Is the expense of owning a car really worth it?

Here’s a question. If you have a car, do you really need it?

Of course for some people the answer is an absolute yes. If you use your car on a daily basis for work, school runs, essential errands and so on, it would be difficult to manage without.

But for many of us, things are not quite as clear cut. In which case, is the expense of owning a car really worth it?

In this article we take a quick look at:

  • The costs of owning a car;

  • The advantages and disadvantages of owning a car;

  • The alternatives to owning a car.

The costs of owning a car

Have you ever sat down and worked out exactly how much money you are spending on your car? According to recent research by Kwik Fit, it costs an average of £2000 per year to keep your car on the road. 

Note that this figure does not include the cost of the car itself. So if, for example, you are making regular repayments on a low apr loan for your car, this would be over and above the £2000 just mentioned.

Here are some of the main areas where you will be forking out money:

  • Fuel

On average this is around £1300 a year for a petrol car, and £1700 for diesel. But with fuel prices rising this will become more expensive.

  • Insurance

According to Money Supermarket, the average annual cost of comprehensive car insurance in the UK in 2021 was £412.

  • Vehicle tax

You need to pay a tax when the vehicle is first registered, which covers it for 12 months. There is then vehicle tax due every following 12 months at a different rate. The amount you have to pay depends on the type of car you drive, but a typical annual rate is £155.

  • Servicing and MOT

Every car over 3 years old needs to have an annual MOT to prove that it is roadworthy. Costs vary, and the maximum that can currently be charged is £54.85. Many car owners choose to have their car serviced at the time of the MOT and this is likely to cost around £200.

  • Maintenance and repairs

The cost of ongoing car maintenance varies, but needs to include checking all car oils and fluids and replacing as needed, and keeping an eye on tyres, lights, and bodywork for signs of wear or damage. Car repairs are less predictable, but can be expensive to sort out if something goes wrong with your car.

  • Cleaning

You can cut the cost of cleaning  your car by doing it yourself rather than pay a car valet or use a car wash. However, there are still the costs of cleaning materials and energy to be considered.

  • Parking, tolls and fines

These additional costs are all fairly small in themselves but can add up over time, and need to be factored into the overall costs of owning a car.

So it is definitely not cheap to run a car. But what are the other pros and cons of car ownership?

The advantages and disadvantages of owning a car

Like any other decision in life, there are pros and cons to owning a car. The main advantage of course is convenience. With a car, you can go anywhere you want to, whenever you want to, regardless of the weather. You also have the means to transport people, pets and stuff as needed.

However, there are several disadvantages to owning a car. For starters, we have just looked at the costs. But some other potential disadvantages are:

  • Pollution

In our recent article Is it time to make your pledge to the planet?, we looked at a range of things that we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint. One of these is to use cars less, as cars have a much higher carbon footprint than public transport. It’s estimated that every petrol car on the road generates an average of 174 g CO2 per kilometre. 

  • Lack of exercise

Cars can be incredibly convenient but they can also lead us into lazy habits. It’s all too easy to use your car for every journey, even the shorter ones where it would actually be possible to walk and get some valuable exercise in the process. 

  • Stress

Even though cars are convenient, they can also be a cause of stress. First of all there is the responsibility of maintaining the car in the first place. But many people also find aspects of using a car stressful. Whether that is the driving itself, traffic jams, aggression from other drivers or trying to find a parking space, it could be a lot less stressful to use another means of transport. 

The alternatives to owning a car

Even if you agree with all of the above, and would prefer not to have a car, it can be a daunting prospect if you are used to the convenience of having one.

But there are alternative ways forward. If you do not have a car, you can make journeys by other means, for example:

  • Walking

  • Cycling

  • Public transport

  • Taxi or Uber

If you do particularly want or need to drive there is always the option of hiring a car for a few days. Yes, this will cost money, but much less than the ongoing cost of car ownership. 

When considering hiring a car, be sure to look out for the growing number of peer to peer car hiring and sharing schemes, such as Zipcar, Hiyacar, and Karshare. These can work out cheaper than mainstream car hire companies and it’s also possible to enter into ongoing arrangements for regular car hire.

In this article we have looked at:

  • The costs of owning a car;

  • The advantages and disadvantages of owning a car;

  • The alternatives to owning a car.

If you are considering whether or not car ownership is still working for you, we hope that some of this information helps you to make the right decision. 

For more lifestyle and financial tips visit us here again soon at Minty Loans.