To Buy or Not To Buy…A Car

Can Automologist LING get by without a car? The numbers say she should, but her heart might not agree…

Recently, my 10-year-old MyVi’s air-con compressor decided to die and go to car parts heaven. Also missing is a power window button and the ashtray, which I used to store spare change and was ripped out by a eagle-eyed passer-by one day when I forgot to lock my car. I use my head as a stand to prop up the hatch because the pair of pneumatic struts is damaged. All over the exterior are scratches – small and large, short and long – that the car bears like a wizen warrior who has seen fiercer days. As my rusty and trusty car enters its final years, I have started considering its replacement.

10 years ago, when I bought my car, there was no such thing as Uber or its South East Asia rival, Grab. 10 years ago, the public transport system in Kuala Lumpur was far from adequate. Today, there are mobile apps to hail a taxi, a car or even a motorbike. Today, the Light Rail Transit goes through my neighbourhood, and the Mass Rail Transit is already in operation, connecting the Greater Klang Valley.

Today, as I am writing this article while waiting for the car to get all four tyres replaced and remembering that it is overdue for its next service, I am thinking of all the money that I have spent for the privilege of car ownership, even though mine is one of the most affordable cars in the market to buy and maintain. And I wonder when the time comes for my car to go to heaven, can I get by without one?

This is when I put my Scrooge cap on and calculate which option would cost less over a 5-year period:

Buying a Myvi 1.3 AT:

  • On the road price: RM52,000 (total paid, including interest)
  • Regular Maintenance: RM3,000 (3 times a year)
  • Car insurance and road tax: RM3,500 (NCB maintained)
  • Tyres: RM600 (considering that you don’t run over a nail before they wear out on their own)
  • Miscellaneous part replacements: RM1000 (assuming nothing major goes kaput, like the air-con compressor)
  • Petrol: RM10,800 (full tank, 3 times/month)
  • Parking and toll: RM6,000 (RM100/month)
  • Convenience of starting on your journey, anytime at your leisure: PRICELESS
  • Inconvenience of searching for parking: AGONY

TOTAL = RM77,900


Using Public Transport:

  •  Combination of GrabCar/Taxi and LRT for work commute: RM20,400 (20 weekdays/month; return journey from the suburbs to Kuala Lumpur city centre)


  • GrabShare (hitchhiking concept) : RM54,000 (approx. RM22.50/way)


  • GrabCar/Taxi on weekends for leisure activities (approx. RM60 each return trip): RM6,720
  • Convenience of never having to search for parking: PRICELESS
  • Asking friends to give you a ride on nights out: REASON VALID

TOTAL = RM27,120 – RM60,720

It clearly makes financial sense to forgo car ownership and live like the Millennials do, cruising through life in Ubers (or Grab, in my neck of the woods). But as someone who have fond memories riding in the back of the car with her siblings, who anthropomorphizes her car and occasionally talks to it using terms of endearment, and who write about cars for a living, good sense is something I’d rather forgo.

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