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Published on June 27th, 2008 | by Max Lindberg

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How Many Hours Do You Have to Work to Fill Your Gas Tank?


You Might Be Very Surprised

A few days back I posted a You Tube presentation about two professors from Duke University who came up with a different, and in their minds, more accurate way to determine the efficiency of the engine in your vehicle.

It’s nice to know how many miles per gallon (MPG), or as the profs say, gallons per mile (GPM) your vehicle will get, but there’s more, much more to that equation.

First of all, you’re paying a premium for regular gasoline, $4 maybe in excess of $5 a gallon, and you decide to fill it up.  Sticker shock will settle in quickly, but how about this, how many hours will you have to work in order to pay for that fuel?

CNN has posted a super simple calculator to help you determine how long you’ll have to work in order to fill the gas tank on your car.  The link is below, along with another link that ties into the overall cost of owning a car, and a chart to see how your vehicle stacks up against the least expensive cars to own, and they aren’t hybrids.

How Much is Your Vehicle Costing You Each Day?

Face it, whether moving constantly or sitting in the garage for days on end, your vehicle is costing you money.  Here are the considerations:

  • Depreciation (your vehicle loses value every day)
  • Financing
  • Insurance
  • Taxes & Fees
  • Maintenance
  • Repairs

The Edmunds Company has posted a great “True Cost to Own” (TCO) page that helps determine what your vehicle is costing you over a five-year period, based on being driven an average 15,000 miles a year.  The calculator offers new or used options, for model years 2003 thru 2007.  The link is below, and when you’ve figured the “True Cost to Own” for your vehicle, along with total cash price and the average cost per mile, compare your car with the ones below.

Just remember, all the figures you come up with are averages, and won’t necessarily be an accurate depiction of your costs.

What Are the Ten Cheapest Cars to Drive?  They’re Not Hybrids!

The Edmunds company used their calculator to look at the latest 2008 model vehicles, to see which ones would be the cheapest to own over a five year period.  Surprisingly, there isn’t a single hybrid in the bunch, as a matter of fact, hybrids didn’t do all that well.

A quick rundown of the least expensive in order:

  1. Chevrolet Aveo 5 Special Value 4dr Hatchback
  2. Hyundai Accent GS2dr Hatchback
  3. Honda Fit 4 dr Hatchback
  4. Toyota Yaris 2dr Hatchback
  5. Honda Civic DX 4dr Sedan
  6. Nissan Versa 1.8 S 4d Hatchback
  7. Mazda MAZDA3 i Sport 4dr Sedan
  8. Kia Rio 4 dr Sedan
  9. Scion xB 4 dr Wagon
  10. Toyota Corolla CE 4dr Sedan

The lease expensive to operate in the first year was the Chevrolet Aveo costing $0.427 a mile to operate.

The Toyota came in at $0.468 a mile for the first year, so you can see the margins are small.

Moving to the Hybrids

Same order, least expensive first:

  1. Honda Civic Hybrid 4dr Sedan gas/electric hybrid CVT
  2. Toyota Prius Standard 4dr Hatchback gas/electric hybrid CVT
  3. Nissa Altima Hybrid 4dr Sedan gas/electric hybrid CVT
  4. Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid 4dr Sedan gas/electric hybrid 4A
  5. Ford Escape 4dr SUV gas/electric hybrid CVT
  6. Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4dr SUV gas/electric hybrid CVT
  7. Toyota Camry Hybrid 4dr Sedan gas/electric hybrid CVT
  8. Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV gas/electrc hybrid CVT
  9. Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD gas/electric hybrid CVT
  10. Lexus RX 400h 4dr SUV gas/electric hybrid CVT.

The Honda Civic Hybrid came in at $.0476 a mile while the last place Lexus RX 400h would cost an estimated $0.897 per mile.

Again, these are estimates based on a system of calculations by the Edmunds Company and explained on their website.

You’ll find the complete totals on the “Hybrid Vehicles Not Best Value According to Edmunds” link below.

So, How Many Hours Do You Have To Work To Own Your Vehicle?

The math should be easy from here, if you work an 8 hour day, 40 hours a week you work 1080 2080 hours a year.  Average out the total amount of gas you buy for a year, divide by 1080 2080 and there you have it.  Then add that number to the one you found through the Edmunds calculator and that should give you the total number of hours you need to work to support your car.

CNN’s Hours for Gallons Calculator

The Edmunds Cost to Own Calculator

Hybrid Vehicles Not Best Value According to Edmunds

So there you have it, only you will know exactly how much your vehicle is costing you, and if not, I hope these guides will help you determine your own costs.

Happy motoring!

Some Related Articles:

Are Automakers To Blame For Consumer Car-Buying Trends? Auto Alliance Weighs In

Low Cost Gas Engine Innovation Doubles Fuel Economy

High Gas Prices: Empty Tanks Are the New Black In California

Prototype Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid: 88 MPG on 85% Ethanol

Image Credit:  http://visiblevote08.logoonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/gas-pump-71806.jpg




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About the Author

My home state is Illinois, and my hometown a little railroad/farming community named Galesburg.We lived on a small farm during my high school years and I became very aware of nature and it's wonders. I loved the out of doors, working with animals, plowing fields and harvesting crops. Those were very good years.After a stint in the Army during the Korean war my broadcasting career took off at the local radio station, a 250 watt "teapot" as it was called in those days. My first job was as an engineer, then the ham came out and I became an announcer/newsman, graduating after several years to a larger market and a stint as a TV journalist/photographer. Cold, wet weather led me to the southwest where I've lived for most of the last 40 years, with a couple of years out to have fun working as a private investigator in San Francisco, and a few years working in Las Vegas hotels and casinos. In all, its been a real ride.After retiring a few years back I became fascinated with the efforts being made to find alternative energy sources. I've watched our environment deteriorate during my lifetime, and now it's my chance to join the chorus of intelligent and caring individuals making a difference one day at a time.



  • http://www.freesand.com/glass/ Matt

    Is this chart assuming you’re being unwise with your money to begin with by buying a new vehicle instead of a used one?

  • http://www.freesand.com/glass/ Matt

    Is this chart assuming you’re being unwise with your money to begin with by buying a new vehicle instead of a used one?

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    This is a great approach to getting people thinking not just about the high costs of gasoline, but the larger costs of car ownership (and I say that as a car owner… who’s trying to convince my wife we don’t need to buy a second one). Furthermore, it figures in another very valuable “commodity”: time.

  • http://sustainablog.org Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    This is a great approach to getting people thinking not just about the high costs of gasoline, but the larger costs of car ownership (and I say that as a car owner… who’s trying to convince my wife we don’t need to buy a second one). Furthermore, it figures in another very valuable “commodity”: time.

  • Kat

    I have to work 6 hours to afford one tank of gas. Ouch.

    Also, try checking out the Drive $marter Challenge (www.drivesmarterchallenge.org). You can enter your specific vehicle data and figure out how much money you can save my taking six fuel-efficiency steps. They also provide other fuel-efficiency tips to help you save on gas costs.

  • Kat

    I have to work 6 hours to afford one tank of gas. Ouch.

    Also, try checking out the Drive $marter Challenge (www.drivesmarterchallenge.org). You can enter your specific vehicle data and figure out how much money you can save my taking six fuel-efficiency steps. They also provide other fuel-efficiency tips to help you save on gas costs.

  • Dave

    How do you get the 1080 hours per year for work? That number divided by 40 works out to 27 weeks. Sign me up for that job!!

  • Dave

    How do you get the 1080 hours per year for work? That number divided by 40 works out to 27 weeks. Sign me up for that job!!

  • http://apple.com AJ

    10 minutes. I drive a scooter that gets 80mpg and has a 1.3 gallon tank. :D

  • http://apple.com AJ

    10 minutes. I drive a scooter that gets 80mpg and has a 1.3 gallon tank. :D

  • Joe

    2080 hours for 52 weeks per year.

    That doesn’t factor in paid vacation or corporate holidays.

  • ~M

    Yah, a 40 hour week is 2080 hrs./yr.

  • Joe

    2080 hours for 52 weeks per year.

    That doesn’t factor in paid vacation or corporate holidays.

  • ~M

    Yah, a 40 hour week is 2080 hrs./yr.

  • John Thomas

    2 Hours. I can live with that.

    JT

    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • Dan

    What a crap article.

    I have a 2000 Honda Insight Hybrid that gets 73 MPG.

    Paid For.

    Bring on the $7.00 a gallon gas!

  • John Thomas

    2 Hours. I can live with that.

    JT

    http://www.Ultimate-Anonymity.com

  • Dan

    What a crap article.

    I have a 2000 Honda Insight Hybrid that gets 73 MPG.

    Paid For.

    Bring on the $7.00 a gallon gas!

  • JImmy Lolo

    Two hours. thats something I can live with. http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • JImmy Lolo

    Two hours. thats something I can live with. http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  • someone

    A normal work year is 2080 hours (52×40).

    If you get the US federal holidays off you won’t actually work 2080 hours but rather 2000 hours – however you will be paid for 2080 hours.

  • someone

    A normal work year is 2080 hours (52×40).

    If you get the US federal holidays off you won’t actually work 2080 hours but rather 2000 hours – however you will be paid for 2080 hours.

  • isaac

    A better thing to calculate is how many hours you have to work to pay for your car per year. In other words, yearly depreciation, yearly insurance, maintenance cost and gasoline.

    It worked out to a staggering 1.5 months. I used an after taxes figure for my hourly rate.

  • isaac

    A better thing to calculate is how many hours you have to work to pay for your car per year. In other words, yearly depreciation, yearly insurance, maintenance cost and gasoline.

    It worked out to a staggering 1.5 months. I used an after taxes figure for my hourly rate.

  • Dre

    You work 2000 hours a year on 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year, 2 weeks vacation.

  • Dre

    You work 2000 hours a year on 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year, 2 weeks vacation.

  • http://none Jeremy

    It’s 2080 not 1080 hours per year.

  • stupid

    Are you stupid? The standard American work year is ~2000 hours ((40 hours/week * 52 weeks) – holidays). Obviously 80-120 hours less if you get a couple weeks of vacation per year.

  • stupid

    Are you stupid? The standard American work year is ~2000 hours ((40 hours/week * 52 weeks) – holidays). Obviously 80-120 hours less if you get a couple weeks of vacation per year.

  • jim

    There are 2080 hours in a workyear, not 1080

  • jim

    There are 2080 hours in a workyear, not 1080

  • CygonX

    I have to work 7.5 minutes to fill my 335i with Premium…life is hard :)

  • CygonX

    I have to work 7.5 minutes to fill my 335i with Premium…life is hard :)

  • Mike Brito

    I saw this coming years ago. So I live close to work and drive a fuel efficent car. My vehicle costs me 2 hours of labor a week to drive…who’s laughing now!! Oh!! Did I say, me!! YA Me!!! ha-ha-ha!!! Ha-ha-ha!! Suckers!!!!

  • Mike Brito

    I saw this coming years ago. So I live close to work and drive a fuel efficent car. My vehicle costs me 2 hours of labor a week to drive…who’s laughing now!! Oh!! Did I say, me!! YA Me!!! ha-ha-ha!!! Ha-ha-ha!! Suckers!!!!

  • Not important

    Not to be too pedantic but TCO means “Total Cost of Ownership”, not “True Cost to Own”.

  • Not important

    Not to be too pedantic but TCO means “Total Cost of Ownership”, not “True Cost to Own”.

  • Max

    Thanks for the great comments, and the correction, so noted on the copy.

    Max

  • Max

    Thanks for the great comments, and the correction, so noted on the copy.

    Max

  • Anthony Vicari

    This assumes a car is only in use 5 years.The longer you continue to own the vehicle, the more mileage will affect the cost per mile. Particularly for those of us so squeezed for cash that 5 more cents per mile is a large burden, are we really going to get rid of a car after 5 years? If we kept it 10 years a Civic Hybrid or Prius might come out as a better deal, especially if we anticipate gas costs to continue rising down the road.

  • Anthony Vicari

    This assumes a car is only in use 5 years.The longer you continue to own the vehicle, the more mileage will affect the cost per mile. Particularly for those of us so squeezed for cash that 5 more cents per mile is a large burden, are we really going to get rid of a car after 5 years? If we kept it 10 years a Civic Hybrid or Prius might come out as a better deal, especially if we anticipate gas costs to continue rising down the road.

  • http://storiedmoney.blogspot.com story

    This is a great way to look at things. It’s all about opportunity cost. Personally, I’d rather have the extra time by not having to work.

  • http://storiedmoney.blogspot.com story

    This is a great way to look at things. It’s all about opportunity cost. Personally, I’d rather have the extra time by not having to work.

  • BOB

    Not everyone can just go out and buy a gas sipper, The people that need trucks to work can’t work out a compact car, so those of you who do not need such a vehicle,consider your self lucky as for the average full size pick up holds about 28 to 31 gals of fuel. So lets say you only make 10 to 12 dollars and hour, thats about average for a construction job or most of the jobs these days in florida, which is bad enough pay in florida and have always been the lowest in the country. So lets add that up. So that means 35 to 50% of your pay check goes in the gas tank. And for people making less well then I guess extra starvation is a option. When gas was 3 dollars a gallon, thats still to much. What has happened to our country is that they figured out a way to pay us with 1980 wages and 10 fold or more the cost of living. Good Luck everyone! You may need 3 jobs.

  • BOB

    Not everyone can just go out and buy a gas sipper, The people that need trucks to work can’t work out a compact car, so those of you who do not need such a vehicle,consider your self lucky as for the average full size pick up holds about 28 to 31 gals of fuel. So lets say you only make 10 to 12 dollars and hour, thats about average for a construction job or most of the jobs these days in florida, which is bad enough pay in florida and have always been the lowest in the country. So lets add that up. So that means 35 to 50% of your pay check goes in the gas tank. And for people making less well then I guess extra starvation is a option. When gas was 3 dollars a gallon, thats still to much. What has happened to our country is that they figured out a way to pay us with 1980 wages and 10 fold or more the cost of living. Good Luck everyone! You may need 3 jobs.

  • jpm100

    Well we’re close to that recession they’ve been talking about for the past 7 years. The cost of gas will be part of it, and if it gets a few dollars added, it will be a large part of it.

    So those of you gloating how close you are to work, I have to ask. Are you as close to the unemployment office in your area?

  • jpm100

    Well we’re close to that recession they’ve been talking about for the past 7 years. The cost of gas will be part of it, and if it gets a few dollars added, it will be a large part of it.

    So those of you gloating how close you are to work, I have to ask. Are you as close to the unemployment office in your area?

  • Pingback: Should President Bush Be Telling Americans to Conserve Gas? : Red, Green, and Blue

  • http://www.BGelectricCars.com BG Auto

    Please read–Americans need to know!!!!!!!!

    NHTSA Hearings 8/4/08

    I just returned from the NHTSA hearings held today (August 4, 2008) in Washington D.C., regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NEW Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFÉ) for years 2011-2015.

    IMPORTANT FACTS: You will not believe what you are reading.

    1) The 414 pages DEIS analysis was based on an average gasoline price of USD $2.16/gallon for 2011-2020. A calculation approved by the NHTSA administrators/managers. Would you believe it???????????

    2) The new CAFÉ rules were also established, negotiated and pre-approved by the NHTSA’s management along with the influence of domestic automotive companies and their lobbyists. We have now established fuel standards for 2011-2020 that presently are already met in the rest of the Western world (see below)

    As one guest speaker said today “are they on another planet?”

    NHTSA “NEW Fuel Standards” (2011-2015) decision:

    Automobiles are to achieve 31.2 mpg by 2011 and 35.7 mpg by 2015. Light trucks are to achieve 25 mpg by 2011, and 28.6 mpg by 2015.

    The NTHSA is also setting a goal of 35 mpg on average for 2020.

    America needs to know:

    The European Union is currently establishing standards, with a goal of reaching 48.9 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles as early as 2012. The current EU standard already requires more than 40 miles per gallon about 15% higher than the U.S. goal set for 12 years from now.

    Japan currently has a standard of about 40 miles per gallon. Japan aims to further improve fuel efficiency by 17% by 2015, reaching 46.9 miles per gallon.

    China has a current average of slightly under 35 miles per gallon. Chinese fuel standards are on target to reach the government’s goal of 35.8 miles per gallon by 2009. China will not only meet, but exceed, the goal just established by the United States for 2020 — more than a full decade earlier.

    Australia is targeting 34.4 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Canada is targeting 34.1 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Under the current administration, purchasing an electric vehicle is becoming more of a necessity rather than an alternative.

    BG Automotive Group, Ltd.

    (www.BGelectricCars.com)

  • http://www.BGelectricCars.com BG Auto

    Please read–Americans need to know!!!!!!!!

    NHTSA Hearings 8/4/08

    I just returned from the NHTSA hearings held today (August 4, 2008) in Washington D.C., regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for NEW Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFÉ) for years 2011-2015.

    IMPORTANT FACTS: You will not believe what you are reading.

    1) The 414 pages DEIS analysis was based on an average gasoline price of USD $2.16/gallon for 2011-2020. A calculation approved by the NHTSA administrators/managers. Would you believe it???????????

    2) The new CAFÉ rules were also established, negotiated and pre-approved by the NHTSA’s management along with the influence of domestic automotive companies and their lobbyists. We have now established fuel standards for 2011-2020 that presently are already met in the rest of the Western world (see below)

    As one guest speaker said today “are they on another planet?”

    NHTSA “NEW Fuel Standards” (2011-2015) decision:

    Automobiles are to achieve 31.2 mpg by 2011 and 35.7 mpg by 2015. Light trucks are to achieve 25 mpg by 2011, and 28.6 mpg by 2015.

    The NTHSA is also setting a goal of 35 mpg on average for 2020.

    America needs to know:

    The European Union is currently establishing standards, with a goal of reaching 48.9 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles as early as 2012. The current EU standard already requires more than 40 miles per gallon about 15% higher than the U.S. goal set for 12 years from now.

    Japan currently has a standard of about 40 miles per gallon. Japan aims to further improve fuel efficiency by 17% by 2015, reaching 46.9 miles per gallon.

    China has a current average of slightly under 35 miles per gallon. Chinese fuel standards are on target to reach the government’s goal of 35.8 miles per gallon by 2009. China will not only meet, but exceed, the goal just established by the United States for 2020 — more than a full decade earlier.

    Australia is targeting 34.4 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Canada is targeting 34.1 miles per gallon by 2010.

    Under the current administration, purchasing an electric vehicle is becoming more of a necessity rather than an alternative.

    BG Automotive Group, Ltd.

    (www.BGelectricCars.com)

  • http://my-finance-tips.blogspot.com financeTips

    hahaha.. yes, we can live with that

  • http://my-finance-tips.blogspot.com financeTips

    hahaha.. yes, we can live with that

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