The First Week

It has now been exactly one week since my Mazda Miata blew its head gasket–one week of being car free.

Ecology Auto Parts towed my Miata away on Thursday and all I felt was an all-consuming sense of relief. Cars are like a heavy weight on your soul. Get rid of yours and see how great your feel!

They gave me $100 cash and now I am going to save about $150/month in insurance and maintenance. At the end of the year, I save $100 in carbon offsets. I need to pay for public transportation for long trips, but I was doing that anyway. I no longer need to wash, fix, or park a car. My driveway looks huge. I was a little curious to find out how much the car actually cost me over the eleven months I owned it. A little time-value analysis on my trusty spreadsheet program yielded a fairly shocking result:

Spreadsheet screenshot

My $1500 compact car cost me nearly $400 per month, not counting gas! Of course if it had survived for a few more months I could have amortized the expenses over a longer period. Even so, the cost was really too high for what I was getting out of it. Also, I should point out that I did all of my own mechanical, paint, and body work. About the only thing I paid someone else to do was change the oil. If I had had to pay labor on all of my maintenance it would have cost much more.

Of course, the first week has not been without its hiccups. I forgot to look up the bus transfers the night before to get to a doctor’s appointment. I ended up borrowing a car for a couple hours so I could get there on time. Friday, I had run to downtown LA on business in the afternoon and there was no point in going back to the office, so I have been stuck with a pickup all weekend. Still, these things are minor and it is only the first week.

Things are going great for me since I lost the car. Please, think of following my example. Living auto-light is a start, but you really do not receive most of the benefits until you are totally auto-free.


One organization in my part of the world that helps people transition to an auto-free lifestyle is Auto-Free Orange County. Check them out.

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