It’s official – our car is a senior citizen
This year our car turned twenty. While 20 years might not sound like much when talking about humans, twenty years is pretty old when it comes to automobiles. Car years are quite similar to dog years. Usually, cars of this age are either sitting at salvage yards being picked for parts, or being driven by very fragile old ladies that can barely see the road over the steering wheel. Yes, our car is THAT old, yet I’m no old lady and do not live in a salvage yard.
Our car has a lot of history
Our car (and before me and my wife met – my car) has been places. It saw things. If it could talk, it would tell you stories like a Vietnam vet after you buy him a drink. It would tell you stories of empty highways, horrors of finding parking in Vancouver, breakdowns in the middle of nowhere, and police chases. I’d take the police chases stories with a grain of salt, but the rest is legit.
It has traveled far and wide. Our noble servant went as far as Winnipeg once, crossed the Canadian Rockies on the way to Calgary, and took us to Tofino on Vancouver Island. But for the most part it is our reliable way of getting to work day in and day out.
I remember driving this car to college (…I wish I could say graduation, but can’t since I never graduated). I also have memories of driving this car to see Lord of The Rings in theater with my friends. Heck, I remember first time I opened its door for a beautiful girl who became my wife later on.
You ever noticed how old cars tend to have nicknames? And it’s always an ironic nickname. Big ugly truck would be nicknamed “Tiny”. A car that has been around for a while would go by “Rusty”. Someone’s old Honda Civic that barely moves would proudly sport “Cannonball” as its name. Our car is known as “Donkey”. No idea why, but it’s stuck now.
For its age, our car is in great shape
This is a typical dialogue when somebody asks me about our car:
– How old is your car?
– Twenty years.
– Whoa, how come it’s so clean and well maintained?
– That’s because I clean it. And maintain it.
Our car is spotless. There’s not a single scratch on it. It’s also quite shiny for about 30 minutes after I wash it. It might not be a Show & Tell material, but I could confidently give The Queen a ride if her Land Rover broke down and she needed a lift to the castle without feeling embarrassed.
Also, there isn’t a single thing in this car that isn’t working. Usually when you see a car this old, there’s always something wrong with it – like busted A/C, broken stereo, windows that don’t go up and down, or heater that only works in July on weekends.
Our car is a complete opposite of this. Every single button and switch works, the motor hums away without interruptions, and I can count the number of times it broke down thanks to regular maintenance from a very good mechanic.
Why would we drive such an old car?
We can certainly afford a new car. We even have money set aside just for this purpose in case this one decides to call it quits and commits suicide by blowing its gasket in a garage.
So why do we keep driving an old car instead of buying a new one, with plush seats that warm your bum and windows don’t require physical exercise to go up and down?
1. It costs us nothing to drive this car. An average person in Canada spends over $400/month on a car either by leasing or financing. Our car comes at no charge besides maintenance costs and lets us put more money aside towards investing. In other words, our car helps us build wealth instead of eating our wealth.
2. We save money by avoiding hidden costs of owning a brand new car. Driving a brand new car might feel great, but it comes with additional costs. Everything from higher insurance premiums, premium gasoline, and increased maintenance costs to even car washes costs more money if you own a newer car.
3. There’s nothing wrong with it. Call me nuts, but why would you buy a car simply because your car is old? If it’s still doing its job by getting you from A to B, and sometimes all the way to point F, why does it have to be changed simply because it’s old? I can see if it became unreliable, and would only get you as far as point D. But if it’s still doing what it is supposed to be doing, why replace it?
4. Give me another 30 years, and this car will become so rare, people will pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars for it just like they do for mint condition Mustangs and Corvettes. Actually, I don’t think this will happen 🙂
Does it cost a lot of money to maintain it?
Some people claim that old cars drain their owners by requiring ever increasing repairs due to old age. In some people’s mind as soon as warranty expires, very expensive car parts just start randomly blowing up as you drive to work thus making purchasing new cars a good alternative.
Just out of curiosity, I asked my mechanic to pull my car paperwork to see the last 4 years of maintenances and repairs on it (it required rather lengthy explaining to him what an utter financial nerd I happen to be). I then subtracted all regular maintenance such as oil changes, flushes, body odor fumigations, and fast food wrappers removals. What was left is the amount of money I’ve spent over this time on parts replacement that otherwise I would not (supposedly) have with a newer car.
The amount was $1,654 or $34/month in extra expenses due to old age. Not a catastrophic amount in any shape or form especially if you compare it to the amount of money it saved us over the years by not leasing or financing a new car.
Would I recommend driving a car this old?
Actually, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. I’m not a big fan of recommending anything to people, I’d rather tell how it’s working out for me and may be it will make you think twice. For us it’s certainly been working out, and numbers support it from a financial point of view. After all, our net worth has been climbing higher and higher in part thanks to our reduced expenses. But may be we got lucky, and all other cars of this age are not road worthy. Perhaps not everybody is able to maintain it on a regular basis like I do.
But I also met a lot of people who race into buying a new car right after their old car hits 5-year mark just because they can’t imagine driving it a bit longer. Perhaps they haven’t figured out how not paying car payments for 20 years can affect their financial wellbeing. I actually heard somebody pondering about buying a new car because his alternator broke down. Dude, the part might cost you $150, do you really want to buy a brand new car because of it? Kids these days…
I’m not alone!
While writing this story, I asked people on Twitter how old their cars are:
Liquid Independence is a major baller with his car being only 8 years old.
Revanche said her cars are all 10+ years old.
The Asian Pear beat me with her family car being 25 years or older.
It’s nice to see am I’m not the only weirdo our there! 😀