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.
The average yearly repair cost on a ten year old vehicle ranges anywhere from around $300 a year to over $1000 a year. 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. 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