What Does IT Really Cost to Own a Car?
I was looking at total household automobile expenditures (actually total transportation expense except public transportation) for various income levels and found a couple of interesting things:
 The lowest income tiers, $5,000$9,999 through $15,00019,999 spend more than their income. A lot more for the lowest tier.
 The average annual expenditure per car only varies by $700 (from $2700 to $3400) for all categories below $70,000 income.
 The average annual car expenditure for those under $70,000 annual income is $3121 or $260 per month.
 At 10,000 miles/year this is 31 cents per mile.
 At a national average of 1.6 occupants per car, this is 20 cents/passengermile
 (I analyzed the AAA number of 57 cents per mile here – is is NOT inconsistent with the above.)
 The number of vehicles per household pretty much varies directly with income level. As does the percentage of income spent on automobiles.
 The percentage of income spent per car declines with increasing income from 14.7% to 5.3%
Here is a table of the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, followed by how I calculated the cost per car.
Annual cost of owning a car for various household income levels 

data from: Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2010 www.bls.gov/cex/2010/share/income.pdf 


Household income 
All 
$59,999 
$1014,999 
$1519,999 
$2029,999 
$30 39,999 
$4049,999 
$5069,999 
$70,000 up 
Avg. Annual Expenditures 
$48109 
$18297 
$19909 
$24935 
$29158 
$35556 
$40616 
$47966 
$80708 
Transportation 
16.0% 
12.6% 
13.1% 
15.3% 
16.7% 
17.5% 
17.5% 
16.2% 
15.7% 
Public Transportation 
1.0% 
.8% 
.6% 
.7% 
.8% 
.8% 
.7% 
.8% 
1.3% 
vehicles per household 
1.9 
.8 
.9 
1.2 
1.5 
1.7 
2.0 
2.2 
2.7 










Calculate (see below for details) 


Transport Without transit(1) 
15.0% 
11.8% 
12.5% 
14.6% 
15.9% 
16.7% 
16.8% 
15.4 
14.4% 
Total transportation $(2) 
$7216 
$2159 
$2489 
$3640 
$4636 
$5,938 
$6823 
$7387 
$11622 
For one car(3) 
$3798 
$2698 
$2765 
$3034 
$3090 
$3492 
$3412 
$3358 
$4304 
Average cost of one car for average incomes from $5000 to $69.999(4): $3121 


Details of the above Calculations 

1: 
Transport Without transit % 

Transportation percent Public Transit percent 
2: 
Total household transportation expense $ 

Without transit percent x Avg. Annual Expenditures 
3: 
For one car $ 

Transportation expense divided by number of cars 
4: 
For one car, average of incomes $5000$69.999 

Sum $5000 to $69,999 income columns divided by 7 

Details of the above Calculations 

1: 
Transport Without transit % 

Transportation percent Public Transit percent 
2: 
Total household transportation expense $ 

Without transit percent x Avg. Annual Expenditures 
3: 
For one car $ 

Transportation expense divided by number of cars 
4: 
For one car, average of incomes $5000$69.999 

Sum $5000 to $69,999 income columns divided by 7 
###
JK