Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Driving 'til they drop

Here's an interesting article I came across recently: "Americans Are Driving Their Cars To Death In Order To Save Money."

The article states: "Drivers across the country are increasingly holding onto their cars for longer than ever, with an increasing number hitting more than 100,000 miles in their cars, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The trend comes as drivers realize the savings to be had by simply not replacing their car every five years. ... [T]he average age of a car on U.S. roads has now risen to 12.5 years after six straight years of increases, reports the WSJ. In fact, cars over 10 years old now account for more than 40 percent of the cars on America’s roads. ... But why the sudden desire to hold onto our cars for longer? It all comes down to spiraling repair costs and higher insurance premiums for newer vehicles, according to the WSJ. What was once a simple fix on older models, can now require sensor replacements, new screens and all kinds of electronics fixes that can see the bill at your local shop rise and rise."

This is a subject near and dear to our hearts at the moment because we just finished with a lot of repair work for our older vehicles. Our 30-year-old truck, in particular, was giving us issues ... so many issues that we thought it was time to sell it and purchase a new (used) pickup.

(The photo above is the same make and model as our current, but it's a stock photo. Ours is far more beat up.)

A search through the used-truck market made us realize even a cheap used truck was virtually out of our price range. For the time being, we spent what was necessary to get our older truck to keep going for a few more years.

We know this is not something we can do forever, but man I don't like newer vehicles. Not only are they outrageously expensive, but the repairs are pricey and usually involve computer-driven failures such as sensors or chips rather than mufflers or transmissions. Nor do we like the "spy" technology being programmed into so many vehicles these days. That's why we cling to our beaters and drive them 'til they drop.

So our strategy at the moment is to keep our old truck repaired enough to use, while in the meanwhile saving what we can for the inevitable day when we'll have to purchase a new (used) vehicle.

As a secondary note, when I was thiiiis far pregnant with Younger Daughter (literally two weeks before she was born), Don and I went car shopping for a vehicle that would accommodate child car seats (up until that point, we both owned pickup  trucks). Understand this was back in 1998, and our monthly payments for our new (used) car was $100/month. To a couple of broke young parents, that was a lot of money ... but what was worse was the principle we owed on the vehicle never seemed to go down. Finally we sold my pickup truck and paid off the car, and vowed we would never put ourselves in auto-loan debt ever again. Nor have we.

That's why I found the above-linked article so interesting. Driving older vehicles just makes sense. Just ask our 1990 Ford F150 pickup.


  1. What spy technology? I was selling a woman my 2008 Impala, spotless, barely and body damage, and only tiny scratches, perfect running, no oil leaks, frigid ac, heat works, and she wants to take it to a body shop to put on sensors to see what is wrong. She sent me articles that said my car was worth a little over $2K. No, won't go down. She thinks she knows what she is doing. Her mother's car, which she drives will cost $3k to repair, so she wants something cheaper. ??? Not mine.

  2. I feel the same way about my 1997 Chevrolet K1500 pickup. Several times, while filling it with gas, I've had so many strangers on the other side of the fuel pumps ask if it's for sale that I've started using a bright yellow steering wheel lock whenever I park it.

    1. I have the typical Chevy white and primer color on my truck, it first few years was used as a farm truck. A few well earned dings and a couple of scrapes and I have been offered up to $12,000 bucks for my truck! I may have to get one of those steering locks. I rely on a well hidden grounding switch that grounds out the coil and can't start until it is switch to on .

  3. I have a 2000 Chevy 1 ton I bought new that has 286,000 mile on the odi... original engine and transmission. I baby her and keep up with the few minor repairs she has needed. Far cheaper than the price and loan payments would be and my insurance is far cheap. I had a 1991 Ford F150 long bed with the 300cid 6cyl that I miss, wish I had kept her!

  4. My husband owns a 1991 Toyota pick up. Before we moved to Idaho he had given it to our son thinking that it would last a little bit longer till it died. That was 9 years ago. However when we got here and asked around for a good auto mechanic who heard the sad tale from my husband about the Toyota his advise was that it could be rebuilt for $3,000.00. My husband took the truck back from younger son and had the engine rebuilt. His love affair with this truck was rekindled. Just last week the alternator had to be replaced and it was discovered that it was the original. Now the outside of this truck really looks beat, I reminded my husband that if a thief wanted to steal a truck would it be a beater or a newer shiny one? He stopped stressing about the rusty parts, besides it is hard to find good condition fenders anyway. This little truck has been a major work horse, just right for our little homestead. Of course we have a newer truck a 2003 Ford F-150. You may want to consider getting a rebuilt engine for your vehicle before looking elsewhere. I have often thought, why can't car companies build a vintage model like from the 50's or so, it would be with all the simple things except for power brakes and steering? Just a fantasy of course.

    1. Companies cannot build simple cars anymore due to the constant increase in regulations and "safety" features that must be added and added and added. This makes cars heavier and more complicated. They must legally comply with every new federal mandate! Which is why my husband likes to tinker with ("collect" LOL) older fords. We have a 1975 truck that has a very basic engine - no computers and you can practically stand in the engine compartment. Lots of room and you can reach and see everying! And no computer system to spy on us.

    2. Why not? Federal law prohibits it... Any new car has to meet a long list of federal requirements, some of which conflict with each other.

      They add thousands to every new vehicle, maybe tens of thousands, plus higher maintenance costs.

      I have a friend who got a great deal on a car because the backup camera was broken - the repair estimate was over $2,000.

  5. My car is 22 yrs old and still gets me from point A to point B. I bought it in 2002 and have had very little trouble with it. Don't want a new one-no way no how!

  6. I will never own a computer car. That's what they are. These new cars control the driver and I want to be in control of the car I'm driving.

  7. Doublethinking "Fan of computer diagnosis built in".!

  8. Same here. I'm going to drive my old truck (currently 12 years old and 300,000+ miles on it) til it dies or it costs more to fix it than I'd pay in monthly car loan payments plus increased insurance costs... hopefully this won't happen til I have enough money saved to pay cash for the next vehicle. Or til the tractor is paid off, then i'll just set it up so that $300/month goes to another truck.

  9. Y'all can thank Joan Claybrook for the cars we have to drive today. She was the retarded peanut farmer's secretary of Transportation in the critical years (1977 to 1981) of transitioning to unleaded gasoline. She HATES automobiles, probably because she wasn't pretty enough in high school to get dated by guys with neat cars. After Reagan fired her, she started the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) that has managed to force Congress to pass all of these STUPID regulations that make cars made since the mid-1980s electronic nightmares. She's still hard at work today working to ban automobiles even though she's 87.

    While many of the new cars today are vastly superior to cars produced prior to 2005 as far as handling, braking, acceleration, gas mileage, and acceptable safety features, they are not only mechanical nightmares to work on, but they are electronic double nightmares to work on. A Cray Super Computer is often needed to diagnose some software glitch or intermittent sensor defect. This costs far more as far as repair work is concerned when you had a car where you could actually see the engine after opening the hood. Don't even think about EVs: the insurance companies are basically writing-off/"totaling" any insured EV in an accident because the chances of damage to the battery may cause the thing to spontaneously combust. And yes EV or ICE, these new cars are full of spyware that rat you out to everybody, including your insurance company. And, on top of all that, it is getting harder and harder to find QUALITY repair men to work on these nightmares due to the training and tool expenses required. You can go online and find all sorts of mechanics talking about this and saying which cars (mostly european) that they WON'T work on. In fact, if you have a decent mechanic you take your car or truck to for service work, just ask them about the new cars. This is the reason dealership service rates are so high. The replaced part may not be that expensive, but the labor involved removing all the mandated crap to get to the part and then replacing all the mandated crap after replacing the part is where the labor prices hurt the most.

    So, if you have a car or pick'emup made prior to 2005, keep it and keep it running. Prices for "used" pickups are outrageous, and, being a pickup you can count on it being abused and thrashed no matter how nice it looks. However, just remember this: all of this with cars has been planned since Joan Claybrook formed the IIHS to get people out of cars, onto "public transportation" and into 15 minute cities.

    And, in case you were wondering, ALL of my cars and trucks have well over 100K on the clock.

  10. An automotive person recently remarked on my 20 year old vehicle that was in for a checkup. He made numerous positive remarks, starting with "you don't see very many of those anymore". But he also followed with that not many were made the way my vehicle is made, and all the significant details. I knew it's a good vehicle, but not all the info he was giving me.
    My other vehicle is even older and is great also.
    I figure I need to stay on top of caring for them so if one needs repairs there will still be something to drive without having to buy another.
    I once knew an old lady, now deceased, that had purchased a sportscar in college. She never bought another car but drove that one her whole life. It was not a beater, but a well cared for, garaged car. It was something to watch her drive with the top down, as old as she was. And I'll bet her family sold it for a pretty penny when she passed if someone didn't keep it for themselves.
    Many of us need to consider vehicle purchases as perhaps something to last our lifetimes.