In Praise Of Old Cars

Maybe someday when frugality takes over, beat-up 1988 Honda Accords will trump fresh-off-the-lot Porsches as four-wheeled sex symbols. Blogger Well-Heeled can envision such a future, hyping the money-saving virtues of hoopties.

Here are a couple of her reasons old cars can save you money:

2. Cheaper insurance. Old Cars are cheaper to insure (and you might not need comprehensive or collision insurance for an old car). Added up over the course of 5 years, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on insurance if you drive an Old Car instead of a New Car.

3. Less worry of damages. A bump on an 1997 Toyota Camry adds character (or so I’d like to believe), a scratch on a 2009 BMW 335i is a glaring blemish. I have little scratches on my car that I don’t worry about fixing. I don’t want my car to be scratched, of course, but if it happens it won’t break my heart. If I were driving a brand-new car, however, that would be a different story.

How long do you keep your vehicles before jettisoning them. And do you buy new or used?

Old Cars: Unsung Heroes of Personal Finance [Well-Heeled Blog]

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  1. pb5000 says:

    We have a 2001 Honda and love it, it has 141,000 miles and we plan to drive it until it falls apart on us.

  2. ilovemom says:

    I keep cars until fixing them becomes a second job.

    • JollyJumjuck says:

      When I have to miss work routinely because the car keeps breaking down, and the repair costs go through the roof (7 year old moderately driven Pontiac Sunfire — never buy a Pontiac again), it’s time for a new car.

  3. ElizabethD says:

    Hereabouts (Prov RI), old Hondas like that are routinely stolen out of driveways and parking lots… apparently for parts that become hard to find as the years go by. This is a college town and a lot of the overeducated middle class here (frugal environmentalists all) drive their older high-mileage imports until they fall apart from body rot. The cars, not the crusty old profs; lol. You have never heard outrage until you’ve heard the betrayed howls of the liberal intellectual when some chop-shop runners swipe their trusty old Honda or Toyota right out of the driveway.
    They betta leave my Hyundai alone!

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Can’t you just preemptively take a ball-peen hammer to it? Can’t very well sell a fender with little round dents all over it.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      I know that at least for my car, 2000 Civic, you can find very cheap body panels online. They are fully primered and you can go to most shops and just order a part swap and do that beater two tone thing for a while before you go to maaco. Always check junkyards first for body panels for popular cars. They’re not usually good for complete front ends but back ends, doors and sometimes one side of cars will be just fine or much more easily repaired and replaced.

      Insurance companies are too willing to let body shops total mechanically sound cars.

    • ktetch says:

      I had that happen in the UK with an 89 Austin Metro, 10 years ago. Rover was just going out of business for the first time, and parts were getting expensive.

      I got it back the same day (Kudos Liverpool Police). See, While from the outside it looked like an old Metro City (1.0l 40hp mini engine – and in beige/cream no less!) the engine was a custom 1.4 unit with twin (sequential) turbos and an active hydraulic suspension (what can I say, I was bored)

      So really it was no good for parts, and there was a little problem in that the engine torque would rip the exhaust off the manifold (even if brazed) so it kind of announced itself on the road – we were still working on how to fix that.

      Right now, I’ve an 88 civic with 295k miles, and a 91 lumina with 135k miles, unlike modern cars, they have some sturdyness to them – both have had 60mph impacts with adult deer with only the most minor of damage. Same can’t be said of modern cars because of the inherent flimsiness that comes of ‘crumple zones’

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    In regards to #3, what if it’s a 1997 BMW? Am I going to be more upset that someone scraped my car or that the neighborhood kids dented it with a baseball because it’s a BMW, or less upset because it’s old? I think it’s ludicrous that people think it’s okay to drive around with huge scratches and dents just because their car is old. You might drive a 12 year old vehicle, but take some pride in it!

    One of the biggest issues with driving an old car (versus simply a newer used car) is that over time, reliability becomes an issue. There’s only so long you can drive a car and repair it til it resembles Frankenstein’s monster of machine parts, or those parts become phased out.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Well, it’s when the repairs become so frequent that it’s like playing whack-a-mole when I eventually give up on a car. Some people might say, “dude, there’s still probably another 20K-30K miles in that old beater,” to which I would probably reply, “you want it? $300 and it’s all yours.”

    • tenerezu says:

      It is not ludicrous to drive a car with dents, its frugal. Pride in a car? I have better things to be proud of. As for parts, its really not that hard to find them. I have never seen a “Frankenstein’s monster” car.

      • treimel says:

        Seconded–I, for one, was extremely proud of my first Mercedes; I considered its dents a record of its trusty service.

      • henrygates3 says:

        You certainly should take pride in your car. They’re freaking expensive. I have a 10 year old vehicle with 150k on it. It looks and runs like new, inside and out. I don’t have dents or scratches. On the other hand I’ve seen cars just a few years old that look and smell like the inside of a garbage can. People treat their cars like a trash bin, leaving (not so) empty food bags on the floor for a month, smoking in their cars. The worst offenders are people who spend extra money for leather seats, but never clean or condition them so in a year they are worn and cracked.

    • RandomZero says:

      I do take pride in my car. And if you ask about either one of her scars (one highly visible, one less so), I’ll gladly tell you about the potentially-lethal situations I drove away from thanks to her. She doesn’t like bittercold weather, her lines are far from modern, and she’s got a couple marks – but she’s a goddamned tank who has killed lesser cars for their impudence and still gotten me where I need to go on time. The same can’t be said of the one that will eventually replace her, and the thought makes me a little sad.

    • eelmonger says:

      I love my old car, I just don’t care if it has dents or scratches. It doesn’t prevent the car from getting me where I need to go, and if (big if) we believe the Mythbusters, dents and dings are actually improving my gas mileage (by a negligible amount). Do you hate the environment or something?

    • Orv says:

      I don’t much care what the outside of my car looks like. I don’t look at the outside while I’m driving it. Besides, the dents help deter thieves and vandals, and make parking lot dings a non-event.

      As far a car being a “Frankenstein” after repairs, I look at it differently — each repair means a new part that’s at the beginning of its lifespan. One of the parts vendors I’ve used has the motto, “piece it together forever.” I don’t go that far, but if it’s not a major component…heck, it’s cheaper than car payments.

    • veronykah says:

      My car has dents and scratches on the outside, overall it still looks pretty good. However, as I tell everyone what do I care what the outside looks like? I can’t see it when I’m driving it.
      The inside still looks almost brand new, and its a ’91.
      I figure the dents let someone like YOU know to get out of my way, since I clearly don’t care about the outside of my car.
      That and its nice to not care about little scratches etc when you live in a big city and its inevitable.

  5. Zclyh3 says:

    I drive a 1994 Acura Integra with 272,000+ miles on it. The clutch recently tanked after the longest time and I got the flywheel, clutch disc and pressure plate replaced. Car still runs super smooth and it works great. It gets to where I need to go and I’m happy with it. My friend’s dad (a mechanic) said I could drive my car 300-400k easy and I plan on doing that. I keep up with the maintenance all the time and I never push the car past 3,000 RPMs on the engine. The only time I would push it is up I’m going 80mph driving down to LA or something. But even then it’s only going up to about 3600-3700 RPM and I never take it further then that. Next on my list is my timing belt.

    • ktetch says:

      You should occasionally run the engine up, if not to the red line, at least getting close. It’s just good for engines. And frankly, if it can’t stand being run at 80% revs, then there’s something wrong with it you need to fix.

    • veronykah says:

      Where does it redline?
      My ’91 Celica redlines at 5 or 6,000 rpms and I usually SHIFT at 3,000-3,500…doesn’t it make your engine work harder if you don’t have it going fast enough when you are shifting?

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I’m driving a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, a.k.a. the S.S. JerseyLover. She had 23k miles when I got her in 2004, and now has 106k, and has survived being hit by a suicidal 8 point buck.

  7. chucklebuck says:

    I have a 1993 Geo Metro convertible that I love as though it were my own biological child. It only has 96,000 miles and I am only the third owner. It runs like a dream and gets 32 MPG city. Even with the repairs I had to put into it, I’m way way ahead on what I would have had to make in car payments, and this car could easily last another 5 to 10 years.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      I hit a Geo Metro with my 1999 Dodge Ram 1500, which has 156,000 miles and still going strong…sorry for killing your almost biological kid’s almost biological cousin.

  8. MovingTarget says:

    When my 96 Saturn finally dies, maybe I’ll invest in a newer one. Its been a great car.

  9. nbs2 says:

    I would say we buy used, but we are looking for a second car and may go new. If you need to buy something that you can’t pay cash for, looking at total payments can make new more attractive than used thanks to low interest rates and the feds giving us back the 6% sales tax that we would have to pay on the car.

  10. phonebem says:

    We have 2 Subarus at my house, the “new” one is a ’99 Forester with 178,000 miles and hopefully that many more… Its nice having cars that you don’t worry about the inevitable scratches and dings from ski area parking lots.

  11. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Our last two cars succumbed to the ravages of Upstate New York winter and the associated sodium chloride bombardment after about ten years of punishment.

    ’91 Civic – traded in around 2001 at 167,000 miles. Cause of death: failed fuel pump, the replacement of which would have required that the gas tank be cut from the car with a blowtorch due to rust. This after just having replaced a chip on the distributor, and a couple of other items I can’t remember. My wife loved that car, and really didn’t want to let it go. I practically had to pry the keys from her hand.

    ’99 Accord – traded in this past February at 176,000 miles. Cause of death: leaks in the fuel tank at the point where the tank met the fuel line. Would have required replacement of both the tank and the hardware connected to the point where it was leaking. This after several back-to-back repairs to various components, notably the O2 sensors and associated wiring, that also failed due to their location underneath the car where sodium chloride could eat them up.

    So no, you can’t keep a car forever in the Northeast. They have to put up with too much abuse for that, particularly when you are in a position where the #1 rule of winter driving – avoid it if you can – simply cannot be complied with.

    • cosmic.charlie says:

      Road salt is typically calcium chloride (CaCl2) due to the cost. Also, it is better at freezing point depression.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        In your neck of the woods, perhaps. In New York State, they use good old sodium chloride mixed with sand. I kind of doubt there is an equally effective snow melter as cheap as salt, especially since New York seems to be “blessed” with an unlimited supply of the stuff. It’s why Syracuse is called the “salt city.”

    • Orv says:

      Yeah, I sold off two well-loved cars for parts when I lived in MI, because they were so rusty they barely cast a shadow. Eventually they reach a point where the rust becomes structural and it just isn’t safe anymore.

  12. captadam says:

    Let’s see … the 2000 Neon was paid off for a year before I replaced it. At 145,000 miles It needed a repair that was close to the cost of the trade-in value, so I bought a Civic with 22,000 miles on it. But I kept the Neon and repaired it anyway (for cheaper than the original estimate), then I sold it privately for well over the trade-in value. I still see it driving around town almost a year later, so I guess I could have kept it. But it was becoming unreliable, and I’m a high-mileage driver, so I didn’t want to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

    Having no car payment was nice, while it lasted.

  13. masso says:

    My first car was Toyota Soluna, aka Tercel, in Thailand (1998-1999? I think) (aka. Tercel). It was a very simple car, no frill, nothing. It just worked, Very high MPG, very dependable, very cheap repair, very easy maintenance. I freaking loved it.

  14. ShruggingGalt says:

    Too bad the U.S. Government is going to tax older cars out of ownership. Why? Because they won’t meet new emissions standards.

    Want to keep it?

    Fine.

    $12,000/yr tax for the first year, or you can buy $12,000 of carbon offsets from Al Gore’s company via Goldman Sachs Carbon Exchange.

    • chargernj says:

      please cite your sources

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      You got attribution for that, bub?

    • friendlynerd says:

      Glenn Beck has some gold to sell you.

    • jamar0303 says:

      Uh-huh. I’m not inclined to believe you. Not even Japan treats its old car owners that badly.

    • captadam says:

      Oh, please. Emissions policies vary by the state, but they EXEMPT older cars. Now, you think that there is going to be an about-face that taxes older car owners into oblivion? Where do you get this idea?

    • Orv says:

      Yah, I think if that were going to happen I’d have gotten a SEMA Action Alert about it by now.

    • veronykah says:

      My car didn’t pass smog this year here in California.
      The catalytic converter and oxygen sensor were dead. However, CA gave me $500 to fix my car to make it pass.
      So I ended up paying $300, CA paid $500 and now the car meets all emission requirements.
      Even if your story had a grain of truth, all an older car owner would have to do is keep the car up to emissions requirements. That doesn’t cost $12,000.
      Try something a bit more plausible next time.

    • shepd says:

      :) Ontario does exactly this. Every 2 years, people with shitboxes have to pay $450 to have failed repairs done to their vehicles. Sometimes the things that people get away with having repaired are so laughably stupid that, honestly, if your car is that old, you won’t have a hard time justifying $450 in repairs. Examples include air conditioners and tire replacement.

      I know I’ll be shelling it out next year as my service engine soon light is permanently on due to a failed emissions sensor, and resets only last a few minutes. Funnily enough, it actually passes the exhaust test, which, it seems to me, is what *should* count.

      The best part is that as long as you are shelling the $450 out, you can’t sell the car! IOW, you can’t trade it in to buy a new car that doesn’t have emissions problems! The government here actually WANTS you to drive around in a beater belching burning oil fumes. Or at least that’s how the policy ends up working.

  15. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    2000 Ford Focus, still running great. The bluebook value is around $3000 and my last repair was $300, which I think means it’s getting close to That Time. (However, that was an entirely self-inflicted/optional repair — The Other Driver In This House, who shall not be named, wrecked my PERFECTLY FINE battery, and I figured I’d get my tetchy trunk latch replaced at the same time because I was tired of doing a voodoo ritual to make it work right.)

    Bought that car new, but bought my husband’s 2002 Focus used … I’ll probably buy used next time. I don’t want to pay the newness premium. And I don’t believe in car payments, so used it will be.

    It’s also getting to be That Time because with a baby car seat my compact car is suddenly very small and if Mini McGee gets a Micro-Mini sibling, two car seats will basically not work at all. So I’m starting to THINK about a mom car. But MAN I hate to get rid of a car that works fine and has served me well for nearly 10 years now.

    • magic8ball says:
    • JonBoy470 says:

      Hey, I had a 2000 Focus, the two door even! And I can tell you that two car seats definitely do fit in the back seat, though admittedly there won’t be room for much of anything/anyone else at that point. Did two kids in that car for two years until it got to 120K miles and the scheduled maintenance and new tires exceeded the trade-in value. Got $1K for it in trade on a 2006 Grand Caravan, which has been trouble-free for the almost two years we’ve owned it.

  16. james says:

    Ha! Beat this – 1982 Volvo 240 Wagon, with 1.3 MILLION miles, and even the leather seats are still in great shape. Change the oil regularly, change brake pads yearly, and replace a fuel pump every 120K miles or so, and that’s about it.
    Oh yeah, I’m on like my 6th exhaust system, but what would one expect?

    It costs more to garage the thing (in Manhattan) than I’d ever spend on any other aspect of the car, but I’d say I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of the investment. (I’m nothing special, there’s a Volvo owner out on Long Island named Irv with millions of miles on a 1960s-era Volvo.)

    • treimel says:

      You know, it’s probably cheaper in the long run to have a stainless exhaust fabricated. That’s what I did with my Spitfire; it’s less costly than you might imagine if you find a good shop. (Obviously, not in the city.)

    • Etoiles says:

      In the late 90s and early 00s, in high school and college, I had several friends who drove their parents’ circa-1980 Volvos. Those things are freaking unkillable.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        There are a gazillion of those in Santa Cruz; also the old Beetles. I had never seen so many Volvos and Bugs in one place before and I wanted a Bug so bad I could taste it.

        I STILL want one.

    • brettb says:

      Beat THIS: We’ve got an (extra) 1995 Nissan Altima with 38,000 miles on it. Wife got a new Jetta and now we’re trying to figure out what to do with the Altima. How do you price a car like that? It’s old, the radio and the tach are flaky, but the exhaust is recent, front brakes and battery are almost new….

    • kalaratri says:

      Ours was a ’76 Volvo, but we sold it because it ran diesel and it was hard to find on Long Island.

  17. thisistobehelpful says:

    2000 Civic and as long as people and deer stop running into me it’s GREAT. The cheaper insurance thing is only half true. Just because you don’t have to have comprehensive or collision on something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you hit a car worth more than yours or god forbid a person you are REALLY going to need collision insurance.

    • ahecht says:

      If you hit someone else or their car it is covered by liability insurance, not comprehensive or collision.

      • thisistobehelpful says:

        My bad. Comprehensive is still probably a good idea in case you ever drive someone else’s car. It’s just one of those “just in case” things. Also if you’re paying less than the value of your car in premiums per year it’s probably a good idea. When the insurance coverage costs more than the car then yeah sure drop it. Of course that probably means it’s time to get a new car.

  18. travel_nut says:

    My husband and I are both college-educated individuals with good full time jobs. While our friends are going out and buying new or nearly-new cars, we’ve chosen to stick with cars that we can own outright. He drives a 1997 Plymouth Breeze with less than 90k miles; I drive a 1999 Breeze with 33k miles. Because the hubs is a sportscar aficionado, we also own an ’82 Datsun 280zx with just under 100k miles.

    Hubby’s a mechanic, so he’s able to keep the cars well-maintained and running well for very little. Because we chose cars that have low miles, they will last us well into the future. Plus, insurance on all 3 cars is less than $1600/year–and we’re both younger, and have blemishes on our driving records.

    So yeah, old cars are awesome. I would far rather drive my unattractive little Breeze than have a $300 a month car payment + $150 a month insurance payment.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You’ve hit on one point though – your husband’s a mechanic. No one in my family is a mechanic, so we rely on automotive experts to know how to fix our cars. There’s no way I’ll trade my car for a cheaper used vehicle simply to save money because I don’t know anyone who fixes cars. I have my body shop and my dealership, and I’d rather get better reliability.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I’m with you, and it’s not even that our friends have car payments … they have car payments on RIDICULOUS CARS that they then complain about being so high. Well, if the high car payment is killing you, then GET A CHEAPER CAR, dumbass. You don’t NEED a top-of-the-line sedan; Civics and Corollas are charming and reliable.

      I’m honestly not sure if the complaining is a way of bragging about how expensive their car was, or if there’s a complete mental disconnect between the part where they bought a too-expensive car and therefore have a too-high car payment. Maybe they grew up in families where new, high-end cars were the norm and can’t really figure out that you can buy less-expensive, reliable cars too. (My car shopping goes, “What’s the cheapest thing with a five-star safety rating, high reliability scores, and excellent gas mileage? Does it come in green? Good, I’ll take that.”)

      • ColoradoShark says:

        They are bragging. One guy I ran into just, out of the blue, start lamenting the high cost of the new rear tires for his Corvette. I held back from pointing out Viagra would cost a lot less….

    • jamar0303 says:

      280ZX? Why not a 240Z? Arguably the best “older” Fairlady Z model.

  19. AlexTNOA says:

    I had a 1998 Rodeo with 140,000 miles on it, which I loved for the 4X4 and the cargo room. My dad bought it new, and he gave it to me in 2007. It was well maintained, but still needed about $2K in repairs and maintenance (oil changes, new brake shoes, new tires, new front axles, et al) a year. It only got 18 mpg highway (more like 12 or 13 with city driving), and even with a fairly large 18 gallon gas tank, I still had to fill it up every 200 miles or so.

    Then, Cash for Clunkers came and I was able to buy a 2009 Nissan Versa for $10K out the door, which comes out to a $250 monthly car payment for 48 months. It gets 31 mpg highway (I’m seeing about 25 mpg with city driving factored in), so I fill up at 12 gallon gas tank about every 300 miles and I only need to have the oil changed and the tires rotated. I plan on keeping this car until it dies on me, so, while I miss the 4X4 (especially right now with the sheets of snow and ice dumped onto Chicago streets and highways), the gas mileage makes me think I am getting a better deal. At least I will once it’s paid off.

    If someone wants to do the math and prove me wrong or right, have at it.

  20. m1ek says:

    Unlike with the magical completely impossible to verify internet, it’s my experience that most of the smuggest old-car-lovers in the real world actually spend quite a lot of time working on their cars / driving something else or bumming rides because it’s in the shop. Not that they’ll tell you that; you actually have to pay attention. Cognitive dissonance FTW.

    • jeffbone says:

      I don’t think I’m particularly smug :-) but I’ll admit to anyone who asks that I spend probably far too much time working on my fleet. I realize I’m trading my time for some savings but I like doing the work. Besides, when I look at the amount of time I used to spend waiting in repair shops, hitching rides while the car was in the shop, etc., the additional time I spend doing the repairs myself is worth the tradeoff.

      • m1ek says:

        New cars come with warranties attached. All the smug old-car-lovers forget this.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          This smug old car lover never had to use the warranty on her Honda and not one thing ever went out on it until it was 10 years and 120,000 miles. So, yes, I’m smug. Other than oil changes, I have spent less than $1000 on that car since 1999.

          • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

            Oh, and I can’t forget that I am $30,000 richer b/c I haven’t had a car payment in 5 years!!!

        • Orv says:

          Yeah, but new cars also come with new car payments attached. It’s a rare month where I spend more on repairs to an old car than I’d be spending on a car payment.

          There are good reasons to buy a new car, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re saving money just because it has a warranty.

        • treimel says:

          So … you don’t think the value of that warranty (+ profit, naturally) is completely folded into the price of the car?!? If you do, I just got a reason to be a little more smug.

          • m1ek says:

            Obviously it is. The smug old-car-lovers assume the new car premium is completely waste; when as we both agree, it includes an assurance that you won’t have to pay (for a while) if stuff breaks.

            The amazing thing is how few old-car-lovers think this assurance is worth anything. The last couple of ‘old cars’ I drove cost me a LOT of money before I ditched them.

    • RevancheRM says:

      I think you and I have completely different circles, hence no full picture.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      If it’s an old-old car, probably they LIKE working on the car. If it’s a medium-old car, like my 10-year-old Focus, it just goes to the dealer for scheduled maintenance every now and again. I’ve had it in the shop 3 times in 10 years for unscheduled maintenance (one fender bender, one electrical problem, one I shouldn’t have let my husband near my car). I can’t imagine buying something newer would result in less hassle than that. Although possibly trading my husband in on e-bay for a newer model ….

      (This is, of course, not the dealer I BOUGHT the car from, but Lord knows there are Ford dealers everywhere.)

      • phonebem says:

        Exactly why we have the two Subis. If you have any mechanical knowledge at all you can figure-out how to fix about anything on them and everything it fairly accessible.

    • ktetch says:

      Hmm, lets see. Work done on my Lumina in the last 18 months/70k miles…

      I had to pound out the front passenger wing after hitting a deer at 60 last news years eve (on our way to the party)
      I’ve had to replace a few blown tyres
      Oh, and when I did the front brake pads, it fell off the jackstands as I was about to remove them, and squished one of them, but no damage to the car…

      Oh, and the usual oil changes and other routine stuff.

      I spent a lot more time working on nearly-new ones I’ve had (Only Chrysler could make a minivan where the first step in replacing the power steering pump, is to remove the towbar – seriously!)

    • Orv says:

      I find that it’s actually pretty rare for an old car to be an endless money pit, as long as you stay away from very old cars (>30 years) or rare/exotic makes. What generally happens is if you buy a cheap used car, you’ll have to put a certain amount of money into it right away to take care of whatever maintenance and repairs the previous owner put off. After that, it’s usually pretty reliable for several years. At least, that’s been my experience shopping the very low end of the car market. (I don’t usually pay more than $2000 for a car.)

    • veronykah says:

      Are you kidding?
      Maybe you are talking about old car owners that own something other than Toyotas.
      I’d say I end up spending about $300/yr on repairs for my Celica. We are talking about parts that WEAR out, not anything else [I’ve never had anything on this car just break or not work].
      I’ve driven it across the country 5+ times, it is the most reliable car ever.
      Bought at 150,000 miles, its got 201,000 now. I figured it would be good for AT LEAST 250,000.

  21. hoi-polloi says:

    Our old car is a 1996 Jeep Cherokee. We bought it used, and it’s been paid off for a few years. When we bought it, the dealer asked how long we planned on owning it. When my wife said, “10 years or so,” the guy almost fell out of his chair. Our biggest concerns are a bit of rust and that it occasionally decides to eat batteries. The blower only works on high, and some things are a bit patched together, but it all adds to the character. Unlike 90% of SUVs, our Jeep has seen many a rutted road and rough conditions. It has its share of scratches and dents, which don’t bother me in the least. When someone rear-ended me a year and a half ago, I was willing to let it go with a handshake. After all, it was just one more mark on the bumper.

    Our new car is a 2006 Prius. We bought it new, which worked well due to the state rebate and tax credit. We also plan on running that into the ground. My wife and I commute together, and drive much less than average. There’s no reason to replace cars with any regularity.

  22. mobbo says:

    I was an idiot and bought a used 2002 Audi A4 18 months ago without really researching how much it costs to maintain a luxury vehicle. I got a great deal on it, but I ended up DOUBLING the cost just on premium gas and incredibly expensive repairs. You can only take an Audi to the dealership for oil changes and regular maintenance unless you’re really lucky and find a local independent Audi/VW repair shop, which may still charge a lot. When my windshield wipers needed to be replaced, I couldn’t get the nice Rain-X ones at Walmart. No, I had to take it to Audi because the wiper connections are wierd as hell and the don’t release their wipers for OEM manufacturing. $45 later… new wipers. At 80,000, not soon after I bought the damn thing, it needed the timing belt, water pump, tensioner, and thermostat changed. $2,300. In July the ignition coils went out… $800. 2 months ago, power steering fluid leak… $450.

    I’ve always been in the market for a classic Ford Mustang, and 2 weeks ago I finally found one in the right price range, fully restored, new engine, new transmission, for $11,000. What’s great about these cars is they come from a time where everything inside made sense… no computers, no crazy valves… just an engine, transmission, carburator, belts, seats, and a steering wheel. And no one cares about mileage. As long as you regularly maintain it and rebuild your engine/transmission every 100K miles or so, you’re golden. The value of the car stays just about the same, if not appreciated, so you never have an upside-down loan. I’ve had this car for a week and a half and I’ve had 3 people offer to buy it from me for several thousand $$$ more than I bought it for. And if something breaks and you can’t fix it, just about any domestic shop can work on it for MUCH less then a car that’s a slave to the dealership.

    So I sold my Audi to a used car place for $3,600… after buying it for $9,000, spending very close to $9,000 on repairs and premium gas. By far the biggest mistake I ever made financially.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      My husband drove an S4 for a while. I HATED that car. Not only was the insurance and maintenance sky-high, but things randomly broke on it at a spectacular clip, PLUS it made my husband drive like an idiot. So between the “known problems” with the car that broke on all S4s made that year, and the broken axle, run-in with road sign, etc., that my darling husband managed on his own, that thing was a fucking money pit.

      Also I’m pretty sure it was possessed by a demon and was trying to kill either him or me or both. I think it just needed to drink human blood to keep up its evil money-sucking, accident-having ways.

      It got totaled when it was less than two years old when a teenager in her parents’ super-giant SUV rear-ended it at a red light while playing with her cell phone. The check from the totaling more than paid for a new, sane car. And my husband’s medical bills from the accident. :P

      My husband says he’d some day like to own a sports car again when it’s financially feasible. I tell him to make sure he figures the cost of divorce into it.

    • AllanG54 says:

      Premium gas only costs about 25 cents more than regular. My car uses it too. So what. If that was one of your complaints then you really don’t know much about cars. In fact, if your Mustang is older than 1973 and originally used leaded gas you’re going to have to buy special oil and additive for your gas to replace the lead that’s no longer used.

      • mobbo says:

        The car has a newly purchased Boss 302 from Ford Racing, so no additive needed. Thanks for the blind over-the-internet assumption. When gas prices were nearing $4/gallon, premium gas was as much as 40 cents/gallon more. On a 16 gallon fill-up, that’s $6.40 more. Multiply that by 6 fill-ups a month (I live in Texas and drive a ton), that’s almost $40/month. Over the life of the car, it cost me an extra ~$700. Let’s call it about $600 just for arguement’s sake.

        Factor in the work I had to get done on it PLUS the amount the car depreciated over the 18 months I owned it… bad news.

        The biggest hit, besides the repairs, was the depreciation of the car’s value. Any new car or even newer model used car you drive off the lot plummets in value. The factors are mileage, demand for the car model, and how much people are willing to pay for it. Considering no one gives a shit how many miles are on a fully restored Mustang (only thing not new is the rust-free frame) and the fact that the car is very desirable, as demonstrated by the out-of-the-blue cash offers I’ve received from random people while filling up my tank (without additive)… I feel pretty good about the purchase. Nothing’s broken on it, yet, but I feel confident that if something does, I can take anywhere I want for a competitive price rather than Audi.

    • jacques says:

      Yeah, I bought a used Mini a few years ago from carmax. Ended up paying about $4000 after my trade-in. After the initial stuff was covered by the [very short] carmax warranty, in which they were just shuttling it over to the mini dealer, I started taking it to the mini dealer directly. My favourite part was them telling me that for my 50,000 mile service, I needed to get an “oil service” first. $140 for the whole thing. I balked, and they offered me the plain old $80 oil change. I laughed, and walked out.

      The final straw was when my bumper got pulled off in a snow drift, and they quoted me $1100. Well, yeah, the bumper was $1100, then the special paint, special mounts, special dusting of the parts in the warehouse and everything else added another $900. Goodbye mini, hello ford.

  23. MeOhMy says:

    I buy new but keep them for a long time. Sure “financially” slightly-used is a better deal, but there is more to this than just dollars and cents. There’s a lot of value in knowing that my 2002 Civic with 120k miles has been faithfully maintained for its entire life and not being worried that it’s going to just up-and-die one day because the previous owner abused it before I got it. I more than make up for it in the years that I go payment-free and virtually maintenance-free. I do not expect to replace it until at least 2013, probably 2015.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      This is what we thought about when we bought our car as well. I’ve been driving hand-me-downs my whole driving life. Our current (and only) car is the only new vehicle I’ve ever driven. We want to keep it for at least 10 years, and it just seemed like we would be better off with a new car that didn’t have any issues so we could start fresh with it.

  24. jeffbone says:

    That poor Shadow (or Sundance, can’t tell for sure). What did it ever do to anyone?

    The average age of my fleet is somewhere around 9-10 years. I mostly fix ‘em myself, and insurance is pretty cheap, even with comp/collision on cars that really shouldn’t have it. Heck, I pay more to insure my college kid’s one car than I do to insure most of the remaining fleet.

    The oldest car in the fleet used to be my 1985 Omni GLH turbo. Never should have sold it. :-(

    • friendlynerd says:

      It’s a Sundance – the eggcrate grille gives it away. A Shadow would have the T-bar grille.

      • jeffbone says:

        Thanks…I thought the later P/AP-bodies all had the same grille but I’ve never paid really close attention to them. Had it been an AA/AJ/AG, different story… :-)

        • friendlynerd says:

          I still miss my 93 Sundance Duster. It wasn’t really a good car, but it was my first and I loved it. Plus it was disgustingly overpowered with the 3.0 V6.

  25. keepher says:

    I have a fifteen year old full size pickup that I’ve had for 12 years, we’re on a farm dontcha know, that I will keep until I no longer trust it. That could be tomorrow or ten years from now.

    So far repairs are still thousands less than a monthly vehicle payment.

  26. jayde_drag0n says:

    I’ve never seen the benefit of driving an old car.. by old I don’t mean 2000 or even 1998.. I mean 1994 or older.. older cars generally have a lot of miles on them for one.. secondly usually someone buys an older car.. NOT because they want a fixer-upper but because they are broke and can’t afford a new vehicle.. HOWEVER the flaw in that is when you get an older vehichle for cheap and you’re doing it because your broke.. what happens when it breaks in a week.. not you are REALLY brok (after buying the car.. AND you can’t afford to fix it.. so now you have no car at ALL and no money. I am not saying go buy a brand new vehicle.. but look in the private sector and try to purchase your car AS new as you can get within the scope of your budget, with as little problems as you can find,to prevent having to fix a car every week and goig hungry just trying to stay on top of the problems and never even getting to drive the thing. And If you think its not possible. just take a look at your local craigslist

  27. LunaMakesThings says:

    I just bought a new-to-me used car! My old one was a ’95 Mazda MPV and my newer one is a 2007 Hyundai Accent. Just like with the Mazda, I will keep it until repairs cost more than the car is worth.

  28. RevancheRM says:

    I subscribe to this whole-heartedly. While my wife drives the only new vehicle we’ve ever bought (2005 Odyssey), I’m driving a 1995 Olds Cutlass Supreme, previously bought new by my grandmother and then driven by my sister when she was in school.

    We don’t need to do this, but because we can, we do. In the mean time, I pay my ‘car loan’ monthly into a savings account, which now I’m starting to use to invest in the markets, and can buy a new POS when the need comes due. As of yet, I’m treating my old car like I do my ‘new’ van: all required maintenance (oil of course, at 5-7k miles) and will consider selling either when maintenance-related repairs appear to indicate a problematic vehicle.

    Beautiful thing of the monthly pay it forward? If I lose all that money in investments, because I’ve already budgeted for it, I can transfer the payments to an actual car loan.

  29. Hirayuki says:

    We hold onto cars for a while in my family. We have a ’99 Corolla and a ’00 Forester, bought new; my parents have a ’94 Avalon and an ’04 Outback, bought used. I hardly consider these old. Before I got my Corolla, I drove my parents’ ’84 Toyota Tercel wagon, which my then-boyfriend (now husband) inherited. We drove that thing into the ground. I still miss it.

    At one point, maybe about twenty years ago, my dad bought a diesel Rabbit hatchback from a friend and drove it until the gearbox literally fell through the floor. You could also watch the road through the rusted holes in the running board. (Road salt means cars don’t last as long as you think/hope they do here in snowy Michigan. You can find way older cars in New Zealand where the weather is a lot more friendly.)

  30. Elginista says:

    I drive a 2000 Honda Accord with 79,000 miles on it and plan to keep doing so until I can’t any more. I commute via train (and walk from my house), so a tank of gas usually lasts me 3-4 weeks.

    I actually just got a letter from my local Honda dealership offering me “more than Blue Book value (depending on condition)” if I were to trade it in. Apparently they’re chronically short on used Hondas. They make a similar pitch to me any time I bring it in for service.

    Though tempting to have a shiny new car, mine does exactly what I need it to do, and I love not having a car payment – regular maintenance and the occasional repair are far less than I would pay for new. Plus, it’s flexible enough that I can even haul DIY materials (including doors!) and Christmas trees in it if I flip the back seat down.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Must be nice to be able to take the train and only put 6000 or 7000 miles on your car a year. Anyway, the car dealer just wants to move some iron. It’s a scam, and they’re hoping to rope in some schmuck for full retail.

  31. Etoiles says:

    I have a 1996 Toyota Camry with about 51,000 miles on it. I love that car. It’s the best car I’ve ever driven (though that’s not saying much since my first car was a 1988 Dodge Aries K with 120,000 miles on it. When my parents said I could have it when I turned 17, I don’t think they expected it to *last* until I’d turned 17. Joke’s on them).

    And it’s true: I don’t worry much about the tiny dings, and I will keep doing maintenance and repairs on that car as long as it remains lovely to drive.

  32. skipjack says:

    I have a 1994 Honda Accord with 240k. It’s a 5 speed and I put about $1000 a year in it in maintenance and repairs. I’ll be taking it on a 3k mile journey next week. It’s paid for

    I have a 1992 GMC Z71 with 198K. It’s also a 5 speed and I put about $1000 a year in maintenance and repairs. This last year it was down for a week while I replaced the head gasket. It’s paid for.

    My insurance is $35 a month for both.

    I drive certain models of older cars with a manual transmission because 1) They are cheap to own 2) Cheap to repair 3) No car payment.

    Whereas my best friend owned a Mazda 626, bought it new, paid 5k a year in payments plus regular maintenance and when he traded the car in on a mini last year, the car had been through 2 transmissions and ran horrible. He paid 20k for his mini that’s a 5 speed and should last him quite a while. He’s paid 40k for cars whereas I’ve paid 5k for both my vehicles, driven the crap out of them and can still get almost 5k for both today.

    Buy used, expect it to break (it is a machine after all), and have cash in savings to pay for major repairs. Or buy new and pay the stupid tax.

  33. Eels says:

    The most I have paid for a car is $4000. I have no kids so I’m not worried about too much safety, and I don’t really care about looking cool. I live in New England where cars are eaten up by salt and rust, so buying a brand new something doesn’t make sense to me.

    Right now I have a 2001 Ford Focus wagon I bought with 26k miles last year. While I am not really fond of this car it suits my needs, with the exception of how it handles in the snow. I will probably drive this car until I have a baby, at which point I will buy a tank.

    My last car was a 1993 Accord. Amazing gas mileage. I miss it.

  34. geargutz says:

    I love it when articles come up about older cars and how great they can be.

    Generally, the rule of thumb is: Drive them until the wheels fall off, then put the wheels back on and keep going!

    -The 96 Caravan (aka the Jelly Bean) got the g/f to work on sunday, when most of the cars on the block were still stuck in the snow. I’m already shopping for parts because I’ll be damned if I let this one die.

    - The 89 Lesabre (which seems to think it was a tank in another life) 196,000 miles, and still gets 20+ mpg with remarkable power and smoothness. Not to mention there is a simplicity to the car that cannot be matched by its never counterparts.

    - The 2005 equinox not fairing so well… =( Stuck twice in the snow this week, only 125k highway miles, and needs a ton of work. After the holidays, it’s hitting the shop for a week.

    Next ride is definitely going to be used, probably from auction, unless I find a friend who wants to sell me a good vehicle, but in these times, fewer people are willing to part with their old cars.

  35. Talisker says:

    I’m driving the 99 Saturn that my wife brought with her when we got married. It isn’t my favorite car, but it only has 75K on the odometer. But those are GM miles which means that it is about the same as 150K in Honda miles.

    Our other car is a 2002 MPV that we bought used in 2005. The Mrs. wants to get something new after the transmission pulled a Palin and quit halfway through our trip to her sisters house for Thanksgiving.

  36. admiral_stabbin says:

    I don’t think anyone will ever see my 1990 Jeep Cherokee with just 200,000 miles to be a “four-wheeled sex symbol”. Thankfully, I treat it as a very large snowmobile (it’s a second vehicle), and tend to only drive it in inclement weather.

    I also had a cherry 1988 Honda Accord LXi about 15 years ago. I bought it with 180,000 miles, and drove it to 225,000 before selling it. Amazing car.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      That’s the original boxy Cherokee, right? I’d have one; it’s actually a pretty decent wagon, and I haven’t heard anything bad said about it. Dents and dings and faded paint just means you actually used the thing for the purpose for which it was built. No 8 MPG suburban monstrosity this.

  37. jesusofcool says:

    1998 Ford Contour represent! Drove that thing up until a few months ago when it completely collapsed in the middle of the road. Had more dents, scrapes and scratches on it than any car on the road (I was the third owner). But you know what, old cars have character and I always feel a lot more at ease driving an old piece of junk than I do someone’s nice car, especially in the city. I haven’t much to lose.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Yep. You can just nose your way into a line of cars, and they have to let you in. Haven’t met a guy yet who was willing to scratch up his new car to keep you from cutting in line with your hooptie.

  38. Brazell says:

    Hm. A far cry from the popular position around here during the Cash for Clunkers book burning campaign.

  39. sspeedracer says:

    Best used car ever …. Police Interceptors AKA Fork Crown Victoria. Police beat the crap out of them but also maintain them religiously. Why do you think taxi drivers purchase used at 100K miles and bury after 500K miles?

    Body on frame, rugged, large passenger/cargo, and parts are cheap cheap cheap. You can pick up parts anywhere and labor is simple.

    • Beef Supreme says:

      I just bought my 2nd one, a 2005 this summer, drives great in the snow once you get the hang of RWD, cheap parts, lots of little upgrades you can do, etc.

    • Orv says:

      My advice is to change the transmission fluid religiously every 45,000 miles. The transmission in Crown Vics is pretty fragile and a rebuild is about $2000. Found that out the hard way.

    • henrygates3 says:

      Plus people get out of your way on the freeways.

  40. DJBS77 says:

    Got a 2000 Toyota Celica with 197000 miles. Plan to maybe hit 250000 b4 a new car.

  41. subtlefrog says:

    We have one car, shared. It is new, but we got it when the 1997 Corolla (bought used) rusted out so badly that the frame was no longer trusted. My mechanic refused to touch things on it for fear that the bottom would fall completely out. We decided it was time to go with a new car. But we’ll keep it for the next 100 years.

  42. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    We keep cars until they no longer will run and cost too much to fix (we have a 1999 Honda CRV that either needs a new O2 censor or transmission-transmission wouldn’t be worth the value of the car.) I see no reason to buy something new if the old works. It’s such a waste of $$$.

  43. moore850 says:

    I intend to keep my car until the cost of operating it exceeds the operating cost of a new car.

  44. Froggmann says:

    Historically, I usually keep a vehicle until it just gets too expensive for me to fix it. Or I get burned out on fixing it. As it stands my DD (2002 Nissan Maxima) has just under 110,000 on it and unless it gets hit I don’t plan on getting rid of it for a while. My other vehicle (1993 Ford Bronco) I’ve had for 10 years and 250,000 miles but still don’t plan on getting rid of it. It’s just so much fun to drive.

  45. vladthepaler says:

    Another big advantage to older vehicles is they’re lower-tech. Easier to repair, less big brother watching you.

  46. kalaratri says:

    I don’t care about the savings, I won’t drive a car without front passenger and curtain airbags, reinforced side panels and anti-lock brakes.

    My ‘new’ car (actually a used 2006 Matrix) was only in our hands for 5 months before the ass in front of me’s entire trailer came off his truck going 70 on I-95. The Matrix was destroyed on all four sides thanks to my trip into the divider and I managed to set off every airbag in the poor thing. I had been nagging hubby for over a year to replace our old 10 year old Blazer and if I had been driving that instead of the Matrix it’s very likely the car would have rolled, I would have been killed by the overpowered airbag (I’m 5″ and 100lbs) and I wouldn’t be hear ranting about car safety.

    No, I don’t run out and buy the newest model when a new safety feature comes out, but there definitely reaches a point to me where safety > cost of car payment.

  47. tbax929 says:

    I buy a new car every 5 years, which is the length of the loan on my cars. I used to lease and get a new one every 2 years until companies stopped offering short leases. So I pay off a car and trade it in. I have to travel for work, often by car, and I have to have something that’s reliable. There’s no pride involved (I drive a Chevy SUV), but since I take clients out to lunch and travel to appointments and such, I can’t really drive a hooptie. If I could, I would. I’ve thought about getting an old Honda as a second car, to use when I don’t have work-related stuff and just want to zip around town.

  48. DoubleEcho says:

    I have a 2003 Mazda Protege (sedan, not the thing with the hatchback) that I bought brand new. I just hit 33,000 miles last week and I’ve only needed to replace the brakes and do scheduled maintenance so far.

    I plan on keeping this car at least another 10 years. My alarm system consists of the fact that it’s a stick shift and these new dumb youngins today don’t know how to drive it. I’m making a personal bet with myself to not put the odometer over 100,000 by the time I trade it/sell it.

    Some people might say that it’s not worth it to buy a new car, but I’m perfectly happy driving the same car for 15 years so I think financially it’s worth it to me to be the only owner.

  49. ShreeThunderbird says:

    I hate buying cars. Consequently, our newest is a 2006 Subaru purchased when it was 1 year old for my wife to drive in the Winter because it has all wheel drive. We have 3 other cars. One is a 1991 Honda Prelude si whiich we aren’t currently using because the ABS computer died and Honda no longer makes replacements. The second is a1990 Jeep Wrangler that I currently use mostly as my snow plow. It runs great and does a decent job of plowing. The third is a 1995 Dodge 1500 truck that we use for travel with a camper and hauling stuff. Itr has less that 100,000 miles and also runs great.

  50. jenl1625 says:

    I buy used. The last time I bought one, it was because someone hit me and totaled my car… Aside from that, I swap cars when I’m somewhere over 100,000 miles and have started having maintenance issues.

  51. Paladin_11 says:

    I almost always buy new and keep my vehicles forever. Having a vehicle is a necessity for me, so when I buy one I start the savings fund to purchase the next one. That way I can pay cash and negotiate the best possible deal. It also makes a heck of an emergency fund after a few years.

    About 18 months ago an inattentive woman in a Cadillac Escalade rear ended me on the freeway when she didn’t notice that the traffic had come to a stop. The collision totaled my 1998 Ford F-150. Since I wasn’t injured I didn’t mind too much. Last summer gas was running about $4.50/gallon and the old truck wasn’t exactly efficient. So it provided an opportunity to buy something that got better mileage. In came a new 2008 Mustang GT. Not the most efficient car but much better than the truck. And with high gas prices dealers dumping vehicles with V-8 engines. I practically stole the car, and now I have a vehicle I *love* for the next 10 – 15 years.

  52. mk says:

    Just want to say that’s one of my favorite old cars in Chicago. That and the one with the springs all over it.

  53. TheGreySpectre says:

    My car is 15 years old with 145,000 miles. That being said I would still be pissed off if someone put a dent in it or scratched it as it is still a pretty nice car. (Subaru Legacy Lsi)

  54. Donathius says:

    I have a 1992 Honda Accord that I have taken extremely good care of. Driving to the in-laws this weekend for Christmas saw the odometer top 200k and it still runs like a champ. I’ve kept up with the preventative maintenance and it just keeps on going. I’ll never get rid of this car if I can help it.

  55. verdegrrl says:

    268,000 miles and counting for my 1987 Alfa Milano. It’s been reliable over the years too. Bought it lightly used. Stay on top of maintenance and it’s all good. But not everyone is cut out for used car ownership. You need to be proactive and observant instead of waiting until something to completely fail.

    Oh, and a ding is even more painful on my baby than a new car. I’ve spent years parking her in the far reaches of parking lots and polishing the paint.

  56. oldgraygeek says:

    After buying 3 new vehicles since 1999, I bought a 2001 Ford Police Interceptor with 85K miles for $2800.
    There are no payments, I need only liability insurance, and it runs great. We got 20+ miles per gallon on Halloween… driving 739 miles in under 10-1/2 hours including stops. One key factor enabling us to average over 70 mph was that every time I come roaring up behind someone loafing in the left lane they immediately move over.
    After a year, it has 105K on the clock. I used to drive a taxi, so I know that this car is barely broken in. Mrs. Geek says I can have a new car when I break 200K on the odometer, so I guess I’ll buy a 2014 Charger Hemi Police when that happens.

  57. PhilFR says:

    Just sold my 2000 Nissan Maxima so I can hold onto my 1985 Mercedes 300D with 185K miles. (My beloved old tank.)

  58. NPHighview says:

    Our newest car is a 2000 Solara convertible; our oldest car is a ’92 Camry. Both consistently ace the California emissions test, at 1-5% of the limits.
    We regularly drive our cars to 250K+ miles, and we never, ever buy new, and we only ever buy cars we can afford to pay cash for.
    We live near Los Angeles, and found a used car place in nearby Rosemead that consistently sells their cars for ~$1,000 below blue book; the husband camps out at the LA Auto Auction with his laptop & checks CarFax reports as he checks out the cars, finds & buys single-owner, no-accident cars. His wife details them, their mechanics fix brakes and any other little things wrong, and we buy ‘em. Great business model!

  59. citrusfa says:

    I’m still driving my 1993 Corolla (an old rental car, no less – we got it from a private owner, not Budget), and aside from replacing a CV joint (which my dad and I did at home), it’s never needed a major repair. It gets 40 MPG hwy (~35 in-town), and I will drive it until it simply can’t go anymore. And then I will buy another used Toyota.

  60. veronykah says:

    I always buy used, shopping for used cars is something I really enjoy. Always buy from private parties NEVER dealers.
    I’ve been driving my 1991 Toyota Celica for nearly 10 years now. I think it helps to have a car you REALLY like. Other than not being fast enough, I have no complaints about my car. As far as I’m concerned, its nearly perfect in its design. I still get a kick out of driving it and think it looks hot when I see it parked in a lot.
    I’ve replaced plenty of worn out parts but now I figure its all been replaced so its good to go for quite a bit longer.
    As the Car Guys say, its always cheaper to fix an old car than to buy a new one.

  61. kozmo says:

    Recently got rid of my 1989 Tercel – awesome care that still had 100,00k in it. My “new” ride is a 1998 Tacoma – 2 wheel drive with zero options. It gets better mileage than the Tercel did. I only drove 2800 miles last year, so I expect the Tacoma to last a long time. Maybe long enough for “small” trucks to come back in style?

  62. theblackdog says:

    I keep my car until it completely falls apart, or until some idiot crashes into me and totals it.

    My 1997 Hyundai Elantra just rolled over 186,000 miles, my insurance is only about $65 a month for liability and comprehensive (though the comprehensive may be dropped later), and I drop about $200 every quarter on maintenance. The big expense coming down the pike though is the timing belt will need to be replaced in about a year (when I expect to roll over 200,000).

    Even when this car dies, I’ll get a used one again, besides, I also live in an area that has high theft rates of new cars.

  63. Serenefengshui says:

    My ride will be 20 next month. I still love it. 1990 Acura Integra LS sedan. It’s been across the country and has 225,000 miles on it. Gets great gas mileage!

  64. JonBoy470 says:

    I drive a 1999 Hyundai Accent as my commuter car. It’s a tin can on wheels, but it was my wife’s car until we got a minivan, and she doesn’t work outside the home, so it has only 89K miles. And the warranty only expired this past August.

    I drive it 25 miles round trip to work, and at the rate I’m going it will be some years before it dies. At this point it’s a game to see how long I can make it last.

  65. FLConsumer says:

    I usually buy 2 year old cars and hold onto them until they start costing me money. Usually the larger full-size luxury sedans. Let someone else take the depreciation hit. These cars have larger engines which seem to hold up to all sorts of abuse. Similarly, people seem less apt to abuse an expensive car than a cheaper one. Plenty of 20-30 year old Mercedes still on the road today in great shape. Can’t say that about most of the US makes of the same vintage on the roads.

    On average, I keep a car for 10 years. Even after 10 years they still look showroom-fresh. I do major overhauls and major cosmetic work on them every 100,000 miles or so if I really like the car.

  66. ellemdee says:

    I still have my first new car, a 1999 Intrepid w/ about about 55K miles on it. It doesn’t cost much to maintain, so I plan to keep it until something major/expensive fails.

  67. ellemdee says:

    I still have my first new car, a 1999 Intrepid w/ about about 55K miles on it. It doesn’t cost much to maintain, so I plan to keep it until something major/expensive fails.

  68. webweazel says:

    I might come from a different planet on this subject, but I always drove old cars. I was always a little bit of a mechanic, but mostly for small stuff. I never bought a car for more than $250, usually drove it for about 2 years, then sold it for more or the same as what I paid for it. (except for two) I had LOTS of adventures in those cars. I only needed a tow twice in all those years.
    I started driving in 1986. Here’s what I had; 1970 Chevelle, 1972 Nova, 1970 Nova, 1980 Prelude, 1966 Chevy truck, 1963 Chevy truck, 1976 Maverick, 1976 Cougar where I bought the tires for $100 and got the car for free.
    Right now we have a 1995 Ford Probe GT which we need to do some work on, and a 1997 Plymouth Voyager. We’re looking for a cheap truck soon to haul a boat with.

  69. twinprime says:

    I have 3 road vehicles more than 20 years old.

    My daily driver is a 1984 Volvo 244DL with 114,000 miles.
    My good weather vehicle is a 1983 Honda CX650 (motorcycle) with 16000 miles.
    My recreational car is a 1988 Mercedes Benz 560SL with 140,000 miles (5.6l V8 two-seat hardtop convertible).

    Buy old cars with good reputations and low miles.