If you don’t watch TV, turn on a computer, or listen to the radio, you might be immune, but for the rest of us, the end of the year comes with tons of new car advertisements. This time of the year, to meet their quotas and pile in the 2013 models, every car manufacturer is trying to sell you a new vehicle. From zero percent interest, to cash back incentives, to celebrity spokepersons, after you see the adds, you might think you need one. Heck, even Suze Orman, personal finance guru and dealer of the “Suze smackdown” is hawking new Acuras this season. Before you start thinking this is such a good deal, remember these reasons to love your used car.
- You Owe Less on a Used Car- Even if it isn’t paid off, you probably owe less on your current car than you would on a new one. We played musical cars for a while. Every three or four years, we traded in for a new model, insuring an ongoing car payment. The vehicles we have now have been paid off for a few years, and no amount of advertising or memory of new car scent makes me want another payment.
- You’ll Save More on Cleaning- When you have a new car, you want it to keep it looking pristine. That requires washing at least once a week. This might not be too bad if you have the space and supplies to wash at home, but how many of us run throught the automatic car wash to save time? I’m guilty, but I probably only wash my car once a month at best. When you have a five year old who oozes crumbs and goo, it kind of defeats the purpose. I certainly don’t care as much in my older car as I would if it were new.
- You won’t fix minor cosmetic repairs-When you have a new car, any miror scratch or dent makes you cringe, and you’ll probably pay someone to fix it. With an older car, you just don’t care as much. I backed into a planter at my daughter’s school this summer. It left a scratch in my bumper. Oh well, no one really sees it, and I can stick a bumper sticker over it if I get that motivated.
- It’s all broken in-This isn’t really financial, but my car has everything in place and I know how to work all the gadgets. My radio stations are set. The vents are pointed where I want them to point. I have my gloves and hat in the glove box. It’s taken a while to get all this in place. I’d hate to start over, and my car has the easiest clock setting I’ve ever seen.
- You won’t have to worry about new technological costs-My car was manufactured before satellite radio, Onstar, and automatic Facebook updates were standardly installed. With most of these services you get the first year free with a new car purchase, then you have to pay. Granted you could cancel, but I bet lots of people keep them because they are used to having them or they just don’t get around to it. With an older car, it isn’t an issue.
- Insurance is Cheaper-The newer and more luxurious your car is the more you’ll have to pay in insurance. With an older car, you may only need liability, which is much less expensive.
- Cops won’t pay as much attention- I never really though about this until I read Sam’s post at Financial Samaurai, but it’s true. I’ve been pulled over three or four times in my boring, dirty Altima with a dinged up bumper, and the cop let me go with a warning each time. If I had a shiny new Acura like Suze is pushing, I bet I’d get a ticket. I’m sure they are supposed to be impartial, but cops don’t make tons of money. Most of the ones I know are not rich by any means. Don’t you think they are more likely to ticket someone who appears to be wealthy rather than someone who seems to be making ends meet? I’ll probably get a ticket tomorrow, but I really believe an older cars gets less citations unless you are drunk or driving 110 mph. My car doesn’t go that fast.
I certainly can’t tell you what to do with your choice of vehicles. Eventually, everyone needs to purchase a replacement unless you have access to killer public transportation. When you live in the boonies like me, you have to have something to drive. In my experience, I’ve learned that having a new car isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You don’t need one just because you graduated, got a raise, fill in the blank. A new car loses so much value the first time you drive it off the lot, it’s the worst investment you can make. I’ve done it. From now on, I’ll keep driving my trusty Altima until it doesn’t work. or it doesn’t make financial sense. Then I’ll buy another used car.
What is your opinion on new cars? Does Suze make you want an Acura?