My Total Cost of Car Ownership – 16.8 Cents Per Mile

I kept track of all the expenses associated with my 1997 Toyota Camry so that I could calculate the total cost of ownership per mile. I bought the Camry for $3500 in October 2009 and traded it in for $1600 in May 2012. During that time I drove the car a total of 71,802 miles. My total cost of ownership came out to 16.877 cents per mile. Buying a used car saved me a lot of money. I don’t think it would be possible to ever get that low of a cost per mile with a new car.

I spent $1376.91 on repairs. The biggest repair expense was $421.87 for replacing the timing belt. That was also the only repair where the car broke down and caused a transportation problem. All of the other repairs were scheduled ahead of time so that not having the car wasn’t a problem. I think the car was pretty reliable. Even with a new car you might have at least one breakdown when driving 71,000 miles.

The biggest car ownership expense was gasoline. I spent $6504.70 on gasoline for the car. That is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on gas, but it could have been a lot worse. The Camry got about 25mpg around town and about 30mpg on the highway. I wish my van could get anywhere near as good of MPG as that.

The other car expenses were oil changes, tires, parking, property tax, sales tax, registration, licensing, parking, inspection, and car washes. I tried to get every single expense associated with the car. I probably missed something along the line, but I think the final figure is at least 99% accurate.

The final cost per mile of 16.877 cents is pretty good, but the actual cost is even better. I could have deducted the $500 for repairs we got from the insurance company after getting rear ended at a stoplight and I probably should have since some of that money was spent on the car and the accident did reduce the trade-in value of the car. I also was reimbursed for some of my miles driven by a couple of my employers. The non-profit I worked for gave me something like 27 cents per mile for reimbursement. The Census Bureau gave me the IRS rate which I think was 55 cents per mile at that time. I didn’t keep records though of how many miles I received reimbursement for. A very large part of the miles driven was for business purposes and was deducted from our income tax. I could look up that info from our tax returns, but I’m too lazy to do so right now. The reimbursements were more than my actual cost per mile so I actually made money from them. If I were to figure the cost of reimbursements the total cost per mile might get down to about ten cents a mile. For now I’ll stick with the 16.877 cents per mile figure since it is already pretty good.

10 thoughts on “My Total Cost of Car Ownership – 16.8 Cents Per Mile”

  1. Seems like a great rate. I haven’t calculated my cost per mile yet, but I know it’s pretty low at this point. I bought my wife’s car for $1,600, have put in about $700 for repair, but have put about 100k miles on it so far, at 30MPG.

    • Getting 100k miles out of a $1600 car that gets 30MPG is a really good deal. I’m sure your cost per mile is as low as mine or lower. People underestimate the reliability and longevity of cheap used cars.

  2. I have thought about doing this similar exercise with our ’97 Accord. I purchased it for around $3600 a few years ago and have put 60,000 miles on it. I’m sure we could sell it for around $2k now but we’ve put in quite a few repairs on it…maybe $2-3k. I haven’t tracked the gas though so it would be tough to really come up with a $/mile figure.

    • It would be hard to get complete figures after the fact although you could probably get a fairly accurate ballpark figure. It sounds like you’ve done okay with the car even though there have been a few repairs.

  3. I’m in a 04 dodge. Bought it for $7000, $1300 on tires, $100 on a battery, 3 oil changes at $45 a pop, $2750 on gas over 10500 miles equals roughly 1.06 a mile…. as much as i love it i think it’s time to reconsider…


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