Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Joys Of Driving An Old Car

Donna B has a fun piece on the topic, though it might spark some reflections on simplicity, worry, priorities, and the like.

Our record is a Nissan Sentra that we owned from 110,000 to 257,000 miles, at which point we gave it to a woman at church who needed to urgently move back to Minnesota and had no vehicle. Apparently the car made it and lasted another 8 months, though I never got an official mileage reading on it.

We've always bought cheap cars, though Tracy has been an influence for upgrading to things that look more attractive and/or cause her less worry.

I remember an adult Sunday School class on stewardship 20 years ago - so double or triple the final figure by now - that if you started buying cars on 4-year plans at age 20, trading each in as it was paid off and starting a new 4 year loan - at age 65 the finance company would have a million dollars of your money...and you would have a used car.

Plus if I had a nicer car I'd have to dress better.


Donna B. said...

haha. Maybe the new wardrobe is the real reason I'm resisting a new car?

Donna B. said...

Oh, I should mention our record mileage: a 1991 Ford F150. At somewhere around 250,000 miles we spent $3000 on a new engine.

At a little over 500,000 miles in early 2009 with the "new" engine giving problems, the transmission slipping, the AC gone, the paint gone, the upholstery ragged and interior trim pieces falling off, we traded up for a 1995 Chevrolet pickup with only 130,000 miles on it.

I can sympathize with the need for less worry, especially as I'm getting older. I would not cope well with being stranded, but that's why we pay for AAA!

Gringo said...

Last year the 18 year old Escort I had driven for 12 years needed a new clutch, soon after I had already paid for a new timing belt and water pump.

I decided to stop throwing good money after bad, and "updated" with a 1997 Escort w 115,000 miles. What I paid for the '97 was only $800 more than what I would have paid to get the '91 back on the road.

A young neighbor purchased the '91 for $75, figuring he can get it going.

Simon Kenton said...

The converse of your financial point is that if you buy 2-year-old cars without financing, and keep them a minimum of 10 years, and invest the savings, you can retire 4 years sooner. It is also apparently true - according to Tom Martino - that the primary cause of bankruptcy in the mid-20s cohort is buying too much car. I make these points to young financial planees. Some listen, some don't.

karrde said...


My '92 Taurus (died in '07 with 140000 on the odometer) and '99 Jeep (currently at 103000) feel young near these examples.

But the '81 Yamaha XS400 and '82 Honda CB750 are old. The first motorcycle served me well, and the second still serves well. (Still feels like a drag-racing machine, too, when I crank the throttle wide open.)

One thing which will give an advantage to an owner of a decade-old car is mechanical aptitude, and the spare time to do the repairs. Certain tune-ups and minor work can be done easily by the garage mechanic.