I kind of hate cars as you can tell by my title.
But the hatred runs deep.
By the end of this rant, I’ll expose things about your stupid car that you NEVER thought of, why it’s bleeding you dry, why it’s killing your financial future and could possibly wipe out all the assets you’ve ever accumulated.
We’re going to start with some basic stuff and then get into the gnarly stuff later on. Read the whole thing. DO IT!
1. Gasoline Costs
Paying for gasoline is a huge waste of money. You’re literally converting your money into fuel and then burning that fuel.
It’s the closest thing to burning money that you do in your life.
You never get that money back. You could say that it gets you to work and therefore make you money, but there are other ways to get to work. So, you’re still burning money to get to work.
It doesn’t hold value. It’s not an investment. It just turns into CO2, H2O, CO and a bunch of NOxs. Meaning NO1, NO2, NO3 and so on.
I spend about $25 a week on gas if I’m not driving much. I bet most people in California are spending $40 or more a week on gas. So, for me, that’s $1,300 a year on gasoline. I could definitely do something better with that money than burn it.
2. Car Insurance
Gotta have car insurance if you want to drive in California. I’ve had various rates throughout my life. $400 a year was the lowest I think. Later I’ll tell you why this ties into the most financially dangerous thing about car ownership. Keep reading.
3. Oil Changes
Yeah yeah yeah. Oil changes. Every 5,000 miles in newer cars. $30 a change for me. So, $120 a year.
Oooh, tires. This is quite the financial pain in the butt when you need new tires. At least $400 on the low end. Probably every two years. So, we’ll call it $200 a year.
5. Mechanical Fixin’
Once in a while, you’ll need a car surgeon to do something more major to your car. Lately, I’ve been driving Hondas and Toyotas and haven’t run into too much trouble. I used to burn through transmissions back during the early part of this century and that was quite expensive. But, you may need to replace a timing belt and water pump and whatever else, once in a while. So, I’ll chalk it up to $400 every three years. So, $133 a year for major work.
6. Coolant, Windshield Washer Fluid, Wiper Blades and Headlamps
This is the lower end stuff that you end up buying more often than you realize. Going to chalk this up to $75 a year. Total guess. But it feels right.
7. Car Washes
O.K. since I hate cars I don’t do details. I just do a car wash once a quarter. It’s either a drive through or a hand wash. $8 to $20. We’ll call it $15 a quarter, so $60 a year.
8. Car Accessory Bullsh*t
Even I buy crap for the inside of my car. It could be an audio cable, a charger of some sort, a phone holder. Knick-knacks. I probably spend $40 a year on it. You might spend $0.
9. Fender Benders
I’ve been getting into more fender benders lately than any time in my life. Not sure why. Maybe it’s people on phone. Maybe it’s my eyesight. But I have to pay a $500 deductible every time. I’ll leave it at $500 a year. Some years it’s worse though for sure.
Speeding tickets, toll road tickets, parking tickets. I get em. If I had to guess, I would spend on average $60 a year on them.
11. Ubering or Lyft-ing Because I Shouldn’t Drive
I know this is a weird one, but hear me out. Once in a while, I may have had a few beers and I know I shouldn’t drive home. I’ll usually Lyft home. And that means I need to Lyft back to get my car. If I didn’t have a car, it would only be one Lyft trip. This is about a twice a year things for me. I’ll chalk this up to $50 a year.
12. The Actual Cost Of Your Car
This cost really sucks because most of us own cars that eventually become worth zero dollars after 20 years. I’ve had cars that cost me more to dispose of than they were worth at their current resale value. Seriously, once I had Honda that was 15 years old, got into a car accident 90 miles away from my house, had to take a bus home, pay for towing and storage fees and I finally got rid of it by selling it for junk on Craiglist.
To make the entire experience worse, I had to keep driving back down to the city where the car was disabled to “deal” with my busted-ass car multiple times. I also had to leave the country during the whole thing, so I had to store the car in a warehouse. It was insane.
Anyway. I buy used cars for around $12,000 to $22,000 usually. It’s either a sedan or a minivan. Every car I have ever owned basically became valueless at the end of its life. So, we’ll just chalk up car payments to $300 a month, so $3,600 a year. But gone. No investment. Just burning money again.
Ok I’m done breaking down the crappy monetary wastes of owning a car. My tally come out to: $6,539 a year. Wasted money. That’s 14% of the average U.S. worker’s income before taxes. Maybe around 20% after taxes.
13. Car Engines Are Only 30% Efficient
So, this isn’t a direct cost, but this post isn’t only about the money you burn by owning a car. It’s about why cars suck.
Back to this 30% efficiency number.
You buy 10 gallons of gasoline. That gasoline has a certain about of BTUs stored in it. Think of it as the total energy stored in 10 gallons of gasoline.
Your car only successfully turns 30% of that total energy into rotational energy – the energy that actually gets you moving. Any engineers that want to correct me on the nuances of this number – please do. I remember this number from my Thermodynamics class back in 1997. I’m rusty. But I’m confident there are a sh*t ton of losses.
It’s entropy fool.
Chaos. Order to disorder. Waste heat. Friction. You can’t control it perfectly. It’s how the universe works.
But think about that. 70% of the energy you buy every week turns into useless disorder.
What a gip.
14. You’re Damaging Everyone’s Health Around You
Every day you drive you’re making someone with asthma’s life worse, you’re contributing to someone in your neighborhood’s future lung cancer battle, and you’re hurting a child’s development.
It’s O.K. to feel like a total turd right about now. That was my point. 😛
What comes out of tailpipes ain’t healthy. Would you put your mouth around one? Didn’t think so. Now think about a city like Los Angeles. There must be at least 1 million cars operating on the roads at any given moment.
1 million cars spewing out nasty chemicals, ashy particulates, carcinogens. We must be nuts. Why do we do this again?
15. You’re Contributing To Climate Change
Is putting tons of CO2 in the air going to raise sea levels, melt Antarctica, turn earth into a huge jungle planet?
I don’t know.
Is converting O2 into CO2 at an enormous scale every single day of the year for 100 years in a row a good idea? Probably not.
For every gallon of gasoline you burn, you convert 14 to 20 gallons (depending on your car and my math 🙂 ) of breathable air into CO2.
Do you have any idea how much 20 gallons of air is? Imagine what a condensed 20-gallon drum of liquid air would look like. Now imagine that liquid air expanded to a gaseous amount. It’s a huge volume of air.
If you don’t think this atmospheric transformation isn’t a big deal or something to be slightly concerned about, I think you’re weird. I don’t hate you. Maybe you don’t visualize chemistry that often. I don’t know. I think we should avoid doing this is, especially if we have the technology to do so. That’s all.
And yes, there’s a good chance that putting A LOT of CO2 into the atmosphere unnaturally will warm the planet. Watch a documentary on Venus’s atmosphere. That’s the same basic concept.
16. You Could Be Capturing Useful Energy & Storing It But Our Stupid Civilization Hasn’t Thought About How To Do That
We all brake a lot while we drive. We take 3,500 lb cars from 45 mph and slow them down to zero mph. We take all this amazing energy locked in chemical fuel, transform it into kinetic energy and then turn into waste heat. And it becomes absolutely useless energy at that point.
Every time you come to a complete stop in your car you should get insanely depressed knowing that a massive amount of useful energy that you paid money for has been completely dissipated into useless waste heat.
Hybrids kind of solved this problem by taking this energy and putting it back into a battery. It’s smart. The sad thing is this technology was known in 1940. We had brakes in 1940. We had batteries in 1940. We had electric generators in 1940. For whatever reason, no one thought about implementing this concept until the 1990s. Because who cares about that 70% of the energy we don’t use! Right?
But what’s sad is while you’re braking all week long, there’s a chance that you could power your house for one day with all the energy captured by braking. If you could store that energy in a battery. Say you come home and run a cable from your car to your home. But we don’t do that.
17. The Liability of Driving
A lot of us just don’t realize how risky it is to drive 3,500 lb car 70 mph down a freeway. That’s an insane about of mass traveling at high speeds. The damage a car accident can do at that rate of speed is…well…you’ve seen it.
Remember when I was talking about car insurance. Most of us are underinsured. We just sign up for whatever we can afford. The problem is, once you start acquiring assets. Say a house. Now that’s all up for grabs if you get into an accident and your coverage can’t pay for all the damages. Oops. Wow, that sucks.
Literally, everything you’ve ever worked for could be taken away in one car accident. You can protect yourself with a cheap $23 a month umbrella policy. I know a trustworthy insurance agent if you want to learn more about them – let me know by connecting with me on Linkedin, I’ll intro you.
But seriously. Check your car insurance policy. Chances are you signed up for some cheap policy that doesn’t really cover that much. If you hit a van full of people, you’re responsible for every person’s medical expenses if your coverage can’t cover it all. It adds up fast. To huge amounts.
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