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July 12, 2011


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Your assumption about the navigation is that everyone has a phone capable of being used as GPS and has a data plan to allow it. I pay $60/mo after taxes for two phones. Adding data and then having to upgrade our bottom of the line phones would cost a lot more in the long-run. However, I think the better way to go is a portable GPS unit rather than a built in one. We bought a refurb, saved a ton of money and it has been great especially when we had to make a trip for my sister's wedding who lives in vegas

I use premium fuel, and get my oil changed as recommended, but thats cause my vehicle is a Harley. So my engine can get a little more wear and tear than a typical vehicle. But I have been able to put many more miles on my Harley with no problems than other people, and I credit it to these 2 reasons.

The brake pads is a big one. Changed at the right interval, the cost is maybe $200 tops. If that change interval is missed, it could ruin the rotors, which is going to cost more like $600 or more.

#1 Money waster: Paying someone else to change your oil
#2 Money waster: Not being informed about your car (or having a trusted family member/friend) to know when the mechanics are being ridiculous. Case in point: We recently took my car to the shop for a major repair my husband didn't have the tools to do himself. During their 28pt inspection, they said the transmission fluid needing to be flushed. They didn't quite know what to do when my husband told him we had just flushed it and changed the filter last summer.

Also, we've done the math on premium vs. super unleaded gas. It is always a wash, since with premium fuel we pay more but have much better gas mileage than super unleaded. With super, you pay less but have to fill up more often. We follow the general rule that we don't fuel our car with a suitable food source since so many people are hungry in this world. (ethenol is made from corn, premium is only oil).

I had that happen at my last service - they garage told me I needed new brakes. I said that that was fine, I'd buy the parts and have a friend change them. Suddenly my service tech back-pedaled, saying that there was no rush on the brakes, but I would need them changing before the next service, so maybe change them in 3 months.

My friend went to change my brakes. Apparently his dad (who was helping) burst out laughing. My brakes are only about 1/2 way through their life. Oh well. I already have the parts when I do need new brakes...

The biggest waste that isn't on the list, is probably buying more car than you need. Large trucks for people who don't haul anything, luxury cars for people paying off consumer debt and the like.

I don't think buying a new car is a waste, depending on your situation. Also if you truly enjoy driving a monster truck, more power to you.

I have a GPS and comparing it with cost of two phone and two data plans I already came out ahead (I have had it for about a year) and I'll keep it until it dies. Granted it is a portable one, but still.

Hmm, I heard the active chemicals in Coolant does last too long... ~5 years. Could ignoring the change cost you in the long run?

Another waste - Weekly car washes at $5 a pop.

@Travis @Ginger There are some phone-based GPS apps that include complete maps in the app itself, so data service is not required. Aside from saving the cost of data, this is useful if you want to navigate anyplace that lacks cell coverage! Here's one such app:

I agree that standalone GPS units are better for most cases, though.

@Lindsey Do you live in Iowa? You can still get pure-oil gasoline there, but in most states it's no longer possible to get gas without ethanol. In fact, the octane rating increase in premium gas is obtained by adding extra ethanol! Also, using high-octane gas shouldn't increase MPG noticeably. Do you have controlled data showing that it does in your vehicle?


Those factual quibbles aside, I entirely agree that fuel ethanol is an economic and environmental catastrophe. I surely wish gasoline without ethanol were more widely available!


Absolutely! In fact, I suggest

11. Owning a car

It's the biggest hidden cost of living in a "low cost-of-living" area, and it doesn't get mentioned enough around here. ;)

Do the mileage calculations for regular vs premium gasoline.

I found I got just about 10% better mileage, which means I'm willing to pay 10% more.

I just replaced my air filter with a 'store-brand' air filter, and my gas mileage dropped by 3 mpg. I'm waiting one more tank to be sure it wasn't just a fluke, but assuming it wasn't, I'm going to buy a reusable performance air filter ($50 vs. $15 for the store-brand, but can just be cleaned off and reused indefinitely rather than replaced every 2 years or so).

Something else that can be added to that list of car money wastes, is a factory entertainment system. they typically cost about $1500 but a DVD player at Costco is less then $200 depending upon the battery life, but it can also be plugged into the car charger to run it.

If your owner's manual says to change the oil every 3k, 5k, 7k whatever miles then do so! It's your choice to put full synth in or not.

I understand and agree with most of these but don't quite get the tune-up one. Can someone explain?

I have one of those pre-Y2K GPS systems that folds up in the glove compartment.

Doesn't need to be charged or plugged into the cigarette lighter. Sometimes they cost a couple bucks, but usually can be had for free.

Linda; I'm no mechanic, but a " tune -up" in the classic sense is a bit of an outdated practice, now that most cars built since 1980 no longer have points, carburetors, and other components that needed to be manually adjusted by a mechanic, but instead are now adjusted on the fly , as you drive, by a little on board computer called the ECU. Places that charge you for a "tune up" are just ripping you off, essentially charging you a fee for doing nothing. Better to take your car to a more reputable establishment, take out out that owners manual , turn to the back for the" scheduled preventative maintenance " section, look up the mileage that your car is, and tell them that is what you want done.

Cash - Granted that's true. But they still have wires and spark plugs as well as belts, filters and a variety of sensors and other things that may need a check and adjustment.


What is a GRAND rip off is the X-miles service (20k, 35k, 50k etc). These "service" periods are EXPENSIVE!! And if read the list of the "services" performed for these it usually only includes an oil change, perhaps a tire rotation, and inspect-this, check-that etc.

So you end up paying $200-$300-$400 for a list of things the dealer suggests you get done! Which then turn into *another* $200-$300-$400 to actually do the work!

Don't get MasterPo wrong - In spite of the cost overall I've had nothing but good results with dealer service vs. chain repair shops.

But you have to be smarter about it.

@08Grad: Yes, I am in Iowa. I didn't know that most states don't have pure premium. Thanks!

No scientific data on the mpg, just personal experience. I know all cars are different so some may not perform better with premium fuel.

Hmm... I am taking my car in for maintenance tomorrow morning, and after having read this, I might have a few questions about the "mandatory" oil change, etc. I just got my oil changed, and I know they're going to charge me an arm and a leg for it, "mandatorily." I think that as long as your car is running well and you don't have lights blinking at you on the dash, the maintenance visits can be stretched out a bit, to save some money. Also a good tip: Keep your tires aired! It's free, it's easy, and it can save you money on gas.

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