3 Ways Having a Winter Vehicle Saves You Money

by Jamie Simmerman · 6 comments

Tires on snow

My husband gets razzed quite often about his choice of vehicles. He can fix everything, drive anything with at least two wheels and a motor, and is a trained maintenance mechanic and autobody technician. You’d think his vehicle would look spectacular, right? Wrong.

That’s because my husband is also quite skilled at squeezing a penny when motivated. So, he drives a 15-year-old Blazer that he bought eight years ago for $200. This beauty boasts over 300,000 miles and a patchwork-quilt style exterior. And when the snow’s deep and the roads are impassable, he pulls out a 25-year-old bigger version of his daily ride for added weight and safety.

Now, don’t get me wrong; he has a sparkling, gorgeous beast in the garage that he can drive anytime he wants, but he chooses the clunkers 99% of the time. Why, you ask? Because it’s smart. You see, while he’s driving around that clunker, his nice truck is inside, away from the frame-eating solvents on the winter roads — all the while maintaining its value and low mileage.

Here’s how having an older vehicle for winter driving will save you money:

1. Lower insurance costs

If you’re driving around an older vehicle, your car insurance is going to go WAY down. In fact, you’ll most likely only be putting comprehensive coverage on your old clunker. To help save you money, you can include glass coverage if your policy allows for an upgrade. This saves you money if you get a stone chip, hit a deer, or have a small accident (which you’re guaranteed not to care as much about anyways!). Legally, your windshield must be repaired or replaced, and glass coverage can help out a lot.

2. No monthly payments

By paying cash for an older vehicle that may be an eyesore, you can save your cash for other things that are more important to you — like Christmas shopping.

3. Cheaper repairs

If you choose a popular older vehicle for your daily grocery getter, chances are good there are dozens of the same vehicle residing in your local junkyard. This is good news when you need a replacement part or body panel, as hard-to-find parts are very expensive. Many older vehicles also have less computerized components, which means they are fixed more easily and for less than high-tech cars and trucks.

Remember: a little TLC goes a long way

If you think that you like the sounds of this and find a used car you’d like to buy, what’s your next step? Take it to a mechanic you trust and tell him to quote you on what it would take to make it mechanically sound. Though it may require a few extra minutes to warm up in the morning, or go a little slower up steep hills than you’re used to, you still need to make sure it’s reliable and safe.

Once the vehicle is sound, regular maintenance can keep it running for a long time. You don’t want to skimp on tires or brakes, and asking your mechanic for a maintenance schedule for your particular vehicle (which will also be in the vehicle’s owner’s manual) will save you money in the long run.

If you start driving a clunker daily, you can rest assured remembering that if you wake up to a flat tire or car that won’t start, you still have your nicer vehicle as a back-up. This plan avoids the painful cost of roadside services, taxis, or time missed from work.

Next week, we’ll be sharing some tips about maintaining your older vehicle.

What do you think? Would you ever buy an older vehicle for winter driving? 

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current AT&T DSL and U-VERSE promotion codes and promos and see if you can save more money every month from now on.

Related Posts

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

KM December 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

I don’t agree with putting only comprehensive coverage on a car. The whole point of insurance in this country is for the company to pay out liability to the person in case of injuries, an expense you don’t want to be stuck with.

Also, I would not choose a clunker for my daily driving, especially in the winter, because I want a reliable car that I don’t have to keep paying to maintain. I am not a mechanic (I am more familiar with airplanes, to be honest), so I cannot do it myself. I also drive more than 60 miles each day to work (round-trip), so reliability matters. Until recently, my husband had a 94 Jeep that was cheap and drove ok, until it started crapping out on us – $300 here, $50 there, another $10/week to fill the coolant tank because it leaked, etc. Not only do the costs of that kind of maintenance on an older car add up, so does the time of actually going to the mechanic and waiting for them to fix it. My husband didn’t mind, but I just don’t have this kind of time. We don’t buy new cars to be snobby or for status, but we buy them for reliability and peace of mind. When my husband’s Jeep finally died, I gave him my less fuel-efficient car since his commute it shorter, and we bought a small Ford Fiesta for me. So not only do we now save in maintenance costs because a new car does not need much and everything is included in the warranty for a couple of years, but the savings I get with gas is more than worth it, even if you consider (small) monthly payments and slightly higher insurance rates.

Reply

KM December 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

Also, isn’t it a bit wasteful to have a sparkling new car that you don’t drive? I mean, aside from collector’s vehicles that you might want to take out for a spin only once in a while, what’s the point of keeping a perfectly good car unused? You are paying insurance on it (even if only comprehensive), registration, and maybe even making monthly payments. Cars also degrade when they sit there, so you are essentially just wasting money by making it a garage queen (“hangar queen” is pilot-speak for airplanes that never fly). Newer cars are also usually more gas-efficient, so you could be losing out on that savings by driving an old clunker.

Reply

Gabby December 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

I see the premise with this article, but for most, maintaining a 15 year old and 25 year old car is too expensive, unless, like you, there is someone available to keep up with the maintenance and repairs. Labor costs at the mechanic’s adds up very quickly and can be downright unaffordable at a certain point; especially if the car needs repairs every few months. For most, it’s better to buy a used car that is only a few years old.

Reply

markansaa December 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I drive a low mileage 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis. 5 star safety rating, parts are plentiful (corporate twin to the Crown Vic.. think cop car and taxi), and no hubcaps, with white paint.. scraped fender.. looks like an old cop car. Runs great, been maintained, and worth about $1400 more than I paid for it 3 months ago. If bodywork was perfect, would be higher value. But I can drive this, and not be shelling out big bucks for a new car payment.. if it needs a $200 repair here and there, I’m still money ahead

4.6 L v-8 like a Mustang, 25 mpg on highway, and all the buttons work.

Reply

Shane December 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

You are right about that. I am a big fan of having an everyday car that gets you where you need to be without all the cost. Then having a nicer vehicle that you can do what you like with and keep nice while you own it. In turn the value of the car stays relatively good, because it isn’t being used as much.

Reply

Grinch December 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

We essentially did what the author proposes when our children left home. We kept the 20 year old S10 4×4 pickup they drove through high school and now I drive it. I agree with the insurance savings. We carry enough insurance to protect our assets in the event of a crash, but do not cover repairs to it. A windshield replacement cost $125 and was done in our driveway. We use our health insurance to cover us if we have a crash. I also agree that you need some mechanical ability and time to keep an older vehicle on the road, but you can find most troubleshooting and repair info online in a youtube video or a vehicle-specific forum. We bought our ’96 Chevy Impala SS new and use it as our road trip car. I believe that is the advantage of having a well-made, powerful and comfortable car that spends much of its life in the garage. We made a family trip from South Georgia to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and back this past spring. That’s 5 people riding over 2,300 miles in 5 days with no issues in a 16 year old hot rod. The best thing about saving money by driving an old truck is that we now have the money to ride our Harleys anywhere and anytime (which are fully insured).

Reply

Leave a Comment