Ode To An Old Car: Our Money-Saving Machine
Oh Frugalwoods-mobile the oft-mentioned, but rarely glamorized, work horse of the Frugalwoods family. Today, I dedicate a post to you. Fear not, this isn’t a eulogy for she’s not dead (yet), but rather this is a reflection of gratitude for the tremendous schlepping performed by this fossil of a vehicle. While certainly it would be thriftier to exist sans car, Mr. Frugalwoods and I consider Frugalwoods-mobile a luxurious element of our lives. It’s just plain easier to own a car, which we can say with authority since we went many years without one here in the city.
And so, I hope you’ll join me in singing the praises of the second most put-upon member of our little family (Frugal Hound feels that she’s undeniably first since she must suffer the indignity of not only being forced to wear ridiculous outfits, but then secondary humiliation by having the photos posted for all the world to see. Indeed, the tragedy.)
Oh but first! Allow me to properly introduce you to ol’ Frugalwoods-mobile: she’s our 1996 Honda Odyssey station wagon replete with 206,000 miles. As the one car Mr. Frugalwoods and I share, she holds a special place in our frugal weirdo hearts.
15 Reasons Why We Love Frugalwoods-mobile
1) No car payment.
No one in their right mind would buy this decrepit beast of a vehicle, but since we already own her, we love her. And what we really love is that we pay $0 per month for her (and always have). Anytime I’m inclined to think an ill thought towards Frugalwoods-mobile, I just remind myself that we pay nothing to keep her.
2) Daily gratitude.
There’s no better way to infuse gratitude into your daily routine than by driving a 19-year-old car. Every single time she starts, we’re thrilled! I’m not kidding when I tell you that we high-five when the engine turns over. It really is the little things.
3) Redefines beauty.
Frugalwoods-mobile is both unique and distinguished in the cosmetics department. I like to think of her as redefining our culture’s standard of beauty. Yeah, she has some dents and yeah, she has some rust, but they’re really just indications of the rich and fulfilling life she has led.
4) Time capsule of Mrs. FW’s mistakes in parking garages.
Speaking of said dents, Frugalwoods-mobile serves as a living reminder of the tragic driving errors I’ve made in various parking garages across the east coast. Thankfully, I’ve never been involved in an accident with another driver, only with myself.
The right-hand back door in particular tells of the infamous episode of The Green Concrete Pillar. While in grad school, I’d drive to campus when my classes let out at 11pm rather than take the metro home at that hour. And on one such night, I decided to park in the underground parking garage at my office (since I also worked at the university in order to get free tuition–hey!). What I didn’t realize is that this parking garage has–at least according to moi–abnormally wide green painted concrete pillars denoting the parking spaces.
While gingerly (I swear) turning into such a space, I heard what can only be described as a prehistoric and guttural noise that I initially attributed to a wounded animal. In actuality, that was the sound of Frugalwoods-mobile scraping mightily against aforementioned green, concrete pillar. In a desperate attempt to rectify the situation, I threw her into reverse, which only served to execute the same abrasion in the other direction.
Uh, needless to say, that door has never been the same. But rather than dwell on my stupidity (and the fact that I called Mr. FW in tears because I thought I’d “broken the car”), I now view that blemish as exemplifying the many journeys Frugalwoods-mobile and I have been on together. There are myriad other parking garage-induced disfigurements, which I also take full responsibility for. In my defense, parking spots should not be delineated by concrete blocks. Just saying.
5) Frugal Hound loves Frugalwoods-mobile.
For a bizarre reason known only in the brain of a dog, Frugal Hound absolutely dotes on Frugalwoods-mobile… as long as Frugalwoods-mobile is stationary. Yep, as soon as the car is actually, you know, moving, Frugal Hound launches into perturbed greyhound state (which principally involves whining and shedding profusely). But stationary? It just might be her favorite toy.
What we’ve discovered is that Frugal Hound fancies leaping up into the car, running around a bit, and then jumping back out. She appears to view Frugalwoods-mobile as a sort of tiny greyhound jungle gym. To indulge this houndy predilection, Mr. Frugalwoods lets Frugal Hound vault herself into the car when I happen to get home from work as he’s taking her out for her evening walk. She gleefully leaps up into my lap on the driver’s side and sniffs around. Why she enjoys this we may never know. But suffice it to say, Frugal Hound is a fan (as long as the car isn’t actually turned on).
6) Hiking delivery service.
One of the chief reasons we adore Frugalwoods-mobile is that she serves as our conveyance device to the mountains. Since the best hiking in the region is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a healthy 3-hour drive from our home, Frugalwoods-mobile is an indispensable partner in our hiking adventures. For us, it’s seriously worth it to own a car for the trailhead access alone. The luxury of being able to indulge in our favorite hobby anytime we want is priceless.
7) City-proof parking.
Given Frugalwoods-mobile’s already, shall we say, spotty complexion, we park her on any old city street with no qualms. And since we boast neither a driveway nor a garage at our house, Frugalwoods-mobile must be parked on the street at all times. So if another driver clips her while parallel parking, or a kid accidentally bangs into her with a skateboard, or a bird, uh, does their thing, we don’t care!
It’s quite liberating not to worry about the appearance of one’s car. Sometimes on our narrow one-way street ,parallel parking resembles a bit of a demolition derby, but we don’t quake in our boots–we know Frugalwoods-mobile can handle a few bumps and scrapes.
8) Weather-proof exterior.
If it hails, who cares! And when 10 feet of snow pile on, who cares! Frugalwoods-mobile handles any and all weather like a boss and didn’t even complain when her tires froze to the ground during our epic Snowpocalypse of a winter this past year. There are too many far more important things in life beyond the superficial looks of our car–let me tell you what, it doesn’t even rate.
No one would ever steal this car. It’s so ugly, no ruffian would be caught dead driving it. Enough said.
Frugalwoods-mobile is a champion hauler. That car has hauled more things than most mules! Every stick of furniture in our house made its way home from the wilds of Craigslist in the back of Frugalwoods-mobile (yes, our couch included). And countless great trash finds were shepherded home in the safety and security of her ample trunk. Furthermore, her all-time record for toting people + hounds simultaneously is four humans and three greyhounds–now that was a fun drive let me tell you.
Frugalwoods-mobile ferried us across state lines for our move from Washington, DC to Cambridge, she carted Frugal Hound home the day we adopted her, and she’ll carry the most precious cargo of all this fall–a brand new Babywoods (strapped safely in a car seat, never fear)! Tangent: did you know they make doggie car seats? You’re welcome.
11) Decent gas mileage.
Contrary to our initial assumptions, Frugalwoods-mobile has proven herself to be a rather dainty sipper of petrol. She gets shockingly excellent mileage for being: 1) older than most college freshmen, and 2) a minivan.
Certainly her stats aren’t terrific in comparison to more efficient smaller vehicles, but she clocks in at a not-too-shabby 25 miles/gallon. Not the best, but not the worst! Since we typically get by on just one tank of gas per month, the impact to our budget isn’t substantial.
12) Passes inspection.
Talk about practicing gratitude–Mr. FW and I emit yelps of sheer elation every year when Frugalwoods-mobile passes the state inspection. Again, it really is the little things that get us excited around here.
13) Dirt cheap insurance and excise tax.
Thanks to Frugalwoods-mobile’s advanced maturity, our annual excise tax is a cool $64. This is determined as a percentage of the value the city asserts the car is worth. So hey, she’s not worth much!
And our insurance is a meagre $404 per year, which is a result of our perfect driving records (yes it’s true, neither of us has ever had a moving violation) and the antiquity of Frugalwoods-mobile. Now that is some freakin’ cheap car insurance.
14) The frugal treatment from our fabulous mechanic.
We have a stellar local mechanic. Huge shout out to CLM Auto in Cambridge because those guys rock. Each time we take Frugalwoods-mobile in, they brainstorm with us on ways to fix her on the cheap. They recognize that she’s a 19-year-old vehicle and that it’s not worth pouring a ton of money into repairs. Thus, they encourage us to get parts from the junkyard and are extremely forthright in what they think is worth fixing and what isn’t
15) Dang reliable.
For all her mars and relatively geriatric age, Frugalwoods-mobile is one reliable beast of a machine. Her only challenges in the past few years entail several flat tires (really not her fault), an exhaust pipe that just plumb fell off (both hilarious and awkward), a need for new brake pads, and regular car-related maintenance such as inspections (which yes, Mrs. FW totally forgot about and was nearly arrested for), oil changes, and car food (aka gasoline).
Knock on wood here–no major repairs or maintenance issues have befallen dear Frugalwoods-mobile. What I fervently hope is that she’ll go out in a blaze of glory one day whereby all of her wheels fall off, the doors pop off, and she just sinks into the earth in final, peaceful repose. In other words, I have completely rational expectations for car deaths.
Tail Pipe Thoughts
While we’re slowly coming to terms with the fact that Frugalwoods-mobile can’t live forever (and we’re prepared to buy another used car in cash), we’ve loved this ancient vehicle of ours. In addition to the money we save every single month by not having a car loan, we’re also creating less waste in our world.
By not buying a new car every few years and simply reusing what we have, we’re lessening our environmental impact. And by recognizing the tremendous value that Frugalwoods-mobile brings into our lives, we’re acknowledging the appreciation we have for our possessions. Finding pleasure and happiness in what we already own, despite imperfections, is a key element of the frugally joyful and luxurious life. Drive on, my frugal friends!
What kind of car do you drive? Are you jealous of Frugalwoods-mobile’s awesomeness?
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I have a 15 year old VW GTI Turbo; he’s only got 32,000 miles on him and I plan to drive him until he can’t take another breath. He’s in beautiful physical condition, runs like a champ and he’s great fun to drive. My friends all have cars from the $50,000+ price point, and they trade them in in less than five years. Here’s to many more years in our beloved frugal mobiles!
Cheers to that! I’m super impressed with how low your mileage is–nice! Hopefully that car’ll last you for years to come.
This is so barely relevant to the car conversation, haha, but my dog does something similar to my purse whenever I get home! Instead of being excited to greet me, he dives straight for my purse and buries his head in it to sniff around. My best guess is that he’s trying to smell all the things and places I’ve seen while I’ve been gone, which might be why Frugal Hound loves jumping into the car when you get home!
Also I just overall love this post. You guys are awesome for being so appreciative of the joys your car brings you.
Haha, Frugal Hound does the same thing with any bags we bring into the house. I think you’re right–they just want to know where we’ve been (and why we didn’t take them with us 🙂 )! We really do love our ol’ Frugalwoods-mobile :).
Oh man. I love these older cars. Both of ours are paid off (my wife drives a sporty Mazda3. That one I don’t want to talk about), but I drive a 2006 Scion xB. I want to drive that thing into the ground! I have about 110,000 miles on it. I do my own oil changes and my father in law helps with other odds and ends. Sometimes, we do end up having to do the shop stuff, but try to keep it at a minimum. And talk about space! It’s basically a mini minivan. Low to the ground and a high ceiling. The best part is that it’s so damn short. People just don’t get it. I parked next to a little BMW and my co-worker was really angry that my car was shorter. But then you sit in it and can’t believe the space. I also love it for its little go-kart engine. 33 mpg average is fantastic too, and that’s with me not being to crazy trying to hypremile or anything.
I’m jealous of the van though. I’d love to get rid of my wife’s car and get a gas friendly replacement. Issue is she’s driving 35 miles each way right now. Maybe in a few years when we try to get her a job that’s closer!
33 mpg is good for a conventional engine but if she commutes that far have you considered a hybrid? On our last tank our Prius C (the small one) got 56 mpg. They’re hard to find used here in the midwest but there may be more availability in more metropolitan areas.
Yeah, I know. And she actually gets worse than 33 mpg even though she has the damn instantaneous mpg on the dash! The 33 was for my 06 scion. The issue is opportunity cost. We have a lot of other things we are saving up for and eBay money only comes in so much part time. We did just get new doors all covered in cash by eBay though. Next will be the major HVAC units and then a new deck. Maybe a car after that?
Oh, house maintenance and improvement, I’m very familiar with it. It’s neat you have an alternate income stream to help with that.
Yeah, it lets us save over 50% of our income. We’d be doing the repairs a lot slowly if we had to pay for them out of pocket instead of from eBay!
Haha, I’m curious why no mention of the mazda3. I have a regular one haha
It’s the 2.3 liter super sporty one. I hate driving it. Terrible line of site outside and the seats are made for smaller people. I’m only 6’1″ and mediumbuild, but man that thing is tiny! At least it’s paid off.
Paid off is definitely a good thing :)! Gotta love that!
I feel exactly the same way about my 2000 Toyota Sienna van (220,000 miles), which I bought new when my kids were young. During the time I have owned this family vehicle I have also indulged in toys for myself, including a Jeep Wrangler (given to my daughter when she turned 16), a couple of motorcycles (sold), and a Mustang GT convertible (sold to buy my wife a new car…a gas sipping Kia Rio). Now I am happily and proudly driving this minivan with no desire for any more toy vehicles. It is dirt cheap to operate which is a bonus since my daughters are both in college now, and holds the memories of many family vacations and some mishaps like the frugalwoods-mobile. I honestly hope to be driving it for another 100,000+ miles!
Love it! Sounds like a great frugal vehicle. And, I like that you mentioned the memories it holds for you–that’s definitely true for us with Frugalwoods-mobile too. My parents have a Sienna as well and they really like it. They cart my nieces and nephew around a lot, so the space has been great for them. I hope you can drive it for another 100K miles too :)!
Oh what a fantastic relic! I had a super Toyota 4-runner before my now forever car that I still miss to this day! I would have kept her but she liked to guzzle the ol’ gas. My now forever car is a subaru. I love her – she hauls all my gardening gear. She sleeps winters and still starts right up come spring – oh the joy!
Subarus are great cars! Glad to hear you’re enjoying yours! We’ve certainly considered a Subaru as the possible next Frugalwoods-mobile once the minivan bites the dust.
Our family car is a 1987 Chevrolet celebrity, im not sure how many miles it has on it, but our baby still runs, I have a newer car that’s more reliable that I drive for work, since im a social worker and my duties have me driving all over the state. but my husband loves the celebrity.
Oh man. My dad had a late 80s Celebrity wagon and I loved that thing! As a kid, I loved the rare occasion where we could sit in the fold-up seats in the back cargo area that faced backwards. I wish that car was still around!
An 87 Celebrity was my first car! And I still miss it 🙂 That’s awesome that you are still driving yours, you don’t see many of them out and about these days!
Nice! Love that you’re still driving an ’87! That is hardcore awesome :).
I drive an ’04 Forester. Not the best gas mileage but a good overall value. I’m 6’6″ and my legs are longer than normal for my height so finding a small car I can drive is very difficult. Also, I live in Wisconsin where we often get large snow storms and I have no garage. I’ve helped push the cars of several neighbors with small cars that can’t handle Wisconsin winters. This car is incredible in the snow. It’ll go through anything. I take good care of the car and hope to keep it another 10+ years. When it does eventually die i’m likely buy a 10+ years old Subaru to replace it.
That’s awesome! Glad to hear you’re liking the Subarus so much. We’ve considered getting one as the next Frugalwoods-mobile (after the minivan gasps its final breath). Mr. FW is 6’3″, so having something with legroom is a good thing. And, while we don’t have quite as much snow up here or in Vermont as you do in Wisconsin, it’ll be good to have something that can handle winters well. Hope yours lasts for many for years!
I got an awesome paid-off van just like it. Mine is periwinkle and is a 2007. It is great for everything from driving around town to hauling mulch or furniture. The seats fold down into the floor so it can be a truck too if you want! Best car ever. I did just replace the brake pads and two tires, but it hasn’t been an expensive vehicle over all.
Gotta love the paid-off minivans! They’re so versatile and the hauling capabilities are just tremendous. Very helpful for us frugal weirdos who are forever pulling things off the side of the road :).
Ha ha ha, “Honey I broke the car!!!”. I can imagine getting that call from my wife. 🙂
I’m a little jealous of the minivan. I think we might be upgrading to a Honda Odyssey at some point in the next few years (probably a little newer). Our 15 year old Honda Civic and Accord have served us beautifully since we bought them new way back in college 15 years ago.
Oh man, it was really one of those calls… I felt so bad! Hondas are awesome and we really enjoy the cargo space of the minivan. With three kiddos, I think you’d love one. A great thing about our model of Odyssey is that all of the back seats are very easy to remove, which turns it into basically a pick-up truck with a hood. Very ideal for frugal weirdos who are constantly pulling things off the side of the road/transporting lumber/etc.
Love it! We drove a 1997 Toyota Corolla until it died a respectful death (at a very far flung campsite, no less!). We bought a new-to-us used car in cash getting a great deal. FWIW, your thinking might be altered a bit once Baby FW is on the scene. We became more concerned with safety features than pre-baby, so that factored into which used car was right for us! Love your blog!
I drove a 1999 Nissan Altima (my car from college) and it broke down on me about a week before my wedding. It was partially my fault as I probably wasn’t on top of getting work done on it. (I sadly know very little about cars). Anyways, when my wife and I planned to have a baby, I would have to say I was also more concerned with safety features and wanted something more reliable. I don’t want be grateful that the car starts…I want to have confidence that it will!
Fortunately, Frugalwoods-mobile has airbags and anti-lock breaks, so we’re comfortable with her from the safety perspective. And since we have multiple other options for transportation here in the city, it’s never a huge deal if we need to take a few days to have the car repaired. But we will certainly be getting our next car with both baby and homestead in mind :)!
Her longevity and low maintenance costs are very impressive!
For sure! We love this car 🙂
For me a car is place to get from point A to point B- I do not feel any sense of empowerment driving a newer vehicle vs an older one- No one ever asks what year my cars are- as long as you keep it clean and take care of the maintenance it really doesn’t matter what you drive.
The best thing about our 1999 Toyota Sienna van is that it doubles as a truck when we take out all of the seats… Our van has 175K miles on it – we have put enough work into the van that we do not want to upgrade yet…. Our other car is a 2004 honda civic that has been reliable and very low gas mileage 30+.
Surprised you guys have a van with no kids—Minivans are usually reserved for large families-
The Sienna seems like a fabulous minivan too! My parents have one and love it. And Honda Civics are such great little cars. I agree with you–a car is to get from one place to another–really doesn’t matter what it looks like ;)!
My husband’s parents have a Honda Oddessy with 340k miles on it. They still take long trips with it when necessary! Hopefully your car has much more life to it!
We have 2013 Subaru Hatchback. I hope that thing lasts forever.
340K miles!!! Wow!! I can only dream that Frugalwoods-mobile will last that long :). Subarus are great cars–I hope yours serves you well for many years!
That is awesome! When did you get Frugalwoods-mobile, if you don’t mind me asking? This gives me hope for my own, only 13-year-old Pontiac Grand Prix. I was toying with the idea of getting a new car, especially since I recently had to replace a rusted brake line, but I think I will wait and see how she does in the next couple of years before really thinking about a new vehicle.
I hope your Grand Prix will keep on trucking for you :)! We’ve had Frugalwoods-mobile for 5 years now.
It would be hard to even think of a different car with all those perks!
I drive a 1998 gold Saturn sedan which is as about exciting as low-fat plain yogurt. Zero payments, about $400/year for insurance as well, $20-25/month for gas, 1 oil change every 2 years, $65 yearly registration fee. I can’t remember the last time it was at the mechanic – maybe 3 years ago? I did buy snow tires and rims 3 years ago, so free tire changing now. I do not take it on road trips anymore, however. When it did go on the highway, I got a whopping 42 miles to the gallon! It has a few quirks, but it’s legal. Comes down to just over $2 a day to own. 192,000 miles
“which is as about exciting as low-fat plain yogurt”
HAH! And see, that’s all I ever want from my car. No muss, no fuss transportation 🙂
In 1997, a handsome young man drove me and all of my roommates to the library in his mother’s 1996 powder blue Honda Odessey. I was so impressed by this display of gallantry that I fell in love with him and married him. So it is also a very romantic vehicle.
We are currently driving a completely paid-for 2001 VW Golf TDI. It is a 2 door. But you know what? You can totally fit two carseats in the back seat. I like to think of it as a mini-minivan.
You know, there’s a powder blue 1996 Odyssey in Cambridge that I’ve waved to a couple of times. So I know that color! How cute!
Awesome! My car is an 11 year-old Honda Civic and is still running strong and in pristine condition. I hope to keep it another 10+ years!
I’m not sure of the rules in Massachusetts, but in my state, a car is eligible for “Collector” status at 20 years old. That means you can get special license plates and be exempted from emissions testing (i.e. inspection). It doesn’t have to be a fancy classic car to qualify. In fact, I recently saw an ugly early 90s Mercury Topaz sporting those Collector plates!
I’m more impressed by people driving Frugalwoods-like mobiles than I am a person who re-ups on a new car or lease every 2 or 3 years.
Well I’ll just have to look into the collector status… I’d consider the frugalwoods mobile to be a paragon of engineering success. An instant classic!
I must admit, I can fully relate to number 4! Except that my episode featured an infamous yellow, concrete pillar in a parking garage that left a long streak alongside on my used black Ford. Yellow surely is striking on black! I think the green adds character to the Frugalwoods-mobile. 🙂
Hah, thanks! We think of them as intimidation marks. As in, clearly the person driving this car isn’t afraid to hit things 🙂
That’s so awesome that you have over 200,000 miles on your car! My Mom has that many miles on her car as well (she ‘s had the thing since i was in 7th grade, she’s rocking a frugal mobile too 🙂 ). I drive a 2010 Toyota Prius that I LOVE. I bought it 1 year used in 2011 but still have a car payment. Just a few more months and then I’ll be payment-free too. It’s been a great car for me, especially a few years ago when I had a crazy work commute that was 2 hours each way some days and I was backed up on the expressway. I love how little gas I use!
Our friends who have Prius’s absolutely love them. Very low maintenance too, from what we’ve seen.
It’s weird that FrugalHound hates riding in the car. Maeby, a inveterate worrier, loves riding in the car. During our twice annual 5+ hour ride to western New York, you barely hear a peep out of her. As far as she’s concerned, it’s just a bed on wheels. Maybe because it’s a Civic and she likes being in a small space.
I don’t really care about the appearance of my car either. Its one big dent came from a bicyclist that hit me. Yes, he hit me, in one of the more terrifying moments of my life. I turned left in front of a tractor trailer whose driver waved me through, and the cyclist came out from between the truck and curb and hit my trunk. He was okay, but he left a dent that’s been there for ten years now.
Frugal Hound settles down once we’re on the interstate, but in the city she feels the need to stand up and see what’s going on. Which means she staggers around the back like a drunken sailer!
It’s funny how attached we get to vehicles, isn’t it? My chariot isn’t as old as the frugalmobile but it’s 15 and I’ve owned it for 10 of those years. She’s been around longer than my husband and has lived in three states with me. Unfortunately, we’re starting to get to a point of diminishing returns with her and it’s a make that is no longer (thanks Saab!).
She runs strong but weird things go wrong, like the hood locks down and refuses to open. that makes maintenance even tougher. 🙂
I feel like I could write my own ode, particularly when I compare my vehicle to those of my co-workers who feel they need massive SUVs for one child or brand new Subarus to take on the wilds of suburbia. Hooray for our old cars, beacons of frugality!
I always liked Saabs and was sorry to see that brand end. My dad had a series of saabs and they were always super fun cars to drive.
Sadly, our frugal-mobile (1997 Honda Civic, 250,000 miles) was stolen from my work parking lot yesterday! We loved it for all the reasons you mentioned above. I’m quite bummed thinking of our beloved car in someone else’s hands, quite possibly being dismembered for parts. We had dropped our comprehensive insurance last year, so unfortunately the theft will not be covered.
One of my thoughts yesterday was if the Frugalwoods kept comprehensive, or if you had liability/collision only and just planned to pay for damages, theft from savings? That’s what we planned to do, but now that it happened, we had a moment of second guessing our decision. We could have maybe gotten $1000 from an insurance policy based on the value of the car and didn’t think it was worth it. Now we will be looking to purchase a used vehicle in cash. We had hoped for several more years with our Honda! 🙁
Sorry for your car loss. FYI: We had people stealing Honda Civics on one side of town (joyride?) then dumping them on the other side of town (which happened to be our dead end street). We would call the police after we realized the cars didn’t belong to any of our neighbors. Maybe yours will be found in a few days, hopefully not trashed!
Thanks, Amy. I sure hope so!
Oh no! How terrible!
We just pay for liability insurance only too. It’s a roll of the dice, for sure, but we’ve been saving that money every year for 5 years now… so we’ve probably broken even!
The Frugalwoods Mobile bears a surprising resemblance to our poor truck, in the rear passenger door zone. We too had an unfortunate encounter that was thankfully all cosmetic, when a pesky stump in the woods got extremely up close and personal. It slightly cantilevered and lodged itself in the wheel well, after giving an aggressive kiss to the door. It took us nearly an hour to chop ourselves out with an axe! Such a shame, as the truck was aging quite nicely prior to that. It’s not worth paying the deductible to fix it (increasing future premiums), and it’s not worth $3500 to us to pay to fix it in cash, either.
Chop yourself out with an axe! Wow, that has to be the greatest “oops” car story I’ve heard in a while!
My uber-frugal sister and her husband drove an ancient Subaru for years. My BIL is very handy so he managed to keep it “running” when most cars would have crawled away to die. For a while, the only way it would start was if someone lifted the hood and stuck a knife or screwdriver into some part of its innards while someone else turned the ignition key …
That’s a pretty effective anti-theft device 🙂
“’I’m not kidding when I tell you that we high-five when the engine turns over. It really is the little things.” – Lol, Mrs. FR and I are the same way with our 13 year old Kia Amanti we affectionately refer to as Bob – Bucket of Bolts. We got it a few years back as a gift from a family member. We’d sell it as we really only need one car since we work from home, but we know that no one in their right mind would pay something for it. 🙂
Ahh, that was the era of dodgy Kias too! I’m shocked it’s still running… I don’t see many of those on the road anymore!
You almost scared me thinking this was a eulogy! I had a 1992 Cadillac Seville with 260K + miles. She went to her final resting place last year and it was one sad day. There may have been a funeral involved and many pictures to document this event. Based on this, I am always shocked when I hear people speak of, say, a 2004 model being old. My thoughts are more along the lines of, “What!?! This baby is freaking brand new!!”
Wow, 260K is something to be proud of! I’d give that car a respectful funeral too!
I am so jealous of your minivan. I can’t justify one for two kids and no dog, but every time I’m trying to unload a car seat without damaging the car next to me, I want those sliding doors!
We are a two-car family for now. We were going to sell one of our cars this summer, but then I thought–we have just one more year until both boys are in full-time school. And it is a monster PITA to do daycare dropoff without a car. So since my car costs very little to own, we are keeping it.
I have been warned that the transmission may be going. So unfair! There are only 140K miles on my 1999 Accord. It was actually suggested that I not drive it to remote areas.
Believe it or not, Frugalwoods mobile is more aesthetically pleasing than my car. I got rear-ended and my bumper is currently hanging a couple inches lower than normal. It seems to be secure, though, so–I just pocketed the insurance check. Plus there were already some dents from the time I backed up into a flat-bed truck. (I couldn’t see it in the rearview mirror! ‘Cause it’s flat! It was hiding there! Except that of course I walked by it while I was getting in the car…)
Big Brother has already started to say that he wishes we had “a car like Grandma’s.” No doubt, kid–Grandma tools around in a fully loaded 2015 Sorento. There is no denying that it’s a pleasant ride.
“I couldn’t see it in the rearview mirror! ‘Cause it’s flat!”
You and Mrs. FW should start a course on “how to justify hitting inanimate objects”. I know there’s plenty of good material in our house… and it sounds like you have some too 😉
I am so jealous of your Frugalwoods-mobile! Prior to developing my frugal habits, I was all about the new car every 5 or 6 years… what was I thinking?!? There are so many perks to having an older car, and Honda’s are awesome for their longevity, reliability and low cost. Love it!
This old car certainly has been good to us so far!
I also drive an older car around Cambridge, although at 11 years old mine isn’t quite the specimen that the frugalwoodsmobile is. While I might like a more aesthetically pleasing car, I love that by driving my old junker I no longer have to worry about someone dinging my car when I park on the street (which invariably happens every time I part on the street) or when I accidentally hit the fence when parking in my driveway (like Mrs. Frugalwoods, I’ve never been in an accident with anyone but myself. I do manage to get in a quite a few accidents with myself though.). So while someday I will upgrade to a nice car, for city living an old car is just perfect.
Well now that you know what our car looks like, give us a honk if you see us around town!
I loved my Honda Odyssey! The “Blue Bomber”! Fun story: I drove it up to Vermont on a whim (I live in South Florida) and when I got past NYC the starter motor started going bad. I had to leave it running during all my stops at leaf-peeping overlooks because of the risk of it not starting in the middle of nowhere! It finally gave up the ghost in Connecticut and I spent four hours in New Haven working on it. I like fixing cars though so it was a great trip!
That’s a great story! I do occasionally wonder if she’ll hold together during some of our ambitious trailhead driving marathons… but she always has so far!
Do you have any concerns about safety once you have a car seat in the car? Specifically about reliability.
Nah, it has airbags and antilock brakes, which are the major safety innovations of the last 20 years. It’s plenty safe compared to the sort of cars we were driven around in as kids!
I am jealous, mostly because it’s a minivan, and I’d love one.
We drive an 06 Matrix and an 09 Civic
I’ve heard from friends that the Matrix is a solid car. Has it treated you well?
I’m not into cars at all. I want them to be safe, reliable, fuel-efficient, and small-ish for parking ease. We have an 07 Camry, which is my primary car, and an 08 Accord. Once the Camry bites the dust, we’ll stick with Accords.
“I want them to be safe, reliable, fuel-efficient, and small-ish for parking ease.”
That’s a great list. FWmobile hits them all but small-ish… though it’s shorter than a lot of people think. Plus since we’ve driven it for so long we know _exactly_ how small of a parallel spot we can slip into.
Once, in a 1990 Corolla, I backed out of a friend’s long, long driveway. On the way back, LOL, I forgot about the lamp post the neighborhood’s developer decided belonged right next to the driveway, the base actually touching the concrete thereof. You know where this is going.
But I got the replacement side mirror at a salvage yard, so that was frugal.
Salvage yards are totally frugal! And really, who puts lampposts right next to driveways anyway… 🙂
I bought a brand new car for 0% (could have paid for it all in cash but let the bank finance the loan), and it was the.dumbest.thing. The depreciation totally sucks, but I knew about that beforehand. It was every ding and scratch that really got under my skin in ways I didn’t imagine. Never, ever again. So, yes. I have Frugalwoods-mobile envy for sure!
Not worrying about dings has to be one to the top benefits. Because let me tell you, city street parking is a demolition derby!
I now have a Hyundai Accent hatchback bought in Sept last year brand new. I always buy cars brand new, I figure that I keep my cars a long time and don’t want someone else’s cast-off/headache. Plus I know zero about cars and don’t want to worry about a used car breaking down on me. I kept one car 9 years but sold to buy a big van for moving to another state. I kept that one 16 years and the next was a minivan I had for 20 1/2 years, gave it to my daughter last year and bought the Accent.
If you buy new and then keep for 20 years… you’re still doing it pretty frugally!
One aspect of the Frugalwoods-mobile that I’m definitely jealous of is her ability to carry furniture! We have two sedans so we have had to rent a truck from Home Depot in the past to get craigslist furniture home, which doesn’t entirely defeat the purpose but stings a bit. (In Durham we had a generous truck-owning friend, but I haven’t met anyone who owns a truck yet in Seattle.)
I own a 2002 Toyota Echo – an extremely frugal vehicle as I bought it with low mileage for a great price in 2008 – and we are trying to get rid of it (OFFICIALLY becoming a one-car family after years of faking it). It’s making me feel a bit nostalgic and appreciative of that car, and your post only contributed to that feeling!
Nice work on going to one car!
Love this post. <3
I drive a 20 year old car (1995 Ford Mustang GT) and my hubby switches off between his 89 Jeep Comanche truck and his 98 Ford Mustang Cobra (his fun car – it's his hobby). Yeah, all three of them have unique scratches, dents and paint primer peeling off but we love them. Being car payment free is beyond awesome and the repairs are pretty cheap cost wise since my hubster is a mechanic (huge perk! haven't had to pay for repairs since our engagement).
Cars can pretty much last forever as long as you keep up with the repairs and maintenance. My guy once saw a car that had 400k miles on it and it was still going strong.
Also, if you ever want to change the color of the car, there is a cheaper way to do it now than to pay a paint shop – Plasti-Dip. Basically, it's a type of paint that you can spray on the car at home, and when you're tired of the color, just peel it off. It's about $400 for the kit, but that's way more affordable than a $3,000+ paint job. We're going to test it out on my guy's Comanche truck next (since the paint is beyond all hope). Hopefully it turns out pretty awesome.
I’ve heard of plastidip… it sounds pretty neat! Good luck with the comanche project!
Based on the mpg, I’m assuming that yours is the no-longer made 4 cylinder?
Honestly for living in the salt belt, it’s in shockingly good condition. Most Odysseys of that vintage here are much more decayed.
It is the 4 cylinder. 0-60 in… oh it’s been so long I forgot to time it 🙂 It does seem to do OK with the rust. We replaced the original exhaust just this year, which is pretty amazing.
My mom has a 2003 Toyota Highlander with around 275,000 miles on it. It’s 4WD and a 4 cylinder which is hard to find. Although she’s had a few accidents, she has a great mechanic and body shop and takes very good care of it. Her mechanic thinks that the car could outlive her if she continues to care for it. She just had some work down to it and she’s going to start saving up money specifically for a replacement just in case. She doesn’t want to finance a car and have a car payment and interest. She loves her car no matter how old and beat up it looks. It’s been good to her.
Wow, 275k! That’s amazing!
When my husband and I changed our lifestyle to become frugal, we sold our ’12 VW GTI (for which we had a monthly payment) and paid cash for a ’00 Toyota Camry with 75,000 miles on it! We plan to drive the Camry until it won’t drive anymore.
Camrys are awesome and nearly bulletproof. I’ve seen a couple of 80s Camrys around town!
Just bought myself a new car after 3 years of not having one (my parents, sadly totaled it in a bad accident). It’s a 2000 Chevy Prizm with an amazing 65,000 miles on it. Came with cassette deck, very cold A/C, and cruise control … all I need for the days I can’t bike or walk to work (sadly, my home in East Arlington and workplace in Belmont Center do not connect easily via the T). The car my parents totaled was a 15-year-old Honda Civic hatchback that I bought at 10 years of age. Love the cheap tax, good mileage, low insurance rates, and not obsessing over every scratch and ding like my husband and his son.
Holy cow, 2000 and only 65k! Did you find the oft-quoted, rarely reality grandma who only drove it to church and market basket? 🙂 Sounds like an awesome deal.
Are you guys concerned about safety at all, especially once you have a little one? My husband is currently driving his high school car (it wasn’t new then, and we’re now in our 30s!) so I’m already nervous with just him driving around in it. I trust my husband to be a safe driver, but I don’t know about everyone else ….
I think he will be fine. My husband got into a collision in his 96 Mustang where it was totaled and the airbags deployed. Both people in the car were totally fine, just some minor bruises from the seat belts holding them back. As long as the kid is in a great car seat and properly strapped in, Babywoods should be fine.
Just make sure to keep up with maintenance on the car. Also, good tires and good brakes are a must.
It does have airbags and antilock brakes. And it got high crash safety ratings for it’s year. We’re not concerned. Plus, it’s way safer than anything we rode around in as kids. Hello rear facing station wagon seats with just a lap belt! 🙂
Very awesome. I have a 97 Dodge Stratus. It sucks for moving our stuff but, I can get most things we own if they are boxed except for our bed, bookcases, rabbit cage/ house, and dressers most everything else will fit. I love not having monthly payments and saving the environment. Though secretly wanting a fiat but, knowing that for moving it is a very impractical car. Still cute though. It has needed little in repairs as well. Older cars rock especially free/cheap cars.
Those fiats are cute, but reallllllly small. Not sure I’d even fit in one!
Go Honda! My last car was a 2001 Honda CR-V that I delivered pizza in for years. I racked up 340K miles in it before the timing belt snapped (for the second time) last fall, and I finally had to say goodbye. I was horrible about keeping up maintenance and it still ran like a champ! At one time I had a 1994 rusty Honda Civic that I got just to deliver pizza in because of the better gas mileage, but I loved driving in it so much that I drove it more than my SUV! Unfortunately it was stolen and stripped for parts. I took it pretty hard. I really miss that car! This time I got a 2009 Subaru Imprezza because I wanted something that I could easily drive around and parallel park in the city, but that also had 4WD because I live I the mountains. So far it’s been a great car. But I sure do miss not having a car payment and not caring about every little dent or scratch!
340k is insane! What a testament to honda engineering! If FWmobile gets to 250k we’ll be thrilled 🙂
I have a 2005 Honda Accord that I bought new. It now has 170,000 miles on it and is going strong! A few years ago, I had to replace the engine. I trust my mechanic and he told me I could go buy another car, but that for $3500, he could replace the engine and he thought this car would run forever. Rather than take on a car payment, I went with the engine replacement and was very happy that I did! I plan on keeping this car until it won’t run anymore and in the meantime, I’ll start saving up to pay cash for a used car when the time comes. I still enjoy driving it and it runs like a top – I love my little Honda 🙂
Solid plan, honda are pretty great!
We just replaced our old and faithful 2000 Honda Accord for a 2015 Toyota Camry. It wouldn’t have passed inspection, and we were frankly tired of the dead rodent smell in it 🙂 In 2012, we replaced my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid after a spectacular engine failure on the interstate between DC and Pittsburgh. It wasn’t being resurrected, so we bought a 2012 RAV4. We’re making payments on both, but as they’re both 0% interest rate, we’re not in a rush to pay them off…
Oh no, dead rodent smell! I think I’d want to get rid of it too!
We’re a Honda family. My love affair started 25 years ago with the purchase of my Civic.
I drive them until they are falling apart or totaled ( a not so great end to two of them)
Does the Frugalmobile have airbags- or is it pre-airbag?
It does have both front airbags and antilock brakes. I do think they were optional back then, and crazy as it sounds!
We have a 1994 diesel mercedes with 334,000 miles on it. It has a tank in the back that uses veggie oil and we get bio diesel made for free from a friend that we give veggie oil too. Love that it costs us virtually nothing to drive and our dog “T-Bone” loves it at well.
Sounds like an awesome setup!
My old girl is a 2005 Toyota Corolla – manual, of course ???? She’s served me very well for all of her 175k+ miles. I’ll drive her til she’s held together with duck tape and rubber bands.
We haven’t had to resort to duct tape yet… but I’m certainly not above it! 🙂
I love the idea that cars should be for utility and not for show. Having to worry about dents and bird poop can be exhausting. I know it is not for everyone, but not having a car has actually made my life easier and less stressful. Never say never, but I really do hope I never have to have another car again. There are plenty of options for public transportation and car rental/sharing if I need it.
We did enjoy our time without a car, but for our lifestyle having the option to drive is sooo much easier sometimes!
I am like that with my car, too. She is from 1999 and I talk to her like a baby when she starts…”Good girl!” “Nice job!”
We do pat her on the dashboard and say nice words. It can’t hurt, right 🙂
My old car finally died (2007 Toyota Corolla) so I bought a Subaru that I can sleep in and take on road trips. I ride my bike and take the bus or train to work every day so the car is only used to go grocery shopping or longer trips. 🙂
Your 07 Corolla died??!! No way! That’s much too young for that beauty…
Oh no, 2007 is way too young to die!
We owned an Odyssey for 12 years. It was such a great car. Never any major issues, and such space to haul stuff or people in.
It’s perfect for hauling mans or beasts! 🙂
Our 1993 Mazda 626 just keeps going! Other benefits to owning an older car not listed in the post above is that you win every game of chicken with other cars. Trust me, the guy in the brand new Lexus will definitely cede the parking spot we’re both going for once he sees our car! Also, I get a thrill every time I use my manual crank to open/close my window – no longer am I dependent on the car being actually on to control my access to outside air! Thirdly, it’s always fun to see the look in people’s eyes when they realize that they actually have to manually lock their doors. Lastly, I got a look the last time I stayed at a hotel with valet parking. The valet tried to open my door (passenger side) and was stymied because my husband hadn’t unlocked it yet. The sheer look of confusion was priceless!
Hah, yes, we refer to the dents and scratches as “intimidation marks”. Take one look at us and you’ll know we aren’t afraid to hit things on occasion 🙂
25 mpg is awesome–maybe the older models had better gas mileage. Our 2007 Honda Odyssey started off with 21 mpg brand new. Last year it was getting 16 mpg (I drove 100 miles a day taking my son to a special needs school for a few years). After replacing the axles three times in 15 months, we traded it in for a Honda Accord that get 28 mpg.
I think the newer have 6 cylinders? Ours is a 4 banger, which is just fine with us. We don’t need to accelerate fast anyway!
My 20 year old beast is still going strong with very few maintenance issues (regular upkeep has kept us humming along). Luckily my dogs like it moving or parked. It’s a favorite play place for them parked and it means hiking when it’s moving.
Regular maintenance makes all the difference! Fixing mechanical problems before they become fatal pays off in the end.
We drive a 2014 Honda crv. We bought it new and are making payments. But the interest rate is low. I also have experienced far too many problems with buying used vehicles that we felt better buying new and driving it for a long time. Driving for work is a requirement and so we have to have a reliable car. And I had heard that we were in a cheap part of the country to insure and I believe it more now after seeing what others posted. We pay $700 a year for full coverage with 2 drivers under 25. We have two dogs who think car rides are the best thing around and one who whines and lays down. But that’s probably because he jumped out of a moving car at 5 months.
Oh no, hopefully he was ok!
I had a 2002 Honda Civic EX that I was hoping would last me longer than 2 years, but it started overheating and my mechanic finally (gently) broke the news that it was the head gasket, and it would not be worth the cost to fix. So, he fixed me up with a 2005 Toyota Corolla S, and I love it! It’s so much more fun to drive than the Honda, and it was totally worth the unexpected cost. The best part is my mechanic is super nice, and we sort of worked out a personal short-term payment plan–aka an interest-free loan. I strongly believe having a good relationship with a trustworthy mechanic is one of the most important people to have in life.
I will probably never take out a car loan out of principle, but I will say that driving around an old car that is having problems is NO fun. I was constantly checking the dashboard while driving, and whenever that little temperature needle started going up, I practically had an anxiety attack. I started to understand why people go to dealers and take out car loans.
For me, having a car is more about freedom than transportation. I live in the ‘burbs of Boston now, but I used to be more of a city-dweller. I took the T for 8 years before finally buying a cheap car. Suddenly, I could go anywhere, anytime I wanted!!! I don’t think I can ever give up that freedom now.
Yep, we’re the same way. After going without a car for so long… we revel in the freedom it buys. I think it’s a bargain for the amount of opportunity having a car gets us. It would be less of a bargain if we had an expensive car… but I don’t think we could go back to being carless.
We have a 2006 Saturn ion. It is the only vehicle we’ve ever bought new. It only has a little over 80,000 miles on it. We haven’t had too many things wrong with it. Except for multiple recalls haha. We won’t be buying another new car, definitely not worth it! Living in the middle of Kansas though, we will never go without something to drive.
At that rate you’ll have it for a long time!
We drive a “new” 2007 Toyota Mini van and a ?2011 Camry. Buuuuuttttt….we just got rid of my beloved 1996 Geo Prism with over 280,000 miles. Sure, you had to bring a towel with you when it rained because it leaked so bad inside and sure, you sometimes could not open the drivers side door from inside or use the rear defroster but I loved that car. We, too, saved up to buy our used Camry in cash but do miss the little blue Prism that I could park in a snap and throw the kayaks on without worrying about scratching it. I loved this article!!
Geo Prisms! The original eco-car! I still see some of those around town, I’m sure driven by some awesome frugal folks!
Great post! Not having a car payment is the best feeling in the world. I drive a 1997 Infiniti that was handed down from a relative. It’s still going strong at 114K miles and proper upkeep. This was after my 1998 Chevy couldn’t handle the highway after 14 years. (A little cousin drives the Chevy around in our small hometown.) When ‘Goldie’ needed new brakes, one of my friends kept saying I needed to buy a new car. I absolutely refuse! I will drive this car until the wheels fall off. My parents were never really ‘car people’ so we grew up always driving (quality) used cars. I appreciate that as an adult.
Car payments are overrated.
For sure! I always think it’s funny that people shy away from doing major maintenance but have no problem having a car payment. Even if we needed to replace the engine in FWmobile it’d still be cheaper than 6 months worth of new car payments.
My little subaru hatchback might not be the most fuel efficient car since she is all wheel drive, but I love her. She’s done me very well for the past 8+ years. I bought her used, she’s a 2004, though I did have a car loan for about a year before I could pay it off. I don’t have any plans of getting rid of her, and based on the subaru my friend’s dad had, she should last me a good 8+ more years if I take good care of her.
It’s funny that Frugalhound likes your car when it isn’t moving because one of my cats (Big Cat) loves to explore my car when it is parked in the driveway, but howls and gets stressed if we have to drive with him in the car (though to be fair it is normally to the vet). Animals are funny, eh?
Subarus are great cars from what I hear, so hopefully yours will give you many more good years! Haha, too funny about your cat. Animals definitely have their little quirks ;).
I am not jealous of your awesome ride because I have the same exact van! Same make, model, year, color! Mine only has 190k and her name is Dessy. I’ve had her since high school. She’s practically new at this point because after having her for 15 years, almost everything has been replaced. Right now she’s making a funky noise, but she still gets me where I need to go.
That’s awesome!!! Woohoo! Such a great car. Frugalwoods-mobile makes all kinds of funky noises, but she runs great in spite of it :).
We drive a 15 year old 12 passenger maxi van named Bertha. We have never had a car payment and honestly, anyone who would be willing to make payments on Bertha would be completely insane. We are expecting our 7th baby, so a big van is a must, though not very economical or ecological. We try to make up for it by not driving her everyday. We go to church on Sundays and usually venture out once or twice beyond that. When we were first married, 10 years ago, we drove a 1982 BMW something-or-other that my grandparents gifted me with. It was an awesome frugal car!
Fabulous! Gotta love the old cars that are still going strong :). And, many congrats on expecting baby #7–so exciting!
Wow, still going strong at 206k miles!
I’m sure one day you will post about how the Frugalwoods-mobile finally gave out, but I’m curious how long it will take 😉
That’ll be a dark day indeed. Hopefully it won’t come for many, many years (I can dream, right?!) 😉
I have a 1997 Toyota Camry XLE. I’m so spoiled! It has 336,000 miles on it at this time. I drive it to work every day. It has leather seats, electric sun roof, air conditioning, power windows….I think it probably originally sold for about $30,000. I paid $4000 but did have to put in a new (to me) engine around 170,000 miles (I think there was a problem that the used car dealer ‘put a bandaid on’ and “accidentally forgot” to mention when they sold me the car. Aside from that, the high miles scare me–I’ve never known anyone with a car with that many miles that still ran….but it seems to be doing just fine, with minimal repairs (usually brakes and tires). I’m terrified that when this car finally goes, I’ll never find another as good!
I love Toyota Camrys. The only other car I’ve ever owned was a 1990 Toyota Camry station wagon, which ran well into the 300K+ miles. They’re great cars, so I hope yours has many good years left :)! I feel the same way about someday replacing Frugalwoods-mobile–how will any other car stack up :)?!
I am with you and everyone who bang up their cars a little in parking garages and on posts and pillars in general. Over time I have always managed to scrape and dent my car and I drive with the smaller to medium blemishes. Sometimes I think why not all cars keep some cosmetic dents – just with some paint touch up against rust. It would save the owners a lot of money and add a little uniqueness. We are all human, that is what a dent that you put in your car says.
I drive a 1994 honda civic with 450,000 Kilometres on it. It has seen many a Canadian winter and had no problem with any of them. Maintenance costs have been low and I think I’ll keep it for another winter at least. And i have never changed to winter tires despite living in the snowbelt. The standard transmission is great in the snow.
I drive a 1999 Honda Odyssey with the same colour too! You have absolutely all the perfect reasons why we have the peace of mind when parking it on the street or in a large parking lot with other fancy cars. No one is interested in mine 🙂
Bought my 2001 Chevy Prizm in 2013 for $1300, with 204k miles. Today it has 251k miles, and taking it for re-inspection today. Failed emissions test, as the cat and evap monitors weren’t ready. Learned from the Toyota website (a Prizm is a Corolla with a Chevy emblem), which explained the drive cycles required for each monitor to show ready. Now have 3 out of 4 monitors ready, which is what is required to pass in NY. Very happy for another year in my Prizm! Very low cost maintenance vehicles…if you are thinking about purchasing one, you won’t be disappointed!
We had a 1990 Honda Civic we bought just before our wedding in 2012. She’s such a beauty and we took a good care of her. We decided to sell her earlier this year because we need a bigger car (we bought an SUV) but she was really a champion. We love her. And she’s sold for 75% of the price we paid for her (5 years ago! Now that’s a super win!)
I’ve always had very old cars. They got me from point A to point B and I never had any major issues. Unfortunately since I moved from New York City to Denver, I couldn’t trust buying another clunker. My boyfriend and I share a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. We plan to go to the mountains often during the winter so we figured a newer car would put our minds at ease on mountain terrain in the winter. Although we have a loan on it, we are going to try to pay it off within 2 years and use it for as long as it will run. Also, for the sake of frugality, we refuse to buy a second car and use a bike or public transportation for commuting when our schedules don’t line up.
I was set on buying a Toyota Aygo as I love small eco-friendly cars that cost as little as possible to run, plus the Toyota brand appeals for its reliability and dealer customer service (unlike the Peugeot & Citroen versions of this car). For readers in the US, the Toyota Aygo is a cute city car for the European market which is one step smaller than the Yaris.
I had decided on buying used, but my boyfriend showed me that a 3 yr old one was around £5400 whereas a brand-new one from an online car broker was £8500. Keeping the 3 yr old one until it was 10 yrs old would cost £771 p/year in depreciation (assuming it had zero value by the end of its life), whilst the brand new one would cost £850 p/year.
His reasoning for buying new was that for the extra £79 p/year in depreciation, I would have a brand new car, would know how it had been treated from Day-1 of ownership, would have all brand new tyres, brakes etc, would not have to pay £55 p/year for MOT (inspection) until it was 3-years old, would benefit from the full 5-year manufacturer warranty instead of just 2 remaining years on the used car, and finally I would know that no-one else had farted on the seats!
Downsides of buying new and paying an extra £79 p/year in depreciation would be that I’d be tied-in to dealer servicing for longer in order to maintain the warranty, changes in the UK system of car annual taxation would mean paying £140 p/year for ‘road tax’ instead of £0, and I would inevitably be more precious about scratches and dings.
It’s worth buying used as the price/model of the car creeps up, but for bottom-of-the-range cheap cars the savings buying used are not always as big as they appear.
In the end, my lovely boyfriend found me a 3 year old Toyota Yaris with 20k miles and a couple of very minor car park dings on the side. He’ll do all the servicing work for me and I hope to be able to run it up to the 164k miles my last Toyota had before the rust bug killed it off.
Great post! What criteria do you use to determine when to buy a new-to-you car? How do you compare resale value, replacement value, and repair cost, and what’s your recommendation on a break-even point? We are a family of four, with a 2011 Prius with 118k and a 2012 Rav4 with 95k. Both cars work great for us but the Prius may need some work ($2k or so for a new brake accuator installed by the dealer, as our awesome, affordable local mechanic wouldn’t do that work). It’s a headache, but I hope that once we get this fixed we’ll be good for another 50k+ miles. I’m trying to avoid getting a new used car right now, but don’t want to dig us into a hole in the future!