Old vs New - The Benefit of Keeping the Car You Have

The battle scars are everywhere which often proves your car is paid in full! I personally prefer to refer to them as car character. There’s a story for each one, such as the green stained dent in the back-left corner of the bumper: that’s the one that reminds me of the time my mother in law borrowed the car and backed it into a giant trash bin. Or the massive dent on the front right bumper, the time my husband’s truck met my car as I was pulling up the driveway and he was backing out. Of course, there are interior marks of character on the inside as well such as the hole in the floorboard of the drivers side from way back when I used to wear high heeled shoes and apparently dug my left heel into the floor. Or the giant stain in the back seat from unknown ice cream spill by a child. Sure, it isn’t pretty, but it is paid for so each time a new knock or rattle or sputter brings me back to the mechanic I continue to answer his same question, “Are we keeping it?” with “Yep, still cheaper to fix than buying a new one.”

 At what point will the answer change? Well, obviously an extremely high cost repair will quantify an evening of math to decide but for the most part there are many of us that drive our cars until the wheels fall off.  

The average American keeps their car for around 6 years and the average age of American’s cars is a little over 11 years old.[1]

The average yearly repair cost on a ten year old vehicle ranges anywhere from around $300 a year to over $1000 a year.[2] With the average car payment around $550 per month this math works out quite well the keep the old dinged and stained car around a little bit longer.[3]  Even new cars often require repairs that go above and beyond the monthly payment.

With all that said, if you’re thinking about keeping your car as long as possible here are a few tips from the experts at Car Talk:

  • If buying a car with the intention to keep it long term, do as much research as you can before deciding on which one to take home.

  • Stay on top of recommended maintenance (especially fluid changes), don’t ignore concerns and never ignore engine warning signs.

  • Avoid keeping heavy items in your vehicle if possible, plan errands ahead of time to avoid short trips to and from home and when you can, simply keep your car at home.

  • -Find a trustworthy mechanic and take the time to communicate how long you hope to keep your car running.

Knowing the possibility that the day may arrive that you and your vehicle are forced to part ways, start saving now. As long as you don’t have a car payment, put a similar amount in savings each month to make that future transition much less financially painful.

In the meantime, be proud you kept that character filled payed off auto on the road. Besides, nothing gets a conversation going like a car scar story!

Blog by: Allison Green

Summertime Day Trip!

In only a few hours drive from Kansas City exist destinations that can provide a vacation for a day. This month’s blog will highlight several fun adventures worthy of hitting the road. Distance is based on starting in Kansas City.

Northward

Jamesport, Missouri - 82.5 miles (1 hour 20 min)

Jamesport is the largest Amish community in the state of Missouri.

Guided Amish Country tours (call ahead), Amish shops, art and antiques.

Watkins Woolen Mills State Park - 31.2 miles (36 min)

Preserved 1870 woolen mill (the only existing with original equipment in the United States) and home. The 100 acre park includes fishing, campgrounds and paved bicycle path.

Watkins Mill Cemetery.jpg

Weston, Missouri - 32 miles (41 min)

Wineries, breweries, historic downtown shopping, Weston Bend State Park camping, museums and Antebellum Era homes.

Marysville, Kansas - 151.9 miles (2 hours 32 min)

Pony Express Museum, camping, museums, historic downtown shopping, and trails. Only 6 miles from Oregon Trail stop - Alcove Springs.

Excelsior Springs - 28.9 miles (35 min)

1936 Art Deco Hall of Waters Museum, Blues garden, Elms Hotel and Spa, museums, ghost tours and historic downtown shopping.

Westward

Lawrence, Kansas - 40.9 miles (45min)

Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, historic downtown shopping, ghost tours and breweries.  Near Clinton State Park.

26 miles south of Lawrence is Gardner Junction Park where the California-Oregon Trail and Santa Fe Trail split.

Eastward

Lexington, Missouri - 52 miles (55 min)

Battle of Lexington State Historic site and Anderson House Museum, Antebellum and Victorian Era homes in four historic districts, museums, wine trail and parks.

Independence, Missouri - 10.6 miles (21 min)

Home of President Harry S. Truman, historic Truman Courthouse and Presidential Library (Will be closed for renovation on July 22nd). House museums include the Vaile Mansion, Bingham Waggoner Home and Owens-Rogers Museum (birthplace of Ginger Rogers). Historic downtown shopping, numerous museums and Border War/Civil War and historic trail sites.

Photo Courtesy of Allison Green

Photo Courtesy of Allison Green

Fulton, Missouri - 150.4 miles (2 hours 19min)

National Churchill Museum (including 32ft piece of Berlin Wall) and Church of Saint Mary the Virgin originally built in the 12th century, redesigned in 1677 and moved to Fulton in the 1960’s. Historic Brick District downtown shopping, art galleries, memorials, museums, wineries and micro breweries.

Southward

Warsaw, Missouri - 104.8 miles (1 hour 45 min)

At Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake. Camping, fishing, trails, museums and historic downtown shopping.

Route 66 - Varies

Day trip or days long vacation destination with many vintage hotels, signs and shops along the way. Original road began as Native American trade route, became Springfield Road in 1837 and route 66 in 1926 until 1985. Springfield is 155 miles (2 hours 27min) from Kansas City.

 Happy Travels!

Blog by: Allison Green

June is National Safety Month

As our loved ones file out the door each morning, the one wish we all have for each other is for everyone to safely return home each evening. Having some good sensible knowledge on how to help ensure that wish is granted every day will help put your mind at ease and help your loved ones to be more cognizant of dangers that exist in the world around them. The National Safety Council (NCS) has made June National Safety Month to provide you with everything you need to live as safely as possible.

NCS aims to prevent injuries and accidents with online resources for every potentially dangerous situation from falls to vehicle accidents. Their website provides articles, tips and information that can be downloaded and printed. The NCS encourages participation in National Safety Month in nearly every application. Because every possible safety hazard is addressed within the NCS website the following is a basic breakdown of the most common hazards:

At home: The number one cause of injury or death is poisoning, mainly from prescription drug overdose. This is followed by car accidents, falls, choking, drowning, fires and finally natural or environmental disasters. NCS has tips to prevent each of these tragedies as well as seasonal specific safety tips such as preventing firework injuries and safe bicycling practices during summer months.

At work: The same hazards that exist at home also exist in the workplace, however the likelihood of being injured by machinery or equipment is greatly increased in the workplace. NCS offers training to companies to help their employees prevent injuries from happening as well as first aid and medical response training.

NCS suggest that for both the workplace and in your community, participating in National Safety Month is a good opportunity to host safety presentations, lunch and learns or even have a fun safety trivia game.

On the road: NCS lists alcohol, distracted driving and speeding as the top three causes of vehicle related deaths that claimed over 40,000 lives in 2017.

Defensive driver training and other workplace programs are suggested to not only keep employees safe but everyone else on the road safe as well. With our recent severe flooding and rain it is also imperative that we all make a promise to abide by the well known saying, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

To learn more about what you can do to keep everyone in your life and community safer NCS is offering online webinars during the month of June. Wishing you a SAFE & HAPPY Month!

Missouri License Plate Renewals Simplified

Well, as simplified as possible. There is always a bit of confusion surrounding exactly what you need to have to renew your license plates every year or other year depending on how long you last chose to renew. The following is what you will need with explanations and tips!

1.     Personal Property Tax receipt - You can print a copy of your paid tax receipt from the county website or you can go to the county tax office and purchase a copy. If you have never had to pay personal property taxes before getting your first vehicle you will need to go to the county tax office to get a Certificate of Non-Assessment. Note that you will need to bring your drivers license and proof that you are who you say you are. If you can’t go in person you will have to provide your substitute with a copy of your drivers license and the title to the vehicle for them to be able to take care of the tax matter for you. If your personal property tax bill didn’t list the vehicle you are wanting to renew it is either because you bought it so recently (within the last year) that you haven’t generated the first tax bill on that vehicle or you didn’t get your assessment updated. You won’t be able to renew your plates without the vehicle (unless recently bought) being listed on your tax receipt. Tax tip - be sure to fill out your yearly personal property assessment on time. Many counties place hefty fines on late filing. Most counties allow you to file online before the filing due date, however after that date it’s a trip to the county office and that can take quite a long time to get the assessment filed.

2.     Inspection - Inspections especially as of late can be the most confusing of all the items you need to bring to the DMV. Right now, inspections are required for vehicles based on the model year, so if your vehicle was made in 2013 you will need an inspection for every odd year if made in 2014 you will need and inspection for every even year. If you choose two year plates you will likely need an updated inspection with each renewal. Inspections can’t be more than 60 days old before renewal. Call your mechanic with plenty of notice for your inspection - inspections require minimum amounts of time per vehicle therefore your mechanic can only perform a limited number of inspections per day.

 
 

Vehicles less than five years of manufacturing date are exempt from inspection requirements. There are a few other exemptions such as vehicles with historic plates, for more click here. There is also legislation being considered in Missouri to change inspection requirement laws, although, at this point none of them have become law.

3.     Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice - This is a small blue card that comes to your home in the mail. It includes a pin number that will allow you to renew online. If you renew in person you will have to have this card with you. If you lose this card you will have to fill out an Application for License form found here. Although this form looks like it is only for a newly purchased vehicle it is also used for renewals.

4.     Proof of Insurance - Use the proof of insurance card issued by your insurance company, the same one you keep in your vehicle. A picture on your phone or a copy of a bill can be rejected as proof. However according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Missouri will allow you to use an e-card accessible by your insurance providers smart phone app.

Lastly, if you are looking for a personalized or specialty license plate there is something for everyone. If you’re a qualified disabled Veteran or were a former Prisoner of War you may qualify for a free license plate. Check out the entire list of personalized and specialty plates available at the Missouri Department of Revenue.

 

Blog by: Allison Green

Increased Old Car Thefts in Missouri

Each year a new “most stolen” list of cars preferred by thieves is released and in years back most that made the unfortunate list were very new or close to new models. That list however is changing. Nationally, the most stolen car is the 1998 Honda Civic followed closely by the 1997 Honda Accord. According to Forbes, there’s a simple explanation, these cars are easier to steal because they don’t have smart key technology. Following the Hondas are a list of newer vehicles such as 2006 F-150 at #3 and the 2017 Toyota Camry at #4.

Kansas City police arrest a woman in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Car thefts in Missouri have skyrocketed following a change in scrap yard laws in 2012. Photo Credit: SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3.

Kansas City police arrest a woman in a stolen Cadillac Escalade. Car thefts in Missouri have skyrocketed following a change in scrap yard laws in 2012. Photo Credit: SAM ZEFF / KCUR 89.3.

Here in Missouri however, older cars have seen an unusual increase in being stolen. This oddity is considered to be directly related to a 2012 Missouri Law allowing for anyone to sell a vehicle over ten years old for scrap even without a title. The law was originally passed to help rural farmers and land owners who needed to remove abandoned vehicles without titles from their property. Since this law went into effect auto thefts are up by one third in Kansas City while St. Louis has seen a 37% increase of old cars stolen since 2012. Even the state of Kansas has experienced a 24% increase in car thefts. To curb the increase cities and legislators are looking for ways to ensure the scrapyards that accept vehicles are enforcing the rule that these vehicles are not operable. Some municipalities are also working to create ordinances that require scrapyards to collect identification information from the seller of the vehicle. Many scrapyards have already voluntarily applied these suggestions and work with law enforcement to help curb theft for scrap. Although most vehicles only provide $200 - $500 in scrap value, the amounts are enough to keep the bad apples out looking for the next car to cash in on.

How can you protect your older vehicle from being stolen? Here are a few tips:

  • Be wary of unmarked (no company name or logo) tow vehicles. This is the most common way older vehicles are stolen.

  • Don’t leave a broken-down vehicle in an area that it could be easily towed away and when possible make the necessary repairs to the vehicle quickly to avoid the temptation. Even a flat tire can be regarded as making a car inoperable at a scrapyard that doesn’t thoroughly check what is brought in.

  • Install a GPS system to track your vehicle in the case it is stolen.

  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight.

Blog by: Allison Green