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  1. #1

    Exclamation Total cost of ownership = $80,000 and counting!!!

    So I was fiddling with my '99 Suburban the other day, and I looked at the odometer, which is just shy of 175,000 miles. It got me to thinking, how much money has been spent by all the previous owners and myself since it was first driven off the dealership lot. Here's the rough estimate that I came up with, in no particular order.

    Original purchase price = $ 30,000 (including the burly ranch truck bumpers that it has).

    12 mpg avg, considering highway and city driving, and lots of idling running the heat or AC (It's a great big little-people mover...)
    x 175,000 miles =14,500 gallons of gasoline burned over it's lifetime.

    SWAG of $2/gal since 1999 = $30,000 for fuel. (!!!) =$60,000.

    New 4L80E transmission at 140,000 miles = $3,000.

    New A/C system install = $1,500.

    New Gearhead/ATK long block engine at 160,000 miles = $3,000.

    Tires for that many miles = $3,000. = $70,500.

    All the little repair parts that are still needed (counting the trashed interior from too many Happy Meals) = $5,000.

    Needed rust repair from two tours at Fort Drum, NY (the road salt Mecca) = $2,000.

    Oil changes maybe every 5,000 miles? 35 @ ~$30 each = $1,050.

    Car washes ~= $500

    Grand Total? = $79,000.

    I've discounted the used sale price each time it was bought and sold, as that cancels out on the balance sheet. I did pick it up with a blown motor for $1,500, then had to fix that. I came out about even according to KBB, and I have a beefy, almost-new drivetrain. I would do it that way again.

    I was really surprised at the cumulative estimated fuel expense. That's not chump change! I'm not really what you'd call a "greenie," but in looking at these numbers, I would seriously consider buying a new (expensive) hybrid drivetrain Suburban, even if it had less power than my 5.7L, if the fuel mileage was high enough. Is it physically possible to achieve 24 mpg or better in a 3/4 ton 4x4 people mover?... Remember to include lots of idling to control the inside climate for the kiddies who are sleeping while Daddy watches them and Mommie grabs some groceries.

    For the hot summer sun, I'm considering having it painted a more reflective color, at least on the roof, the way Toyota Landcruisers have white tops. I'm planning a very light grey Rhinolining on the roof, because all kind of bulky items go up there and scratch the paint. (Don't have a pickup - cops frown on putting kids in the bed nowadays...) Also, take a look at this idea: .

    I've been looking into some sort of electric heater wired into a shore power connection along with the block heater and a battery maintainer. Also considering heated seats, since they all need to be re-upholstered anyways. I just have to figure out how to heat removeable car seats safely. I think it's doable, and should save lots of fuel spent warming up the cabin. FYI, our mileage drops to around 6 mpg during the winter, because it's simply necessary to warm up the truck before taking the family anywhere. How many $200 fill-ups does that take??? I'm getting a motorcycle license soon. I already have a 70 mpg bike. I just can't ride it legally yet. And I REALLY NEED to be riding my bicycle the 2 miles to work... ahem.

    It would help me a great deal if I had a garage big enough to fit this beast inside. The military just doesn't build them that way, unfortunately. I've added an engine block heater in place of freeze plug. That helps it start on really cold days, but doesn't do squat to warm the cabin noticeably sooner.

    So, I'd like to hear from my fellow GM truck owners, especially anyone who has a diesel Suburban. How much has been spent over the years for any particular one of your vehicles?
    West Georgia, by way of Fort Drum, NY
    1999 Chevy K2500 Suburban 5.7L 4x4 "The Tank"
    170k, reman engine, new-ish trans, constant source of projects... :no:
    2005 Dodge Grand Caravan "The spill-catcher"
    Lots of kids, pets, hobbies... Life is good!

  2. #2


    I've started doing these types of calculations before. Then I look at my DIC and see the fuel usage since I bought it less than 3 years ago and just decide it'd be better for my sanity NOT to do the calculation. That being said, I keep hoping GM figures out how to exceed the 2018 fuel requirements from the govt while still maintaining big, powerful trucks. If they do, I'll be looking at that around 2020 or so. Other than that, I'm planning to just ride mine out for the next decade.

    To Be Completed (Eventually):
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  3. #3


    It is my number one rule to NEVER figure out what I have in something. I wanted it, I got it. Heck with the running total if it makes you smile!

  4. #4


    I might do this but from the 4700$ price it was bought for. Or I just might have someone else do it for me

    If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger cheater bar.

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  5. #5

    Default RE: Want it

    Quote Originally Posted by 07XCSB View Post
    It is my number one rule to NEVER figure out what I have in something. I wanted it, I got it. Heck with the running total if it makes you smile!
    Ha, yeah. I'm pretty much the same way. The though had just occured to me, so I started adding it up. I didn't pay that much, mind you, but I could have, if I were the original owner, so somebody has along the way. I'm satisfied with the basic platform of my Suburban, but it needs so much TLC right now, so I'm going to keep putting money into it until I get it fixed the way I want it.

    My dad is a highschool math teacher (at least until he retires on May 26th!), and I remembered how he likes to shock the Juniors and Seniors that are SOOO excited to talk their parents into buying them whatever hot rod that they're daydreaming about. He'll look up something like a new loaded Mustang, get an estimate from his insurance agent on coverage for a teenage male with a few tickets, and add up gas and all the other expenses. He says watching their jaws hit the floor NEVER ceases to be funny!

  6. #6


    Since you mentioned a Hybrid, Those only get about 8 to 10% greater fuel economy... AT BEST. You could do other things to your car to make those gains. If you are buying a hybrid to "Save the planet", you should know that the creation and manufacture of those batteries create more pollution than an bad running school bus will create in it's 500,000 mile smoke belching lifetime. The materials for the batteries are strip-mined from the earth, then transported on diesel freighters to Japan to prep the raw materials, then over to China for battery manufacture, then back to Japan for inspection and distribution, and then finally out to the world.

    My wife has a Prius which claims 50mpg. Real world is somewhere between 42 and 46 with 160k on the clock. Yes, it was closer to 50 when it was new, but not anymore. The Prius has special tires on it that if you don't buy them from Toyota, you will sacrifice 1.5 to 3 mpg. So the question at this point is, What kind of mileage would it get if it were NOT a Hybrid? Toyota is building gasoline vehicles every day that are getting 38-42 mpg. So the Prius, with it's special "balloon tires" could easily get 40-44 mpg WITHOUT the electric assist. With the replacement battery packs running about $4200.00, one has to wonder... Is it REALLY worth the extra price of the car to save a marginal amount of fuel and pay outrageous maintenance and repair bills? The only OTHER reason to buy a Hybrid is to "Save The Earth", but we debunked that one already.

    All of this is BEFORE you consider that a Tahoe Hybrid has no towing ability. Not worth it to get 19mpg instead of 17.
    Last edited by moogvo; 04-18-2012 at 05:24 PM.
    "It went together didn't it? Well then there has to be a way to take it apart!" - Me.

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  7. #7


    Assuming a new hybrid is 35k, at 4 bucks a gallon and 14.3 combined MPG in my truck ... I'll put another 125,000 miles on the truck in fuel costs before I come close to equaling the 35k in fuel. I average 10k miles per year on the truck, so that's 12.5 years of fuel for me. As my truck and all of its modifications are paid for in full, I'm actually better off to just put fuel in it. If fuel spikes to a ridiculous price then I'm best off to buy a used motorcycle to complement the truck. Key to this is not paying interest on a loan ... something left off the initial calculation in this thread. It adds up RAPIDLY... and often approaches the cost of the vehicle, itself.

  8. #8


    You know you only live once. And if you only do it once everyone should own something new. Yeah you usually over pay and probably not hte most cost efficient thing to do. But there is something about hoping into a new vehicle everyday that puts a smile on your face.

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