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Reasons to Love Your Used Car

 

You’ll get more tickets with this ride

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

71 comments

  1. Hell yeah! My car is worth almost nothing but it’s safe, reliable and really fuel efficient. At this point literally the only reason to buy a new car would be to impress other people. I really think it’s a major reason people get fooled into buying new. What a horrible waste of money.

    I’m totally with you on not worrying about minor damage and keeping it clean. My car currently has junk everywhere and I love it that way!

  2. I used to love my old Toyota carolla until it decided it didn’t want to drive anymore and I was forced to look into getting another car.
    I ended up buying a new car, which looking back was a big waste of money, but at the same time – I have had a tonne of fun in this car and it hasn’t skipped a beat.

  3. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    You’re better then me! I only wash my used car 4 times a year (if it’s lucky) I just never get around to it. I work really hard to keep our house clean-ish there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to clean the car too.

    • That’s funny. I was probably being very generous to myself. My husband told me this morning that I needed to wash my car and I was trying to think when the last time was. It had to be over 2 months ago.

  4. Buying used is your best bet. Most cars depreciate (or lose) 40% of their original value in the first 3 years.

  5. I LOVE new cars! I have never had one, though, and I am pushing 202k on my Saturn. I just invested in new tires and it was like getting a whole new car -> way less bumpy of a ride. I am going to use my car until it breaks down and requires a major repair. If I do get a brand new car, I would drive it the same way: until it reaches 200k+ miles or needs some major repair at high miles.

    • Get a dealer demo if you must have a new one. We got our truck this way. It was less than a year old, but we got it for a great price and they had put a topper on it that we got for free. It took a while of searching. We finally told the salesman what we were willing to pay and we got a call a week later that he had one for us.

  6. I only have owned a car for less than a year, it was 8 years old and I loved it. I had the smallest parking space ever and didn’t mind scratching it, took it everywhere, on dirt roads… With a new car I would be too worried about the car to actually use it as a vehicle.

    • Europeans are the best parallel parkers ever. I was so impressed with how Italian drivers can fit into the tiniest of parking spaces.

  7. We’ve only bought one new car…our Altima. It was great and we bought it when we had only one child. I think we’ll be going used from now on because the extra cost is just not worth it.

    On a side note, my wife & I always laugh at the car ads this time of year. I think Lexus is the one where they show the spouses giving each other their own Lexus. That’s some serious cash! We’ve promised each other if we have that kind of cash to never throw it away on buying matching Lexus’ for each other. 🙂

    • I’ve seen that. Don’t they put a big red bow on the top? I wouldn’t need one Lexus, but two? I think an Altima might be a bit tight for three kids for sure. We seem to take over the back seat with one.

  8. I bought my car brand new 4 years ago and now it’s definitely worn in. I’m glad I don’t have payments!

  9. I love my used car because it’s paid off. That is by far my favorite thing about it.

  10. The other thing to remember is that if you sell your used car you get a much better ROI (if there is such a thing with cars). I bought my first car in 2004, paid 750.00 for a ’92 corolla, I drove the crap out of that car for 3 years. I probably put a total of 500.00 in it over the 3 year period for maintenance and sold it for 750.00. Not too bad! Our last vehicle was bought new, something we’ll never do again. Lesson learned.

    • It is so tempting to get a new car. The advertisers know their game. I have been guilty, but never again. I think the ROI is a great thing to think of. Thanks for bringing that up.

  11. I’ve had new and used and financially prefer used, cheaper to buy and fewer taxes.

  12. I’ve only purchased 1-2 year old cards with less than 10,000 miles since I was 22. It has been a huge payoff for me financially in the money I’ve saved, but also the quality of the vehicle. I keep my cars for as long as possible and it just feels good to be driving a car I own outright.

  13. If we get a car again, we’re definitely getting another used one – for all the reasons you listed. As long as it is clean and runs!

  14. Hahaha, cops won’t bother as much, comical and true. I’ve heard stories of people in their fancy new cars getting pulled over for speeding when a crappy old car in front of them was obviously going faster. Hey, I wrote a post on that and it looks like everyone is driving a used car! I’ll have to follow up with another post on that!

    • I think most people who read blogs like this think that way, so I’m preaching to the choir. Maybe there is someone out there who is like I used to be and will get some perspective.

  15. Suze Orman makes me want to puke…that’s about it. lol

    Used cars are absolutely the way to go. Buying new vehicles with all of the electronic gadgets cost people TONS of money to repair. My dad just bought a NEW fan for his family and their electric side door broke (cost like $1000 to repair). It’s insane.

    We’ve recently bought newer used cars this year and I’m hoping they each stick around for the next decade.

  16. I never think of a car as an investment. It’s a mode of transportation. I prefer to buy the most boring car I can get and drive it into the ground. If people want to buy used or new it’s their choice, as long as they can afford it. Heck if Suze drove a Porsche it wouldn’t bother me. It just bugs me that she chose to advertise something that she believes many people can’t afford. Talk about blowing principles out the window.

    • I guess I can’t blame her for getting a paycheck, but it does seem out of line with the image she wants to portray. Kind of like if Tim Tebow did a commercial for Hooters.

  17. I had a used car, but couldn’t resist my dream car. I know that new cars are not worth the money, but I had investing in a depreciating asset. I also leased my new car because I didn’t know how big our family was going to get in a couple of years and I wanted to be able to have a great option of getting a different vehicle. If I bought a car, it would cost me more money during the short period I plan on keeping this size vehicle.

  18. I have to say that I drive a used car but I want a new one soon. Maybe a new used car, I’m not sure.

    Anyway, I definitely understand the attachment to cars. My truck is awesome. It’s reliable so far and it gets pretty good gas mileage. I’ve learned to like all its problems, too – the dings don’t bother me any more. Great post today.

  19. I’ve always purchased used vehicles about a year or so old . When I moved to Canada I paid cash for my vehicle and it’s used. I wash it, wax it and take good care of it but I don’t go mad over every little thing. There’s no way I’m buying a new vehicle it really doesn’t make sense to me but I think it really boils down to personal decision. Great post. Mr.CBB

  20. K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!

    I have my 2005 Mazda 6, it’s paid for, it still runs well and looks nice when it gets waxed. I never want to have another car payment again! I will admit that I would love my next car to be a used Audi and this would be paid for in cash but it won’t happen until my current car is run into the ground…I hope that won’t happen for a very long time.

  21. Suze or any other celebrity doesn’t influence me on buying a car. I go to Edmunds.com to find out the true cost of owning a particular car, whether it’s used or new. That includes the insurance and typical repairs. I hate spending money on cars!

  22. I totally agree about the dings and cosmetic damage! I got a great deal on my car – well below KBB – because it had some scrapes on its bumper. I figured that it would be living in my apartment complex parking lot, my school parking lot, and various shopping center parking lots 100% of the time for 6 years so it was bound to get some scratches anyway and I may as well relax about it – and I was right!

    • It’s kind of like you want that first one so you can quit worrying about it. Buying a scratched one already takes away that worry.

  23. When we buy cars, we typically buy them a few years old – usually off lease or somewhere around there with as low mileage as possible. But it’s funny how in-grained it is in some people to always buy new!

    Recently a coworker got a new car but didn’t tell anyone because he was embarrassed that it was a used BMW instead of his typical new BMW. He only fessed up to me because I commented on how shiny his wheels were and told him his car wash had done an amazing job!

    • That is hilarious. In our area people tend to be a bit more frugal than the rest of the country, so that would not be a big deal at all. Actually, I don’t know anyone who drives a beemer here, so it might be odd to have a luxury car. We are home of the Fords and Chevys, trucks mostly.

  24. I agree with all of these tips, but for my situation my car is 14 years old and it is getting close to retirement so I need to upgrade it before it clunks out. I am looking to get a used 2009 or 2010 car.

  25. My kids cried when our old Aerostar wouldn’t run anymore. Literally cried. I said, “but we’re getting a new one that doesn’t smell.” My daughter said, “I love that car, daddy! I don’t want a car that doesn’t smell.”

    Reason #8: Your kids dig cars that smell.

  26. I’ve owned new and used cars. I hate spending time at an auto mechanics shop and I hate breaking down in the middle of the road, which sometimes happened with both the new and the used ones.

    Right now we have a paid for Saturn mini van that is 7 years old. It was a dealer demo. It has just over 40,000 KMS and looks brand new. I want to keep it looking and running like new so that it lasts a few more years. Just put on brand new tires and had the oil changed yesterday. I like to wash it often too to prevent any salt and dirtstones (for winter) from damaging the vehicle in any way.

    By keeping all the maintenance up to date and keeping it clean inside and out I feel like it is still new.

  27. Not having a car payment is ideal. My Altima will be paid off in three months, which frees up lots of cash every month. A portion of the money will go to routine maintenance, which keeps her running smoothly, and helps avoid inconvenient breakdowns.

  28. I feel sad for those who follow Suze as her only motive is her personal profit. I believe in capitalist society, but I staunchly believe in capitalism with morality.

    • Kind of hard to justify someone who is supposedly dedicated to helping those get out of debt and find financial freedom trying to sell luxury cars.

  29. The biggie for me is not worrying about every little scratch and dent!

    OTOH, I really would love a car that ran better (doesn’t need to be perfect!) and was less of a money suck in terms of ongoing maintenance and repairs.

  30. Absolutely agree! You drive a new car off the lot and it depreciates 10-15%, you drive home a “New-to-you” used car and it depreciates like a $1.50. We always shop used first, just makes sense.

    Glad I found your blog, I’ll be back!

  31. Used Cars can be a good option for those who are not able to afford a new one

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