5 Reasons to Give Up Your Car

The average price for a new car as measured by TrueCar hit a record-breaking $31,252 last August, up $5,000 since 2013. And Consumer Reports says the average car today costs more than $9,100 a year to own. Given the cost of gasoline these days, plus all the hidden expenses you don’t notice — taxes, insurance, depreciation — maybe it’s time to ask if you really need a car at all.

Bike riders in Copenhagen: everybody’s doing it. (Photo: Roman Kruglov/Flickr)

Here are five indicators that it might be time to consider giving up the keys:

1. Proximity. You live less than five miles from work, shopping is just around the corner, and you don’t have a big family to cart around. Car sharing, which provides wheels when you really need them, could be very cost effective. Maybe consider an electric bicycle or scooter as a low-cost alternative to a car you don’t use very often.

2. Transit options. Some cities — New York and Portland, Oregon come to mind — offer such evolved public transit (trains, light rail, buses, share bikes) that getting around is very simple. New York also offers the disincentive of very expensive garaging options. You’d be in good company there, since more than half your fellow residents don’t have cars. With new apps, mobile phones can be used to summon rides from services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. They’re even fighting over drivers.

3. The march of time. My grandfather finally gave up his keys when he hit the garage door so often that the side of his old Biscayne looked like a relief map of Mars. Nobody likes to take driving away from older Americans, but there comes a time when being on the road is no longer a viable option. Fortunately, especially since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1992, there’s funding for what’s called “paratransit” (which also serves the disabled). For instance, in several Illinois counties, seniors can use a dial-a-ride service called Pace Bus and pay from 65 cents to $2 for a local trip.

Straphangers in New York. A majority of city residents (55.7 percent) don’t own cars. (Photo: Tim/Flickr)

4. From suburb to city. There’s a modest migration underway, with Americans abandoning sterile suburbs and repopulating central cities. Suburbs grew up with the private car, and are notoriously unfriendly to people without wheels. Author Bill Bryson, coming back to the U.S. after time spent in England, made much of our lack of sidewalks. Pedestrians walk at their peril. But the New Urbanism does the opposite; it builds city neighborhoods that favor people over cars, and integrates housing and workplaces with transit. Before automatically taking your car along, check if it might be redundant to your new lifestyle.

5. Weighing the cost. It could be you’d be happier without a car. Using the Edmunds “true cost to own” calculator here, try to get a sense of your monthly outlay to be a member of the automotive ownership fraternity. Shocking, isn’t it? Now think about what you’d do with the money if your car was put out to pasture. Rather nice, eh?

America is the most auto-dependent big country in the world (only San Marino and Monaco have more per capita). And Mother Jones reports, “In 2010, Americans drove for 85 percent of their daily trips, compared to car trip shares of 50 to 65 percent in Europe.” But we’re finally getting the message those easy-livin’ Europeans learned long ago — there’s life after car culture.

article written by Jim Motavalli



Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

I will give up my car when they put the stores I like in a closer neighborhood for me to walk too. I don't mind walking but there are limits to insanity.

Elena T.
Elena P3 years ago

Thank you :)

JL A3 years ago

worthy considerations

Danuta Watola
Danuta W3 years ago

thank you for sharing

Yuko Otogi
.3 years ago

Ingrid Hahn
Past Member 3 years ago

I have given up. I don't miss it.

Anne F.
Anne F3 years ago

Might try being car free a day or two a week

Bonnie Lynn M.
Bonnie Lynn M3 years ago

It's a good day for me when I don't have to start the car. I'm retired now, but when I worked, public transportation wasn't much of an option. Drive 20 miles and stop to take the bus the last 10 miles. I'm afraid that I just kept going.

Neither my husband or daughter drive, so I still need the car to bring them where they need to go. My daughter usually has a ride into work, but if that falls through mom has to take her and then come back to pick her up.

I did walk to the grocery store, about a mile away, back in March when my engine was being replaced. I should probably do that more often, though I probably looked like the bag lady coming back. Don't know as I would want to do it in the summer when it's 104 degrees though.

Joemar Karvelis
Joemar Karvelis3 years ago


june t.
reft h3 years ago

the "handicapped" bus is not always a good alternative. My cousin with MS has to use it because she can no longer driver her car; she can't get to the bus stop to use public transportation. The handicapped bus has hard seats, you have to plan several days in advance; if it is fully booked you might have to wait a week or more to book it. They won't take you just anywhere you want to go, only designated places, and if your dr. appointment runs longer than you expected, the bus won't wait for you. I can't tell you how many times she's been stuck because the handicapped bus wouldn't wait for her, and she can't move very fast. Also, they have rules such as, the bus can be booked for grocery shopping but if you buy batteries or cat litter with your groceries, that is not allowed, and shes been reprimanded a few times for this. It is so much easier on her, and less stressful when I am able to take her in my car. When you have a medical condition, a car is still the better option for many people.