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True Cost to Own (TCO) - Hidden Costs of Car Ownership



  • laumannlaumann Posts: 10
    We entered your options into the Used TMV Appraiser with 15,000 miles and clean condition, and the amount is $18,793 in the Chicago area vs. a one-year resale value of $17,318 in the TCO tool. The $1475 difference is primarily due to the price of your multiple options being more than the typically installed equipment identified in the TCO tool for this vehicle.

    Regarding the Escape's ground clearance and rim/tire size, although different ground clearances might be expected with different tires, all of our Ford sources show only a 7.8" ground clearance for all Escapes whether equipped with 225.15 or 235.16 tires. These sources include Ford’s dealer guide, media site and Escape brochures. If information is received from Ford indicating a different ground clearance, we will modify the data on our site.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 12,887
    kind of ironic that the last post before yours was also about an escape.
    i chose an '04 escape xlt, ct zip code. why is maintenance in year 1 over $1000?
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • marie5marie5 Posts: 4
    I put in the VIN for my old Volvo, which has been totalled twice just since I've had it, and was obviously in a flood before I bought it (used). Carfax came up with their "Good News" - no wrecks or anything else reported.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,663
    Carfax is not "useless", but as your example points out, it is not entirely accurate.

    I use it as a filter. If the cf isn't clean, forget it; if it is, I check the car out carefully.

  • funtaifuntai Posts: 6
    If you drive a lot, is it worth it to buy a 3-4 year old used car? I've been looking to buy a used car but Edmund's TCO calculation is making me reconsider.

    For instance, look at the TCO of the 02 Civic Si vs. the 05 Civic Si. In my zip code, the TCO are 28,187 to 31,107, but TCO assumes some average mileage per year - say 15k mi. Since maintenance costs are more closely coupled to mileage than deprecation, if I drive, say, 50k mi a year, the TCO would probably come out to be somewhat similar, and I'd be getting a new car. If the TCO for older cars was available, I'd compare vs. 5-10 year old cars, but none of the really old cars I've looked at have TCO information.

    The only advantage I can see is that the car would take a smaller loss in the case of an accident. Am I missing something? If this is correct, what’s the advantage of buying a 3-4 year old car?
  • How much do you really drive a year. 50K ???

    If so, forget Edmunds TCO, your best bet is a VW TDI. It's the best car for the dollar for high-speed high-mileage driving available in NA. Any extra repair you have to put into it as compared to a Civic is easily offset by fuel-cost savings. A TDI will average better than 50mpg on the highway, and has 10K mile oil change intervals. You could probably go 3 months between oil changes as opposed to a month or so with a Civic.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,197
    Around here, the stations are really gouging for diesel. It's about 50 cents a gallon more than regular.

    VW's are, by nature troublesome cars compared to Hondas.

    Honda calls for 10,000 mile oil changes on Civics also but I know I would never let any car I owned go that far.

    then the hassel of diesel...the stink etc.

    No thanks!
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    Around here, the stations are really gouging for diesel. It's about 50 cents a gallon more than regular.

    The station next door is selling unleaded for $2.41 and diesel is $2.79
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,197
    And it's robbery. Diesel should be about 1/2 the price of gasoline!
  • Diesel's get about 30 percent better milage than an equivalent gas engine.

    So if gas sells for $2.40 you could theoretically pay up to $3.12 a gallon for diesel and still break even. That's 72 cents more for the math challenged.

    However, diesels sell for more money than a gasoline engine. I'll ballpark the street price diesel premium at $4000.

    So using those numbers and the previous posters prices of $2.41 gas and $2.79 diesel and 50k miles per year. Also assume a compact car like a VW Jetta TDI versus a regular Jetta.

    50k miles @ 45 mpg (diesel) ==> $3100 per year in diesel
    50k miles @ 35 mpg (gas engine) ==> $3443 per year gas

    so you save about $343 a year driving the diesel however you paid a $4k premium for the diesel.

    So it would take you 11.6 years to break even on your diesel purchase. If you include interest carrying costs of the extra $4k for the diesel engine then if may take 20 years to break even.

    If you don't like my assumptions on mileage/diesel engine/fuel costs feel free to use your own and re-run them.

    The effect though will be that it's really hard to make a case for a diesel car based on saving dollars.

    For what it's worth Hybrid cars have similar economics as diesels in that the economics just don't make sense (or should I say cents).
  • Ho Hum.. It's late, so I'll just point out the holes in your reasoning.

    45 mpg easy in a TDI
    35 mpg darn near impossible in the gas version.

    On a yearly average, diesel costs a little less than regular unleaded, this past year notwithstanding.

    The premium isn't 4000, for the Jettas anyway.

    Bottom line - if you drive 50k a year, a TDI is one of the best cars you can buy - and the gas Jetta one of the worst.
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    A better example would be using 12K-15K miles per year which covers the huge majority of buyers. Like jasmith has mentioned, many folks won't save any money at all and in many cases it will end up costing if your reasoning is to be 'green' at any cost then the debate is very different.

    According to the vw website the jetta tdi auto gets...35/42mpg with a blazing 100hp. I wonder What a gasoline engine with 100hp would get for MPG??
  • According to the vw website the jetta tdi auto gets...35/42mpg with a blazing 100hp. I wonder What a gasoline engine with 100hp would get for MPG??

    You forgot >175 lbs-ft of torque (at ~1800 rpm, no less).

    You put in a 100 HP engine without that kind of torque in a 3200 lb car, it wouldn't even make it out of the dealer's parking lot.
  • valleyvalley Posts: 12
    I'm new here and loved the concept of "cost per mile". But I feel that the current configuration of the TCO tool is more valuable as a reference tool than as a purchase aid. And I'm sure many who visit would die to have more purchase aids as the site has already provided.

    A main function of purchase tool is to compare different vehicles. Here, the TOC tool is extremely easy to compare among vehicles in the same category. It seems that difference in depreciation cost (market stat) is the most significant, followed by that in fuel cost (EPA rating). Reliability stat is reflected in repair costs. The rest are of much lesser significance.

    Now, my questions are:

    1. Why 15K miles per year when many insurance co's take an average of 8K miles, and I've read American average about 10K miles? This would significantly affect differences in fuel costs. It would be better to make a calculator to allow users to enter their estimated annual mileage.

    2. Why not make a calculator to allow users to enter their perspective "EPP" - estimated purchase price? Unlike the TMV calculated by, which is a national or state-wide average over a fairly long period of time, EPP would reflect opportunity costs associated with the user's local market and timing.

    The two calculator suggested here really won't cost much, and they won't skew any other factors that make TCO tool truly valuable. (The annual mileage input can further affect repair cost; and maintenance to a lesser extent.)

    Let me explain the second calculator (input box, really) further. The concept of opportunity cost is like the following. In the category of vehicle I'm considering buying, one manufacturer is offering deep discount on a certain model (for whatever reason) in my region yet others in my region stick to their MSRP - or a less competitive discount. The TMV cannot possibly reflect such local and temporal market condition. In other words, my decision window is significantly shorter than TMV's stats window. Let's say TCO of a Toyota model beats a comparable Ford model by $3,000 using TMV as base, but Ford is offering $4,000 discount below TMV. Which model carries a lower TCO for me, who need to make a decision today, in this town, not over a period of six months across the state?

    Another possible calculator (input box): financing cost. Nowadays, different manufacturers can roll out different financing incentives for a certain period of time. And this difference is not taken into account in TCO tool. So the buyer would have to figure out if a 0% financing incentive is worth $0.05 per mile fuel cost over 5 years. Such a calculation would be fairly straight forward if user data are allowed in TCO tool.

    And what if I usually keep a vehicle for 3 years rather than 5 years?

    The point is, temporal and local market fluctuations do not favour averaging methods used in TMV and TCO when used as a purchase tool. Additionally, certain personal usage patterns (annual mileage, total ownership period) can also affect TCO comparison.

    My 3 cents.
  • :confuse: I found what I think is a big discrepancy in the TCO on the 2007 Honda Fit and Sport Fit. Edmunds TCO shows $111 difference in insurance costs between the two trim levels in the first year of ownership for my zip code. In fact, our insurance company charges $650 more a year for the Sport Fit than they do for the regular trim. That's a mighty big difference IMHO. Makes me wonder about the other numbers...
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 100,166
    It makes me wonder more about your insurance company...

    $650 more to cover alloy wheels and some body trim? It is the same exact car as far as engine/transmission... Those are the variables that insurance companies usually worry about.

    Not the host here

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • I know, I was surprised also! The better tires on the Sport model would make it safer as well. Apparently people who drive cars with "sport" in the name drive, well, sportily and this makes for unhappy insurance adjusters... ;)
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    Good point. I was also amazed at my ins. co. when they gave me quotes for the exact same car, only difference, one was a 4 dr sedan and the other was a 2 dr coupe. The coupe was about $220 more a year.
  • One more reason for me to be glad that I changed my mind from the coupe to the sedan. I only had to pay $46 more for my '06 Civic LX MT full coverage insurance (changed over from a 2001 Chevy Lumina.) Of course, I've never had to collect on anything yet. If that ever happens, I'm sure it will skyrocket.
  • punkr77punkr77 Posts: 183
    Since my wife and I have been looking at perhaps getting a Fit anyway, I got quotes for the Fit and Fit Sport from my current insurance company. The difference? $12 per year. I'd have the insurer run those quotes again.

    What surprised me was how small the difference was in premiums between the 3 cars we're looking at: Fit Sport, Civic Si, or Element SC. The Si was the most expensive (which I expected), but only about $30/year over the Element and $80/year over the fit.
  • jfknottjfknott Posts: 13
    Another good resource that has been around for years is Intellichoice's Complete Car Cost Guide. The book takes into account the most common expenses incurred when purchasing and maintianing a vehicle. Additionally it breaks the expense of ownership down to the cents per mile driven for each vehicle.
    Is it the end all to researching which vehcile is the best value? No. However it is an excellent resource when combined with other material.

    Author of: From Zero to Hero, How to Master the Art of Selling Cars
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Hey, Jeff, congrats on the new book! It looks like a good one. We do ask that you not make a habit including the link in your "by line," however, since it would be regarded as solicitation.

    I invite you to visit our Stories from the Sales Frontlines discussion which you should find interesting and I'm sure you would have some tales to share that other members would love to read!

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • jfknottjfknott Posts: 13
    Sorry about that I am just in the habit of using it as a signature for all of my emails and posts. Is it Ok to use if it doesn't link?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Is it Ok to use if it doesn't link?

    We prefer that you don't. Other members will still see it as soliciting and it will get in the way of meaningful dialog.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • fw360fw360 Posts: 1

    I think the "cost of ownership" starts with the initial price of the car. I am ready to buy a new car and I am a bit confused by some of the charges that is in the pricing that a sales has sent me.

    It shows the normal price items: vehicle base model, options, destination charge. But then it has some strange items: TDA, Dealer Holdback, Wholesale Financial Reserve.

    Can you or someone educate me on what are they?

  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Here's a start:

    TDA is the Toyota Dealer Advertising fee which the dealer has to pay to a dealer advertising group.

    Read all about Dealer holdback here: here.

    Wholesale financial reserve used to be called the "floorplan fee" which is a fee the dealer pays to the manufacturer supposedly to cover the cost of keeping a car in the showroom but for which the dealer gets reimbursed when the car is sold.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    Dealer holdback: Additional revenue paid to the dealer from the manufacturer if certain sales incentives are met. So why is the dealer adding this item as a cost to you? I don't have a clue.

    My advice, run, not walk, away from this dealer.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    if certain sales incentives are met.

    I don't think holdback has anything to do with incentives. It helps the dealer with cash flow, increasing profit and minimizing commissions to salespeople - see the link I provided in my previous message.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Sometimes holdback is tied into meeting certain objectives or CSI scores. It all depends on the brand.
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