Two Year Cost of Car Ownership Report

2 years ago I purchased a used 2004 Ford Focus ZX3 on Craigslist. Yesterday I sold that same car since I haven’t been using it as much lately. I thought it would be interesting to report on what my total cots of ownership ended up being for this vehicle.


When I was searching for a car to purchase, I had a google spreadsheet with a few formulas that I would plug in data from listing. I used the formulas to try to calculate which cars were the biggest bang for the buck. When I put the details of the ZX3 in, it lit up green across the board (color coded cell formulas). The car had been in an accident as the previous owners were t-boned on the passenger side. I replaced the side door with a junk yard door that wasn’t smashed. While a different color, I was able to move all the parts over which gave me a fully working door. Because of this work, I think this case is not going to be indicative of a normal cost of car ownership. If you do find a car that is a bit beat up and you think you can fix it up a bit, your case may end up being similar. I drove the car for 6,548 miles for 24 months.

The Numbers

Ignoring Resale

Purchase price: $1,100
Taxes & licensing: $170 (estimate)
Tabs renewal: $64
Repairs/parts: $500 (estimate)
Fuel $780
Insurance $46/month * 24 months = $1,304
Total cost: $3,918

This comes out to an averaged cost of:

  • $0.60/mile
  • $163.25/month

Including Resale

Total cost: $3,918
Car resale: $1,500
Cost after resale: $2,418

This comes out to an averaged cost of:

  • $0.37/mile
  • $100.75/month


Looking back over the numbers I’m surprised at just how expensive insurance coverage is. Excluding the resale of the car, the insurance coverage was about 33% of the total cost. If I had purchased a much more expensive car that percentage would have been lower but the cost of insurance coverage would have been more as well. Being able to find something reliable that was cheap and paying cash for it worked well. No interest payments is a big plus. Finding reliable used cars for a good price is possible. It takes some time, work, patience, and a bit of knowing what you want and what is important to you.

If you are interested in buying a used car, I recommend checking out Chris’s video guides as well as the downloadable checklist on buying a used car. These resources were very helpful to me making a better informed purchase.