TodayApril 15, 2022

The real cost of owning a car

Freedom’s just another word

There really aren’t too many things better than going for a long drive, is there? It’s just you, your car, your playlist, and the open road. It’s one of those life-affirming experiences, one that allows you to dream big, a reminder of how fun technology and our human inventions can be.

But we all already know just how enjoyable driving can be. Wouldn’t it be wrong to deny that there are some less than fun aspects of driving? We think so. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at some of the more frustrating components of being behind the wheel and how you can fix them. With our help, you’ll be able to limit the downsides and spend more time focusing on all there is to love about driving.

The Cost of Gas

Wouldn’t it be oh so great if the purchase of a car was “all-inclusive”? That is, all the additional charges were included in the cost of the vehicle. Alas, that’s not the case. Perhaps the most frustrating expense is the gas. You’ve already bought the vehicle, but now it’s useless unless you put gas in the tank. While getting around town will be minimal, if you want to take a longer trip, you’ll likely find that you’re spending more than you’d like on gas. While gas will never be free, you can do things to keep the costs to a minimum. The first is to buy the gas at the right place. Some places charge more than others — and some states charge much, much more. The second is to learn how to drive so that you don’t use more gas than necessary. Some people have an aggressive driving style, and this uses a lot more gas than is required. If you drive slow and steady, you’ll reach the optimal miles per gallon (mpg) rate, which means less frequent trips to the pump.

Car Depreciation

There aren’t too many big investments that lose value the second that you use them. If you buy a house, then the value will go up, providing you to properly take care of it. A car is different. The more you drive, the more value it will lose. Even if you take exceptional care of it, it’s unlikely that you’ll get your money back when it comes to selling. The exception is for things like RVs, which can even increase in value if you take care of them. Car depreciation is just a fact of car ownership. Still, it’s not as if you have to accept that the value will drop significantly. There are things you can do that’ll limit the damage. Regular servicing and safe driving will keep the car in good condition, which will mean that you’ll be able to ask for more money when it comes to selling.

Added Costs

At the beginning of the article, we mentioned how gas was an unavoidable expense when you own a car. There are others, too. For example, there’s road tax; how much you pay will depend on where you live, but it’s not an optional expense: if you plan to drive your vehicle on the road, then you’ll have to pay it. And then there’s the matter of insurance. It’s essential to have adequate insurance, but finding an affordable quote can indeed be difficult. To get the best insurance quote, work with experienced car insurance agents; they’ll know you need to get affordable coverage. As with most things related to car expenses, these things aren’t selective: you’ll have to pay them. But how much you pay is more in control than you might think.

Bumper to Bumper Traffic

The dream scenario is to be out there, on the open road, living the driving dream. But that doesn’t always happen. In fact, during some periods, it feels like it never happens. For most of us, use our vehicles are used for functional purposes, such as getting to and from work. During our commute, we begin to have doubts about this whole driving business, in large part because we’re not driving. We’re just sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. If you find that your commute is slowly killing your love of driving, then look at making some changes. There is usually more than one way to reach a destination. Is there a quieter, more scenic route you could take? The option given to you by Google Maps and other services will be the fastest route. But it’s sometimes better to prioritize things other than speed, such as your sanity. Even if a different route takes fifteen more minutes than your current journey, you’ll enjoy it much more if you’re driving, rather than spending the whole time accelerating and braking every few meters.

Other Drivers

Oh, how nice it would be to drive if there were no other road drivers. While most drivers are just fine, there’s always one or two that try to spoil things for everyone else. You know the ones we’re talking about, they’re the people who nudge their way into the roads, who don’t use indicators, who seem to gain pleasure from driving behind you as close as possible. What they are doing is dangerous, no doubt, but even if they’re not dangerous, they still make our blood boil. The solution? Require everyone to take a test before they’re allowed to drive. Oh wait, we already do that. These people are just bad drivers. The only logical solution is not to let it get to you. We know that it can be profoundly satisfying to yell at another driver or to project your anger silently. But what good does this do? You’ll only end up ruining your day, while the driver that caused your misery continues on their way. That’s not a smart approach. Instead…just let it go. If you find this difficult to do, then engage in some relaxation techniques.

Difficult Cars

Some cars are a dream. It seems like they’re always by your side, they give you no problems, they’re just a good machine. But where are these cars? We know they exist, but they’re not in our garages. The majority of vehicles will have one kind of problem or another, from time to time. That’s not a major headache — perfect cars are rare, after all. It’s those extra difficult cars that you need to watch out for while driving. These are the ones where it seems like you’re never too far away from having trouble. Your options here are either to invest in a new vehicle or to find a good mechanic. A good mechanic is worth its weight in gold. Many cowboys out there got into the game because it’s a good way to make a living. Then there are the mechanics who know machines inside out. They’re the ones you need.

Backseat Drivers

There are many different ways to experience driving. Sometimes, you’re just out for a drive to clear your head. They’re good ones. Sometimes, you’re just trying to get to where you need to be; they can be fine, but a little stressful. The other key difference between driving experiences is whether you have passengers or not. Carrying friends and family can be deeply enjoyable, especially if you’re helping them out by giving them a ride somewhere — it’s good to do nice things! But sometimes, having other people in your vehicle can be annoying. For example, when you have someone who’s a backseat driver. These are the people who won’t let you get on with the act of driving. They have to put their two cents in and provide a running commentary on everything you’re doing. You can’t change their character, but you can utter the magic words that’ll get them to stop: “please be quiet.”

Too Much Time Behind the Wheel

You might love driving, but let’s not forget that too much of anything can be bad. Suppose you’re spending too much time behind the wheel. In that case, you can’t have too many complaints if you’re beginning to get a little sick of driving, mostly if you’ve encountered any of the other annoying aspects we’ve mentioned in this article. If it feels like you’re doing nothing but driving, then look at taking a break. Even two days without buckling up will make you grateful to have a car in your life. We all need a little bit apart from the things we love, to recognize just what we have.


And there we have it. As we’ve seen, driving isn’t always a 10/10 experience. But with a little guidance, you can make sure they become things of the past — or at least be a bit less annoying.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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