Monday, May 26, 2008

MPG & Cost of Ownership

I've noticed a few folks already slowing up their average speed on the road. Will it really save them some fuel? Yes, a little. But not enough to save the amount they're going to need to fuel that vehicle in the future. It's time to reconsider the vehicle you're driving and get one that best suits your actual needs based on cost of ownership.

It's not too complicated to see how much the cost of your next fuel-saving vehicles will impact your gas bill. Fuel mileage is taking centerstage faster and faster nowadays and the money spent on better MPG's will more quickly outpace the time it takes to offset a car's price tag.

Using a 15,000 average miles driven per year and a soon-to-be $4 per gallon gas price, see how quickly fuel costs outpace the price differences of your car.

24 MPG Vehicles
625 gallons per year X $4 per gallon = $2500
Monthly Fuel Cost: $208

35 MPG Vehicles
428.5 gallons per year X $4 per gallon = $1714
Monthly Fuel Cost: $142

At a more common 20,000 annual mileage average, the differences add up even faster:

24 MPG Vehicles
833 gallons per year X $4 per gallon = $3332
Monthly Fuel Cost: $277

35 MPG Vehicles
571 gallons per year X $4 per gallon = $2285
Monthly Fuel Cost: $190

Cost of ownership affects more than the monthly household budget. Cost is affected by length of ownership and operating costs accrued over that ownership period. The greatest economy can only be achieved when the cost of ownership is spread out over longest period of time. Trade-in and resale values will soon hold fewer advantages than in previous years when operation costs (purchase price, taxes, title and registration fees, financing interest, fuel, insurance, maintenance) were cheaper and permitted frequent changes in vehicle ownership.

Calculating total cost of ownership for your vehicle is sobering when fully considered. For example, a $15,000 vehicle comes with many costs. For example:

Purchase Price: $15000 + fees
Taxes: $1000+ per year
Insurance: $800-$1000 per year
Financing Interest: $400-$600 per year
Fuel: $1700 - $3300 per year ($2500 average @ $4 per gallon)
Maintenance: $250-$500 per year

Typical Cost of Ownership $600-$700 per month or $22 per day

The moral of this story is simple:
Drive as cheaply as possible - gas is just going to get more expensive.
Don't drive unless you have a reason - get organized to control this lifestyle cost.
Watch every contributing expense that affects cost of vehicle ownership - from checking insurance rates to keeping your tires properly inflated.
Slow down a bit and fill up less often.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Honda Era Ends... Hello, Suzuki!

A personal era ended recently with the sale of my 1989 Honda NX250 dual sport to a fellow in Greeneville, TN this morning. As I waved goodbye to my old ride I mentally reviewed its colorful past- bought use and ridden for 5 years, stolen for 3 years, then recovered and restored to mechanical soundness this past fall. A shining example of Honda reliability throughout its-not-over-yet lifetime, the NX stands as a testimony to what all bikes should.

That little 2500cc water-cooled, six-speed conveyance defined what I still look for in quality two-wheeled transportation. Reliability first - performance and fun factor second. Every feature of that bike is still working except the problematic speedo assembly (I balked at a $100+ parts list to make another attempt to keep it working). And that's it. The tranny is shifting a little harder and the throttle is less snappy in its response, but the bike is more than drivable and relatively safe with its ancient disc brake and rear drums. Getting 85 mpg is a nice feeling, too.

Having owned 3 Hondas all told - a 1966 305 Super Hawk, a 1975 CB350, and the 1989 NX250 - my overall experience was very positive. Few if any breakdowns. No maintenance problems. And a couple of tumbles due to my foolhardy driving. For me, motorcycles are Hondas. Until now...

With a much lauded 2007 Suzuki DL 650A V-Strom, I have entered the midsize bike realm. For me, it is a whole new era of comfort and performance with a bike that can take me anywhere. Power and handling are first rate. ABS braking technology is a must-have now in my mind. And careful accessorizing has now turned my V-Strom into a capable adventure tourer. But reliability is still an issue. With just 6500 miles on it, the speedo is malfunctioning and an intermittent stall occurs when I come to stop. Some things never change... (we'll also see what kind of dealership experience is in store for this era too).

Will the Wee stand the test of time that the NX has managed to endure? Only time will tell in this new era of modern motorcycling - and I can only hope so....