What to invest in: Uber vs personal transportation

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Richard Perry.

■ By Richard Perry / Contributed

Greetings from the Hemet Car Guy.

My Uber app is a convenient transportation option for when I need a ride to the auto auction where I know I’ll be buying at least one vehicle that I can drive back. Also as I’ve stated before in my previous articles, I’ve used the service to pick up my youngest daughter from high school. Thankfully she just graduated and is now driving herself which is great news for me because it was all adding up. It turns out the app was not the most cost-efficient replacement for a vehicle.
Maybe it’s a good option for others, but not us. Studies show, the average driver in an urban area – the only setting in which using these services are a practical full-time transportation option – drives 10,841 miles per year. While urban drivers travel less miles than those living in small towns or rural areas, relying on ride-hailing services as a primary mode of transportation would cost $20,118 annually. This equates to more than twice the cost of owning a personal vehicle, even when factoring in the expense of fuel, insurance, parking and the vehicle itself.
Ride services like Uber and Lyft are convenient, however, with the average driving 11,000 miles per year, a personal vehicle is still the more cost-effective choice.
AAA analyzed the costs of ride-hailing services (including the use of an occasional rental car). Based on the average number of miles traveled by city-dwellers, annual ride-hailing costs were $17,951 for the Los Angeles area and $17,316 for the San Diego area.
According to data from AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study, the average annual cost to own and operate a new vehicle, the costliest form of vehicle ownership, is $7,321 for 10,841 miles of travel annually. Also if you lived in the city and had to pay for parking (like I do when I visit downtown Riverside) that would be very expensive!
Yes, I know that for some who only travel a very limited number of miles annually, can’t drive anymore, or have mobility issues that prevent them from driving a personal vehicle, Uber or Lyft is a good option especially if you don’t have friends or family that can help. As for everyone else: owning a car is it!
Consider this advice from AAA for investing in a personal vehicle:

• Pre-owned purchase – Depreciation is the single largest expense for vehicle owners. By driving a pre-owned vehicle in good condition, ownership costs are significantly lower. A safe, reliable vehicle can be found at an attractive price point.

• Fuel responsibly – Avoid wasting money on premium gasoline unless your vehicle specifically requires it and, if you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans considering an electric car, these vehicles offer lower fuel and maintenance costs.

• Take care of your vehicle – It sounds counterintuitive, but spending money on routine maintenance can actually save you money in the end. To keep engines running longer, consider switching to synthetic oil.

• Slow down – When gas prices are high, small changes in the way you drive can make a big difference. Consider carpooling once a week or avoid taking the scenic route to get to your destination.

Hope this helps!

Richard Perry is the Hemet Car Guy and owner of VIP Autos in Hemet. For more information, visit www.hemetcarguy.info.

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