What Do Your Friends Really Think About Your Old Car?

by Kay Lynn

rust bucket at Wal-Mart

A couple of weeks ago, my husband called me for a rescue.  He was at Target and his car wouldn’t start.  I drove over and picked him up, went back to the office and he took my car so he could start getting his car situation resolved.

Back at the office my friends, who are also co-workers, gently suggested it was time for my husband to get a new car. That is not what someone who recently broke the shackles of debt wants to hear!

Our Cars

We are a two car family.  My husband is retired but seems to have some kind of errand nearly every day (not always necessary in my mind but what can I say).  His current vehicle was my last car and it’s a 1998 Ford Windstar van with about 150,000 miles on it.  It’s not the one pictured above but you can see it and learn more about the decrepit state at Frugal Confessionsbeater car page!

I drive the “new car” which will be six years old in a few weeks.  It is our last new car and is in excellent condition.  When we retire, we’ll downsize to one car and, depending on where we live, maybe a golf cart to get around.

Diagnosis and Solution

My husband’s car problem seemed to be something with the charging system meaning the battery, cables or alternator.    He changed out the battery and a few days later had the same problem, but at least this time he was at home.  At this point, he took it into a nearby shop who diagnosed it was a cable problem.

$175 later including the new battery the car is as good as… well as good as it was.

Do We Need a New Car?

Maybe my friends were kidding me but their comments stuck in my head.  One of the reasons so many people have debt in our country is the tendency to replace instead of repair sometimes.

It’s not necessary to spend $20,000 just because an item is older and will need extra maintenance.  We won’t get a brand new car again but at some point we’ll buy a newer used car;  but not now.  Have your friends ever advised you to spend money ?

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Jai Catalano March 30, 2012 at 7:27 am

Conan O’Brien has the same old car. If you can fix it or not have to worry about it then I say keep it. It’s cool the way it looks. I love old cars that tell stories. I think that one tells a million.

Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney March 30, 2012 at 11:24 am

I sympathize with you. My own mom is the one who always advocates that we spend money, even while we are trying to get out of the shackles of debt you so recently freed yourself of. I tend not to listen to her financial advice because she doesn’t really consider our financial situation. (Sorry, mom!)

Kay Lynn March 31, 2012 at 6:32 am

Melissa, that’s interesting that your mom wants you to take on debt. Good thing you know when to listen and when to let it go out the other ear. 🙂

krantcents March 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm

My cars are old (17 & 15 y.o.) and I am thinking about replacing the oldest one. Do I need a new(er) car? No, but I am tired of the car and may last forever. I have 162K miles on it and just needs a minor repair, but it needs the timing belt etc which cost a total roughly $8-900. The car is only worth $800-1200. I still am thinking about it.

Kay Lynn March 31, 2012 at 6:34 am

It sounds like you would buy a newer pre-owned car versus a new car. At some point, we’ll need to replace our oldest car but it’s not time yet.

maria@moneyprinciple March 31, 2012 at 10:44 am

With shame I have to admit that our car is ‘fleeced’ – but we will buy it this December when it is three years old. I intend to keep it as long as we could – it has been with us from new and we know it is a good car. As to friends and spending, we lost some of them when decided not to go out for meals – it is not worth it and we need all we could put against negative wealth (my euphemism for ‘debt’) and building wealth. I guess, this is a good way to see who your friends really are – when yuou refuse to spend money on something you don’t have the plague; just changing your habits and coping with situations.

Kay Lynn April 2, 2012 at 6:01 am

Maria, I’m not sure what you mean by fleeced (must be a British term?) but I really like your term for debt. Putting it like that makes it clear you’re not going to be rich if you have “negative wealth”.

mary w April 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Not Maria, but I’m betting she meant she was “fleeced” when she “leased” the car.

Shelly March 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm

We just donated my old car to Courage Center (A rehab facility for people with physical disabilities). It was a 1990 Chrysler “grandma” car. We purchased it for $1,500 11 years ago for our oldest daughter to learn to drive in. She drove it for 7 years and then I got it. It was a great car and had over 200,000 miles on it. I know a few of our friends couldn’t understand why we didn’t get a new car. I couldn’t understand why we would want to pay for a new car. The only reason we purchased a new to us car is because my mom bought a new car and we purchased her old one. It was too good of a deal to pass up. We paid cash and I figure the new car should last us at least 20 years.

Paul @ The Frugal Toad March 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I remember my first car, a 1988 Honda Civic. When it had a little over 100k miles on it the clear coat on the paint began to fail and the paint looked terrible. I paid $350 for a paint job and the car looked like new, put another 30k miles on it. My next car will be a used car as I can’t see paying the kind of money car dealers are asking today.

SB @ One Cent At A Time April 1, 2012 at 6:37 am

I have a older car which need a repair which would cost me the same money the car is worth in KBB. What do you suggest I should do with that car?
o give more details: KBB value – $2,800, repair estimate – $2,400, junk car offer – $500

Jackie April 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

I think it’s really common for people to tell others “time for a new car!”. I’ve seen people go out and buy new cars for what I view as ridiculous reasons (it needs new brakes, it needed the timing belt changed — those are maintenance!) I find it odd that people will spend tens of thousands of dollars in order to avoid spending a few hundred or a thousand because “things are starting to go wrong”.

Amanda L. Grossman April 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

Thank you for mentioning my beater page Kay!

I think most people get ideas about what others can and cannot or should and should not buy. It all comes down to our own financial situations, comfort levels, and priorities. My husband and I could technically “afford” a lot more than we have, but these things aren’t our priorities. Still, others may think we are hoarding our money!

Bret @ Hope to Prosper April 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Kay Lynn,

Everyone who drives older cars should get AAA. It’s worth the $75 to not get stranded over a dead battery or a leaky hose.

My F150 is 12 years old and my wife’s Pontiac is 13. They both have over 150K miles and run great. We will probably upgrade my wife to a newer used model in the next couple of years. I am defnitely staying off the new car treadmill.

Kay Lynn April 2, 2012 at 6:07 am

Shelly, you’re an inspiration on how to buy cars. I think you did great making a $1,500 car last 11 years!

Paul, Hondas are such good cars you couldn’t go wrong investing in a new paint job.

SB, it depends on how confident you are that the car wouldn’t need major repairs again in the near future. If the $2,400 repair would keep it in good shape for at least two years I would repair the car.

Jackie, I think they really just want a new car and use the needed maintenance as an excuse.

Amanda, I’m happy to share your beater page. 🙂 With your love of travel I would never consider you a hoarder!

Bret, great advice to get AAA. We only live 3 miles from my office and my husband is retired so doesn’t have a “commute”. If we drove farther on a regular basis I would definitely have a membership.

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