The Perks of Driving an Older Car

While most of my friends and family are driving fancy new vehicles, I’ve been content driving my thirteen year old car – a 2003 Honda CRV. It has 170,000 miles, faded paint, and a combo CD Player/Tape Deck. The electronic locks stopped working about 20,000 miles ago.

Handy

I named my car Handy because it’s a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down. My sister in law bought the car brand new but eventually gave it to my wife who in turn gifted it to me when MY CAR needed to be replaced. So my wife got the fancy new automobile while I got her aging Honda.

Happy wife, happy life right?

So while Handy is getting a bit older, I don’t plan on replacing him anytime soon. I plan to drive this sucker until the wheels fall off. Then I’ll try to squeeze another 5,000 miles after that 🙂

So here’s to you Handy, may you last another thirteen years. Let me revel in the awesomeness that is owning an older vehicle.

I Am Not a Car Person
As long as the car can reliably get me from point A to point B, doesn’t cost too much to gas up, fit my wife and kid comfortably, and have a stereo where I can jam to the latest Katy Perry album, I don’t really care what I drive. My CRV fits the bill. I’d even drive this proudly if someone handed it down to me…

The Homer
Fox

I Don’t Care About Its Appearance
The awesome thing about having an older vehicle? You don’t care as much about keeping its appearance. It’s one less thing to worry about. When you’re actually inside your car driving it, you can’t even tell what it looks like on the outside. I wash it on occasion so my car doesn’t look like complete crap and it doesn’t rust, but I don’t obsess about it. A stray shopping cart accidentally bumps into my car in a parking lot? It’s all good.

I Don’t Care About Fancy Tech
Maybe I’m just old school, but I’m not that impressed with all the bells and whistles that come with new cars. Dashboard GPS? I have a smartphone. Heated seats? I live in SoCal. Cameras to help you park? I don’t think parking is that difficult. Shout out to my beautiful wife who shamed me into learning how to parallel park. 🙂

It would be nice to have bluetooth in my car though. Luckily, I have a wired solution for that:

Wired Bluetooth
phone to tape adapter to speaker system (with some loud talking) – hands free!

My Car Still Runs Fine
As long as you take care of the car and keep up with maintenance, vehicles nowadays last forever. I hope Handy reaches 300,000 miles. Actually, I hope one day to gift Handy to my daughter when she’s able to drive in 15 years. Highly unlikely, but a man can dream right?

Less Expensive Overall Costs
Someone could point out that one might have to spend more for maintenance on an older car than a newer car. I actually need to replace my axles and a couple other things which will run about $1,000. Still, it’s a helluva lot cheaper fixing that than having a car payment. Also, most people don’t factor the higher costs associated with owning a newer car, such as registration and insurance. Mine is crazy cheap because Handy is so old.

Who Needs a Car Payment?
I don’t. Between my car and my wife’s (2012 Hyundai Tucson) we haven’t had a car payment in years. I’ve been fortunate to have a wife that hated debt of any kind so we quickly paid off both of our cars. This might be a drastic thought for those who don’t follow Dave Ramsey or Mr. Money Mustache, but I don’t plan on having a car payment ever again.

According to USA Today, the average car loan is $482 a month, with an average loan period about 66 months. There are so many things I would rather do with that money than make payments on a vehicle I already bought. To me that’s $31,812 that doesn’t go towards retirement, investing, or my daughter’s college fund. If I invested that money over that same period, I would make about $7,330 in interest. Compounding interest is magic, ain’t it?

Magic. courtesy of EZ Calculators app
Magic. courtesy of EZ Calculators app for iPhone

When I Have to Replace My Daily Driver
There are times when I want to replace my CRV with a brand new Corrolla, Accord, or Prius (I know, I know – my fancy taste surprises you), but that thought lasts about 10 seconds. Cars are just a big money pit, and getting a new car will make it harder to attain our financial goals, from yearly vacations to eventually retiring my wife to become a stay-at-home mother.

When the day comes that Handy needs to be replaced, I’ll most likely get a slightly used car from a site like Auto Trader or Craigslist and pay cash for it. You might think that getting a car from Craigslist is crazy, but my friend Ambar bought two cars from there for $4000, and it worked out for her. Well, until one of her cars got stuck in a hail storm. Sorry, buddy – you should’ve have never left sunny SoCal for Colorado.

It might take a little more due diligence to find a good used car, but that work could save you a huge amount of change. Since cars lose about 46% of their value after three years, I’ll let someone else eat that depreciation cost and then buy it off them.

Hopefully that day isn’t anytime soon. 😉

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29 thoughts on “The Perks of Driving an Older Car

  1. I like how you pointed out the interest you would make if you invested the money instead of buying new. That amount could buy you another used car.
    We are still down to one vehicle. We are getting by just fine and wondering why we ever thought we needed two cars. I will probably pick up something used down the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great that you are fine with one vehicle. Unfortunately, my wife and I need two car for our jobs.

      Everything adds up! Most people are just so used to having a car payment that I don’t think they realize the flexibility they give up by having a payment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. New to your website. Great post. Keep those wheels rolling! I drive a 2003 Dodge van for the same reasons you mentioned…and my net worth is $2.6 I love driving my beater! As long as it’s reliable, I’ll keep it going.
        You’ll get there, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like best about my old car that I don`t need to be afraid of damaging it. Minor scratches on public parking spaces are genuinely no problem, and noone would ever damage my car out of envy. I`d be really uncomfortable in an expensive car on both accounts! Plus it`s small and easy parked 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vic, great post. Culbia, I couldn’t agree more. Just over a year and a half ago, I sold my 2009 VW GTI. I loved that car. But I also owed $15,000 on it and had 4 years to go on the loan. How stupid I was! I sold the car for what I owed, paid off the loan, and now I drive a 2005 Toyota Corolla that I purchased for $5,000. I killed $10,000 of debt in one fell swoop.

      Selling that car has not only freed me financially but has also freed me of the paranoia I had of anything ever happening to my GTI. My wife and I are currently on Baby Step 2 of our Total Money Makeover, but we’re way farther ahead than we would be had I not made that sacrifice.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks Orin.

        That’s great that you sold your car to get out of debt sooner! Most people would never consider selling their car like that because they’d feel they lost money. I’d take a cheaper car and less debt any day of the week!

        Good luck on your baby steps! Dave Ramsey was the first one who inspired me to get better with my money!

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    2. It really is awesome not worrying so much about tiny dings. Life is too short to get bent out of shape for every tiny little thing that happens to your car! 🙂

      Btw – I love small cars. My old car was a Honda Civic. So easy to get around and great mileage!

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  3. We have a CRV too! Great post and point about the opportunity cost of forking over cash for a new vehicle. My fiancé has been teasing me with the idea that he wants to sell his CRV and get something better. Going to forward this to him 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Does your CRV have a picnic table in the trunk too? haha. That’s the most RANDOM accessory I’ve ever seen in a car. It’s useful though when we go camping! Which is hardly ever 🙂

      Most people don’t think about the opportunity cost because car payments are just a normal part of life for many. I think if more people really think about what they’re giving up they might go for a used car, or at least a cheaper new model.

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  4. People always overlook the cheaper insurance and registration you mentioned! I used to have a bad habit of new cars, so my car is only 4 years old, but I intend to have it for a long time! Except it’s caught up in the whole VW scandal, so we’ll see what happens there…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no! So what does that mean for your car? Do you have to bring it to the shop to get it fixed so it does the emission test properly? Is that even possible?

      Most people just focus on the payment, but there’s additional costs that go with that fancy new car that people don’t consider until they actually have to pay up. Another cost is that sometimes new vehicles have to use the most expensive grade of gas.

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      1. I’m not sure. They haven’t figured out the solution yet. I’ve heard that a “fix” would result in lower gas mileage, which would cause outrage. Many buyers opted for the TDi for increased mpgs and paid a few thousand extra for it. Other rumors are new cars for everyone, but that sounds too good to be true. So far I’ve just gotten a letter from VW apologizing and saying my car is still legal for the time being. And law firms have started sending me junk too. Going to wait it out and see but I am concerned about resale value and the extra investment I made for excellent gas mileage.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The “I don’t care about its appearance” factor is what holds a lot of people back from driving older models. Because lets be honest, a lot of older models are not as fancy looking as the newer cars. But we’ve been driving an old 2002 car for the last 5 years and it’s been so reliable and has paid for itself over those 5 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great!

      Yeah, I too would like to have a nicer looking car than my current vehicle, but I don’t want to pay for a new car or even finance one just so I can get a new Lexus or something.

      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  6. Good going with you newish Honda! I drive a 25 year old car, and it just keeps getting better, because I fix my car myself and constantly looking for ways to make my car better. And there was exactly $0 depreciation since I bought my car for $1000 15 years ago as it’s still worth $1000. There is really no reason why a car can’t last nearly forever unless there is no spare part available (which could easily be true with newer cars with lots of computerized components in 10 or 20 years). Older cars all the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome! If you read a later post, you’ll see that I eventually had to replace the Honda. I wish that I did something like you and got a really cheap car, but the wife wanted something newer so we settled for a preowned Camry. I hope to get an older car the next time a vehicle needs to be replaced!

      Like

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