Couple Money

Looking at the Total Costs of Ownership with the Cars

reliable used scion

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This week we're test driving some cars we're interested in. We're looking at cars from private sellers and we're considering cars from dealerships.

I didn't realize it until we were car shopping, but it's hard to get an idea on how much a car is being sold on the TV ads. I naively thought, I can see what deals are being offered, but 90% of what I saw was basically about the low car payments (when you take in the down payment required in the fine print) or the great leasing rate.

We're concerned about it because looking at buying a reliable used car, not financing it with a car loan. We're looking at the price upfront and the total cost of ownership of different models.

Comparing the Total Costs of Owning Family Sedans

Starting off the search, we used the data from Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and your feedback on what models to look at. We knew we needed a car bigger than what we currently have. We also knew that we wanted a reliable car that got better gas mileage as well.

Our list started off with:

We then looked at the numbers closer to get a better idea of what would be a good fit for us.

True Cost to Own According to Edmunds

A handy tool for us was Edmunds' own true cost to own calculator. It calculates total cost of ownership, considering depreciation, fuel costs, maintenance, repairs, and insurance premiums. For those interested in financing, the calculator also includes interest on loans with their report.

Besides entering the year, model, and trim you want, it also requests your zip code so you can get idea of what to expect in your area.

I'll share the numbers for 2008 models in our zip code, all the costs included. These are 5 years costs. Just for comparison (and for those curious), I'll include the total cost of ownership for the 2012 models in parentheses.

*I only found 2011 information for the xD.

It's not a complete picture, but it's a very useful tool when you're looking at different models and trying to find a good buy. Some of the numbers can be tweaked; for instance we shop around to get the best value with car insurance.

The Final 3 Models

Of course we looked at more than just the Edmunds' data. It's a very handy ballpark calculator. If you're a concious driver/owner you can lower those costs a bit.

After looking at several models, we've narrowed down our search. Basically we're looking for either:

So far we've found that we can get a newer Sonata (less miles), so we may go that route.

Thoughts on Buying a Car

How many of you are looking for a car? What are your main factors for what to buy?

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