54.44 a month.

Needless to say, I can play with the numbers all day, but the point is that I learned a lot by doing this exercise. When I got out of school I was pretty excited to get a car to drive that I didn’t pay particularly close attention to what it actually costs to drive it every mile. Granted, if I drove my car more, I’d get better cost per mile averages. However, for me, that isn’t going to change in the short term and I’m afraid that I’m stuck with the average that I have.

If you own/lease a car and you are curious on what it costs you to drive it a mile, I really encourage you to take the time and figure it out. What you find will no doubt shock you, as it did me.

What does this leave me now? Well, I have been looking at alternative methods of getting to and from work. These options include:

  • Driving to a location near the bus stop and taking the bus to work.
  • Biking from home to the bus, and then getting off the bus and biking the rest
  • Status Quo: Continue what I am doing

There are definitely logistics that need to be worked out on all ends for the top two options and I’m looking into how all of this could work out. I don’t know if this is going to change my habits, but it makes me more aware of what it really costs to drive my car and it has forced me into looking at alternative ways to drive to and from work.