Nineteen years ago, Peter Tombrowski and his wife decided that giving up their paid-off vehicle made sense for them and their six-month-old baby.
“We were living downtown, and we just weren’t using our car,” says the videographer, standing at a southern Calgary transit hub.
He had crunched the numbers and decided that both the money tied up in their vehicle, and the cost to maintain it, could be better spent elsewhere. Instead they’ve relied largely on walking and transit.
But even when Tombrowski had a second child and moved south of Calgary’s downtown, he never went back to the costs of car ownership, which according to the Canadian Automobile Association, runs Canadians an average of $9,000 a year per vehicle.
Not everyone, however, is willing to walk half an hour to the grocery store like Tombrowski, and for many in the suburbs and rural parts of the country, going without a car isn’t an option — but Ian Jack at CAA says that most people could think more about costs when shopping for wheels.
“Generally speaking, people are not very rational when it comes to vehicle purchases. It’s still a status symbol for many people, and there’s an aura of romance around it,” says Jack, managing director of communications at the association.
He says people tend to over-buy, as they think about that once-a-year full haul with the family to the cottage, even though they need much less most of the time.
“They may not be able to get away with no vehicle, but maybe they can get away with a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle and simply rent or car share once or twice a year.”
CAA estimates that nationally, a compact car like a Honda Civic would cost about $8,600 a year to own, while a SUV like a Chevrolet Equinox would cost about $12,000, when everything from insurance, maintenance, gas and depreciation are factored in.
“Try to think about the dollars and the cents, and all of the other parts of life that you could be spending that money on potentially,”…