Today I have to run down to pick up the car from the dealership. There was nothing wrong with it, but I'll still pay $1,300 for inspection. There are some pluses and minuses for keeping a car here, and I calculate the expenses of doing both over and over, but my conclusion is that for the time being, I will keep two of them.
I own two cars, one "regular" car, about 1300cc, and one "kei" pick up truck, about 660cc. The family car is the larger, and will carry up to 7 people uncomfortably. The kei truck is for farming and for me to drive to school in. It will seat two uncomfortably. Every time I have to have them inspected, which is every two years now for each car, I swear I'll give one up, but after crunching the numbers, I end up keeping both, and here is why. After gasoline, insurance, inspection, tires, oil and the other bits and pieces that need to be replaced over the years, it is still cheaper than taking public transportation from where we live. I buy my son a monthly pass on the train so that he can go to school, and that costs ¥10,000 or about $100. He gets a special deal because he's a student, so that the pass is about one quarter the cost of regular fare. If the adults got a monthly pass it would be about half the regular fare. Operating one car for one month with all of the extras added in, including the original cost of the car, assuming we keep the car for about 5 years, comes to about ¥10,000 per month, even when gasoline was expensive. That means that we get by with a car for about half of what it would cost us to buy a monthly rail pass. Automobiles are more expensive in urban areas. We do not have to pay for a parking space, because we can put in on the property we own. We don't drive on toll roads, and our taxes aren't very expensive for a car here. I have gotten two tickets, on for speeding and one for not stopping at a stop sign. My wife has gotten ticketed about the same number of times for the same things. I put those down as taxes, as absolutely no one obeys those rules, so it comes down to the more you drive, the more likely it is that you will be caught for a minor offense. My truck lends itself to obeying speed limits as I can hardly coax it to move over 50kph. The highest speed limit on roads that I drive is 50kph, but people pass me or tailgate me so regularly that it makes me think that there must be people out there paying lots more taxes than me.
The dealerships really do a great job. They fix the car when we take it in for a problem. I remember my parents spending half their lives in spats with mechanics, because they couldn't get anyone to fix their cars. When the dealer that I work with came to pick up my car to take in to inspect, he left a loaner to use while it was in the shop.
I don't like owning a car here, and I try to keep my use of the thing to a minimum by taking my bicycle or scooter, but in the long run, having two makes more sense than not having them. I will buy a smaller car to replace the large one in the future, but it will only seat 4 people. Right now we need more seats, so we'll stick with this one for a couple more years.