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AutoBuyology 101©

An Arts & Sciences Crash Ph.D. Course in CarLessnessHoodology 101
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Freedom is having to buy an automobile?
Planned Carfullnesshood, er., Carlessnesshood...
The True Cost$ of Driving
"Laugh, we're all paying for it -- the over carification of America..."

What Driving Really Costs

Gasoline is estimated to "Really" cost between $5.15 and $15.00 / Gal. (Estimated before the gas gouging of 2001, and before the "War For Cheap Oil" were figured in.)

Commute Sollution's Commuter Calculator at breaks out the direct and indirect (external) costs per mile and per gallon of gas. Extend this out over your lifetime of auto ownership and operation costs...

Do people pay too much for automobiles, driving and gasoline? "People Doo doo..."

Do oil companies profit from our environmental pollution? "People Doo doo..."

Do we foul the air we breathe by driving oversized and overpriced SUV's. "We Doo doo."

THE COSTS TO Y'OUR Wallet or Purse...

To most of us, automobiles represent a cheap, fast way to get where we're going. But many expenses associated with driving are hidden, and, when factored in, make the TRUE COSTS of DRIVING much higher then we may realize. When we consider the San Francisco / Oakland California Bay Area's traffic congestion crisis and the damage motor vehicles cause to our health and environment, it's clear that automobiles are neither inexpensive nor efficient.

Through many types of taxes, you-re paying for the land, roads, "free" ways, bridges and tunnels, etc. Your taxes also pay for the government to provide cleaning, landscaping, irrigation, sign systems, signals, reflectors, striping, and police and emegency services. In colder climates snow removal is another cost of subsidizing our auto-addictions.

  • Motor Vehicles are ranked number 1 on the list of causes of air pollution in the San Francisco / Oakland (SF / Oklnd) Bay Area.

  • $500 million is spent of maintaining local streets and roads in the SF / Oklnd Bay Area annually.

  • $200 million is spent on state and federal highways in the SF / Oklnd Bay Area annually.

  • 13% of annual income is the amount the average automobile owner spends on his or her car annually. (This figure has been estimated by other soruces at 20% or $1 in every five dollars of income being spent on automobile associated costs by average auto commuters).
  • San Francisco / Oakland Bay Area cars emit 1,414 tons of pollution into the air every day.


Motor vehciles are the major cause of air pollution in the Bar Area. And air pollution effects everyone to some degree.

According to the US Public Health Service, high levels of air pollution can cause or aggravate lung illnesses such as acute respiratory infections, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and lung cancer.

When air pollution levels become elevated, children, athletes and the elderly are at particular risk for breathing difficulty and a lessening of their bodies' ability to resist disease.

The American Lung Association estimates nationwide air pollution-related health costs (including the costs of health care and lost productivity) to be billions of dollars each year.


Automobiles spew many kinds of pollutants into our air: carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates. In addition to their effect on our health, these gases and particles do extensive damage to crops, vegetation (plant life) and wildlife. Also, your car's carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming.

Motor vehicles are a significant source of water pollution too. Oil, anti-freeze, and small tire particles accumulate on roads and highways: during the rainy season, they are washed into streams and waterways, causing damage to aquatic life.


The following is a Driving Cost Worksheet for calculating your direct (not hidden) personal automobile ownership and operation costs:


OWNERHIP COSTS: (Add up the ownership costs for a year of driving [multiply this by the total number of years you expect to own a motor vehicle])

Insurance: + ______________

License & Registration: + ______________

Depreciation (Cost of car minus trade-in value, divided by years of ownership: + _____________

Finance Charge (if applicable) + _______________

Subtotal: = _______________



OPERATING COSTS: Add up these costs for a typical year of driving or if its easier, add them for a month and multiply by 12 [and multiple this total by the total number of years you expect to drive a motor vehcile]):

Gas & Oil: + _____________

Tickets: + ____________

Tolls & Parks: + ____________

Maintenance (Tuneups, repairs, towing, tires, etc.): + ____________

Other (Car wash, accessories, etc.) + ____________

Subtotal Operation: = ____________

Subtotal Ownership: + ___________

TOTAL COSTS: = ____________

Examples of total car ownership and operating costs per year: (Source, American Automobile Association)--

Miles per year-------------10,000-------$20,000

1994 Ford Escort:---------$3,980-----------$6,240

1994 Ford Taurus L:------$4,660-----------$7,140

1994 Chevrolet Caprice:--$5,840-----------$7,860 consider the damage (costs) your car does to our environemnt and our health.

Source : (Bay Area Air Quality Management District, 939 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 1-800-HELP-AIR

This just in: (March 2005)
AAA ( American Automobile Association) calculates that the annual costs for automobile ownership and operations on average is $8,410 / year
(the bigger and more expensive the vehicle model(s) the higher one's ultimaite annual and thus, lifetime costs will be. This includes direct costs only, not exterial but nevertheless real costs of automobile ownership and operation. For a comprehensive breakdown of direct and indirect costs of driving check out Commute Sollution's Commuter Calculator at

Auto Alternatives | Drive Shafts | Dealing With The Dealer
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Mini Van Junkyard | Activist Flyers True Costs of Driving | Car Deal Illiteracy
15 Sec. Car Deal Lecture | Parallel Parking | Test-I-Moanials


CARveat Emptor - Tricks of the Great American Car Deal ©
© copyright 1995-2012, R. Rand Knox, All Rights Reserved.
Not for use, reuse, sale, resale or fee unless
so licensed or released by R. Rand Knox in writing.
Happy motoring, wheeling & dealing
-- virtually and really.


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What's In You?
What's In Your Cells?

Have you told your auto maker, or the auto industry to make more efficient and cleaner-air vehicles? Recently? (Flyer to copy and post). Have you asked others if they have? It wouldn;t kill you to do so! It may even help prevent or reduce asthma and global warming.

For Healthier Air, Planet, & People: To Save Y'our Breath, Lives, Money & Planet...

Tell Car Makers To Make Cleaner-Air Vehicles
1 Jump Start Ford For A Cleaner-air Future

2 Jump Start Ford
Tell NHTSA to Improve Fuel Efficiency of SUVs
Tell Car Makers To Get Their Gas In Gear Flyer 2-up

Save Your Breath, Life, Money & Planet Flyer 1-up
Don't Be A Fossil Fool - Fossil Fools Day

Car Deal Literacy & Self-help - Auto Consumer Resources List:

Troop Support - Up-armored Car Deals



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