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When is it time to get rid of an old car?

SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
Yes, when repairs cost more than the car is worth, but otherwise.... ?


  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    I guess we first have to define what "old" means?

    I've got a 7 year old car with 91K on the odometer. Yes, there are a few minor issues that could be addressed - some cosmetic, some mechanical, but none of them prevent the car from doing what I need it to do, nor that compromise the safety and reliability.

    As much as I'd like to trade it in and get something newer, there isn't much reason for me to do so just yet.

    Somewhere on these forums I saw a pretty good approach ... when the monthly cost of keeping the car on the road exceeds the payment on a new (or newer) vehicle, then it may be time to do so. Monthly outlay is the same, but you're paying for the reliability (and, if it's a new car, a warranty) versus the nickel and diming to death of the old car.
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    18 yr old car (Volvo 940 SE wagon)
    208,000 miles
    Just bought a new battery
    Due for a brake job
    Noises are starting here and there that should likely be looked into

    The insurance is cheap, obviously no car payments (bought the car used in 1998) so it's been great for 11 years.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,320
    you are buying money to use to buy the car. Save now the payments that would be made in the future.

    Balance the cost of buying the car and buying the money to pay for the car against what you are driving - knowing what repairs you have made and predicting future maintenence.

    Applying loan interest to buying a depreciating asset is not a good business practice. It's a financial self inflicted wound.

    You do NOT deserve the newer vehicle if you can't pay cash.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    I'm sure that there are others who are more qualified than I to speak to the mechanical issues - both known and unknown - but let me ask a few questions:

    1) are you concerned that it might leave you stranded?
    2) do you want to upgrade to something newer / nicer / more fuel efficient?

    From what I've read on the forums here at Edmunds, 200K is a pretty good life for a modern automobile. Perhaps its time to retire the old gal - or hand it off to a family member in need - and move on.
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    I have a newer car that I bought when we needed 3 cars in the house. We only need 2 at the moment so I put the 2003 Camry in the garage and have the insurance set for storage rather than driving to save $$. I figured that way I'm not spending insurance and reg on 3 cars when we only need two. I could drive the oldest car until it was (and is) about to give up.

    What I'll likely do is try to sell it at just the right time for me - to get $1000 for it - that I can use to pay the insurance and reg for the coming year on the newer car.

    What happens to the old girl after I sell her is someone else's issue.

    I figure this isn't a bad strategy.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,685
    I would say the time to get rid of an old car is when the average monthly cost of repairs starts to approach the monthly payment of a new(er) car. I say approach because you should take into account the value of being inconvenienced during each time the vehicle needs repair.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • I would say that when you have low finance and you want to drive car, then this the time to purchase old car.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,680
    waaay past time to replace this puppy, imho. Brakes? Other strange noises? Time to let it go if you're not going to invest major money.

    So, you put a Camry in storage to drive this? That's....unusual, but creative thinking, I guess.

    So, you don't even need to buy a new car, right, just up your insurance on the Yota?
  • bvdj84bvdj84 Posts: 1,721
    Well, I used to have a 91 BMW 325i. I loved that car! Worked well for about 1yr or so. I think we bought it for 2300 or so. But, it stated running more rough and needing more repairs done. It had 215,000 miles when I finally traded it in. This was when I traded it in for a 2006 Accord SE, I leased the new car.

    At least with a lease payment, I don't have to worry about the repairs seen on an old car. I was 22 when I leased it then, and I have now since traded and already have a newer lease. The payment is still cheaper than have all the repairs. Not to mention a reliable transportation. I plan to trade my lease again in the Spring. By then it will be my 3rd lease at the age of 25. It just makes more sense for me. Seems like I have been trading about every 2yrs. I could not imagine trying to haul my family around in a car that could possibly break down or have problems.

    But, with that said, I could totally love to not have that car payment every month. But, I think it is just a given. Sure, I could get the car paid down and eventually paid off. Then have nothing, but by then, you start having the repairs. At some point, doing a loan and paying it off would be nice.

    It works for me, for now. I still wonder what happened to my old BMW?
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    Correct. I'm pretty much trying to time it so that I get $1k for the old wagon to pay for the insurance for the coming year on the Camry.

    I thought it was creative thinking to put the Camry in storage. That way - not paying for additional insurance, not putting miles on an already low-mile car while driving the old wagon into the ground. I figure I'll get another few years (3-5) of driving the 2003 Camry (hasn't been on the road for a year) before having to entertain a new car and that new car payment.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,232
    Start making car payments now but make them to a savings account. Use the account for repairs as needed or use it for a down payment on something newer when the time comes & you're ready to get rid of it. That way even if you suffer a catastrophic breakdown - I mean the car, not you personally :blush: - you can just sell it for scrap and use the "payments" as a down payment immediately. The more months you go w/no major repairs, the larger the down payment you'll have when you eventually buy.

    My brother did this. After paying off his first car back in the '70's he kept making payments to savings. He kept the car long enough that he bought his next car with cash. Maintaining that routine he never pays any finance charges. (He's still making payments. Just to himself).

    Also, by making the payments to the savings account you are already used to the payment and have it in your budget. You don't have to significantly alter your spending habits to accommodate the actual payment when the time comes.

    Other benefits: If your down payment is large enough you won't need to consider gap insurance. Your general cash position is improved so your credit score will probably be better. You always have an emergency fund to tap for non-automotive uses like sudden medical bills. You practice good finance habits. If you think you'll go another year with no problems or need for the money you can pull it out & put it in a retirement account. The benefits go on and on.

    When I say 'savings', BTW, I mean anything account that you're not going to access on a daily basis. Passbook savings doesn't pay squat for interest anymore, but you could be using a stock account at etrade or ameritrade or the like. Or some moneymarket thing. Or even buy 6 month CDs or bonds or something (although that would mean less liquidity).
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    Battery and brake job normal wear and tear. Noises... you're getting your brakes done so should be okay there. Has the car been reliable? If so then case closed. ;)
  • jeff71jeff71 Posts: 11
    Yep. In your case, sell the Volvo when you get a price you are happy with. No sense letting the Camry just sit in storage. Or sell the Camry and keep the volvo til it dies.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,328
    If you didn't already have the Camry in storage (BTW, I hope you are starting that thing periodically and moving it around just a little bit. Just letting it sit creates its own issues) I might think differently on the Volvo.

    While i think most cars would have had it by then on old Volvos as long as the body isn't starting to fall apart or something they can practically go forever as long as you fix the mechanical things as they creep up.

    My brother had an old Volvo 240 wagon that he kept forever. After many years one of the doors wouldn't open from the outside. Then it happened to another door. His theory was none of these things ever died; it was just that after a while you couldn't get into them anymore.
  • espo35espo35 Posts: 144
    I say drive the old car until the cashiers at fast-food, drive-up windows start slipping you a few extra fries out of sympathy.....
  • I say drive the old car until the cashiers at fast-food, drive-up windows start slipping you a few extra fries out of sympathy.....

    Even then, I wouldn't care. I have a 1995 Accord as a second, kick-around car. It has 244,000+ miles and it looks like a 14 year old car (starting to have more and more cosmetic defects). There are high school students who have nicer cars than that. I couldn't care less. I love that thing. Aside from routine maintenance, I have never had any trouble with it. That thing is a tank.

    As long as it's economically feasable, I say keep it.
  • My brother had an old Volvo 240 wagon that he kept forever. After many years one of the doors wouldn't open from the outside. Then it happened to another door. His theory was none of these things ever died; it was just that after a while you couldn't get into them anymore.

    That is actually a sign that the 240 is going into is Chrysalis stage. You don't want to be trapped in one that does that as it typically lasts for a year or more. :P
  • That is actually a sign that the 240 is going into is Chrysalis stage.

    Hah! That gave me a good laugh at work. Thanks. :)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,611
    I think I would pull the Camry out of storage and put it to work.

    Few cars can be more troublesome or expensive to fix than a Volvo. Time is not on your side. I would dump it before something expensive happens.

    You can get 1000.00 now, or nothing later when something breaks. One big repair will exceed the value of the car.

    These aren't the tough 240 series that Volvo built it's reputation on.
  • Where do you think new Volvos come from? They don't build them they grow them from mature Volvo 240 breeding stock. :P
This discussion has been closed.