The Ford F-150 is the best selling car in 2013 (and most of the last 35 years), so it will be the perfect test subject.
The average price to purchase the vehicle is right around $35,000 (Source). Let's assume that you've had another F-150 for 10 years, if you've kept it in good condition driving an average of 15,000 miles per year, you can expect to get a trade-in value of $4,100 (Source). So that brings your price down to $30,900. Let's say you've also got good credit and are able to make a 20% down payment. So you'll put down $6,180, bringing your car debt down to $24,720. As I mentioned, you've got good credit, and you want to finance your car through your credit union for 48 months. Right now you can expect an interest rate of 3.95% (Source). This comes out to a monthly car loan payment of $563.92. So, you've committed to paying $27,068 over the next four years to pay down the car debt. In the meantime, you've got other expenses to worry about: Taxes and fees, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs (speeding and parking tickets if you can't follow the rules). Working with the 15,000 miles driven per year figure, you can expect to pay $2,151 in Taxes and fees, $29,452 in fuel costs (wow.), $20,506 in insurance costs, $8,720 in maintenance costs, and $1,774 in repairs. (Source). Now, there are 41,000,000 traffic tickets given out each year in the country, and 196,000,000 drivers, so let's say the average American will get 2 tickets over the lifespan of their car. With an average ticket cost coming to $152, you'll spend $304 on citations. (Source). If you live in a city, you'll have to pay for parking as well, but that's a little more difficult to calculate.
I think that about covers it. I'm not going to calculate depreciation, because I've factored in a trade-in.
So the initial price of the car is $35,000. What do you actually spend over the car's lifetime?
$6,180 down payment
$27,068 loan repayment
$2,151 in taxes and fees
$29,452 in fuel costs
$20,506 in insurance costs
$8,720 in maintenance costs
$1,774 in repairs
$304 in citation costs
$100,255 over 10 years.
That comes out to a cost of $10,025.50 per year.
Okay, calculating the cost of being car-less will be simpler since it doesn't have to be calculated over a specific timespan. For this we'll include walking, biking, and public transit, as these are the three major modes of alternative transportation in OKC.
It costs no money to walk. That's easy, but there are costs for taking public transit (not everywhere, but in OKC). A monthly bus pass costs $50. Which comes out to $600 per year. Purchasing a bicycle can set you back anywhere between less than $100 to several thousand dollars, but let's assume the user is a commuter and not a bicycle enthusiast. $300 will be our purchase cost, and we'll say the average user spends $80 a year on tune-ups and maintenance. (Source) I refuse to account for theft as a cost, because a car could also be stolen, and if a cyclist locks his bike up, it shouldn't be a problem. $150 for gear includes a helmet, reflective gear and a lock, and let's make that a recurring cost every five years, so $300. I don't really think winter clothing should be calculated for biking and walking because having a car doesn't preclude you from participating in a cold climate.
So for 10 years:
$6,000 in transit fare
$300 for a bike
$800 in maintenance
$300 in gear
That comes out to a cost of $740 per year.
This is 7.4% the cost of car ownership, and you have three modes of travel included compared to one. So, if you only used a bike and walking, you would spend $140 a year. If you only used transit and walking, that would be $600 a year. If you only walk, well, you spend nothing on transportation other than buying new shoes slightly more often than other people, but you'd really have to be walking a lot for it to be a big deal.
So I'll break this down for comparison by year:
Oh, and by the way, the average American family has 2.28 cars (Source). So the average family, driving the most common car for 60 years of driving (this obviously isn't the case for EVERYONE), will spend nearly $1,400,000 on cars. I think I'd rather have that for retirement, thank you.
edit: A friend of ours has brought to our attention that the $1.4M is under-shooting the true savings over time:
"I would add that even though the $400,000 (pre-post edit, now $600,000) over 60 years figure is significant and calls for a change in behavior, you have ignored the impact of investing these savings and the power of compounding interest. If you were to invest this roughly $7,000 per year in a low-cost, low-maintenace index fund at 6% annual interest (a fairly conservative assumption over the long run), you would have saved over $3.7 million during this 60 year period. This is savings that CANNOT be ignored."
This is valuable information (which kind of blew my mind) that shows how empowered people can be by not buying into the automobile cycle. More to come on this subject.