the cost scheme

I am about to sell my old ’89 Volkswagen Golf II on sunday afternoon and just completed the excel sheet I have been maintaining over the last 5 years to keep track of car-related expenses. A cost overview where I would enter amounts spent on insurance, tax, repairs (maintenance) and – most importantly – petrol costs.

Different friends have been laughing about this to some extent, as I always noted down the mileage whenever I refueled the car and collected the bills. To their understanding, there would be no need in having an overview what the overall car costs are, also since the car is too old. It has been my first car though, which is why I wanted to have an overview of what I have repaired during the years and how much I’ve spent on this and that. Also, knowing how much petrol the car consumes indicates up-coming problems with the sparks, carburetor, petrol pump, etc. – just think of it as a regular, passive medical check-up.

Well, turns out I’ve driven the car for a total of ~ 71.000 kms during Feb. 2001 and Sept. 2006 (68 months), spent ~ EUR 895,- on tax costs, ~ EUR 2063,- on insurance costs, ~ EUR 2.892,- on repairs (cheap!) and ~ EUR 4.687,- on petrol – which generates a total of ~ EUR 10.537,-. And please be reminded – I bought the car for ~ EUR 1.636,- EUR in Feb. 2001 ( DEM 3.200,-).

Now, I did a lot of minor repairs by myself and have a friend who runs a garage and we had this deal that I would help him out with some computer stuff and he would repair my car whenever professional work would be needed. I bought spare parts at a wholesale price level and even ordered a new exhaust system via Ebay one day for a very jua kali price. Tax costs could have been lower by installing a different engine starter which would have lowered the tax classification from Euro1 to Euro2 – but it didn’t make sense for such an old car. Insurance costs where relatively cheap as I had registered the car on my Mzee’s name who got a huge discount. Petrol costs in Germany have risen for at least 27% during 2001 and 2006, which also explains why I’ve travelled even less kilometres with the car during the last two years (2005: 7.000km, 2006: 4.000km).

I think it’s interesting to know that you can buy a car for a small price but are forced to spend huge amounts on maintaining it. Also, when I look at unavoidable costs like insurance, tax and petrol (average consumption ~ 8l/100km), it seems that I did the right thing by buying an old (very old) car instead of leasing a new one. After all, I spent an average of about EUR 0,17 per driven kilometre – which is cheaper than what I would have spent on a new Toyota or so.

Now what is needed is to compare these expenses with others in Kenya and the US (for instance). Anyone?

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