4 Reasons I’ll Drive My 13-Year-Old Car Until the Wheels Fall Off

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It’s funny how humans come to regard inanimate objects with genuine affection. This is true even for personal vehicles. I’ve been driving the same car since June 2009, and to say we’ve been through a lot together would be a massive understatement. This is the car I’ve driven coast to coast (Maine to California, and many points in between) for various trips and commuting. And I even explored four Canadian provinces there.

It was my very first new car (I had previously owned two used vehicles), and I bought it after my previous car was destroyed. I was then new to my old career, young and graduated a year ago, and needed reliable transportation.

Neither of us are really young anymore, and since I now work from home, most of the time my car sits outside my apartment, ready to get groceries or other errands. We still do road trips, and I hope to explore another Canadian province in 2023. It’s not so pretty to look at anymore, but it still works well, and I still make time to have it done for regular maintenance. Here’s why I keep my old car running, even though I might eventually buy myself a newer one after the moves I made in 2022.

1. I like not having a car payment

Monthly car payments got dear. They averaged $733 for new cars in July 2022. When I paid for my car in 2014, I was thrilled. My 60 month auto finance period included 14 months of being unemployed and a full week of my benefits was spent paying for a car. Despite unemployment, I managed to keep paying for my car. I’m proud of it and happy that I don’t have a car payment now. Many of the financial difficulties I have encountered since would have been much worse with that extra bill to pay.

2. It is inexpensive to operate and insure

In even more economical news, owning an older car can sometimes mean cheaper auto insurance. And while I don’t drive a lot of miles these days, I appreciate that my old car is cheap too. It’s a sedan and it drinks gas while driving on the highway, which is great for my bank account.

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3. I don’t care if it sounds

An old car often tells a story. Mine tells the story of the ex-spouse who dented a wheel rim and lost a hubcap, so I removed the other three. It also tells the story of the other ex-spouse who forced open the gas tank lid while it was frozen, completely breaking the hinge.

There are scrapes and dings from road debris, a fire hydrant (don’t ask), and rocks kicked up from mowing the lawn. But it’s the mechanical strength of the car that counts, not its appearance. If I was a person who worried about these things, I would probably consider buying a new car. Luckily for my bank account, I’m not.

4. It Has Fewer Modern Features Prone to Breaking

Finally, my 2009 car has fewer bells and whistles to malfunction or break down, saving me money on repairs for those things (the car has been out of warranty for over 10 years). There’s no Bluetooth or on-board GPS, and the car key has to be inserted into the ignition and turned to operate the vehicle – no fancy electronic key fob that sits in my purse while I drive.

Some things broke annoyingly. Two out of four window motors no longer work (which makes crossing the Canadian border more fun, as the border guards ask you to roll down your rear window and you explain that you can’t). The trunk hinges are broken which is another annoying issue and I generally avoid using the trunk except on a driving holiday. But none of these issues hinder my use of the car – to me, at this point, they’re just quirks.

Although I never planned to continue driving this car for as long as I did, I always recognized and was grateful for one of the smartest financial decisions I’ve ever made: keeping a old car and reap the benefits.

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