Anyone Else Find Car Ownership Is Such a Rip-off?

Hi all,

Just to put this in context, I live in NSW. I catch a train to work, so I drive my car about 4 times a week. Short trips, I only need to fuel up once a month.

My rego is due, so here are the amount of money I have to pay: Rego = $320, CTP = $470, insurance (I only buy it for 3rd party damage, in case I run into any expensive cars) = $270. And annual servicing, depending on what the mechanic tells me, around $500.

Add them all up, that's $1500+ just for the car to exist every year. Driving it around cost me around $40 every 300km or so.

I really want to go without a car, I really think this money can be better spent elsewhere.
I even started researching for other means of transport on the weekend, such as car sharing sites such as But these car sharing locations aren't near me at all.

Anyone within ozbargain community have other ideas of cheap transport?

Or is buying a new car worth it? This is an idea to not have to pay for the $500+ servicing fee.

I was also thinking just do car inspection, without any servicing. But the mechanic told me that means I can only register the car as road worthy for 6 months, not a full year.


  • +8

    I was also thinking just do car inspection, without any servicing. But the mechanic told me that means I can only register the car as road worthy for 6 months, not a full year.

    1. No amount of inspection is going to change the filters/oils/fluids.

    2. Why are you getting a road worthy?

    • +11

      Annual Roadworthy inspection is compulsory in NSW for cars greater than 5 years old

      BUT its never dependent upon you having the car serviced.

      The mechanic is ripping the OP off with this explanation

      However given the details the OP would be driving 10,000km each year

      $1500 cost divided by $40 is 37.5 . so 37.5 X 300km = 11250km per year

      Depending on age of car that means at least one oil change say $100 (200 at worst including other checks battery suspension etc) and pink slip $37.

      It maybe an old bimmer or other money eater

      We have no idea on the age of the car and how reliable it is. I would guess its old otherwise why insure it with only third party property. So maybe some parts

      As for buying new, thats going to cost even more

      they need regular servicing to keep warranty valid
      they need full car insurance.
      then there is cost of capital to buy (worst case is lost bank interest)
      and even more the loss with depreciation.

      RACQ estimate's true running costs of at least 41c a km for a new car (micro) up to $1+

      Download PDF of costings here

      • They were saying $1500 for the cost of having the car. They said they only get fuel once a month and talked about $40/300k so I assume that's about what they put in each month, so about 3600km/year.

      • if a car is older than 5 years, you jhust take it to a mechanic for a pink slip and that is just an inspection. Should cost around $50 it think

      • +1

        @40c/km RACQ are charging $1,800 depreciation and $5,000 interest. RACQ divide these costs over 15,000km to get cost per km.

        OP's old car math:

        OP stated 300km per month, making 3,600km per year. Or $500 in fuel.

        $1500 fixed costs + $500 fuel = $2,000

        $2000 / 3600km = 55c/km

        Best case new car math (RACQ, micro car):

        Fixed costs (depreciation, interest and fees [rego etc.]) are $4,250

        Running costs for 4,000km = $650 (I used $275 as most micros have capped servicing)

        $4,900 / 4,000km = $1.22/km

    • No

    • I haven't had my car serviced in over five years and I register it for 12 months each year.

      Not saying I recommend that for cars that are worth more than a mouldy sandwich, but that's what I do.

  • +47

    Driving is a luxury. Convienence is also a luxury.

    • +6

      Yup. And luxuries cost money.

      • +12

        And money costs money.

        • +1

          Doing 100 push ups, 100 sit ups and running 10km may make you strong but ain't gonna get you know money sir

        • And costing money also costs money.

    • -22

      Hope you won't say air for breathing is a luxury so govt should charge people for it despite the existing high income tax levels. I am saying this as public transportation isn't cheap either. Luxury and need be differentiated better.

      • +19

        I won't and didn't say that, because I can differentiate between luxury and neccessities and basic human rights.

      • -1

        Public transport in most metro situations is a lot cheaper than owning and maintaining a car.

        Cheaper still is a bicycle.

        • +3

          Yup, but don't forget that time is money and it's also dependent on where you live. If you can afford (time wise) to spend like 2 hours to ride a bike to work as opposed to a 15 mins drive, then good for you.

          • +3

            @Ughhh: If it takes 15min to drive, you should b able to ride it in 30-40. Except maybe if your 15min is all in the highway. Add in heavy traffic and the time difference becomes significantly less. Then you can consider that the time on a bike riding to work is also exercise and may mean you can cut a gym membership and time to go there.

            My 10-12min drive was 27min on a bike last week and that includes a nasty big hill and the fact I need to recondition to regular cycling. It was 24min on the way home. My orevious commute door to desk was 10min drive or 17min bike, plus cool down and shower was 35min to desk. Take out the normal shower time I would have had at home and it was pretty much and extra 10min only.

            • @Euphemistic: Yes, perfect example of how driving and convienence of a car is a luxury. A luxury some people don't mind paying for.

              • +5

                @Ughhh: living close to work/school and having the option to bike/walk is THE luxury here.

                • @Indomietable: Depends on what the person wants. I wouldn't want to live in the city, even though by your definition would be the luxury.

                  People living in the $2m mansions in the quiet hills might disagree too.

      • It apparently is link

    • +1

      Hello Mr. Hockey :)

  • +12

    There was an article I was reading the other day, I won’t try remember the stats exactly but it basically said “unless you’re driving xx,000 kms a year, you’re better off not owning a car, and using Uber/rent car schemes
    We ditched our second car 1-2 years ago, v easy for us to manage but we are 1km from a train station which also helps

  • +7

    agree. car is a bad investment. i wish the transport is super good so there is no car on the street.

    • +12

      It could never be that good, can't take 4 suitcases on public transport, or a stack of timber, or camping gear, or furniture, or supplies for hobbies, or a TV etc etc etc. Not to mention waiting 15 minutes for it to show up.

      • +1

        If one lives near the CBD or a station, car parking is also a premium. You can just rent it out and make extra money too.

      • +3

        People live with just public transport in many cities, it can be that good. I lived in Toronto for 23 years without owning a car, no problem. Unless you're carting timber every day you can make due with occasional rental vehicles or paying for delivery.

        And I have moved and seen people move brand new 55" TVs in box, 4 suitcases, camping gear etc without it being a big deal. It never occurred to me someone would think that was weird until I read this… shows how different cultures can be. If you aren't used to having a vehicle you don't assume you need one.

    • -4

      My eld bro, move to Shanghai for 7yrs.
      With 2million AUD job, wife and kids no car….
      Metro to work, Uber everwhere.
      This is unbelievable

      • +6

        $2m a year, you can afford to have a chauffeur and never drive yourself anywhere.

        • After tax is only 1m ish,
          but the biggest spending is private kinder around 6k aud per month……..

          • +2

            @DisabledUser186043: I would like to know what job your brother has/does.
            $1m a year would be fine for me,even with kindergarden fees.

            • +1

              @Lysander: Vice CEO for a fun management company half slavery half bonus.

          • +1

            @DisabledUser186043: $1m a year and complaining about $72k a year in kinder fees. For a fund manager he didn't get kids are optional. You tick the optional box stop complaining.

      • +2

        So you just had to come here and ‘casually mention’ you know someone who earns way too much money?

        There is no point to the comment, it does not relate in any way to owning a car in Aus.

      • Why the downvotes?

    • +2

      agree. car is a bad investment. i wish the transport is super good

      The other bad investment is living in NSW. I have lived in Sydney all my life and use to love it, but it's gone to hell.

      • So very true about Sydney, such a shame!

      • Agree. Sydney has become a stressful, obscenely expensive and chaotic hell hole.

    • +1

      Anyone who thinks a normal functional car is an investment is clearly confused.

  • +2

    Anyone Else Find Car Ownership Is Such a Rip-off?

    Most of the costs of car ownership - depreciation, registration, insurance, servicing are fixed costs, the only real big variable cost is petrol, so yes, if you don't drive your car a lot, then you have to amortise those costs over less distance, so the cost of ownership per km is much greater.

    And annual servicing, depending on what the mechanic tells me, around $500.

    How are you paying $500 when you hardly drive the thing. I would suggest learning to service your own car. Get a jack, stands, oil pan, set of socket wrenches and that's all you'll need. Look at the service manual of your car and work out what's needed. If it's just oil and oil filter, that'll cost you around $30 or so. If you're lazy, then take it to the mechanic for the major service but you shouldn't be paying someone to do an oil change.

    I catch a train to work, so I drive my car about 4 times a week. Short trips, I only need to fuel up once a month.

    You don't need to own a car. You're better off getting an Uber when needed. That's the only real alternative. Car sharing schemes are a shambles here in AU because we have extremely low population densities.

    • +1

      On planet earth, in a hole west in Victoria, none of my cars know what a mechanic or workshop is.

      I buy good oil for any of my cars becuause it makes sense to me and I can get it serviced probably for way less then a mechanics service at my own convenience and with more care as its not a job I'm getting paid for (generalisation).

      Some people buy cheap oil because it says "oil" on the container but even this rubbish oil costs money to purchase.

      You will have to specify what planet you get oil and oil filter for $30.

      • +1

        I'll point out that I am not against rubbish oil, I insist people should change oil regularly even with the cheapest appropriate specification and grade oil.
        Will be better off then people regularly skipping services.

  • +5

    Once upon a time when we lived right in the City, we went without a car for 12 months. Work, cafe, restraurants, entertainment was all within walking distance. The only time I needed a car was to see my parents or the in-laws.

    What we did was rent a car from Hertz, usually on a Weekend Special (sometimes less than $100 all up) where you pay 2 days but get Friday morning through to Monday morning. After we had rented for a while, become regular customers, and earned Presidents Circle status we would always get car upgrades. Usually from a Toyota Corolla to a large car, sometimes a Mini Cooper S back in the day.

    The fantastic thing is picking up a clean car, returning it in whatever condition it was in.

    Even if we spent $3,000 for the year renting cars, we didn't have to suffer car ownership (depreciation, maintenance, ongoing insurance, rego etc) which exceeds $3,000 per year easily.

    • +2

      did you pay extra for insurance when hire a car? i remember standard excess was about 2.5K

      • +1

        use a credit card which covers the excess.

        • +6

          although note that many such rental excess insurances don't cover a rental taken within a certain distance of where you live.

  • Do the minor services yourself - they're basically just an oil and filter change. Should cost about $50 and an hour of your time after you learn how to do it from youtube. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be wondering why you paid an extra $200 for someone to do for you.

    • +4

      Agree with the caveat that should only do these things after your warranty is over, and you're dead set in running your car to ground

      • You won't void your warranty by changing your oil and filter.

        • But you may need proof it has been done and a receipt from a mechanic is easy proof.

  • +1

    Agree. Car sharing is not cheap either unless you rarely use them.

    I like to think cars should pay less rego/ctp fee if they drive less than xxx amount of km a year.

  • +16

    You could use Ubers and public transport. But if you like going out for a lot of late night Tinder hookups then a car might be cheaper in the long run.

    • +2

      May need to lower standards, but if you keep your hookups within walking, or at least cycling, distance this could still work.

  • +5

    Anyone within ozbargain community have other ideas of cheap transport?

    Electric bike, regular push bike, scooter. Nothing similar to a car unfortunately.

  • +4


    $30 plus fuel a week is cheap. Why would you want to trade that for walking, riding, etc?

    • especially living in sydney. 2-3 weeks rent for the luxury and convenience of a car seems like a great deal.

  • How does car subscription compare?,,

    No service, rego or insurance to pay, but I guess it is included in the price

  • +3

    Thanks everyone,

    I also KNOW the mechanic must ripping me off. I'm not going to put in location of where I live, so no chance of anyone finding out I am bad-mouthing any garage(s) in particular.

    My car is an old Holden Cruze from 2004, so it's 15 years old. Over the years I have been to a few mechanics for servicing/inspection. Only one time did a Mechanic goes no problem, and charge me $100 just for inspection. All the other times I get told I need something replaced, therefore costing me $hundreds.
    I reckon my car is now worth $3000 if I sell it. I can't justify spending $1500 per year just to maintain it.

    Yes, I really do drive low Km. I check my odometer, I drive about 4000 km a year. That's hardly the 10,000 km recommended distance that requires the next servicing. Still, the mechanic insist/recommend a service is required once a year.

    And yes, I wish Australia has a much denser population and everything closer so I can use public transport only.

    • +7

      Holden Cruze, this explains a lot. Rather than buy a new car, just go for a more reliable used car, Toyota Mazda are two
      Btw pink slips are currently $37.40 so why are you paying $100

      As for service every year. That is correct, BUT given the age and type of car you have an oil change is probably the most you need. Not changing the oil will wear out the engine more, BUT at 4000km per year big deal, your Cruze wouldn’t be even worth your estimated $3000 so you wear out the engine by not changing the oil earlier.

      I doubt the increased wear would show up in your lifetime given 4000kms per year use

      • -1

        Even the cheapest on special fully synthetic oil is perfect for at least 3 years provided the car gets at least a full warm up once a week and a longer drive once a month. It pays to have a good relationship with a down to earth mecho who cares about your situation, not short cutting by using semi synthetic of lowest grade. Blended stuff is really bad for low milage as it worse than pure mineral in such a situation where the blend may break down. Coolant is another silent killer. A car that rests a lot gives the colant time to get stale. All you need is a very hot day and it could be the end of your engine. Tyres get hard and dangerous. Really under about 8000km a year it is no longer worth to own a car. Start a car sharing group on facebook. Perhaps take a long break from driving and find later you enjoy it much more again.

    • +4

      denser population

      No thanks.

      • +1

        Just like debt is now a virtue, so is being dense.

    • +2

      I also KNOW the mechanic must ripping me off.

      Then why do you keep going there?

      My car is an old Holden Cruze from 2004

      That's the problem, get rid of it for an old Toyota and you won't have any problems anymore.

      I drive about 4000 km a year.

      That's not as "low km" as you think it is. That's, on average, over 70km per week. In that case, you should own a car.

      And yes, I wish Australia has a much denser population and everything closer so I can use public transport only.

      Then live in the CBD of Melbourne, Sydney, or maybe Brisbane. Everything will be in walking distance.

    • +2

      Don't forget that your service interval is an OR based on time or km whichever is first.
      Not sure why people think it's the higher of the two effectively skipping many services.

      The Cruze is a junk car, I have had to fix a few things on one… The oil heat exchanger construction is crap, I imagine you have had issues with this part several times adding to the costs, and Coil packs

      • The time factor is there to cover people who do really short trips every day (i.e. to the station and back).
        If you only use a car on the weekends you can safely extend that time period by 50% imo

      • Don't forget that your service interval is an OR based on time or km whichever is first.
        Not sure why people think it's the higher of the two effectively skipping many services

        Don’t forget that for an old low value car over-servicing is a waste of money. If the car is worth nothing and you drive low kms an oil change every year will be enough to keep it running.

        • I do agree that with a good enough oil you can do 12 months providing you are say under the 10-15k km. This is very broad, having a turbo car that does lots of start/stop short trips and you will be pushing your luck longevity wise.

          The second part is, warranty, if you care about it in any way, don't skip the intervals time or km based.
          Once you are doing your own servicing, you can easily assess the frequency.

          Just as well should mention many people assume oil lasts the length of service intervals, those people may be surprised..
          I hope everyone checks their oil every 1 to 2 months? Obviously adjust frequency if you car is especially good on oil consumption.

    • $1500 / year isn't exactly the cost of maintaining the car, it's the cost of owning and running a car.
      Cars have on-going costs even if they have no value, so it doesn't really matter what the cars worth, you still have to pay insurance, rego, etc.
      If you have a more expensive car, these ongoing costs will probably go up too.

      You basically have to compare owning a car to other alternative and select the best option. If you have to drive, there's not much you can do

  • +2

    I feel similar, but we have two cars at home and I've recently gotten a job within walking distance. Considering selling my car and keeping the wifes. Win!

    • +13

      How many wifes you got?

      • +4


    • +5

      How about selling the wifes and keeping the car? Win + win, double win?

      • I like your thinking.

    • +2

      get a mobility scooter

      • With all the latest coffin on 2 wheel stats make sure you have a strong life insurance .

        Main concerns are 1) people texting ( can be spotted every half distance trip )
        2) drugged out goons .

  • +3

    Get a motorcycle license and get a little scooter or motorcycle, that will get you where you're going when you need to go somewhere not well serviced by trains and buses. If you need to transport a lot of stuff then get an Uber at that time or hire a car.

    • +4

      Still need registration, ctp and insurance. Comprehensive insurance is a must if the bike is worth anything. Safety gear also required.

      Motorbikes and scooters sound cheap, bUt not really if comparing to a really cheap/small car.

      • Motorcycles under a certain size (300cc I think) are cheaper to register and cheaper to insure. No need to have an expensive bike, if you're having a bike to save money and not to show off. Comprehensive on bikes is too expensive I think as the tiniest little dent writes them off. If you have a 250cc $1k bike on third party it would only cost you like $500 a year (not 100% sure on the number but in that ballpark). Safety gear costs a bit but you only have to do that once hopefully. And you can get everything but the helmet second hand. Could get out for a few hundred. Something else that is cheaper about a motorcycle is free parking in most parking areas as opposed to $20/day if you have a car, plus less than half in petrol cost even compared to a very little car.

        • +1

          I see what you're saying I guess. It didn't seem like it was as cheap for me before. Registration for a 250cc was over $500 in Victoria. That's quite a bit for a two wheeler. But I think it was mainly because I didn't get as much use out of it as I'd hoped. The weather in melbourne was too inconsistent for mw to make the most of it, compared to a car.

          For a while, they also didn't charge bikes the tolls. And then they started doing half price tolls.

          Worst was when my bike then got stolen and I just couldn't justify a replacement.

          I went back to the car and it does cost more, but it's worth it for me.

          • +1

            @bobbified: I got a 150cc scooter recently. Rego, comprehensive insurance etc was all up around $500 in nsw. $90/quarter for harbour bridge toll, $5 every couple weeks in fuel etc etc.

            Not including cost of purchase or safety gear, the scooter life saves me $700 a year vs 4 days a week public transport, and 20mins each way commute time. I only live <10km from the office.

            Best bit, I actually enjoy the scoot to work, it’s fun, less safe than a car, but fun!

  • +5

    Sell your car then.

  • +4

    Car ownership is not a rip-off. It’s just expensive. The biggest cost is depreciation which you haven’t accounted for.

    If you want to go without there are alternatives that are cheaper, but. T as convenient.

    • +4

      It absolutely is a rip-off, we objectively have some of the most expensive car ownership in the world, including initial cost price because of the aussie tax and LCT. Also, depreciation isn't a cost to anyone who actually likes their car or keeps it a long time. You don't think about depreciation with a TV, because it isn't an investment and neither is a car.

      • +3

        I mean, just because you don't think about it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. You buy a 25k car, own it for 10 years and sell it for 5k, the car costs you 2k in depreciation. So if you're looking at all in costs per year you add that to the total.

        • LOL what?

          Do the maths again. The car didn't cost you $20k in depreciation. Instead, it gave you the benefit of private transport for 10 years and then gave you $5k back in your pocket.

          That means you only paid $20k for the car. You need to remember that using a car is a benefit, and a luxurious one at that. For many people, public transport isn't a viable option so a car is their only way to earn an income or run their life. I'd say 10 years of using your own car is well worth $20k.

          • +2

            @SlavOz: Potato, potarto. Call it what you like, it is still the cost of keeping anything that will be worth less when you dispose or sell it. In the example $2k per year is what it costs to keep it. It is up to the owner to determine if it is worth $2k or more or less for the convenience of having car available let alone adding all the actual running costs.

          • +2

            @SlavOz: You need to separate costs and benefits. It does cost $2k per year. If it gives you more than $2k per year in benefits, thats great, but that's not the point I was making.

            • -2

              @ilikeradiohead: I see it differently. A car is like air for most people. You can't put a price on it. Imagine paying for 10 years of air in advance and then being able to sell the unused part.

              Obviously, the trick to getting value from cars is to buy a good one and keep it for as long as possible. Personally when I'm done with my cars I sell them for the first reasonable offer I get (usually we'll below what it's worth) and still consider it a win. A car is basically a money printer.

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