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Thread: Car-light costs

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    Car-light costs

    I'm writing the following post as an incentive for those car-light folks like myself who haven't yet made the jump to being carfree. Last month I spent over $500 on car repairs and today it's going to cost me over $1000 to get the engine fixed. Of course, within a couple more months I'll be dropping another $1000 for another year of insurance.

    Now I know you carfree folks reading this are probably thinking that it serves me right for owning a car, and to a large extent you are right. I commute by bike to work every day and just officially survived my first year of commuting through a Canadian prairie winter. I'd love to sell the car and be rid of the damn thing, but my girlfriend is not as close to work and since public transportation is deplorable here, she uses the car.

    I realize that those of you who are carfree are living testament to the contrary, but due to the way cities are sprawled out, I believe carfree living is difficult for the majority of people. Personally, I think it's an absolutely assinine way to build cities and wish there was an alternative so that more people could get around without using a car. Vehicles cost too much in proportion to their usefulness, not only in monetary terms but also in environmental and social costs.

    As a cyclist, I sometimes feel like a small mammal darting among lumbering dinosaurs. I'm waiting for the proverbial asteroid (peak oil?) to come along and assist the evolution of transportation. Hats off to all the carfree people. Hopefully someday I'll be carfree as well, hopefully by choice but perhaps not.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I just wonder if your girlfriend has ever actually tried to take public transit to work? It might not be as deplorable as you think.

    A lot of people have told me they had no way to get somewhere when their car was out of commission, and they knew absolutely nothing about the bus system.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    I serves you right for not doing your own repairs. You'll may get nailed just as well on a bike if you don't do your own repairs... It's a DIY'er's world.

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    Senior Member cooperwx's Avatar
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    I'm with you on recent car repairs. The transmission dropped out in the family van last week. $3000 later I'm thinking, "I could've bought 3 or 4 good bikes for that!" We use it on long trips to see our parents, as a grocery getter and to ferry my son back and forth to preschool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cooperwx
    I'm with you on recent car repairs. The transmission dropped out in the family van last week. $3000 later I'm thinking, "I could've bought 3 or 4 good bikes for that!" We use it on long trips to see our parents, as a grocery getter and to ferry my son back and forth to preschool.

    -Jason
    Car-lite in asheville
    I get groceries and ferry kids to pre and not so pre school by bike all the time in all weather, so $3000.00 would also cover many van rentals for the long trips right?

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    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    From a financial and practical standpoint Car Light is admirable and logical, especially if the car is paid for, in good shape, and older (reducing insurance). Nothing wrong with reducing your insurance and parking it except when necessary for an occasional Home Depot run or road trip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    I just wonder if your girlfriend has ever actually tried to take public transit to work? It might not be as deplorable as you think.

    A lot of people have told me they had no way to get somewhere when their car was out of commission, and they knew absolutely nothing about the bus system.
    Yeah, half the battle is just learning when, where, and how to use the public transit system. It's like learning to get around by car all over again. Forget everything you know about freeways, traffic, parking, and conventional motorways in general. You need to think of bus and train lines as a whole separate road system. All conventional roads not used by buses might as well not even exist (unless you can take a bike, then you can consider conventional roadways again except for freeways). Places where you previously couldn't travel due to lack of a road may suddenly become the best way to go and vice versa.

    One big difference is that public transit maps are generally very bad and difficult to obtain while road maps are generally very good and have wide availability. I don't know how poor folks manage to navigate public transit without the internet.

    I find the most difficult part the fact that most people won't be able to give you directions if you aren't traveling by car. For example, ask your doctor's office for directions via public transit and they'll probably tell you they don't know. Imagine if they told you they didn't know how to give you directions if you were traveling by car?

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    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmithW6079
    I realize that those of you who are carfree are living testament to the contrary, but due to the way cities are sprawled out, I believe carfree living is difficult for the majority of people. Personally, I think it's an absolutely assinine way to build cities and wish there was an alternative so that more people could get around without using a car.
    Most people could rather easily move their residence closer to their employment, or their employment closer to their residence. Most simply choose not to.

    Most could also move to a location with adequate public transit, but that's an entirely different rant.

    My point is, that the majority of people who talk about why they HAVE to drive have absolutely no intentions of ever transporting themselves any other way.

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    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    Most people could rather easily move their residence closer to their employment, or their employment closer to their residence. Most simply choose not to.

    Most could also move to a location with adequate public transit, but that's an entirely different rant.
    You must belong to same club as Ziemas. With the real low down on how easy all these issues can be handled by "most people". Newsflash: "most people" are not like you. Or are you using the phrase "most people" to refer only to a handful of people who are car free and are members of this list?

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    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    No, I stand firmly behind my statement. What part of it are you questioning?

    Do you think most people couldn't find a job closer to their home?

    Do you think most people couldn't find a home closer to their job?

    Do you think most people couldn't move to a town with better public transit?


    I understand that "most people" will tell you how they absolutely have to live in the suburbs because they absolutely have to have X acres and X square footage, etc. That doesn't make it so. If they WANTED to live somewhere else they most certainly would.

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    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    I'm 61 yrs young now and can tell you that in the 1950 when
    I was boy it was the norm to be car light with one (maybe)
    car. all your shopping needs were meet via catalogs or
    stores close by.

    Then came the 1960's & 1970's when the car culture and
    suburbia came into their own. Small town stores died by
    the millions all across america thanks to the 2 car family.

    We now live in one of those small towns that has a dead
    center where business used to be. Most folk's in my town
    now undestand why you MUST shop close by. That has
    stopped the death of business but unless more american
    get this message and buy a bicycle to use there is little
    hope until the SHTF in 5>10 yrs.

    I'm retired now and wish I could dump both my cars
    but living in a rural area that is just not possible.
    So I drive them VERY, VERY, little and bike as much
    as I can when I shop local stores. I've done so
    well as reducing car usage I buy ONE tank of
    gas a month between them ONE TANK!!!!!!
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

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    Hi everyone, great posts so far.

    Roody: My girlfriend has taken the bus to work occasionally, but it takes over an hour by bus. I can actually bike to her work faster than the bus will carry her. In fact, I can actually WALK to work in 50 minutes, while the bus would take me 45 minutes. How sad is that? She's also not as comfortable in traffic on a bike as I am, but with that being said, the route has a very high traffic volume with no alternate routes available. Even I fear for my safety riding that route. I'm not trying to make excuses, just explaining things.

    lyeinyoureye: I maintain both the bike and the car on a regular basis. The repair in question is a blown head gasket. After doing some searching, apparently many thousands of others have had the same problem with GM vehicles. Serves me right for buying a domestic, if I ever have to buy another vehicle it will be an import next time (yes, I realize many "imports" are built in North America)

    jamesdenver: Insurance here is run by the province. A vehicle registered for "Pleasure" is cheaper but you can't drive it to work. You have to pay the insurance price as determined by the province, there is no way to shop around for cheaper or private insurance.

    Once again, thanks for all the replies...

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    pj7
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    I know I'm going to sound like an ******* here, but I'll go ahead and say it since it is something I feel strongly about.
    It is not your responsibility to make sure your girlfriend can get to work an back every single day. She's an adult (or so I am assuming) and should be the one responsible for that. Now I can understand loaning a friend or girlfriend your car here and there, but for you to allow them to rely on your for that is, well, asenine, and you are allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. Maybe she's not doing it intentionally, but never the less, it is what seems like is going on in that situation.
    If you are "the nice guy" and going to loan her your car, have her pay for the problems that occur during it's operation.
    Me? I'm married, with children. But the whole time my wife and I were dating I never once would have let something like this happen. If she had money issues, I'd loan her some, and fully expect to be paid back.
    Maybe I just read to much in your post but it ails me to see young men get taken advantage of by women just because they were raised with the beliefe that they should be "the nice guy" but in fact, turn out to be "the door mat".
    Sorry if I have offended you.
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    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmithW6079
    I
    I'd love to sell the car and be rid of the damn thing, but my girlfriend is not as close to work and since public transportation is deplorable here, she uses the car.
    Maybe you should work on getting your actual mileage down. I'd recommend keeping a log of how much you use the car each week and how much you pedal. Keep commuting and then try to add other trips by bike. If you are not actually reducing your car mileage, maybe you'll have to think about where you are driving and why. For example, maybe you drive to a mall to do some shopping. Do you really need all this "stuff"?

    Anyway, at a certain point, you should be able to say, "Hey, that car hasn't moved in a while... why am I paying insurance on it?" Well... hopefully... Anyway, I'm kind of in your situation and that's what I'm doing.

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    I'm gonna have to agree with pj7, as much of a jerk I'm gonna sound like, but doesn't your girlfriend have a car of her own that she can drive around? Or are you letting her use your car the majority of the time while you get shafted with the insurance, gas, and repairs? It really doesn't sound fair to me.

    As for the bus thing, I would agree with you there. In Orange County, we have a fairly ok bus system, if by ok you mean that it gets you from Point A to Point B. How long it takes to get there is a different matter entirely, of course. I can get to my school in 90 minutes or so by bus. I can get to school 90 minutes or so by bicycle. That's when I decided that the bus was useless for me around here.

    By car? It takes about 18 minutes when there is ZERO traffic, 30 minutes on a normal run, and up to 45 minutes in a traffic jam. So I can totally understand about crappy public transportation, dude.

    As far as being car-lite is concerned, just look at it this way: how much would you be spending on gas, insurance, and repairs to your cars if you kept driving without replacing any of the errands using your bikes and two feet? I say it's still a good amount of money, looking at it from the perspective of a guy with a paid off, rarely used car and comparing it to the "average" expenditures posted up by AAA.

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    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv
    Maybe you should work on getting your actual mileage down. I'd recommend keeping a log of how much you use the car each week and how much you pedal. Keep commuting and then try to add other trips by bike. If you are not actually reducing your car mileage, maybe you'll have to think about where you are driving and why. For example, maybe you drive to a mall to do some shopping. Do you really need all this "stuff"?

    Anyway, at a certain point, you should be able to say, "Hey, that car hasn't moved in a while... why am I paying insurance on it?" Well... hopefully... Anyway, I'm kind of in your situation and that's what I'm doing.
    One other thing, and this applies to a lot of Car-lite people, is, if your only driving a little, talk to your car insurance broker, some companies have low mileage rates.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    No, I stand firmly behind my statement. What part of it are you questioning?

    Do you think most people couldn't find a job closer to their home?
    Nope, my office is 43 miles from my house, there are NO jobs that pay anything close to what I make within a 35 mile radius of my current home. I don't consider myself "most" people, but with the way the current job market is many people don't have a choice they get the job where they can.

    Do you think most people couldn't find a home closer to their job?
    The cost of a new equivalent home closer to my office is double to quadruple what my current home is worth.

    Do you think most people couldn't move to a town with better public transit?
    Considering the current state of public transit your options are fairly limited. I suspect that less than 1/2 of the total US population lives with in range of decent public transit. And if your company choses to move you to another location or terminate you what are your choices?


    I understand that "most people" will tell you how they absolutely have to live in the suburbs because they absolutely have to have X acres and X square footage, etc. That doesn't make it so. If they WANTED to live somewhere else they most certainly would.
    I have moved with my jobs several times, never have I "demanded" or expected a certain sized lot or home. In fact my current home is under 1000sf. BTW it costs MONEY to move, pay deposits, etc. and for a what? A job that may or may not have any longevity. It sucks to have to move too often...I have done it too many times. And just to add fuel to the fire...could your job be next?

    Aaron
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    Yeah, that's true. With the current job market, many people are thankful for getting something that pays just one red cent above minimum wage, anywhere within a 50 mile radius from their houses.

    And much of the time, choosing a job close to where you live may not pay as much as a job located far from home. Choosing a home closer to work might increase your monthly mortgage payments. Or the area might be so expensive that you can only afford a studio apartment. Some people (like me) don't mind the second option and deal with it, but most people aren't willing to deal with either option I've just explained.

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    If AAA's stats are right, someone driving a honda civic can save $5k a year by not owning it. At current interest rates that translates to about an extra $75 000 of mortgage. Ergo, going car free allows some extra leeway in buying property.

    If you are going from two cars to no cars, then you can tack on $150 000 in extra mortgage and still break even. Better if you realise that after 25 y you lose $150 000 in debt (+extra tax savings for americans), and after twenty five years of car ownership you've got a couple of twenty five year old cars with over a million miles on each .

    With the extra hundred and fifty grand at the end of the 25y period you can do things like send kids to college, buy a cottage, do whatever you like (maybe even buy a car ). If you consider the savings, you may actually be able to afford a place a lot closer to work. I may not be in the US real estate market but I'm sure an extra hundred fifty g's buys something a little closer to downtown (OK maybe not in NYC or San Francisco - but in most markets),

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    pj7 and fat_bike_nut:

    I can see how my original post may have come across as sounding like my girlfriend is taking advantage of me. Let me assure you this is not the case. She pays for the gas and any minor repairs. We split the insurance cost as well as any major repairs. I pay for rent, she pays for groceries and household items. While the car is actually under my name, it is cheaper for me to insure it since I have been driving longer and have earned more merits (more merits = cheaper insurance). We generally split expenses about 50/50. My girlfriend earns more than I do so one might say that I am the one getting the advantage.

    Since I've increased my bike use, the car sat unused more and more. There's no point in her buying a second vehicle when I had a perfectly usable vehicle that had been paid off for years sitting in the driveway. And since my girlfriend will soon become my fiance and shortly after my wife, I don't feel taken advantage of in the least. Hope that clarifies things, no offense taken.

    Gerv:

    Good suggestion about the mileage. My girlfriend drives to work and back, stopping to pick up groceries on the way home if needed. We walk to local stores for most of our needs. And I can't say we have much "stuff". All the furniture in the apartment was taken from our parents' basements or bought at garage sales. Thank God my girlfriend does not consider shopping a hobby, she's a low maintenance kind of girl. We try to drive no more than needed.

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    Oh, ok, that makes sense then. Maybe you ought to keep the car, then, if your situation is as you say it is. Hey, at least there aren't two cars at your house, right?

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    pj7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmithW6079
    pj7 and fat_bike_nut:

    I can see how my original post may have come across as sounding like my girlfriend is taking advantage of me. Let me assure you this is not the case. She pays for the gas and any minor repairs. We split the insurance cost as well as any major repairs. I pay for rent, she pays for groceries and household items. While the car is actually under my name, it is cheaper for me to insure it since I have been driving longer and have earned more merits (more merits = cheaper insurance). We generally split expenses about 50/50. My girlfriend earns more than I do so one might say that I am the one getting the advantage.

    Since I've increased my bike use, the car sat unused more and more. There's no point in her buying a second vehicle when I had a perfectly usable vehicle that had been paid off for years sitting in the driveway. And since my girlfriend will soon become my fiance and shortly after my wife, I don't feel taken advantage of in the least. Hope that clarifies things, no offense taken.

    Gerv:

    Good suggestion about the mileage. My girlfriend drives to work and back, stopping to pick up groceries on the way home if needed. We walk to local stores for most of our needs. And I can't say we have much "stuff". All the furniture in the apartment was taken from our parents' basements or bought at garage sales. Thank God my girlfriend does not consider shopping a hobby, she's a low maintenance kind of girl. We try to drive no more than needed.
    Okay, I see now. Buddy, I wasn't calling you a puss or anyhting. It's just that this is something I feel strongly about and your post didn't provide this extra information. I'm guilty of making an assumption here and you cleared that up.
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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    You must belong to same club as Ziemas.
    Yes, we belong to the same club. The club is called the I'm Not A Dick Just For The Sake Of Being A Dick Club. Membership is closed to you.
    Last edited by Ziemas; 03-29-07 at 10:49 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cooperwx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwd
    I get groceries and ferry kids to pre and not so pre school by bike all the time in all weather, so $3000.00 would also cover many van rentals for the long trips right?
    Indeed it would. The tranny fell out while we were almost 400 miles from home near my parents' house. The rental van was $450 for the week

    So yes, $3000 = seven weekly van rentals. As for getting the wife out of the car, I have to get her on a bike first. She had a nasty crash back when she was 11 or so, and hasn't ridden since. We got set up here before I even thought about riding a bike anywhere, so preschool, work, groceries are in all different directions.
    06 Trek 7.5 FX

  25. #25
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc
    Nope, my office is 43 miles from my house, there are NO jobs that pay anything close to what I make within a 35 mile radius of my current home. I don't consider myself "most" people, but with the way the current job market is many people don't have a choice they get the job where they can.


    The cost of a new equivalent home closer to my office is double to quadruple what my current home is worth.


    I have moved with my jobs several times, never have I "demanded" or expected a certain sized lot or home. In fact my current home is under 1000sf. BTW it costs MONEY to move, pay deposits, etc. and for a what? A job that may or may not have any longevity. It sucks to have to move too often...I have done it too many times. And just to add fuel to the fire...could your job be next?

    Aaron
    Aaron, not to pick on you, but since you provided the examples, I will discuss.

    Your first decision was to purchase a home 35 miles from any job you want to take. For me, that should be the end of the discussion. You've sealed your car-centric fate. My point is, that if you really didn't want to drive a car you would not live where you live - and I don't think you can deny that.

    Yes, moving costs money and I'm not suggesting that you move with every job. On the contrary, my suggestion would be that you move to a central location and find jobs nearby. I expect tons of resistance and reasons why a person can't do that... the kids, my wife's job, home costs, etc - but the central fact is that people do not want to live this way. They want to choose their house/apartment/etc based on some other issue and have come to accept 20-30-60+ minute commutes.

    Considering the current state of public transit your options are fairly limited. I suspect that less than 1/2 of the total US population lives with in range of decent public transit. And if your company choses to move you to another location or terminate you what are your choices?
    My response: Then 1/2 of the total US population could either a) demand that transportation be built or b) move to a location that already has it. If your company "asks" you to move, you either make sure it's in an acceptable location, or you find another job.

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