The real cost of owning a car

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Many people will consider that having a car is the first step to our freedom but what is the real cost of owning a car? In american society, the car is often associated with the notion of personal freedom but that’s not true and that’s one of the biggest mistake people make : associate freedom with false artefacts and false thruths. So let me explain why owning a car will enslave you, remove your true freedom and remove the most fundamental thing that you can have in life which is a good relation with nature and your health.

First, let’s precise the fact that we will be talking about gasoline cars here, which are by far the most common cars on the roads today. Electric cars will have their own article related to their high risks of exposing the body to high electromagnetic fields and also to talk about the pollution related to them.

Cost of owning a car?

So, think about it for a second. In a country like Canada, or the United States, driving a car which not too old and in good condition, will cost an average of 2000$ to 5000$ per year. We can base our estimations of the cost on the lowest price for renting a basic new car.

In Canada, a location (rental) for a normal car cost around 200$ per month (including taxes) to 400$ per month if you had some options into it (A/C, automatic transmission, sport package). For example, a corolla or a civic, which are relatively cheap cars, often cost close to 400$ per month once you add the taxes and the options.

Buying a good used car which is 3-6 years old normally cost about the same amount per month when you consider that cars lose their value as they age (except collectible cars) and considering that on these cars the warranty is over and you will have to pay for the maintenance. For example, if you buy a 2010-2011 civic today in 2018, you will pay about 7-8k for a good one with 100000km+. Suppose you drive it 4 years then sell it for 4k in 2022. Let’s suppose that during these four years you spent an average of 500$ each year for maintenance and repairs. Then your civic will cost you (we ignore money depreciation over time for convenience):

Used car 4 years expenses scenario

8000 $ (buying price)

1200 $ (taxes)

2000 $ (repairs and maintenance in 4 years)


11200 $

-4000 $ (when you sell it)



Which mean that you paid 7200 / 4 = 1800$ per year to drive this car. This is if you have not encountered any big problems with the car and you had a fair price when you bought it and sold it. You see that 2000$ per year is about the minimum amount it will cost you to own a regular car unless you are a mecanic or you accept to drive an older car which normally has some smells of exhaust gaz and gasoline, while not being as safe on the road.

Again, I made a lot of calculations and I validated those calculations with the average person in Canada and most people spend between 2000$ to 5000$ per year to own a car. I am not even talking about buying trucks, sports car or luxury car, just your normal corolla, golf, civic, etc.

But then this is not over. Owning a car forces you to pay many other fees which include : insurance, drive license, gasoline, car registration and other taxes that could exist. So if we add those new fees and round the amount of money to try to make an average of the total cost, we could come up with those numbers :

Annual cost average for owning a basic car in Canada

2000$-5000$ per year to own a decent car

500-800$ (insurance)

100$ (driver licence)

300$ (car registration plate)

2500$ (gasoline)



We will round the total amount of owning a car 6000$ per year or 500$ per month. That would be 2400$ for the cheapest location (200$/month) or buying a good used car and then 3600$ in other expenses which includes gasoline.

Most people that are going to work with their car will spend about 40-60$ per week on gasoline, depending on their travel distance, their engine and their driving habits.

How much work for a middle class worker to own a car

Now that we have calculated a fair average of how much owning a basic car really cost, we are going to consider how much work it requires, for a middle class person, to actually pay for this car. This will allow us to understand what is the real cost in terms of our time and how much energy must be spent on work to pay for this car.

First, note that this 500$/month total cost for owning a car is net revenue, that means that in order to make that 500$ you have to make more money, then pay your taxes to the government, to be left with 500$ you can spend.

Gross revenue – Taxes = Net revenue

We consider a person with a 50 000$ annual revenue. Let’s assume the tax rate is 25%, which is fair for this revenue.

With a simple cross product, we calculate that to make 500$ net in a month, we need to earn 666,67$ in revenues before taxes. Which mean that for a 50k worker in Canada, 16% of the money earned in his life will go directly to pay car related expenses. Obviously, if you make less than 50k per year, you spend more than 16% of all the money you make on your car. For example, if you adjust tax rate for a 30k revenue, you will end up working 25% of their time just to pay for a basic car like we describe above.

50 000$ -> 16% of all revenues goes to expenses related to owning a single car

30 000$ -> 25% of all revenues goes to expenses related to owning a single car

The numbers speak for themselves. When you enter the game, in which the society promises to you freedom based on money, you are in fact offering a big portion of your time to feed corporations and you are being used as a polluting agent to consume expandable stuff, so that you have to buy again to feed these corporations again in a never ending cycle in which you will be working for them all your life.

If you think that the solution is to make more money, you are all wrong. The richer you are and the more you spend, the more you are working for them. Normally, people that make more money will have a car that cost more and will be more invested into their projects related to making money. They will most likely end up making more sacrifices on their free time and freedom of thoughts to fit in a pattern they have found to make some profit, turning themselves into better slaves for the money system.

So over a year you work about 2 months (50k->16%) to 3 months (30k->25%), just to pay for your car! If that is not slavery, that surely is not freedom 😛

We are not even done with all the expenses that comes with owning a car. Obviously, when you have a car, you are more likely to travel with it, go see friends, parents, go out more, eat in restaurants, do some roadtrips, etc. So the car can encourage you to spend more money.

By buying a car you really get a little morgage. You are going to have to wake up every day to go work to pay this car, and the more you go work, the more you use this car and burn gasoline, which cost you more money and ask you to work more again, etc. It is a counter productive cycle in which you get caught easily.

If you don’t have this car, then you can stay at home and you can relax, because those payments and those bills won’t be happening. Having a car is a financial responsability that can cause a lot of stress, which again, is not what the definition of freedom should include. It will push you to work more and will most likely impact prematurely your health for so many reasons. It is also feeding the oils corporations which are destroying the Earth, polluting oceans, soils, compromising life and natural habitats.

If you want to experience freedom, you should try to avoid including yourself in control systems that the society puts in place. A control system, is a system that has an effect on your behavior by including you in a system of constraints once you are in it. Every payments that you have to make in your life is a form of control system. It forces you to go work even if you are not happy doing this work. It removes from you the liberty of changing your life easily, taking time to learn new things, to heal your mind and body. Once again, control systems, like oil dependency and owning a car, are the opposite of true freedom.

Car impact on health

Now, we will talk about the most crucial cost that owning a car require us to pay. We will briefly understand that owning, using and driving a car regularly have a negative impact on our most fundamental freedom : the right to live healthy.

First, the fact that people own and drive their own car is one of the cause of climate change. Climage change threaten all complex life forms, especially mammals like humans. Smog, which is increased by hot temperature, is mostly created by car exhaust gas accumulating in the atmosphere and is known to kill thousands of people each year while affecting the health of millions over time. Driving a gasoline car is therefore an act of violence towards humanity and life itself.

A car is a killing machine. It can kill a human with its exhaust gas in a matter of minutes, still we drive these cars almost every day to send those deadly gas in the atmosphere! That’s crazy when you think about it. Our food, our water and our air is polluted by the gas and the particules they contain.

Cars are not only impacting the health of the whole humanity by polluting the air, they are also accelerating the decay of their owner. New cars, for example, are full of VOC, which are volatil organic compounds emitted from plastic and other petroleum substance used to make the car – especially leather.

In other words, the air inside the car is filled with petrochemical substances. That’s why a new car smells like “new”. These toxic chemicals promote cancer development and will accumulate in the body, a process similar to cigaret’ smoke particules accumulating in the body and causing cancer. The amount of VOC that is in the air of any car that is less than 2 years old is normally impactful on the health of a person. Cars with a leather interior will be toxic for all their life cycle. Cars with air refresher or any kind of perfumes will also be extremely toxic for their owner. I’ve noticed that air conditionning systems are more than often a source of polluants for the air inside a car. Especially, once they have been refilled.

As the car ages, it often have some kind of leaks that comes from the engine or the exhaust system that you will breath each time you use the car. Therefore, buying older cars pose a threat to intoxicate yourself with these smells that are not always easy to recognize, since they can be faint. I’ve been intoxicated by many of the cars I’ve driven or been into during my life because of all these sources of pollution.

Don’t forget that if you use you car every day to go to work and also for other errands, that means you most likely spend more than an hour per day in your car. Some people even spend multiple hours per day in their cars, because they need it to work! If you are breathing even a small leak of oil, gas, coolant or exhaust gas, that adds up over time and will lower your energy level while making you age prematurely. Finally, note that when you are driving on the road, you normally breath in bad quality air since you are following other cars which are emitting their exhaust gas in your face, sometime very close to you. On warm days, tires also have a smell of rubber that is faint but that you will breath amongst many other odors that will intoxicated you body over time.

Overall, once aware of those facts, we understand that owning a car is slowly killing ourself and the world we live in, lowering our life expectancy and using our time on Earth to pay for this car! All that time acting as a slave in a control system could be used to make your health better, to feel better, to learn, to love, to create, etc.


What are the solution then? Well, you can walk, you can use a bicycle, you use public transportation, you can reduce the amount of errands you need to survive, you can share a car with someone, you can learn mecanic and repair your car, you can learn to cook instead of going to restaurants, you can work at home, you can live closer to your work, you can stop working and live simply with less. There are a tons of options, I’ve tried most of them listed here.

Overall, redesigning your life is the ultimate solution. Think wider, think better. My ideal would be autarcy, living on a small piece of land and producing most of what I need with the help of others in a cooperative approach. Cooperation is the key for reducing pollution. Refusing to be stuck in a pattern of life that creates pollution is a journey in itself that will bring you a lot of good things. Free yourself, educate yourself, create your own vision of life and share it with the world.


Owning a car is not freedom, we see that it is really a burden that we put on ourselves because we have been taught that this is the first step to freedom, while this is not true! We are educated to be slaves, spend money, go get a job and work all our life to pay bills. You don’t have to live like that, refuse this pattern. By buying a car you accept to use your precious time and your living energy, to send a high percentage of all your money to other companies that feed on you. You are also promoting all the environmental problems related to petroleum usage : smog, climate change, plastic garbage in land fills, oceans and cancer propagation.

In brief the real cost of owning a gasoline car includes :

  • Entering deeper into the economic control system (more bills) which eventually takes a hold of your freedom.
  • Entering the petroleum control system to feed companies that basically destroy the Earth purity and threatens all life form.
  • Wasting precious time of your life to make money in order to pay for car related expenses.
  • Creating more pollution.
  • Harming your health.
  • Reducing your longevity.

Let me know if that is still worth it?



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