Vehicle Cost per year – My Ford Escort

Vehicle Cost per year – My Ford Escort

I recently sold my original pimp ride so I figured it would be good to break down the costs of the vehicle.

1990 Ford Escort
Purchase Date: 10/2004
Mileage: 90,000
Cost $1000
Sales Tax $50
Repairs: $463 (tie-rods, timing belt)
Maintenance (oil-changes) – $100 (5)
Insurance Costs: $575 ($115 every 6 months)
Total Expenses= $2288

Sold: 04/2007
Mileage 129,000
Money Received – ($125)

Total Cost – $2163
Total Miles driven: 39,000
Total Months owned: 30
Cost per mile: 5.5 cents per mile
Cost per month: $72.10
Cost per year: $865.20

Things not included: vehicle registration fees (same regardless of car so not included). Also gas, because it’s too hard to keep track of, but my car did get over 30mpg.

Now I have never done this for a car before so I’m not sure how great these stats actually are, but my guess is if most people did the same calculations with their cars they would probably incur higher costs than I did. Overall I was not horribly satisfied with the results I got from this car as I got rid of it way before I wanted to (I was hoping to get at least 150,000 miles out of it. Like I said the car still ran and I could have repaired it, but I came across a good deal in my Corolla and decided to pull the plug on the Escort.

I will keep similar records with my new car and hopefully after a few cars I will have a good idea of what is a good cost per month/year/mile for a vehicle. My guess is that the above stats for my car over a 30 month period are probably less than the average person’s cost after only a few months, especially if you buy a new car. Heck the sales tax, insurance, and monthly payments would probably exceed my total costs after only 2 or 3 months.

Anyway I think that from a purely financial standpoint, buying a sub $1000 car after doing your homework is by far the best way to minimize your vehicle expenses. I’ll be totally honest with all of my repairs and costs as I own my vehicles and I can be your guinea pig to see if this actually works. Granted my new car might blow up tomorrow and I would have to eat crow, but I still only have $750 invested in it, I know I can get at least $100 for it at the junk yard, so I’d be outu $687.50 (sales tax included). That’s not a really big hit, so when you drive vehicles like this you are sort of diversifying your risk. Instead of putting $10,000-$30,000 in one vehicle which could just as likely blow up. Not to mention the depreciation difference in the vehicles. My car can only possibly depreciate $650 from the purchase price 🙂

I guess really the only big downer for some people to driving a car like this is that it doesn’t look pretty and new. For me I purposely seek out vehicles with rust problems because I know that it has no negative effect on the car’s performance, but it will greatly reduce the cars purchase price. I put no value in cosmetics, but Kelly Blue Book and most other people put a great deal into the cosmetic appearance which is good news for me. That being said, you can still find a good cheap older car with no rust and a good body. Just know that you will be paying extra for those attributes.

  • So, you sold it for jsut $25 over what a junk yard would give you? Was it pretty much done ( didn’t see a post on what was wrong with it)

  • MFJ

    Actually the junk yard gave me $125 for it. The car was probably very fixable. I dunno there was some exhaust leaking from the spark plug area which made it run really loud and my car smell like exhaust (I’m not car savvy).

    I’m not sure though had I spent the money to get it fixed I would have been able to sell it for much more than the $125 + the repair costs, seeing as how most people don’t see cars the way I do 😉 The inside actually was immaculate, and I’m sure had I spent the time I could have gotten more money out of it at the end, but I was sort of lazy and just took the $125 and called it a day.

  • Option2

    How about negative cost? If you get on the list and buy a new Ferrari F430 at retail you could drive it for a year and make more than enough profit on it to cover all expenses including fuel and registration.

  • Ncineration

    Well, even at 30 mpg (escorts usually average less but we’ll go with it) gas costs for 39,000 miles at an average of $2.00 a gallon (lower then you paid most likely) makes 2,600$. So total cost puts you over 4700$, probably considerably.

    On a sidenote, it died after 39,000 miles of your ownership and over that time you did 5 oilchanges. Considering you should be changing oil every 3000 miles or so(ESPECIALLY on old beaters like this) you were vastly over your recommended miles per oil change. You should have done at least 13 oil changes over that time, with a high mileage engine partial synthetic preferably…………

    But I digress,

  • Ncineration

    39,000 miles for 5 oilchanges = an oilchange every 7800 miles, almost triple what you should have been driving per change. At that kind of interval you were driving on pure sludge and two quarts low. I hope you were at least checking the oil semi-regularly and adding as needed………

    Take care of your new beater, change that oil!

  • MFJ

    @Ncineration –

    Thanks I might have misplaced an oil change receipt. I generally try to go about every 5,000 miles, but previous Escort I actually went over 43,000 miles without an oil change and that was when it had 150k miles on it. Changed it about every 10k after that and it was still running great at just under 200k when I hit a deer with it.

    I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about cars, but I’m not convinced that oil changes are as critical as people make them out to be. That being said I’ll probably keep a little tighter rain on this car as its almost over 200k now and I really like the vehicle.

  • ncineration

    Regular oil changes are practically the most critical upkeep you can do. The oil keeps things running smoothly, running the engine on sludgy old dirty oil (or low oil) means there is less lubrication on parts, more heat, more stress. It saps performance and mileage and does very real damage to your internal engine components. You can PHYSICALLY feel how much better the car is running if you get it an oil change after a good long time without.

    Your trying to save money on a car, learn the basics of maintnence to make that cheap car last longer. Get a couple tools and learn how to do your own oilchange (a set of car ramps, a dirty blanket, a oil pan, a wrench, some rubber gloves, and an oil filter removal tool should set you back maybe 50$). Every subsuquent oil change will take 10-30 minutes, and save you alot of money even if you are using some top shelf oil.

    You don’t need to be a mechanic, just know how to change an air filter (easy as cake) and change your oil. It’ll have your car running better and longer.

    My first act of business on that 200,000 mile toyota would be an air filter and oil change, spark plugs and wires too if it’s got a rough idle. Should set you back less then 100$ overall and the car will thank you.

  • MFJ

    @Ncineration – thanks for the advice. I really am trying to learn more about doing some of the maintenance myself as I know it could save me a lot of money and most of the stuff is pretty easy.

    Car runs pretty smooth, but I’m sure my previous Escort would have run much better with a change of spark plugs and wires as it did idle pretty rough. Do you have a specific place that you recommend getting supplies from on the cheap (online or discount store?)

    Thanks again –


  • That is a really low cost per year. I might try to figure my cost for my 94 Toyota that I bought in 2004. I paid $1750 for it and have driven it a little over 60,000 miles so far. I don’t think I have all my maintenance/repair receipts though. I know I spent more on repairs than you but probably not much more. Anyway it is obviously much cheaper than buying a new car.

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