Money Minute: Why Your Car Is a Money Pit; Walmart Grows a Green Thumb


Your car may be costing you a lot more than you think.

AAA says the average driver driving the average midsize car -- for example, a Toyota Camry going 15,000 miles a year -- will cost nearly $10,500 a year to operate. That includes gasoline, insurance, maintenance, depreciation and some other items. A small car would cost about $2,000 less, but an SUV could cost $2,500 more. These are shocking numbers that could punch a SUV-sized hole in your budget.

Walmart Stores (WMT) wants to become your gardener. The retailer is making a direct challenge to home improvement giants Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) by offering what it calls "Black Friday-like prices" on outdoor and garden items such as mulch, lawn mowers and outdoor furniture. The nine-day sale begins Friday, the first full day of spring, with discounts of 30 to 50 percent off regular prices.

Burger King (BKW) is going mobile -- and we're not talking about the drive-through. The company is about to unveil a new app that allows customers to get discounts and make payments via their smartphones. Eventually, you'll be able to pre-order your Whopper, too.

Starbucks (SBUX) already offers those mobile features, and now it's adding a new drink to the menu.
At the end of April it will offer Oprah Chai, a tea-blend created by Oprah Winfrey. It will be available at both Starbucks and Teavana stores. Separately, Starbucks said it won't raise coffee prices, despite the surge in wholesale coffee prices.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost 114 points Wednesday, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell 25 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) dropped 11 points.

The FAA has put its stamp of approval on the safety of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Government and company experts have completed a review following a pair of fires involving the plane's lithium-ion batteries. It concludes that the Dreamliner is "fundamentally sound" and comparable in safety to other new Boeing (BA) models, despite some problems with the manufacturing process.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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Socho Ekon

Here is how I go about automobiles. I check reviews before I buy a car to see if there is a lot of people complaining about the same expensive problems. Like transmission going out at 60,000 miles or whatever. It could be anything that keeps popping up in the reviews. Lincoln towncars had a plastic manifold from 1995 through 2001 that would melt is a perfect example. Anyway, once I have researched a vehicle and it has positive reviews, then I assume the car will get 150,000 miles total. Then I subtract how many miles a vehicle I am buying has and divide that by the purchase price. So, if I buy a car with 50,000 miles for $4000, then I am paying 4 cents per mile to drive it in purchase price. If I drive that car 10 miles, then it costs me 40 cents in depreciation. That doesn't include gas, insurance, or oil changes. Just purchase price. I also don't buy car insurance in the summer months.. Only from late October through March when there is snow and ice on the roads. Summer months, the car is easier to control for me and the other drivers. So, there is less risk in summer months to get into an accident. I also only get 2 oil changes per year regardless of miles. In the old days, dirt would go through the carburetor and get down into the engine and mix with the oil. That is where the 3000 mile oil change came from. With fuel injection, a lot less dirt gets into the oil and the only problem is carbon from the gas. There are cars now that don't require an oil change till 100,000 miles, so once every 5000 or 6000 miles is fine. Unless you are driving a car from the days of carburetors, of course. So, I get 3.2 cents per mile out of my current car that I paid $2500 and it had 72,000 miles. If a person buys a new car, then they will pay around 20 to 25 cents per mile depending on the car. A 300c that sells for $42,000 will give you about 27 cents per mile to drive in purchase price alone. So now the numbers.. I drive about 20,000 miles per year = $640 in depreciation. 1000 gallons of gas is about $3500 = $4140 so far. two oil changes at $40 a pop = $4220. $350 of insurance puts me at $4570 on the year. Let's say average $100 in repairs a year, now $4670 total. Tires will last me 3 years and $500 for 4, so that is another $167 a year.. for a grand total of $4737 a year with my current 2002 Lincoln town car. Wow, that is almost twice what I paid.

March 20 2014 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Socho Ekon's comment

I would still recommend that you change the engine oil every 3,000 miles or every 6 months whichever comes first.

March 20 2014 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

money is a tool. to be spent on your life. enjoy your life. stop obsessing over it.

March 20 2014 at 3:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have a 1997 Explorer and 2004 Taurus. Not the most fuel efficient but they are paid for and run great. Stopped counting depreciation when I decided to drive them until they die. Total cost for both per year is about 7500 which includes fuel, repairs and insurance.

March 20 2014 at 12:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

10-yr-old Suburban w/115k miles on it. $500 insurance, $500 maintenance avg, $2400 fuel. I'll get another new Suburban next year and my kids will get the old one when they're ready to start driving. I'm bucks up as far as I'm concerned. Stop buying throw-away cars

March 20 2014 at 12:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hird1's comment
Socho Ekon

all opinion and no facts...

March 20 2014 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If that's the way we wish to spend our money, whats it to ya?

March 20 2014 at 11:45 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chris's comment
Socho Ekon

so true

March 20 2014 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Walmart needs to hire people in the gardening center that know something. Walmart sells dead plants and no one wants them. They need better selections and better quality. The Boomers are very interested in gardneing

March 20 2014 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of course today's modern cars are a money pit as they're so crammed with cheap electronic components (plugs, sockets, etc.) and digital crap that even the dealers can no longer diagnose what is wrong with them in many instances. One can easily shell out thousands of dollars to the dealer in an attempt to fix a problem, but to no avail.

March 20 2014 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We are still oil addicts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 20 2014 at 11:16 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

There are ways you can reduce the cost of operating your car.
For one reduce the number of miles you put on the odometer by planning your trips using mapquest, and combine tasks to create a circle path - for example work, carwash, groceries all in one loop.
Mapquest gives you the shortest route.
Buy a bicycle and ride it for road trips.

Driving style is a major factor. Lead foot driving and heavy cornering will destroy a set of tires plus wear out the brakes and shorten the life of transmission clutches, and CV joints.
All expensive parts.

Lubrication is key and I'm not talking about changing the oil, but the chassis - ball joints, uppper and lower control arms, tie rod ends, Pitman arm, and the rest of the car like hood hinges, trunk hinges, door hinges, spring mounts.
Anytime a lubricated part becomes dry it will bind and break - result ? Open your wallet wide.
Most garages will lube all of it for $5.00
And of course the finish - put lots of wax on it and Armorall everything especially the dash top.

March 20 2014 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to alfredschrader's comment

How about you drive your way and I'll drive mine. Plus a bicycle for road trips? My trips are over 1000 miles. No way it is happening on a bike.

March 20 2014 at 12:24 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

ball joints, uppper and lower control arms, tie rod ends, Pitman arm...None can be lubricated on modern vehicles. They're all sealed.

March 20 2014 at 2:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply