Anyone who knows me will never believe it was my idea to write this post. I drove my 2002 Volkswagen Jetta through many years of hot Florida summers and long past its prime. When I finally broke down to get another car (you guess it – another Jetta), parting was bittersweet. Though that first Jetta was with me through a few major milestones in my life, when I ultimately decided to let it go it was my head that prevailed over my heart.
Even if an emotional connection isn’t enough to make you want to hang onto to your car, here’s another motivator: AAA’s Your Driving Costs found the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle in 2018 is $8,849 per year. That breaks down to over $700 each month and considers the cost of fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation, and loan interest. That’s a lot of money and a good reason to keep your car once it’s paid off, so that you can minimize some of those expenses.
Putting the math aside, I was raised with the Dad-adage, “It’s always cheaper to repair your car than buy a new one.” I still believe there’s truth to that if you’re only measuring dollars and cents. But there are other, intangible costs that any working person needs to consider when weighing the decision to trade in and move on:
1. Reliability. Sure, you can continue to take your car in for repairs as needed. But if you’re avoiding driving to night-time events or getaway weekends with friends because you don’t trust your car to make it, it might be time to look for something more reliable. Similarly, if you’re arriving late to work every few weeks due to car trouble, a dependable vehicle will put you back in your boss’ good graces.
2. Inconvenience. There is never a good time for your car to break down. Unless you have a mechanic in the family you more than likely have to fit your car repair in around your work schedule. Not only is this inconvenient, it could cost you more than the repair. Beyond lost wages, you’ll suffer from intangible costs such as missed appointments or meetings that you’ll have to reschedule.
3. Time. You can put a price on your time, and any working professional should. If your car regularly leaves you stranded, how long does it take you to call a handy friend (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and/or a tow truck? I’m not referring to unforeseen events like a dead battery or a flat tire. I’m talking about repairs that you know you shouldn’t have put off but did. Or that noise that you kept hoping would go away but didn’t. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.
It’s important to make the distinction between maintenance and repairs. All cars need maintenance, just like most cars need gas. Deferred maintenance can turn into bigger issues or make your car unsafe to drive. Repairs are issues that will leave you on the side of the Turnpike and can be well into the thousands of dollars. Think twice before committing to a major overhaul that may buy you only a few more months before the next repair.
If any of these issues sound familiar, you owe it to yourself to see how affordable a new-to-you car can be. Driving is a fact of life for most of us in south Florida. The peace of mind you gain from driving a reliable vehicle with plenty of miles left in it will more than offset the few extra dollars per month. When you’re ready to explore your options, let We Drive know. We’ll be happy to show you some cars that can make your life easier.