Is it time to wave goodbye to your car?

A bicycle, public transport and the occasional renting of a car could save you cash

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 01:30

Back in May, Cliona Brophy wrote in this paper how her family had successfully transitioned from having a car to giving it up in favour of bikes, public transport, and renting a car when needed.

Depending on where you live, or where you have to get to for work, opting to forgo your car may simply not be an option.

For those in urban areas well serviced by public transport, however, her assertion that “instead of being daunted by the prospect of a new year with car loans and associated costs and worries, we are looking forward to a new phase in our lives: car-free and carefree” might hit home.

But does it actually make financial sense to give up your car? And if you’re a two-car family for whom giving up both cars would be too much of a stretch, might it make sense to clear some space on your drive-way and go back to just one car?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.


The cost of driving

If your car was registered on or after July 1st, 2008, motor tax is unlikely to be your biggest expense. Depending on C02 emissions, you can expect to pay upwards of €120 for your annual motor tax. If, however, you have an older car, you will likely pay more, with rates starting at €199. For example, a 2010 Nissan Qashqai with a 1.5 litre engine will cost you €280 a year in tax, while an older car with a similar size engine will cost you €514 a year. And remember, it’s typically cheaper to pay your motor tax in full, as paying on a quarterly basis is more expensive – that €514 bill will actually work out as €612 a year if you pay in instalments.


Insurance is another major cost. Keeping with the aforementioned Nissan Qashqai, a 33-year-old driver with a clean driving licence will pay almost €500 a year for comprehensive insurance on this vehicle according to If a couple share the car, they will benefit from a reduced premium.

Depreciation, or the amount your vehicle declines in value, will also hit you. Take a new Land Rover Range Rover Sport, which retails for about €84,000. puts its annual depreciation at about €16,520 a year. Or how about a 2012 Opel Corsa, which retails new for about €16,500. estimates its depreciation is of the order of about €1,549 a year.

At first glance, getting your car serviced has become a lot cheaper since the heady days of the boom years.

Gowan Motors in Dublin, for example, offers an oil and filter change for €99, or a “40-point” service for €199, while Renault Belgard is offering a pre-NCT test for €50.

Servicing Stop offers to collect your car anywhere in the country, service it, and drop it back to you. It’ll cost you from €119 to service a Ford Fiesta, or €152 for a Volkswagen Passat.

However, remember to discuss any additional charges that might apply before you hand over the keys so you are fully aware of what the total bill might come to – and bear in mind that if you need new tyres, it may cost you in excess of €400 for these alone.

Fuel costs continue to rise, with each increase making every journey that little bit more expensive. According to the AA, the average retail price per litre of petrol stood at €1.55 in June 2014, or €1.47 for diesel. Compare this with June 2008, when car owners paid just €1.17 per litre of petrol, or €1.08 for diesel.

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