I bought my 2000 Mazda Protégé days after I moved to Ottawa from Toronto. My Mazda was brand new and cost about $16,000 right off the lot. I recall I used my credit card to make a $500 down payment the day I bought it. (Don’t gasp financial people, I did pay off my credit card that month.)
My Mazda has been paid for since 2005, 11 years ago. Most people don’t own a car as long as I haven’t had car payments for this vehicle. This car doesn’t owe me a nickel. It’s been a worthy ride for many years and it could likely stay on the road even a few years longer.
Which brings me to this…should I get rid of my 16-year-old car?
Let’s start with what’s driving my decision (pun intended), to potentially get rid of this car:
- I want a new car – I drive by no less than five car dealerships on the way to and from home many days and over time, I feel like I’m getting drawn towards the shiny, newer, metal objects on those lots.
- The price is right – I’ve seen 0% financing at many car dealerships, so the idea of dirt-low borrowing costs is appealing; I intend to keep my new(?) car for at least 10-12 years (like I did with this one).
- I probably need something more reliable – although I don’t drive my old car very much anymore, including a few times per month in the winter, I need something more reliable when I do. My neighbour had a good laugh last year when I had to push my car out of my garage, to get it started by CAA.
Let’s look at why I should consider keeping my old car…
- It runs fine, for the most part – OK, so over the last few years, I’ve pumped a bunch of money into it to keep it on the road and I need CAA now and then. But doing the math on this, I’ve averaged less than $300 per year in recent years in maintenance costs, and MUCH less than that over the life of the car.
- I save on insurance – I’m currently paying $50 per month to insure this car.
- I get good gas mileage – this lil’ four cylinder sips gas.
- We already have another car payment – enough said, although that car payment will be done in another 9 months.
- I rarely use it – as a secondary car, I probably drive it a handful of times per month. It pains me to think about paying for a depreciating asset, sitting in the garage, that I’m not driving very much. So, we’ll probably make the new car the primary car and the current vehicle we have the secondary car.
I think a new car deal with 0% financing, an economical and affordable car that continues to sip gas, with the intention to keep the car for at least a dozen years, might be the route I will take but I’m really not sure. Does it have to be a new car? Maybe a 2-year-old used car is a better deal? The challenge is we don’t have enough money saved up yet for a sizable downpayment on a used car and therefore we would need to borrow money on our line of credit at roughly 3.2%. Lastly, why get a newer car within the next year at all – should I hold out a bit longer?
I’m rather attached to this old Mazda. I’ve had it for so many years and I take great pride in keeping it roadworthy for so long. It’s been good to me. Keeping this old car has also afforded my wife and I to do other things in life (instead of making car payments). That includes more international travel and completing renovations around our home. Lack of another car payment has also accelerated our early retirement journey.
Needless to say I’ve got some thinking to do this year.
What would you do?