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Car/Fuel Updates

December 14th, 2019 at 01:41 pm

I was doing some financial chores this morning and was looking at our total expenses for 2019.

One thing that stood out was our decreased car spending. I am long overdue for an update.

We purchased a plug-in hybrid in Fall 2019 when I changed jobs. Was a purchase we were probably going to do anyway, but the math changed substantially when I doubled my commute. I expect most of our "it's cheaper just to keep the old minivan we don't want" was due to how little we drove in the first place. I was scheming for many many years to replace. First, just doing a lateral change, and later wanting to buy an electric car. At the end it was 13-years-old and it was time to move on. But the math just never made any sense, and then suddenly it did make sense.

Which reminds me, we are comparing 8 months of gas minivan versus 12 months of hybrid car. I wasn't even thinking of that at first. Makes the numbers more astounding.

2019: $370 Electric fuel for hybrid
This pretty much covers my commute and small weekend trips. + any small errands in the evenings. Rounds out to $30/month. My commute is 200 miles per week.

The same commute would have cost $2,000 per year in minivan fuel. The savings is no small beans.

{We try to do *any* city driving in this car, because the fuel costs pennies in stop-and-go. This is why we also use this car for most night and weekend driving}.

2019: $270 Gas fuel for hybrid
This would just be Bay Area trips. Presume we did 20 trips, that would be about $13.50 per trip. Also substantial savings here. We can do part of the trip on electric, and the car gets about 45mpg on the gas engine.

2018 (8 months): $900 fuel spent on minivan

So I saved $260. Big whoop? Saved $700 when you adjust for a full year of minivan fuel.

Nope. Actually, we drove the minivan as little as possible. It was *mostly* my commute vehicle, but lord knows I drove our gas sipper whenever I could. The few months MH doesn't work, whenever I had to drive somewhere else during the day or needed to park in a small parking lot, etc.

2018 Gas sipper Fuel: $1,563
2019 Gas sipper Fuel: $ 820

Saved $743 on that car too. So we are back to *substantial* gas savings. Even though I *doubled* my commute. Did I mention that part?

Total fuel savings: $1,443, or $120 per month.

The hard part that is hard to carve out of this is MM(16)'s driving. We did pay for his fuel the first half of 2019 and added $166 fuel to our expenses for third car (plus I am sure he drove our cars a lot while he was still learning). But anyway, he was on his own the second half of 2019 and I am sure that also decreased our fuel costs somewhat.

Conclusion: Teen Driver + electric car = significantly reduced fuel costs.

Oh, and the other thing. MH only does city driving during the week, his commute and taking kids to school. So his car is only getting 25mpg or something horrific right now. UGH! I can no longer call that car the "gas sipper". It seems silly that I ever called it that. It does get 40mpg on the freeway and is why I called it that.

Which leads to the next couple of things.

REPAIRS
We had a lucky year on the car repair front. Very Very lucky. It was or first year as a 3-car family and we probably had a record year for car repairs (almost nothing).

Hybrid car is supposed to be very very low maintenance. Night and day compared to a large gas powered vehicle. It's also a much newer vehicle and will be under warranty for a while.

2019 Repairs: -$0-
BONUS: Oil change only once every 2 years; not due for another 9 months.

MM(16) is driving his car about 200 miles per month. Thought it's a 17-year-old car, low-miles driving keeps the costs down.

2019 Repairs: -$0-
BONUS: Mechanic told us to skip 6-month oil change this year because car was driven so little. (Basically, refused to change the oil when we took it in, because did not need). He may have an oil change this month.

MH car 2019 Repairs: $385
New battery, charge A/C, oil changes, replace windshield wipers, replace brake lights.

I had actually decided to just leave our "forever car repair" budget of $1,500 per year, even though we added a third car. Didn't have any room to increase that in the first place. But just let it go because I figured 2 new cars + one really old car would even out. Most years it's been a little more lopsided where we might have a 5yo car and a 15yo car. Now we have a couple of newer cars (don't expect much in repairs first 10 years) and we have a really old car. This year clearly worked out very well, but I feel like we were also just lucky. There is always something. Even on newer cars, tired need replacing, etc.

& finally, our plan to buy a second hybrid car...

Wish list: Want to buy a second Volt. We are *that* happy with the car. Somewhat of a lateral trade, with MH's vehicle. Actually, 100% lateral trade, if you factor the money we have saved (for 5 years) to eventually replace his car. Would be more short term cash outflow, but big picture/long-term wouldn't be spending more money than we would otherwise. The only thing I can come up with is we pay extra sales tax with more frequent car trading. Which would be very easily offset by fuel savings in this situation. So maybe some of why it feels so *shrugs* financially.

Last we discussed, we are considering a second Volt or an all-electric Bolt. We haven't test drove the Bolt yet, but it seems nearly identical in many respects.

For the short run, the all-electric Bolt is a no brainer. It would more than cover all of MH's city driving and save us a bajillion (more) dollars in fuel. It also has a decent enough range for our frequent trips to Bay Area. My only hesitation is that it would be such a short term purchase. MH has been looking for work (who knows where he may end up commuting to). DL(14) only needs a ride to school for 1.5 years at this point?

We last left it that we should wait one more year. It may make more sense to gift or sell MH's old car to MM(16) if he needs it for college. That is the other big question mark right now. No idea if he will need a car for college or not. (The car he has now is shared with his brother, so it stays here when he goes off to college).

It seems moot. We spent so much of our cash on this first Volt. In this case, we are looking in the $15k range (what we had spent on our last few vehicles). The Bolts seem to be losing value faster and more in our price range. The longer we wait the cheaper this car will be. I also still have hesitation about owning two identical cars. If any problems do crop up then it's problems x2. It's just so against my nature to put all our eggs in one basket so it weirds me out a bit. For these reasons, we may go all-electric. Get a slightly different vehicle, even if it is mostly the same. For MH's commute (a few miles per day, 8 months of the year) it would really cost pennies to run that car. It won't be anywhere near the $30/month I am spending on electric fuel. The all-electric is also even more low maintenance. I really do expect to significantly decrease our fuel costs for the long run.

If MM(16) does end up needing our car and we just give it to him, I suppose this also significantly increases the amount of cash we need to come up with to buy this newer vehicle. It should be a lot more clear next fall and that gives us time to save up the cash.

3 Responses to “Car/Fuel Updates”

  1. rob62521 Says:

    Glad you have found a car that is reasonable to drive since you have a longer commute. I understand not wanting two identical cars. Right now, that's where we are and I guess it worries me that my car which is 6 years old, wound up having a few things go wrong and were expensive to fix and wondering if the other car which is newer will have the same issues when it turns 6.

  2. Lucky Robin Says:

    I think if I were in your position I would look to go all electric. The technology is catching up and the heavy duty batteries they are working on are supposed to allow you to go 250 miles before charging. That might be something to wait and save for. Been a while since you've done a life update. What's going on in your actual life these days?

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    @LR - Not sure what you mean. No time to blog, which I have mentioned. I mentioned in recent post I was sick. So mostly in a semi-conscious state the last month or so. Absolutely nothing to report. Just got to dig out all over again now that I am feeling better. I suppose this last month has been more literal survival, but just another version of the "survival mode" I have been in for the past 2 years.

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