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?