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How Many Cars Does a Family Need?

How Many Cars Does a Family Need?

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Transportation is among the largest expenses for any family. Many families today own multiple cars and maintaining them can be quite costly. But, How many cars does a family need?

How Many Cars Does a Family Need?

Do you really need two, three, or even four cars? Many families are struggling with debt which is highly attributed to owning multiple cars. For years now, European residents have been using alternative ways of transportation such as walking, riding bicycles, and public transportation. Americans, however, have continued to cling on their cars.

Pros and cons of one car family

1. Cost Savings

While acquiring a car can be a costly affair, maintaining it is even more expensive. You can make major savings by owning fewer cars, especially on gas expenses. However, cars require more maintenance procedures such as; mechanical work, tire rotations, and oil changes. By disposing of your extra cars, you save loads of money seeing that you’ll not need to handle these expenses anymore. Further, you will make savings on taxes and tag fees charged in your state. Whenever you are out running your errands, you will pay less in parking fees; neither will you have to fret about getting stopped in order to pay a ticket. With these factors in place, you’ll be sure to save loads of dollars annually.

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2. Exercise

Today, many lifestyle-related diseases attributed to leading a sedentary lifestyle are on the rise. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. Why not choose an alternative mode of transportation that allows you to burn some calories and help you edge towards being happier and having a better shape?

3. Settle Down Your Debts

Do you have debt? Do you have more than one car? Why not dispose of one car and use the proceeds to settle your debt? Discuss within yourselves as family and establish whether you really need an extra car. How often do you use your different cars? Can you consider alternative means of transport? What is the position if your debt? Do you think selling your car can help you get rid of the debt? If the answer to any or more of these questions is yes, then go ahead and sell the car. Let your family adjust to having one car. You can decide to sell your car online or to a second-hand car dealership.

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4. Go Green

What’s your contribution to the going green initiative? Disposing of one of your vehicles can go along way in cutting down carbon emission.

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Reliance on Others

Being one car less increases your reliance on other people to move around and this can be inconveniencing. To avoid becoming a bother, you can contribute to gas money especially when friends help you with their cars.

When it Rains, You’ll Get Wet

If you dispose of your car and probably opt for alternative means of transport such as walking or even riding a bicycle, you’ll need to be prepared for weather changes. Consider where you live and check weather forecasts to prepare adequately for any eventualities. Do you live in the southern region which is often marred by regular storms? Do you reside in the northern region where the weather can get extremely cold? Do not be caught unawares, if the weatherman reports unfriendly weather in your region then you can consider asking your friend to drop you off.

Sharing and Negotiating

Sharing is a practice that’s taught in all schools across the world. However, it still remains a big challenge, especially for adults. As a family, you will need to create a schedule and discuss openly to determine when and who uses the car at specific times Still, you will need to master your negotiation skills even as you agree to compromise when need be.

Being Grounded

During unfriendly weather such as a monsoon or a storm when your anticipated car is unable to navigate through, you will have to wait until the weather settles down.

What is the Ideal Number of Cars for the Average American Family?

According to the Experian Automotive study conducted in 2008, the average American family depends on approximately 2.28 cars. The study revealed that nearly 66% of every American owned either two or more cars. In the United States, car ownership is dictated more by proximity and location than the income level. Families which have more than two cars have a designated purpose for each car ranging from going for adventurous weekend outings or taking short trips around the city. Families that choose to own only one car will invest in a vehicle that can fulfill all their needs appropriately.

A recent study revealed that currently, many American families are unable to afford a brand new vehicle. While many people assume that owning one vehicle triggers the desire for a more luxurious and better vehicle, this study suggested that insurance and interest rates created an avenue for families to cross their family car budget border.

Across the Atlantic, families would have varying reasons for utilizing a car which explains why they own fewer cars. Rather, they are comfortable utilizing alternative means of transportation such as walking and public vehicles especially when they are doing short trips within the city.

What Transport Choices Exist Between Europe and the US?

Here are two debatable scenarios which demonstrate the transportation practices between families living in both Europe and the US.

Mary, her husband, and children dwell in Cedartown GA. Mary drives 19 miles from her residence to Rome, GA to take their children to school before embarking in her duties at the county hospital located in Rome. Mary later picks the children after which they spend another 30 minutes before they are finally home.

Mary is comfortable with her schedule and hardly complains seeing that her husband spends twice the amount of time she and the children spend on the road to arrive at his workplace which is in Marietta, GA.

In Atlantic, Philip rides all the way to Rotterdam from the Hague Netherlands each morning to work. The distance is the same as what Mary mentioned above covers each morning. It wasn’t until recently when Philip started contemplating buying a vehicle because his wife is expectant with their first born.

The clear difference in transportation practices seems a rather clear cut with the above examples. However, demonstrating how fundamental day to day activities outline our reliance on cars is critical. Mary has never contemplated on public transport as is the case with numerous American families. If Mary were to use public transport, it would take her and her children twice the time they take by driving their car.

Both trains and buses have been rendered inconvenient by the increasing distance between cities. As many people hunt for enhanced education and employment opportunities, they will most likely concede to the only available options regardless of the distance which increases their reliance on private transportation methods. The situation escalates when the children are all grown and start pressuring their parents for cars of their own.

Comparing Car Ownership to Car Sharing

Many young people in urban centers who cannot afford cars are either using Lyft and Uber or opting for car sharing services to facilitate their movement. Of course, young people will share more than they can buy. Car sharing comes with various economic reasoning even though many Americans are yet to realize any emotional advantage. According to a study conducted recently, many Americans are still stuck with the idea of owning a car. Car ownership according to their view is more convenient, safer, and reliable that car sharing services.

Are there Historical Reasons Associated with Car Reliance?

By mid-1930s, there was at least one registered car for every two homes in the United States. Similarly, only the rich could afford a car in Europe. Due to this, engineers and planners invented road regulations earlier than the Europeans. With already working regulations for traffic lights, roadways, parking areas, and intersections in the US, plans in Europe were still in the experimentation stages.

Many years later, Europe has instituted prohibitive vehicle taxes compared to the US. what’s more, vehicle tax proceeds in Europe goes to the European governments’ general funds. In the United States, a big percentage of the gas tax proceeds go to the construction and development of roadways.

The evolution of the interstate system which started in the 1950s has created an effortless transformation to and from distant areas. The interstate passes through cities allowing residents to access suburban areas much faster. Many European highways only connect cities without linking various parts of the city.

1. Transport Infrastructure and Governments

Extra government subsidies in the US have made driving cheaper while increasing its demand. The US government has invested more than what the residents submit in terms of taxes. In Europe, many people submit more taxes than what the government invests in transportation and infrastructure which frustrated the residents and pushes them to search for alternative methods of transportation. Further, there are walking areas and sidewalks for the people in Europe.

The cycling network in many European countries has improved over the years. In the US, residential neighborhoods comprise of houses or apartment buildings whereas in Europe the communities include cafes, supermarkets, and medical offices. The difference in terms of policies and zoning laws enables Europeans to take short trips to the areas they want to visit and this eliminated the use of cars.

In the US on the other hand, zones are needed to facilitate the lowest number of parking areas while in Europe a big percentage of the areas feature a maximum number to restrict parking. However, the way that the industry and the government manage the differences in both two regions is fascinating. European governments employ consistent efforts to prevent car use and enhance public transport. Innovations have been introduced to enable the utilization of the more convenient public transport methods of bicycle cycling.

The technological hub in the US appears to be on reorganizing automotive technology within the cars. Improved airbags and seatbelts for enhanced safety, driving satisfaction and high-performance standards to guarantee reliability are factors that contribute to the negligence of alternative transport among Americans.

Alternative Transportation Methods

If so far you are convinced and are thinking about owning one car, here are excellent alternative transportation methods you can use to facilitate easy movement for you and your family.

1. Bikes

Apart from moving you from one place to the other, cycling is a great way of exercising. It’s not as fast as a car but you will save on workout time you would have spent at the gym.

2. Carpool

Do any of your neighbors commute to the same direction as you? You can carpool with friends and family. Carpooling has become popular over the years and many people will be searching through the internet for carpooling services close to their regions.

3. Public or Bus Transportation

There has been a decline in public transportation funds in many regions in recent years. Still, utilizing public transport comes with various benefits such as; enabling you to relax and read or reply to your emails. If your life is generally busy, using public transportation is the ideal way of having some 20 or 30 minutes to yourself just to relax. While you have to pay for public transportation, the amount is far much less compared to gas and parking fees.


From the above information, how many cars do you think the ordinary family needs? This is a tricky question and the answer depends on what works for different people. It’s important to understand that everyone has individual preferences and will make choices depending on what makes them comfortable. Analysts suggest that Americans have reduced their car reliance in the past few years, with many of them choosing lighter and smaller vehicles. Perhaps more Americans will ditch the car in the near future in favor of alternative transportation methods.

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