We have two cars. One of them is relatively new; we bought it used two years ago. The other, though, is a 2001 that we bought in 2003. We’ve had it for eight years. It’s paid off, and it still runs reasonably well. I recently had to get some repairs done on the car, replacing brake shoes, and getting some regular maintenance taken care of, but it really wasn’t overly expensive. Sometimes I am tempted to buy a different car to replace it, but then I stop once I start adding up the costs. We haven’t had to make any major repairs on the car, so it is still worth it financially to keep it.
Part of the reason our car has lasted as long as it has is due to us taking care of it. Some of the things we do to keep the car running as well as it can include:
- Regular maintenance (oil changes, fluid flushes, etc.)
- Regular car washes
- Sane driving: No fast acceleration, gentle braking, and little lane-hopping
- Proper care of tires
- Storage in a garage
- Not driving when I don’t have to: Walking or taking public transportation when practical
Because we have done our best to take good care of our car, it has lasted quite a while, and I still feel comfortable driving it on the freeway if necessary (although the newer car gets much better gas mileage). Additionally, having the car available to us means that we have a “back-up” — just in case something happens to the other car.
Trading It in for Something Newer?
Eight years, to a true frualista, doesn’t seem like very long to have a car. After all, with proper care, it is possible for a car to last a loooong time. My brother is driving a car from 1983 that is older than he is. However, in today’s society, it is odd to have such an old car. There aren’t many in our neighborhood choosing to drive a car that is as old as ours. We seem to think that there is a need to keep “trading up.” And, while that might help the local car dealerships, it isn’t always the best idea financially. Here are some of the increased costs that come with buying something newer regularly:
- Cost of buying
- Cost of interest if you buy using a loan
- Cost of car insurance if you have to boost your coverage for the newer car
- In my state, property tax is charged each year with registration; as the car depreciates, so does the cost of my registration
If you are constantly repairing an old car, it might be worth the cost to buy something newer (although we would still buy used — a lease return). The costs of constantly having the car in the shop can start to add up. However, if your old car runs fine, and if you have it paid off, and only pay for regular maintenance and care, there is rarely a reason to buy a replacement.