When you commute over twenty-five miles a day for work your vehicle is your work. Of the many considerations the road warrior ponders when taking a job far away from home, the proper choice in vehicle is often one of the considerations. This worksheet helps establish the most pertinent factors of choosing a vehicle that shall become your work by evaluating the costs of ownership as understood by professionals in the field.
Dollar Cost Analysis of Transportation
Considerations such as MPG, Depreciation, Repair Costs and Coverage of Warranty and Physical toll are all important in achieving maximum efficiency when choosing a “work vehicle.” In the analysis contained herein it is also important for the reader to note that considerations such as towing and payload capacity are not considered in this model. Rather, this is system of how to spend the least amount of money on transportation costs and keep the most amount of the paycheck you receive every two weeks.
MPG, or miles per gallon, is an extremely tricky but important consideration. MPG is tricky because MPG is purchased up front when the buyer chooses a particular type of engine. In other words, a diesel motor that achieves 45 mpg, costs an additional $3500 dollars up-front and costs an additional dollar per gallon in fuel costs (not to mention the 35% premium on repair and servicing costs to keep that motor running). So clearly, diesel isn’t a favorable choice unless the buyer wishes to wait 6 to 7 years to recoup the investment in which time he or she would be driving a 200,000 mile car that invariably would have other necessary non-engine related repairs to be made.
Hybrid is also an interesting choice. It also costs a premium, but the real jettison in fuel mileage is in the City driving, which isn’t usually the issue for commuter type vehicles. Hybrid vehicles also carry an average premium to their non-hybrid counterparts of $3900. An important comparison is that a vehicle that achieves 35 MPG (non-hybrid) vs. a vehicle that achieves 50 MPG (Hybrid) saves the driver 214 gallons of gas per year assuming the driver drives 25,000 miles per year (714 gallons used at 35mpg vs 500 at 50mpg. That only equates to an $800 savings per year based on fuel at $3.75/gallon! That means that the hybrid takes 4.86 years to just break even assuming zero interest on the price difference! A buyer in this situation should take the $3900 difference and invest it in a savings account at 1% interest and they would be way ahead at the end of four years.
In sum the smart money choice is a four cylinder vehicle anywhere from 2.0- 2.4 liters in engine. Many would ask, why not a 1 liter engine? Answer what’s the point of working so hard if you are driving a death trap?
The most overlooked cost in owning a work car is depreciation. Depreciation is the silent killer of the commuting worker because it is invisible to the driver on a daily basis. That said on average every mile driven over 15,000 miles per year costs the driver $.15/mile (based on Kelly Blue Book). That means that a driver who drives 25,000 miles per year costs themselves $1500 in additional depreciation.
Initial depreciation is also a common killer of the commuter. A new vehicle depreciates on average thirty-two percent when driven off the lot. This means that the commuter who purchases new is literally losing more when they buy more vehicle. The difference in initial deprecation between a $25,000 car and a $35,000 dollar car is $3,000 that the buyer of the $35,000 car suffers! While there are two exceptions to the thirty-percent rule, the Honda Civic and the GMC Terrain which both boast the very best resale in the business, used is always preferable to new when choosing a work vehicle. A used car only suffers from additional depreciation or miles added to the vehicle because the first buyer took the initial depreciation hit.
Often overlooked by the unsuspecting commuter, repair costs are the second largest costs bore by the commuting car buyer. Vehicles with longer warranties are always preferable to vehicles with shorter warranties. Also, vehicles with low initial quality such as KIA, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Nissan and Chrysler are less preferable to vehicles with high initial quality such as Lexus, Buick, Honda, Chevrolet, GMC and Toyota. Since a commuter will expire a warranty faster than a non-commuter, often initial quality is an important consideration of cost. Not to mention that a day in the shop is a day off of work and that is a killer on the paycheck!
Commuters should avoid vehicles that come with an expensive shop bill or extensive maintenance to ensure proper functioning.
Almost never considered by commuters are the costs they incur by purchasing a vehicle not focused on comfort. One hour in the car can be physically strenuous to a person’s body let alone 2-3 hours. Seated in the wrong position, or in a car with poor ergonomics can literally deteriorate a person’s spine. Chiropractors and physical therapists make a living off of treating commuters from the damage that poorly designed vehicles and vehicles lacking the attention to comfort cause.
Commuters thus must pay close attention to the suspension, comfort of the seats and accessibility of features such as cruise control, radio, and climate control when choosing a vehicle for work. Chiropractor trips can cost thousands even with insurance coverage.
Hopefully this helps you road warriors better choose your next vehicle.
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