CARS: The Real Cost – PART 4 : Repair/Maintenance

Why aren’t cars designed to last longer,
and why aren’t cars designed for cheaper repairs
with easily swappable parts?

          When asked something similar, the main Toyota spokesperson replied: “We don’t serve the used car market.” That’s coming from one of the best car manufacturers out there. The warranties on new cars are designed to expire at the mileage when certain repairs become more common.

“Designing a car is easy – building the machines that manufacture cars is the hard part!” Elon Musk

         Thinking in the “negative space” isn’t easy, and solving the problems of manufacturing is hard enough: to re-double those efforts to make cars easily repairable (plug-and-play parts) is a level of development beyond what car manufacturers are willing to deliver today.  The goal to make cheaper cars that last 400,000 miles is currently not on the horizon.  In fact, it appears the car market has lunged in the opposite direction…

Automakers are trending on the willingness of people to spend MORE THAN EVER, to take on more debt, and fork over the opportunity costs of that money without a second thought. The auto industry shows that people are worse at managing money than ever before.  The high-end features in cars have only increased. People are accepting HIGHER price tags.  Car-part cost and complexity of design has increased.  Maintenance has gotten more complicated, and costs have gone up.  The old $2 light bulb for our headlights has been upgraded and now costs $50-$70, a prime example of how ludicrous the concept of our money has become to car manufacturers.  As mentioned in a previous article (CARS: The Real Cost – PART 1 : PRICE), a new car is an phenomenal drain on your money and life – and buying the wrong new or used car with much higher maintenance costs could easily take another monstrous chunk of cash from your life: it could be equivalent to extolling the cash from many years of your working life:

 Consider the cost of 4 tires — Tire Price Differentiation

$310Toyota Corolla : 4 tires : Hankook Optimo

$448Acura ILX : 4 tires : Hankook Optimo

$552BMW 328i : 4 tires : Hankook Ventis

         Tires are practically a commodity in the car parts world, the price difference is minimized because the whole world is constantly buying tires.  Car parts that are even more specialize for either a Corolla, Acura, and BMW will share AT LEAST a similar range in price differentiation.  Let’s be very conservative here and use the ratio derived from Tire Price Differentiation for the Corolla, Acura, and BMW to tell us the difference in cost for all maintenance: using that ratio we’ll project a lifetime of maintenance costs for all three vehicles.

For the expected 200,000 mile life of quality modern cars (the only type of car a Great Savers will buy): A car will automatically require some car-life costs just to keep it running: oil changes, tires, seals, timing belts, basic stuff  will probably amount to $3,500 over the life of the car. Add another $2,800 in unexpected maintenance [performed by a shop] for things like catalytic converters, sensors, one minor device issue, and one semi-major concern with the drive-train, motor, or computer system. So, $6,300 in costs is already happening to get a car from 30,000 miles to travel over 200,000 miles.

Our ratio of maintenance cost differences is 1 : 1.5 : 1.8

Toyota Corolla: 1
Acura ILX: 1.5
BMW: 1.8

We’ll use the $6,300 number for lifetime maintence cost (derived above) as the baseline cost for a Toyota Corolla maintenance and repairs: We’ll multiply that $6300 by the tire price ratio just mentioned to establish the cost of repair for the Acura and BMW.

Toyota Corolla: $6,300 — $31,500/lifetime (5 cars) — x2 opportunity costs $63,000

Acura: $9,450  — $47,250/lifetime (5 cars) — x2 opportunity costs $94,500

BMW: $11,340 — $56,700/lifetime (5 cars) — x2 opportunity costs $113,400

What are the extra lifetime costs of living large?

Acura:  $31,500

BMW: $50,400

For some people that’s an entire year or two of work life, slaving away, and throwing money away JUST FOR MAINTENANCE.  Even if someone feels they can just shrug that money away, remember that loss is ADDED to the differences in car price, fuel cost, and other factors considered in this series of articles…

Let’s continue to shock ourselves silly, and move forward…

SAGA can save your friends! Feel free to like and share!

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