Author Topic: Help Optimize Our Monthly Transportation Expenditure  (Read 1992 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 17
Help Optimize Our Monthly Transportation Expenditure
« on: August 31, 2014, 10:23:49 AM »
Last year my fiancee and I purchased a beautiful 2002 Acura TL with 180,000 miles for $3,000 from the original owner. The vehicle had been meticulously maintained at a dealership, at manufacture suggested intervals, and came with a stack of service receipts that was a mile high; that is to say, though the miles were high, the owner had done everything in his power to preserve the $30,000 worth of luxury and performance the car came with when purchased new.

Initially we wanted to purchase a vehicle that got 30+ mpg, but in doing research I found that most cars getting this kind of mileage didn't start to come stock with side air bags and anti-lock breaks (these were non-negotiable for my fiancee) until as late as 2010.  This meant that those cars would cost in excess of $8,000 on the used market. Since $8,000 was a pretty big chunk of our cash net worth we decided that we'd give up gas mileage in favor of safety features by buying a 10+ year old luxury sedan, which came stock with those safety features in early 2000's but at a much smaller price tag.

So, where does this leave us? Well, we drive roughly 7,000 miles a year, and get 17.5 mpg BUT must purchase premium gasoline (so says the manual), so our monthly gasoline expenditure is $125. In addition to this expenditure we have a monthly insurance cost of $35.

Obviously we could cut our gas expenditure in half by purchasing a car with 2x the gas mileage, but, again because of the increased cost of owning a car with 2x the gas mileage AND the safety features, we'd have to put about $8,000 of our approximately $16,000 available cash in play.  It seems intuitively correct that with that much of our net worth at risk, we'd need to purchase more than the minimum level of insurance we have now, which means that though we'd get a monthly rebate in the form of gas savings, we'd incur a greater monthly cost with respect to insurance.  In addition, you always face a small risk when purchasing an unknown vehicle (is it a lemon?!), a risk that we know by now we haven't assumed in owning our current car.

Thoughts, suggestions?


  • Guest
Re: Help Optimize Our Monthly Transportation Expenditure
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2014, 11:42:02 AM »
What exactly are you asking?

Are you wanting to sell the car you just bought? At that mileage you will need to start replacing parts soon, no matter the service upkeep.

If I were in your shoes- I would sell the car and get a used prius or similar for around 5k.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 11
Re: Help Optimize Our Monthly Transportation Expenditure
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2014, 11:54:56 AM »
If you look at it as a math problem of monthly expenses, by my calculations you are not going to break even for over 24 years if you buy $8000 more car.

I simply halved your gas bill, and doubled your insurance, and subtracted the total from what you are paying per month for both. I then divided that into the $8000 you would be out of pocket.

But chances are the '02 Acura will cost more in maintenance, and will be worth less in 5 years (for example) than something newer, and I did not calculate that. Some of that $8000 would come back to you when/if you sell.

As you know, generally speaking, the (paid for) car you have is almost always the cheapest car you can own if it is take car of regularly. Also, the Acura is probably very comfortable to drive! I vote for keeping it, at least until the safer cars come down in price.

Another thing I always wonder about when people feel bad driving low-mpg cars for environmental reasons: if they sell it, it will still be driven, and presumably still burning fossil fuels that mess up the environment. I know that is not your reason, but I do wonder what people think about this.