While the private car once symbolised modernity and freedom, it’s now often more hassle than help. The number of people living without owning a car is growing, a trend driven primarily by millennials, and thanks in part to car share services like GoGet.

One of the best things about living car-free is the money you’ll save, typically several thousand every year. But there’s another, more significant saving you’ll make by selling your car: Time.

From finding parking, making repairs, or dealing with insurance, by going car-free you’ll get back hundreds of hours to use on your terms. So what is the actual cost of owning a car when it comes to our time?

How much time does buying a car cost

Time spent buying a car

A US study found the average car buyer spends 96 days ‘in the market’. That includes around 13 hours researching, test driving, and otherwise purchasing a car. Used car buyers spend over 14 hours, probably owing to extra variables.

Time spent parking

One of the biggest time killers is driving around the block hunting for a spot. It’s one of the worst imaginable ways to spend your time: It’s stressful, it requires tonnes of mental effort, and you can’t focus on anything else. You’re also unnecessarily running your car which shortens its life, costs you money, and is bad for the environment.

A 2014 survey found the average Australian driver wastes 3,120 hours of their life hunting for parking. Over 4 decades that’s 78 hours a year.

How much time does traffic cost

Time spent in traffic

Our love of the private car has serious downsides, including the time spent actually driving. In 2015, the average Australian spent 96 hours in traffic. That’s great for radio shock jocks, but it’s terrible for making good use of your time.

Of course, travel time itself isn’t eliminated by selling a car. You’ll still spend time on a bus, riding a bike, or driving a GoGet. However, these modes are much less time intensive than private cars, and most let you to multitask. Active transport gives you a workout, while public transport gives you time to work (or, you know… sleep).

As for GoGet, you’ll never have to find a place to park after a booking, as our cars have dedicated parking spaces. GoGet members tend to drive less than other drivers, so you’ll also spend far less time in traffic. In our tally we’ll note this as 264 hours a year as time poorly spent, that could also be used to exercise, work, or sleep on the train. 

Time spent finding insurance

Getting your car insured and registered is a yearly process. Finding the right insurance is at least a couple of hour’s work. You can save time by renewing your old insurance each year, but you’ll do yourself a disservice by not shopping around.

If your state needs yearly registration inspections, that will put your car out of action while it’s inspected. You should still be getting yearly check-ups otherwise. Accounting for time to get your car to the shop and back home, as well as the administration needed from state motor registries, you’re looking at around 3 hours a year.

Auto Insurance Damage Vehicle Accident

Time spent on repairs

Then there’s the time spent dealing with any accidents. The average driver can expect an at-fault accident every 19 years (based on insurance claims). However, many accidents affect not-at-fault drivers.

Busted headlights can be fixed by the time you’ve had a coffee, while a larger prang can take your car off the road for weeks. If you’re car’s written off, you can look forward to 5-10 hours on the phone with your insurance company, plus another 15 hours buying a new car.

Then there’s the trouble of things going wrong. The average age of private cars in Australia is 10.2 years, and around a third of cars aged 10 years or older will break down in the next 12 months. So, around a third of Australian cars are likely to break down each year, and breakdowns can take just as long as accidents to have repaired.

You may even need repairs on a used car you’ve just bought. In 2016, 27.2% of cars checked by CarHistory received negative reports, each of which need time to repair shortly after purchase. If you’re handy these hours might be yours to spend, or they’ll be hours in the shop.

Factoring in an accident every 10 years, small prangs every other year, plus a breakdown every three, the average Aussie will likely lose around 15 hours a year to repairs.

Time spent on other tasks

Other regular jobs include cleaning and vacuuming the car, washing the car, as well as checking fluids and tyre pressure. These jobs can take from 5 minutes to an hour each, but you’ll likely repeat them dozens of times per year. You can easily rack up 10-20 hours a year on this.

Reading, a better way to spend time

How to save time on a car

We know the cost of owning a car can add up, but in terms of time – your car will result in 112 hours wasted and 264 hours poorly spent each year. Instead of reading, sleeping, or spending time with family, you’re spending those precious hours with your car.

There are simple ways to spend your time a little better. First of all, you can drive less. This will negate several of the time wasters, giving you back dozens of hours. However, you’ll still need insurance, registration, and to clean and maintain your car.

To truly get your life back, why not try a car-free life? Living without owning a car is easier than ever with a GoGet membership, with tens of thousands already having made the switch.

About Tim Beau Bennett

Tim is an ex-journalist and radio presenter, and has been a professional writer for over a decade. He regularly writes about technology, lifestyle, and smart cities, and has written for news site including the ABC, SBS, and Australian Financial Review.