Owning a car can be an expensive proposition. In addition to the overall purchase price and the cost of financing with a car loan, there’s insurance, maintenance, repairs, and fuel. Add all of that up and the average total cost of owning a car is $700+ a month. Granted, this figure is an average, which means plenty of people are paying a lot more for their ride and others are paying a lot less. Either way, the rise of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft have a growing number of people wondering if they should just ditch their cars altogether and rely on ride sharing services to get around. It’s a tempting idea, but before you go for it, you should step back and take some time to consider your options and how your choice will impact your daily life and routines. This article will give you advice on how to go about making this decision.
Car Ownership versus Ride Sharing Services: Think it Through
The thing you don’t want to do here is make a snap decision that you regret later. This is easy to do when you see all the articles online claiming ride sharing is cheaper than owning a car. You have to keep in mind that these vague, broad claims should never be trusted at face value. There are many things that make your situation unique, so you want to consider everything about your own situation before making such a big decision. Why? Because selling your car is a big deal. The last thing you want to do is get rid of your car only to discover a few weeks into your new lifestyle that you made a big mistake. Then you have to go through the pain of finding and buying a new ride. That’s a lot of pain to go through just because you didn’t take a little time fully think through the decision!
It’s All About Your Unique Situation
The very first thing you should look at is your daily commute to work. If getting to your job can only realistically happen with a car, then ride sharing services probably aren’t going to work for you. But if you have a way to get to work without driving a car, then you can take the next step of examining your driving habits. Take a look at how much you drive in miles, how often you drive, the length of time you spend in the car, and for what purposes. These are all important pieces of the puzzle. Why so many details? If you’re going to seriously consider ride sharing services like Uber to replace owning a car, you need to make sure your actual driving needs are going to be covered.
Let’s say one of your major driving needs is getting to a grocery store once a week to stock up on food and supplies and it’s not easy to get to any other way than driving. It’s easy enough to catch an Uber to get to the grocery store, and hopefully easy to catch another back home with all your purchases. You could pay for the driver to wait for you, but if you’re only shopping once a week, it’s going to take some time, which will cost you in terms of a per-minute charge. Either way, though, it could work for you.
When you go out clubbing with friends, ride sharing services are an ideal way to get there and back (especially if you enjoy a few drinks), functioning essentially like a taxi at a lower cost.
But what if you’re a “weekend warrior” type who loves to get out of town for different activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, surfing, and so on. Unless you’ve got friends you can rely on for such outings, you need your car to have the flexibility and freedom to go where you want when you want, and room for gear as well. And this is what it really comes down to for a lot of people: How much freedom and flexibility are you willing to give up in order to not bother with owning a car? If you live in an urban area and are not a weekend warrior and really only need a car a few times a year to go visit friends and family, you can easily get by without owning one by using ride sharing services and then just rent a car on those occasions when you need to drive out of town on longer trips.
Consider the Costs of Both Options
Besides figuring out if an alternative to car ownership can work for you in terms of the kind of driving that meets your transportation needs, then you have to figure out whether it makes financial sense. This is why you need the numbers around how much you drive, both in terms of miles and time. Uber charges a base fare plus a per-minute charge plus a per-mile charge. In order to crunch the numbers and do the comparison, keep a log of your car driving numbers, either for a week and then multiply by four or for a whole month. You can then translate that into a cost for a ride sharing service like Uber to come up with a monthly cost. Compare that to your accurate total monthly cost of car ownership (car payment + insurance + maintenance + fuel). You might be surprised at what you see. For some people, the finances will be in favor of car ownership while for others it will be in favor of using ride sharing services.
Now you’ve got all the information you need to really make an informed decision. You’ve figured out how essential (or not) the freedom and flexibility of car ownership is to you and can now add in an accurate financial comparison to decide what’s right for you.
If you’re not the kind of person who’s going to go through that much planning and analysis, it might be worth your while to try an experiment where for a couple weeks or a month you don’t drive your car and instead use ride-sharing services – you’ll know pretty quickly which one is best for you because you’ll discover all things that work in favor of one option over the other from your actual experience of trying both.
Additional Options Besides Ride Sharing Services
If you’re really considering ditching your car, explore all your options. You’re not just limited to Uber and Lyft when it comes to alternative transportation. If you live in an urban area where everything you need is close by, you can also consider walking, biking and public transportation. There’s also car sharing services like ZipCar and Car2Go. With those services you’re not catching a ride with a driver, you’re actually doing short-term rentals of a whole car all to yourself that you get to drive for short periods of time where you pay by the minute or hour. Making a go of this option really depends on how many of the vehicles are available in your area and how high the demand is, both of which drive whether or not it’s going to be convenient for you when you need a car.
If You do Decide to Sell Your Car, Choose Driveo!
We think it’s a good idea to think twice (or even three times) before you ditch your car in favor of ride sharing services or other alternative forms of transportation. It’s not a decision you want to make on a whim without fully thinking through all the different angles of what’s involved. Picturing yourself giving up on the trials and tribulations of car ownership in favor of ride sharing services feels great, but the act of selling your car is a whole other thing you have to do if you decide to go for it. How you choose to go about selling your car makes a big difference to how many hassles and headaches you experience in making it happen.
You can sell your car outright to just about any car dealership, which is fast and easy, but doesn’t typically put as much money in your pocket as you might want to get. You can do a private sale by owner to try and get more money for your ride, but there’s a lot involved in a private sale if you want to do it right.
You have to get your car prepped for selling it, which means cleaning it up and possibly making a few needed repairs. Then you have to do some market research to figure out how much your car is worth and determine a selling price. After that, you have to figure out where to list it for sale and write up a really good description that will catch people’s attention, along with plenty of high-quality photos to show it off. You have to be prepared for a flood of inquiries, and knowing who’s serious, who’s not and who’s trying to scam you can be surprisingly tricky. Then you’ll have to make arrangements for the serious buyers to look at the car in-person and take it for a test drive. If a sale pans out, then you have to figure out a safe way to accept payment and do all the right paperwork to ensure the final transfer of ownership is completed properly. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is, which is why private sales often take a lot longer than people realize. All those links are to our previous articles to give you more information on each topic.
But there is a third option we want you to know about, which is Driveo, a car-buying service that eliminates all the things that can go wrong with a private sale while giving you the speed and convenience of selling to a dealership, but also putting more money in your pocket. We love beating competitors’ offers, and our fast online quotes are good for 30 days. If you’re in the greater San Diego area, you won’t find an easier way to cruise in and cash out than Driveo!