I bought my 2000 Mazda Protégé days after I moved to Ottawa from Toronto. My Mazda was brand new, right off the lot. I recall I paid about $16,000 for the car back then. I used my credit card to make a $500 down payment and drove the vehicle to my house the day I bought it. I remember paying about $300 per month to kill off the loan which I finally slayed in 2005. I’ve owned this car ever since.
Looking back, I would have done some things differently if I was going to make the same purchase today but that’s life. You live and you learn. One of the things I wouldn’t change is keeping this car – as long as I have – this has been a good long-term decision.
Here’s why I still drive my 14-year-old car…
- It still runs fine. Yes, I need to pump some maintenance money into it now and again but as a secondary commuter car, it does the job.
- It doesn’t owe me anything. Over the years I figure I’ve averaged about $200 per year in maintenance costs. In the early years, I just needed a $30 oil change twice per year. In the last couple of years, seems every six months, the car needs about $500 worth of work. Hopefully most of the major repairs are done for 2014.
- I save on insurance. While auto insurance premiums have been on rise I know for a fact I’m saving money over a newer vehicle. I currently pay about $80 per month to insure this car.
- I still get great gas mileage. I don’t use my car very much, especially in winter, and even when I do I can usually get about a month’s worth of travel from my $50 fill-up.
- We already have another car payment – one car payment is plenty. We purchased a new vehicle in 2011 and those payments will continue until 2015. We hope to own that newer vehicle for another 10 years after that. With two car payments we could not contribute to our RRSPs and TFSAs like we do.
- I don’t care (very much) about the car I drive. I’m convinced I’m bringing down the property value of my neighbourhood so I keep my car in the garage, out of sight and away from Mother Nature. At this point in my life I’m more concerned about saving and investing to achieve financial freedom than driving a hot car. Maybe when I realize financial independence, I’ll treat myself to a slick ride.
- I’ve learned that money borrowed to buy a depreciating asset (a car) is really dumb. If you’re going to borrow money, use that money to buy assets that will appreciate with time.
- Keeping this car gives me time to save for a new(er) car. I won’t be using my credit card again to make my down payment (*sigh*), I’ll use savings this time around. If things work out, I hope to have about $5,000-$10,000 saved for my new(er) car purchase in 2016.
I’m proud to have owned this car for as long as I have and intend to keep it for a few more years. You can really become attached to vehicles. As long as it runs, it doesn’t cost much to do so and it keeps me safe, I can’t ask for much more.
How long have you kept a car on the road? Do you have a vehicle older than a 14-year-old car in your driveway? Share your story.