What did I decide to do with my old car?

If you’ve been reading my site for any length of time you know my dilemma.  I own a 16-year-old car.  I bought this 2000 Mazda Protégé days after I moved to Ottawa from Toronto.  The car was brand new and it cost about $16,000 at the time.  I drove the car off the lot the day I bought it.

My Mazda has been bought and paid for since 2005, 11 years ago.  Most people don’t own that long let alone 16 years in total.

My dilemma is this – should I get rid of my old car?

Mazda Car
Here are some of my pros and cons with this decision.

Pros

  • With a new(er) car I would have something more reliable (and arguably safer) – although I don’t drive my old car very much anymore (only a few times per month), I could count on a new(er) car when I need it. (My neighbour had a good laugh last year when I had to literally push my car out of my garage, to get it started by CAA.)
  • I wouldn’t need another car for at least 10 years – we don’t turnover cars in this house so a new(er) car would likely last until early retirement age.
  • I could likely get better gas mileage with a new(er) car – depending on the vehicle of course.

Cons

  • We rarely use a second car – when purchased, this new(er) car will become our primary vehicle and more than likely, our other existing car will become the secondary vehicle (to keep mileage off it). We rarely use both vehicles in any given week.  We strive to car pool to work as much as possible.  We also work from home where we can.  I’m not a huge fan of owning two nearly new cars, especially one that isn’t paid for yet, sitting in our garage 80% of the time.
  • I would probably spend more money on car insurance with a new(er) car.
  • I would need to find money (soon) for a sizeable down payment or take advantage of 0% financing – either decision will incur more expenses.

What to do?  What did I decide?

After thinking it through – I’m inclined to keep my old car for at least another year and maybe longer into 2018.

I will be taking my 16-year-old ride to my trusted mechanic in the coming week for a complete assessment; what could go wrong and what I should replace to keep it on the road for another year including another harsh Canadian winter.  I already know I need new tires.  That will cost $400.  If the cost of the maintenance is projected to be into the thousands of dollars, I will reconsider my decision.  If the cost is about $1,000 or so, and certainly less, I will definitely keep it.

Keeping my old car for one more year has a number of benefits.  I can continue to use it, only when needed.  I can continue to keep my insurance costs low for another year.  I have bought myself some time to save up for a new(er) car and make a modest down payment on it (as part of 0% financing or via a cash deal for a used car).  Delaying this purchase will also avoid us incurring two car payments at the same time.  Our primary vehicle has 8 months left in car payments.  I’ve learned over the years that continually financing cars is generally a wealth-destroying activity.

Besides, I’m rather attached to this old car.  I’ve had it for so many years and I take great pride in keeping it roadworthy for so long.  Hopefully it will see us through another year and the assessment will not yield any major issues.  Fingers crossed.

What would you do with an old car like this?  Would you make the same decision I did?

My name is Mark Seed and I'm the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I've grown our portfolio to over $700,000 now - but there's more work to do! Our next big goal is to own a $1 million investment portfolio for an early retirement. Subscribe and join the journey!

22 Responses to "What did I decide to do with my old car?"

  1. Sort of a similar situation. I have a 2003 PT Cruiser that could be replaced. The differences are that I am the only driver in the family, I’m retired and I have a 4X4 Chevy Silverado as a farm vehicle so if the Cruiser dies I have a back up. I also have a ’97 Jimmy sitting in the garage that could be put back on the road in short order. Last fall, the driver side front brake overheated (seized caliper) so the decision was to fix it or scrap it. After some visits to dealerships I elected to repair the Cruiser. New brake pads, rotors and calipers. While we were at it (we do our own work), we noticed one of the tie rods was a bit wiggly so we replaced both of them and gave it a front end alignment. All in it was around five hundred bucks and we should get a couple more years out of it. The winter tires are done as well so now we will have to decide if putting a new set on in the fall is worth it. I may just forgo that and use the truck if the weather is bad. I hate spending money on getting new(er) vehicles when the old ones still do the job but at some point a person has to have something reliable and the cost of repairing becomes prohibitive. I could also mention my “newest” tractor is from the early 70’s and my seed drill is from the 40’s. They don’t build ’em like they used to. 🙂

    Reply
    1. I think I will need a new front stabilizer, likely new brakes lines because they are rusted and new tires because these ones are bald. Good brakes and tires are essential, so those will be fixed. If my trusted mechanic suggests the stabilizer and a few others things, I will go for it because I need the car to be safe – which is priority #1. If the costs are decent – I will make those changes. If my mechanic finds a dozen other expensive things I will have to consider a different course.

      So, agreed Lloyd, at some point spending money (on a new(er)) car is worth it for safety reasons, piece of mind, and future longevity. I suspect I’ll have a new(er) car this time next year. The saving process for that starts this month.

      Reply
  2. Recently had to make a similar decision on 2000 car when Ac stopped working. However after our 03 was totalled in an açident we decided it was worth it to fix the car. We didn’t want a car payment long term much less two.

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    1. I likely need a few things changed for safety reasons, so I will certainly fix those. Another year for my car, and that’s likely it. Unfortunately it is rusting out in a few places.

      Reply
  3. We had a 1996 Nissan and a 1999 Lexus RX 300. A year before I retired, we sold the Nissan (with a big dent in the side and a broken heater…) for $500 and bought a new Lexus RX 350 to have a reliable and comfortable ride to our condo in Palm Sorings for wintering. We couldn’t part with the old Lexus as it still looks like new and it’s helpful to have a car when we fly back during the winter for visits and so we each have wheels in the summer. (Plus family can use it over the winter when necessary.) Only now, it’s dripping oil… I expect there are a few expensive gaskets that need replacing. Like you, I’ll see what that will cost before deciding to keep or to sell her:(

    Reply
    1. Lexus make a nice car, but I hear the servicing for them can be pricey.

      I figure at the end of the day, as long as I’m comfortable with when and how I spend my money, on cars, otherwise, then that’s the main thing.

      Good luck with your plans Kitstownie – keep me posted.

      Mark

      Reply
  4. I drive a 2005 Honda Civic and as much as think I want a new car, there is nothing wrong with what I have AND it costs me nothing in terms of payments. I will be driving it until it dies…I like having no payments more than a new shiny money pit. Good decision.

    Reply
  5. I’ve found in my own experience that once I hit about 200 thousand KMs that the repair costs start going up exponentially, a couple of grand here, a couple more there. Maybe less than the cost of financing over the course of a year, but it starts to feel like throwing money away that I will never recoup in the resale value.

    If you can keep your car running for under $1000 in repairs a year, I would definitely go for keeping it.

    Given how little you use your car have you considered using rentals? A few days of rental a month may work out the same as your car payment, and you won’t need to pay insurance and registration, maintenance and you’ll have one less car to store at your house all of the time?

    Reply
    1. I’ve got 204,000 on my car. I haven’t driven the car much in the last 5 years.

      Agreed, if I can keep the maintenance costs around $1000 per year, that’s pretty good for an old car 🙂

      I have considered a rental but if I can keep my total operating costs to around $2000 per year for a car (or less like I do now), that isn’t too bad and not worth the hassle to rent but to have a car on demand.

      Reply
  6. I always think this subject is pretty funny. I just went over 492,000 kms on my 2000 Maxima.
    Is a $400 monthly payment better or worse than a $100. tow even once a year, or some general low cost maintenance on a car that rarely seems to let me down? I think people just get nervous about cars for the wrong reasons.
    A lot of newer cars come with necessary costly PM requirements on top of your monthly payment. Plus these new CV transmissions or ones with 6 or more gear changes to save fuel (always switching = more wear) wear out or fail at a much lower mileage. So your few bucks of fuel savings goes into buying a new transmission…

    I have no fear driving that car. If the engine finally dies or it rusts away making it unsafe (I Krown it yearly) maybe then, but as long as it runs well and passes e-tests and it does what you need it to do, why worry?

    Reply
    1. I would agree newer cars come with higher PM requirements… I see that with my Kia and that’s an inexpensive car.

      When the engine dies and when the costs become prohibitive, I will sell it. If I get through another year after my estimated $1000 costs to maintain it, I figure that’s far less than paying $400 per month for a new ride now. Sometime in 2017, I will likely have a newer car.

      Thanks for your comments Paul.

      Reply
  7. I have had three cars so far in my life and have driven them all into the ground. I will only replace the current 16 year old vehicle when it can no longer be maintained or the maintenance wildly exceeds its value.

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  8. Good choice Mark, I’m sure you’ll get at least another year out of it. I probably would have done the same thing. No sense in spending so much on a new car when it isn’t necessary just quite yet, especially since you drive it so little

    Reply
  9. Once an economy teacher told me that the bet time to replace a car is never. He elaborated by saying that reasonable repairs would cost less that buying a new car and taking the 20-30 pct depreciation as from day one.
    That being said, We factor in security and reliability onto the equation.

    Reply

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