By on July 23, 2012

Pretty soon, car salesmen will chase wreckers with the same fervor as lawyers chase ambulances. Finding a dead car might be their only chance to sell a new one. At least if a survey of nearly 4,000 car owners by AutoMD.com is right. Three in four respondents agreed that buying a vehicle every two to three years is a thing of the past, and 78 percent now say that 10+ years (or until it dies) is the appropriate vehicle lifespan. Is that how you think?

Ah, you think it’s because of the bad economy? Over half say that a better economy would not change their habit of holding onto their vehicle for longer.

Drivers Keep Vehicles for Over 10 Years
Over 10 years 78%
8 – 10 years 15%
6 – 7 years 4%
3 – 5 years 3%

The survey jibes with data that shows the hooptification of America. The average age of cars and light trucks currently in operation in the U.S. has increased to 10.8 years. The AutoMD study agrees: 60 percent of the survey’s respondents say their primary vehicle has over 100K miles on the clock.

And what about you? Do you live in Cuba or New Carlisle? Vote!

How long will you keep you car?
  
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101 Comments on “Most Americans Will Hold On To Their Car Until It Dies. What About You?...”


  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Part of the problem is cars are too good!

    We have 3 cars, the 95 Saturn (197.5k miles since new, the GF’s daily driver), the 2004 Mazda6 hatch (70K miles since new, reserved for ‘big car’ duties these days after I got the S2000), and the 2006 S2000 (90K miles, bought with 40K miles, my commuter…). No car has had more than $1500 in lifetime repair costs (excluding standard maintenance and accident repair).

    I can’t see replacing any of these cars before 200K miles, baring accident or catastrophic failure.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      ^=true

      There is no logical reason to sell my car (2003 MY that I bought in 2005). I’m only looking because I’m getting bored with it . . .

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Had anyone asked me if I’d keep a car 10 years+ just a few short years ago, I’d had said “hell no” without batting an eye.

        It’s amazing how such a formerly firmly entrenched opinion and view can change in such short order.

        Answering that same person today, my answer would be an unequivocal “absolutely” without batting an eye.

        I remember back in 2005, 2006 and 2007, where it seemed as if most people were buying new cars every 2 to 3 years as if it were rational or even necessary. Many of these people would even buy a new car while they had 6+ months left on their current leased vehicle.

        The change in the national mood, value system and rationale as it pertains to automobiles in just a few short years is astonishing, with more people viewing locating and purchasing a new or used vehicle as a chore and task born out of practical necessity (transportation), rather than passion or even mild excitement.

        We’ve become far more pragmatic in this area of our culture, and I think it’s a very good shift.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      “Part of the problem is cars are too good!”

      SHHHH! They’ll start lowering the lifespans to 1980s Detroit where 90K was when anyone who couldn’t work on a car dumped them.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    My eight year old DD has over 200K miles on it. It is in very good shape and should easily do another 50K when it hits 10 years old. The two things that I dislike the most about purchasing a new car are depreciation and sales taxes. The recent hot market for used cars has helped the depreciation rates, but the tax issue still persists and gets worse with the increasing prices of new cars. At the same time, I grow more taxophobic. Sort of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.

  • avatar
    modelt1918

    +1

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    What people say and what people do are two different things. In a few years, every new car will have adaptive cruise control and self parallel-parking. Your non-self parking, non-adaptive cruise control, non-bluetooth, non-GPS, non-backup camera equipped car will be as quaint as a 1935 Ford with a non-synchronized transmission and a manual distributor advance lever on the steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      But said quaint car will probably be working whereas the Jetsons ride will be parked after all of its electronic gadgetry failed it and it fails to start by design… how soon until your car won’t run because its precious emissions system is upset and the computer pops up a message on the Navi screen saying you’re ride is quarantined until you visit the shop and open your wallet?

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        His argument can work in reverse for many people who don’t want SYNC or any of that CRAP in a new car, and would be much happier operating 3 knob hvac controls in their current car.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @28-Cars-Later

        See, you’re assuming everything is going to break. What’s to say the technology isn’t reliable? The only example I can think of of technology being unreliable is the Windows blue screen, something I haven’t encountered, outside of the occasional over-zealous overclock, since Windows XP five years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        28-car: Sadly that has NOT been the case. Cars have been getting more reliable with time, and at the same time packing on more and more electronic gadgetry.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Have you not noticed that cars get vastly more reliable over time?

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        I wonder if decade-ago german cars and their ilk have tainted views on technology. I don’t expect bluetooth, radar, or cameras to fail prematurely, not after years of solid service leading up to this point.

        My most recent cars have had rain-sensing wipers. Something I figured was a gimmick and prone to failure, but it has shown to be anything but, same with automatic lights, and I believe the reliability of power windows and keyless entry (as examples of jetson features) have generally been positive in the last few years, given the small sample size of people I know who have had car problems – power train still seems to be the primary cause of visits to the mechanic, despite people suggesting otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      A lot of this stuff falls into the category of “stuff you can do without.” Of course, once you have it, you can’t do without it. But, until then, ignorance is bliss. Thing is, a lot of electronic stuff on current cars (or even 10-year old cars) is useful: fuel injection, ABS, DSC and represents a quantum level of improvement over what’s gone before. In fact, I kind of hate the automatic climate control on our ’08 Pilot. It always overshoots the mark; and you have to drive about 1/2 hour before it gets the setting right. If it’s hot outside, the A/C turns the car interior into a meatlocker before getting the temperature right. If it’s cold, the heat turns it into an ove. My 92 SHO had automatic climate control that worked better than that.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Mine (’05 Mazda6) has a variation on this: it freezes you to death when it’s reasonably pleasant out. I get that it wants to run the A/C to remove humidity, but when it’s 60F and overcast, I really don’t want cold air blowing on me. On a manual HVAC car, you just spin up the temperature dial, but directly controlling the air temperature is the one thing you can’t easily do with ATC.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Adaptive cruise control and self parking? Yawn…

      The thing to wait for is full self driving. Since thats probably a good 10 years down the road, thats an even better reason to stretch your car out longer.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Somebody please shoot me when I get to the point that I can’t parallel park a car faster than the computer!

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Thanks but my current rides have the “medium” creature comfort package – manual a/c, basic cruise, pwr windows/steer/brakes, auto AWD and a 5MT. Don’t even want all the George Jetson extras.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I take inspiration from Frankenstein and brought my car back to life with the engine died just before reaching 300k miles and found one from a junker with just under 100k miles put it in and I’m rolling along, singing a song and not paying any loan.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Pretty much, I agree with driving a car until it no longer makes sense. Our 2002 CR-V isn’t going anywhere, noisy as it is, but wifey loves it and it is the family truck. My 2004 Impala? I think we are going to replace it while it is in good shape and while I can get a good price for it, and as long as I have a 100-mile daily commute, it just makes sense to replace it now. Bsides, a guy at work likes it and may want to buy it, so why not?

    At my age, I don’t see myself getting a meaningful job closer to home, but am always looking, but as long as I have a job, I can afford a new ride.

    I know too many others aren’t in that position, or if they are, have other expenses that preclude a car purchase.

    Back in the day, dad never bought a car until he was forced to, but that was our financial circumstances, and that’s what dictates priorities. There’s nothing wrong with that, either.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Not shopping one of the all go no show 2012s?

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      If you’re looking to stick with an Impala (and based on previous comments, if I recall, I think you are), you can usually find a really decent selection of 1-2 year old models in the 14-16k range. Local dealership in the Northeastern Wisconsin area usually has a couple dozen starting near $15,000 or so, always decently enough equipped. If you’re looking for a comfy commuter, the Impala always seemed like a no-brainer to me, TBH.

      I also appreciate the sentiment of “get rid of it while it’s still in good condition” – just because you CAN drive a car until it dies doesn’t mean it makes sense to. If you could get, say, $5,000 for your Impala (no idea, just a guess) now, versus maybe $2-3k in a few years, with the market overall taking a decline, you having (much) more miles, etc, why not? $5k off a $15k car is a good hundred bucks a month off the payment, after all.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Well, if you listen to click and clack radio show, you’d think every one owns a 20 or 25 yr old car, my 98 feels like the new kid on the block compared to those.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I was thinking the very same thing this weekend. I was out in the garage working on a Westfalia I am restoring and the lady calls in about her 1994 Escort wagon a/c dying. She was in TN too – not CA where I expect a ’94 car to be in good shape. Stuff rusts in TN – though not as fast as up north. They were discussing a $500 repair on a car that might be worth $1500.

      On one hand – sell it and upgrade to something newer. On the other hand that older car might be very clean and it prevents the owner from needing a car payment. A $500 a/c repair might be cheaper over the long run than a $165 monthly car payment for the next two or three years – despite what the current Escort resale value is.

      That by the way is why I keep our older cars clean and presentable. I might spend a car payment per year fixing dinky stuff but it keeps the car payments away so it’s worth it. I put together an order last night for plastic stuff to put into our 13 year old second car. Some of the trim and plastic stuff has broken here and there over our ownership and I’m going to replace what needs to be replaced. It’ll be my $250 annual fix up.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Click & Clack…

        …bummer they’ve retired. I loved Tom and Ray Magliozzi.

        They were damn funny because their humor revealed that the cynical of all things automotive repair amongst us were correct all along.

        Customer: “So how much is this going to cost to fix?”

        Mechanic: “I’ll let you know as soon as I find out what my boat payment is going to be.”

  • avatar
    dolorean

    What I find interesting to this question is that many Americans choose not to own a car, choosing rather to lease a vehicle. I remember reading in C&D or MotorTrend a couple years back that nearly a third of the country leases their vehicle specifically so they will always have a new car and none of the worries of car ownership.

    I’m the type who nearly always buys two year old off-lease vehicles where most of the depreciation and major maintenance issues have already occured and you can buy the fully-loaded model for much less than a new stripper of the same make (the one exception for me being my ’08 Saturn Astra XR that I had been waiting for two years for GM to bring over). Just took purchase of a ’10 Mazda 5 Grand Touring for $5K less than the purchase of a ’12 Mazda 5 Sport and planning to drive it til I go through a tenth set of tires.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      That tenth set of tires may come sooner than you expect, says an 08 mazda 5 owner. That and the suspension noises will probably have the Mazda going down the road sooner than expected, but not before the 7 year mark. We bought it as a leftover in 09, currently only 25k. There is really no reason it shouldn’t last, I’ll be tired of it before it wears out.

    • 0 avatar

      As the owner of a small business a lease makes a lot of sense when you factor in that I can write the entire payment off as a business expense. Right now I am running an older car, but in the future that is likely the direction I will go.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        nathaniel, small business leases make the best vehicles. The Mazda 5’s previous owner was an Antique shop that used the 5 sparingly and kept up on the maintenance. The sweet dear made sure she bought one with the pearlescent clear coat, sunroof and heated leather seating. Great running vehicle.

        gearhead77, before purchasing the car I noticed a large strip of rubber missing from the driver’s side tire and found I could see Mr. Lincoln’s shoulders when I produced the penny test. Dealer agreed to reshoe all four tires before buying car so with all new meat on there felt pretty confident until three months later and this heat has caused the sport all-weathers to grind down faster than I had anticipated.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think ultimately it depends on whether you can afford to buy new cars regularly or not. Most who can buy new, will. And I mean really CAN, not the ‘we finance anyone with a pulse’ can of a few years back. Reality is times are tough, and cars are expensive. But even the folks who do buy regularly probably won’t buy quite as often as in the past. Every other year was very common 25 years ago, but I think every three years (and leased at that) is the more common approach now.

    For me, I dunno. I bought a new Saab in early ’09 because the deal was too good to pass up. Sold it a bit more than two years later when the writing was on the wall for Saab, I got while the getting was still good. No regrets. Bought my BMW new, which I love and plan to keep for a good long time but who knows? If BMW brings over the 320d wagon with stick I may well sell the 328! in a heartbeat and do another Euro Delivery. But I think that is the only thing that would make me buy a new one in less than 5-6 years minimum.

    I think more likely I will keep the BMW and just get a new something else to go with it. Mustang CVT? Scion FR-S? Porsche (unlikely but you never know)? Who knows? I’ve had my Triumph Spitfire for 18 years now, no reason I couldn’t do the same with the BMW. I am not a believer in the doom and gloom theory of modern cars, they are better than they ever have been, more reliable, and longer lasting. And it is FAR cheaper to fix one than to buy a new one.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I think plenty of people who can barely afford to buy new cars are precisely the people that buy new cars regularly. It is their consumerism that keeps them living just beyond their means, and it is why sub-prime credit drives the economy. I know people that only pay cash for their new cars and that could pay five times what they do. They are in that position exactly because they don’t need to spend money on depreciating assets or disposable goods to impress other people.

      • 0 avatar
        gessvt

        This. Want to see a lot of new cars? Visit a $600/mo apartment building parking lot.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “This. Want to see a lot of new cars? Visit a $600/mo apartment building parking lot.”

        You may want to investigate what’s behind that.

        I know plenty of young single professional types with nice new cars and incomes to comfortably support them who live in $600/mo apartments.

        They do this not because they have to but because they just use their dwelling as a place to sleep, eat, and do laundry; and don’t want to pay extra to have a nicer place from which they will derive no additional benefit.

        Makes sense to me. If you don’t care about your place other than that it be safe, clean, well located,and quiet then why pay extra?

      • 0 avatar

        Not going to be clean or safe or well-located for $600/mo, except maybe in Bolivia or Vietnam.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Pete, I pay $687 (up from $642 in 2007) for a very nice 1BR in a ritzy part of Pittsburgh. I can’t imagine spending much more for an apartment unless my income were to go up to match the current percentage I pay out of my budget (which I doubt would happen).

        After five years though the house thing is starting to call though, primary because I need a garage(s) for my cars and junk.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        I’m set to crack $40k (while just entering my sophomore year, part-time, in college) this year, and I drive a new car while renting a $725/month 1,500 square foot townhouse. To be fair, though, around here $120k buys you a pretty nice house. If you put 20% down, you’re looking at a house payment not much far off what I pay in rent, which is why we’re staying here until we buy a house.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        Where I live, you’d be lucky to get one of the bedrooms in a 3BR shared by 4 people for $600/month. You want to live by yourself? Budget $1100-1200 minimum and be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    I use the excuse of having a car go out of its warranty period to buy a new one. I own 2 cars (own the commuter [’11 4 Runner Limited], lease the ‘fun one’ [’10 VW CC VR6 4motion – not super fun, but got too good a deal and 8/10ths the fun of my ’07 S4] ). I enjoy getting a new car every 2 or 3 years. I don’t drink or smoke do drugs or have any bad habits other than having the new car bug. I’m not married (thankfully), don’t have kids (thankfully) and have a good paying secure job with various income sources, so I’m fortunate enough that I can own the latest and greatest. Looking forward to replacing the fun car for a super fun car next year. Maybe a Challenger SRT8 – I want to own at least 1 American car in my life.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Challenger/Mustang/Camaro, you can’t go wrong. I had an ice ice baby GT convertible.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        There is something to be said about buying a Challenger/Mustang/Camaro vs. a loaded Camcordtima.

        First, you won’t be as bored to tears after 10 years. Pony/muscle cars aren’t for everybody, it’s true, and the same goes for pickups, Wranglers, Miatas.

        The problem is the obsolescence that all cars face after 10 years or so. You say you need an ABS sensor? EGR valve? Ignition switch? Turn signal stalk? Interior/exterior door handle?

        OK, you can always hang out with Murlee in his junk yard expeditions. Even if he doesn’t mind your company, you’d better hope you chose a popular enough model. Go ahead and buy a Saab for the long haul… but don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

        Which brings me back to the Challenger/Mustang/Camaro. Not only will used parts be plentiful, the aftermarket, restoration vendors as well as specialized salvage operations will be climbing all over each other to supply all your future needs.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Oh Yeah…I owned a 2000 Firebird convert. It could nickel, and dime, ya to the poor house,with repair costs. I got top dollar when I sold it. I’ve goy a 4 year old Mustang convertible in my garage. I bought it 15 months ago,and just turned down an offer,for exatly what I have in it.

        For sure, cars, and trucks, in general make for lousy investments.

        Mustangs,Challengers,Camaros ,can sure ease that nasty deprecition thing

  • avatar

    For a variety of reasons, like divorce and subsequent bankruptcy and my own personal creed of not paying more than $4000 for a car, I can’t even buy a car that is less than 10 years old.
    So now you know why I have two hunks of Swedish steel that are older than my kids.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    I would love to go 10+ years on a daily driver, but, where I live (Atlantic Canada) at the 10 year mark, things start getting a bit rusty and you start chasing brake lines rusting through, exhausts, rocker panels and quarter panels etc.
    Hopefully our new daily driver (2012 WRX) will go well over 10 years, but 8-10 I would accept. More by the grace of undercoating and frequent washing.

    As for the “toy” cars, we have a 9 year old RX8 and 03 MazdaSpeed Protege I don’t see going anywhere for a long time (stored winters)so those should drag out our average fleet age.

    As car guy, most people I know are surprised how old most of our cars are. My thinking is, why wrap up that much money in a new car when I can get 2 or 3 older ones? (The WRX being the first new car I’ve bought since the RX8 back in 03, and the first new car my girlfriend has ever had.)

  • avatar
    schoc

    I Have a leasecar that will be replaced every 3 years, the one i have now drove 150 miles, my prive car is a Subaru Outback from 1996 with 165.000 miles. We also have a Mini Countryman with 45000 miles on it, thats also al leasecar. Nowadays cars are very good, so ive you want to drive for over 10 years thats is easy possible.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    For those who pay off their ride I think the next issue is maintenance costs. Once the nickle and diming becomes a PITA, those shiny new rides start looking good.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Choose wisely and drive it carefully and the nickel and diming doesn’t happen for a long, long time. I’m at 235K on a Honda and the nickel/diming has not yet begun. My VW – certainly more bother to keep up but still less than one car payment a year. I didn’t spend anything on it last year that I can recall except some trim paint.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Yup.

    Drive it till it drops! (Meaning frame rusted out – everything else can be repaired/replaced.)

    Example: 1974 Dodge PU/slant 6 – 225,000 miles – 22 years – thought it was near used up and gave it to a monk who hauled goats with it – 3 more years; he gave it to a farmer who hauled wood off road out of “the back 40” – 3 more years. That thing was near immortal! (Lost track of it after that.)

    ————

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    My DD is eight years old with 123K miles. Doesn’t have any problems I can’t not live with, it has developed a couple of quirks. However the engine is strong, tranny is good, just put new tires on last year and I replaced all the critical bodily fluids at 100K miles. It’s an ’05 bought in ’04. Definitely will keep 10+ years.

    I always bought the G8 GT with keeping it forever in mind – so barring some huge financial disaster plan on keeping that also.

    Next replacement cycle is 2015 – I’ll replaced the DD with something likely smaller and more fuel efficient. It could very well be an electric or a range extending vehicle given how my commute has shortened to just 6 miles one way. I’ll also being buying daughter number one her first car (helping her with purchase) so a used, safe, small something with a manual will be coming.

    I expect the new DD to last 10 odd years and I’ll be thrilled if she can keep her first car out of the wrecking yard for 18 months (just being realistic about the odds)

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I have 4 cars. Each has it’s own destiny.

    My work car only lasts 4-7 years.
    I try to buy an unloved used car with a proven drivetrain that gets good mileage.
    It is now an 87 Audi 5000S Quattro stickshift. The last car was a 73 Pinto!
    I drive it 110 miles a day on Detroit freeways. In the winter it gets totally salt sprayed. In construction (spring through fall) it gets totally peppered with stones. So rust wins and I start the cycle over again. Never new and never a car payment.

    The family car lasts over 10 years.
    I start out with a low mileage older car.
    It is a bit of a garage queen. Only use it for trips and the wife to get around town. We try not to drive it in the salt. It is good for me that the wife doesn’t like driving in the snow! The family car now doing duty is a 1984 Audi 5000 Avant. No car payments.
    Since I am dedicated to my job and travel often, I am considering a new car for her. She hates waiting on me to get back from a trip to fix the car.

    My wife’s new hobby car we will try to keep it into retirement.
    It’s 1976 Mustang II that is exactly like the first car she bought. I am fixing it now. It also acts as my wife’s back-up car.

    My project car I will keep until I am bored or keep it into retirement. Probably 8+ years.
    It’s a 1973 Volvo 1800ES. I plan a lot of resto-mods including a 3.7 Mustang V6 drivetrain (ecoboosted) and suspension/brake changes. Shooting for 40 mpg track capable car. Maybe someday Jack can do a review!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Two Audi 5000’s? I applaud you, your wife, and your Teutonic insanity. I own an ’86 5000 and the thought of using it as my sole DD gives me an anyurism. I have owned it on and off since 1999 (donated it to charity, then it was abandoned, then I bought it from impound). I will say the goofy combination of quattro AWD/4WD, vacuum-operated locking diff, manual transmission, and 5 cylinder turbocharged engine is a recipe for awesomeness. However, this awesomeness is tempered by a ridiculous electrical system and VAG funny business. Hopefully I see your car on 696 or 75.

      • 0 avatar
        Trend-Shifter

        I catch I-75 from Trenton (Downriver) and travel just past the Ambassador bridge. Then I take a short 3 mile run on I-96 to I-94. Then I-94 downtown all the way up to M59. Not too far from Selfridge AFB.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      2 Audis from the 80’s?

      You must have a good income, but with that Volvo I suggest keeping it stock and defeating that 3 mil record that was set by another Volvo 1800.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Actually I would, I know that he took really good care of that Volvo during those miles.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I currently shoot for 3-5 years from the time I buy it–unless my financial circumstances drastically change, I will be a hunt down an unloved, under-appreciated, low mileage, 5-8 year old used car buyer for life.

  • avatar
    apk

    I personally start to get bored/annoyed around 2 years of ownership. If I can find something new that is better than what I have, I trade up. If not I keep the car until a new model comes out. I expect that will change when I have more mouths to feed. I am fully aware of the expense of doing this but it is worth it to me.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    They’re already 11 and 12 years old.

    However, needs and wants change over time. I would like a quieter, higher-mpg cruiser because the number of long highway trips we will be doing every year is very likely to increase.

    Although I wouldn’t mind keeping these cars longer, it’s very likley one of them will go.

    Nor am I going to keep a car that is likely to be troublesome. At 20 years, unless you have a Lexus, every turn of the key becomes a crapshoot. That’s probably OK for a car you use solely in town but for a road trip vehicle, it’s more problematic.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Bingo.

      I have an 6MT RX-8.

      It’s been the most reliable car over 7 years I’ve owned out of about 12 cars/trucks (tied with my 1994 Honda Civic EX).

      It is like brand new, the motor is stronger than when it was new, and there is zero rust and less than a single hand full of small nicks or small dings on the body, and there are no rattles or untoward sounds emanating from the interior or exterior even over the worst road surfaces.

      I have learned that when you get a keeper like this, count your lucky stars and don’t mess up a good thing. Why the hell would I want to betray such a fantastic experience and risk a miserable one by trading it for anything (absent necessity such as my wife having triplets)?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I believe in buying my vehicle new and running it until it becomes more expensive to fix than it is worth. Although, I did trade in my 02 Tahoe with 205k in when it ran, but only so I could have transport until the factory-ordered 2012 Q7 came.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    Years dont’ matter too much, but at about 150,000 miles it becomes too inconvient for me to keep running. I get to about that milage within 10 years so I voted 8-10.

  • avatar
    jtk

    I don’t really mind the cheaper repairs as long as they aren’t all at once, but I don’t know if replacing an engine or transmission is something I want to do.

  • avatar
    DownEaster

    I usually end up buying a 5 year old or so car and keep it for 3 to 5 years. Rust kills too many vehicles in Maine. Many are fairly well rusted and or rotted underneath with the salt brine they use on the roads in the winter to keep off the ice and snow. Usually by the time they are 8-10 years old. Many times the drivetrain is still good but the car will fail the state safety inspection. Used cars are expensive up here and sometimes you are better to travel out of state to buy them.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Nearly always better to buy from out of state, average retail in New Hampshire or the Boston area is between 20-30% less from my anecdotal observations. It’s ridiculous what used vehicles sell for up here and the taxes associated with buying a used vehicle are also ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      lightbulb

      Yes salt destroys cars in Northeast at an early age. I live in Western Mass, and my 8 year old Jeep has major rust spots on all the door panels. I also noticed in the area that many Chrysler vehicles made in the early 00’s to mid seem to have rust problems. Most northeast states inspections will fail a car with rust issues.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I think people in Texas drive cars until the air conditioning or automatic transmission fail. There is probably a business opportunity in buying 12 year old sun faded but salt-free cars with dead air-conditioning and selling them as winter beaters up North.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    We have two cars, the second is a 10 plus year old SUV that will be driven until the wheels fall off. This is the commuter “car” and junk hauling “car.” The other car is a 4-5 yrs old sedan.

    My plan was to keep a relatively “new” car and trade the sedan in. But that plan is slowly changing. It is hard to accept the trade-in value given by dealers for a reliable and well maintained car. So now, because the sedan is actually a hatchback, it will replace the truck. Then we will go shopping for a good used car with cold hard cash to replace the sedan.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    11 years ago I got a 5sp Civic, thinking I’d have it for 10 years. Today, I want to keep it for its 5sp, no ABS, cable throttle, high mpg, and simplicity; it’s still everything I want in a car(I’m not the kind that should have much HP under his foot), and I’m the one driving it, not the CPU.

  • avatar
    Joss

    This is a 21st about face for Americans compared to 50’s thru 70’s when it was planned obsolescence and new wheels every couple of years. I guess tech now has its hold with more time & income spent there than vehicle ownership. Today it takes less disposable income to pay down the average new vehicle than it did in the 50’s. And of course home ownership costs had gone up until 2005.

    10 + ? Me – neh cause I’m no tinkerer and got no patience for uncertain adventure every time I head out. And being in 2 bad ones in 50 years that weren’t my fault, I’m tuned to depreciated spot welds.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Owned my rare ’95 Ford Mustang Cobra Hardtop Convertible since 2005 and have just gone over 50K miles. The old 5.0L 302 feels like I’ve just broken her in. The rear diff has got a Class II leak that needs attending and the radiator had developed a crack which lead me to the descision to replace the 15 year old hoses.

    However, a collectible is a bit different than your average Daily. And probably the thread for a whole different discussion; possibly what Classic would you own and why?

  • avatar
    Freddie

    After too much bitter experience with repair shops, my strategy is buy new cars that are cheap enough that I can afford to trade-in after 75-80K.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Pretty much the way my family has always bought/driven cars – buy ’em loaded and then drive them ’til they are about to die.

    Tho sometimes a deer or another driver gets in the way of that.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    My grandma has a habit of keeping her cars for an interminably long time, like 10+ years. But even she always sold her car before it actually dies. Cars can last a long time in “terminal” condition where it requires a large amount of time and money to keep running. Unless you really love the car or in really bad financial shape and really can’t get another car, it’s always better to ditch the car before that time.

    Keeping a car until it dies actually requires quite a lot of commitment. I doubt many would actually do that unless forced by circumstances.

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on the definition of dead My dad drives till they die literally and its usually still far cheaper then buying a late model car. By dead my dads definition would be needs and engine transmission or major structural welding and said parts and service would be more then twice the running value of the car from the junkyard. Some times he voids that rule and fixes it anyway. Overall its still cheap but not always convenient. I toss my cars when they are on life support meaning I have only managed to sell one for more the a $1000.00

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Exactly. They may be cheap money-wise, but how about other peripheral costs, like inconvenience, stress, miss out on important things like jobs and appointment, etc. Unless you’re a retiree or had no job, and can afford the time. Or have spare cars aplenty.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My DD (’03 Nissan 350Z) is almost 10 years old but it was a garage queen before I bought it , thus mileage and wear-n-tear wise its like a 3 year old car. Thus I can see owning it for another 5 years no problem. My weekend vehicle (’02 Dodge Dakota) is already 10 years old but I bought it new and made sure it stayed in top condition. I figure it will last another 5 years provided the transmission remains in one piece. Its been paid off for years so it only costs me gas + insurance to keep around for boat towing duty. Plus currently nothing available on the market is a desirable replacement, unless a Ecoboost or diesel Ranger comes along.

    Once a vehicle is paid off its hard to justify $500 a month payments for something new unless its a signification upgrade. There is no “must have” technology in cars these days that I require immediately. My iPhone handles navigation duty just fine… about the only thing I’d like to have is adaptive/laser cruise control and I miss having a sunroof on occasion.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    I would have thought that more people keeping their cars for longer would be better for the economy.

    The big corporate car companies and dealer networks aren’t all of the economy, an older car is more likely to be sent to the neighbourhood grease-monkey to be spannered back together. The smaller-time local mechanic will spend more of his money in the local economy keeping more cash in the area.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    This is all predicated on how good your ownership experience has been. I have only bought a handful of brand-new cars during my lifetime, but have probably owned close to a hundred used cars I bought here and there, fixed up and sold for a profit.

    I kept my 1988 Silverado until January 2011, my wife’s 1992 Towncar until June 2008. Both were bought new. Both had lots of parts replaced to keep them running that long.

    I kept my 2006 F150 until January 2011 as well. I had about all the fun I could stand keeping that POS going. It had to be a vehicle built on a Monday or Friday because whoever put that thing together didn’t give a @^&*#! how it went together. And it showed.

    But I’m too old now to tool and wrench on any vehicle once it needs work and is out of warranty. For me, I’m considering trading as soon as the warranty expires on a vehicle I bought new. That would work for me.

    More and more people who do not need a retained value in the vehicle they drive choose to lease. That’s like renting, except cheaper.

    For me, the ancillary charges associated with leasing don’t work but if a person has a way to write it all off on taxes, I could see where that would be better than buying outright or financing.

    Then, of course, there’s that new car smell. The exhilaration of driving the latest and the greatest, at least for a little while. IMO, life’s too short to limp along with any car until it dies.

    If it dies during the warranty period, no problem. If it dies after the warranty expires, that could be a problem. Ever check on how much it costs to repair the most common types of breakdowns on ANY vehicle?

    Try AC, or CVT, or even timing belt/chain replacement. How about a waterpump, or a clutch plate of a vehicle with a manual transmission?

    And you haven’t lived until you had to have your regular automatic transmission repaired. It will blow you wallet!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I see too many new Camaros to buy this survey.

    But as for my cars, I try to buy beaters cheap and fix them up a bit, then I drivemaintain them until something big breaks like my Horizons automatic tranny ($1100 to fix, the price of a 2nd one).

    Now I own a Japanese economy car, for all I know it could end up out living me.

    If I buy another car it’ll be an old Detroit iron with a slant-6 and I’ll throw on some better brakes. Yea it won’t corner, tell me where Mcdonalds is, supposedly get 40mpg, require frequent updates to its hardware, save a small portion of the environment, but it WILL be cheaper to fix and it won’t catch on fire.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    We have a 2009, a 1999, a 1995, and a 1992. The 92 Sable station car just won’t die, but it is beginning to get kinda loose over the bumps. But until it needs real money, I’ll keep her running. It was my late mother’s car so I have a bit of emotional attachment to it as well. Very minor rust and no dents. Any car I own that gets banged up either gets repaired or sold.

    I have a married friend in Florida who has continually leased two cars for the 20 years they have been married, and now they are leasing a car for their 18 year old daughter. All those cap cost payments, “aquisition” junk fees, and monthly payments add up to a colossal waste of money. They use the “always in warranty” BS to justify their extravagance but I know that any car will last well over 100K even with poor maintenance. I can totally understand and respect wanting a new car (We are getting ready to purge the fleet), but churning to the point that you will be working until you are 75 is foolish, at least to me.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I have a married friend in Florida who has continually leased two cars for the 20 years ….”

      Yeah, I know several people who have done that, currently do it, and will most probably continue to do it in the future. They’re older, in their sixties, seventies and eighties.

      To them, their money is a tool. Only a means to get what they want and need. They lease because they can afford it and the expenditures buy them peace of mind.

      There’s only so much money that you need to live and whatever rolls in over that amount each month just goes into savings. What are they going to do with it? They can’t take it with them when they die.

      I’ve never seen a hearse with a U-Haul behind it.

  • avatar
    lightbulb

    Well my Liberty passed the 8 year mark in March but I am really considering getting rid of it. It has become an expensive money pit. I can’t go a month without out something expensive failing. Which is great for the mechanic’s wallet. Now my clutch is worn out. This is not a high mileage car either.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    We had to “put down” my Mom’s 1990 Buick LeSabre 3800 earlier this year at 284,000. I was really hoping to make it to 300k…It lost compression in a couple cylinders…the AC still worked, and the trans never skipped a beat…but I got sick of spending my weekends patching it up.

  • avatar
    glwillia

    My only car is a 1994 Mercedes E420 with 140k miles on it, and I have no plans to replace it. It easily has enough power, has all the conveniences I care about (power windows, cruise control, a/c, radio), and all the modern electronic doodads like navigation I get with my iPhone. As for iPod/iPhone integration, I use a $5 tape adapter which works great with the factory Becker radio.

  • avatar
    baggins

    I dont like driving old POS cars. I recently borrowed a 97 Camry with 200K plus miles.- it was miserable. Just felt like it was coming apart.

    I also hate the inconvenience of taking my car into the shop. Have to rent a car , or arrange for a ride – its a hassle.

    That said, I am cheap, and have college payments looming (what a scam that it, tuition rising at 2-3x inflation for many years now). Anyhow . . .

    My approach is to buy a lightly optioned new car, often one close to the end of its model run (ie several model years after the all new model, so the manufacturer can get all the bugs out) and keep it for about 8-10 years, then ditch it an buy another new car. With normal maintenance, I have few unplanned repairs. I also average only 8-10K miles per year per car.

    I buy lightly optioned, because a) a lot of the options dont have much utility to me b) that stuff can break c) options are the big profit items for a car, 2K for NAV???

    I have a 2004 Sienna (I did get the safety options on this one – skid control, 3 row side airbags, etc). The 2004 Sienna was a newly revised model, but it was the choice of the wife. Also have a 2011 Accord SE (I wanted the full power seat with power lumbar). With the new accord launched in 2008, it seems like most of the kinks have been worked out.

    Paid 26K for the Sienna and 21K for the Accord. Spread that over 8-10 years, its pretty cheap.

  • avatar
    vlangs

    I’ve owned my 2000 Acura TL since new (when my pops bought it for me at 18, straight As through high school!) That was March, 2000 (manufacture date, Feb, 2000)

    I still have the car to this day and at 280,000 miles it still runs as strong as the day I bought it. I’ve done the regular maintenance and when the transmission went (a recall item) I took the money and swapped in a CL-S 6-Speed and have been trucking along since ’06 just the same.

    I’ve bought other cars around it (C5 Audi S6, t-boned by semi, E39 M5 still own) and I don’t plan on getting rid of my M5 either, but to me the car is much more than an appliance. I LOVE my TL, sure I’ve done all sorts of modifications (I still get asked if it’s a new model) and what not. But I’ve had so many memories, pretty much my entire adult life to date that I couldn’t fathom having someone else drive it. All in All the only things I’ve replaced are general wear items and two motor mounts in 12 years. The 6-speed plus J32 runs super strong and between my late high school and my college and med school memories I couldn’t get rid of it.

    I bought the S6 off of a euro-head who sadly fell into financial trouble. but In 07 I had money to spend and wanted to give my TL a bit less work, seeing as I’ve always loved the C5 model and wagons I took it. Loved it. And still love it because when that semi ran the red light I left without a scratch even though it was barely recognizable as a high performance German Luxury machine.

    The M5 is a brilliant car (bought with my S6 insurance money) off of an old man of about 85. I’m sure he hooned it every day, but I loved the color and the fact that in 2009 it only had 33,000 miles on it and was flawless (in ’09 my TL was nearing 175k) I’m sure he was sad to see it go, and I myself have made plenty of memories in the thing. I can’t picture it in someone else’s hands so no matter if I buy a new car in the future, Those two babies will be in my garage, or lawn or pop-up garage until they can’t run anymore.

    sorry for the rant

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Current fleet is a pair of 1988 BMW 528es. My first 528e was 8 yrs old and had 150 k miles. I put 200 k on it in 12 yrs of near perfect reliability. A throttle cable let go on my son. I told him that there was a new cable and tools in the trunk. It was only 15 miles away and by the time I got there, he was just finishing up. I maintained it to a level such that it always made it home. They are never running perfectly.But they run. Compared to my Jeeps and the Ranger, the BMWs are more fun to work on. I have the original 528e and another one out back to keep the current 2 drivers going. I had Marina’s for 6 yrs and mine for 4. I hope to keep the bodies intact for another 6 yrs at least and am considering a good example from a dry climate for after that.

  • avatar
    2012MustangGT

    For a car enthusiast site, I’m surprised at how many old beaters you guys own!

    Actions speak louder than words. These poll respondents likely won’t keep their cars that long.

    I thought I’d keep my ’09 Honda Fit, but couldn’t turn down a great deal on my Mustang.

  • avatar
    redseca2

    I am in my later 50’s and I have owned 4 cars in my life and kept each for a long time.
    1965 MGB
    1963 Jaguar XKE
    1974 Peugeot 504 (after a time in Africa)
    1963 Mercedes 220SEb Coupe

    After 15 years with only motorcycles, I am shopping for a Bentley. A clean, low mileage late ’90’s Azure should last me.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Don’t know what I’ll do with mine. If I finally decide to slap the LPG tank on it, fuel cost is gonna drop by half. If I go that route, it will become the “beater” and I will drive the bloody thing into the ground, easily 450K+ kms (sitting at 190K kms). The only weak link I see ATM is the A/T.

    If and only if goes that route, I might put a turbo and tweak the brakes a little bit and maybe get another VT for parts.

    Or I choose to get a VZ or VE of the same model. Still undecided.

    What I want for sure is a cheap POS for AutoX.

  • avatar
    Sylvilagus Aquaticus

    I’ve got over 250K miles on the old ’97 Sidekick. It hasn’t cost me anything in maintenance aside from gas and the oil changes every 3K miles for the last 4 years. I’ve owned it since 2000. I’m a faithful believer in both the Chinese payment plan (half down now, the other half now) and the Dixie cup rule of transportation ownership; make it do, use it up, wear it out before you crush it when it finally loses all structural integrity.

  • avatar
    big_gms

    Every vehicle I’ve ever owned I’ve kept until it’s either dead or knocking on death’s door, and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I’d still be driving my 1990 and 1991 Buick LeSabres if rust hadn’t got the better of them. I’ve got a 1995 Chevy full size truck with rust holes in the cab and 144,000 miles. It needs about $1700 in repairs. Am I going to ditch it? Hell no! It’s not ready to die and it’s cheaper to fix than replace at this point. My 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis is over 138,000 miles now. I’ve had to put some money into it and I like the car, so I’m not going to be replacing it anytime soon. In fact, if I can keep the rust away, I’d like to hang on to it even after I move on to a different daily driver. After all, they quite literally don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    I’ve never bought a vehicle expecting to sell it. The last time I can remember selling a running car was in late 1993, when I sold a co-worker my A1 Scirocco for $400 after I bought a new 94 Sidekick. I still have the Sidekick. And the VW was definitely stretching the definition of “running” at that point.

  • avatar
    Broo

    My first car died 18 years old. I had it 12 years and would have kept it further.

    The only vehicle I sold is my RAV4 I replaced with a Ranger due to the needs of a new and very different life.

    My daily driver was bought new and is 7 years old. The summer car is 28 years old, but I had it only 2 years. I will die still owning it, unless scarcity of parts says otherwise.

  • avatar
    VelocityRed3

    Got my 5 sp manual 2006 Mazda with 7 miles on the odo in about 3 weeks after Katrina, in ’05. As I pulled into the parking space this morning, it was just short of 172,000. Took her to Jim Ellis Mazda last week for an oil change, & the dealer dutifully noted about $1500.00 worth of repairs, i.e. lower control arm bushings, one leaking caliper (but of course lets replace the other side as well) & whatnot. Since I got that list, I hope to spend 600 or less by do-it-youself/local repair shop getting these repairs done. Sometime before 200,000 miles I’m just going to get a new clutch plate. I must admit that a 2013 fully loaded CX5 is a nice trucklet, but no car payment in even better. I plan to keep this car for 10 years (hopefully my daughter will have graduated from GSU by then too) & then maybe a 6 speed ATS will be in my sights. So yeah, 10 years is just about right.

  • avatar
    solracer

    I tend to fall into multiple categories. With my autocross car I tend to turn it over every 3-4 years though I am in year 5 with my Solstice which may or may not be replaced next season. Same thing for my 2011 Fiesta, if the ST ever gets here or if some hot hatch catches my eye I’ll trade it in by the time it’s 4 or 5 years old. However I’ve had my Miata for 23 years and my Corvair for 37 years so I do hold on to cars as well. In addition I have two old cars, a ’22 Essex my dad bought 40 years ago and a ’28 Franklin he bought way back in 1957 before I was even born.

  • avatar

    Why do I get the feeling in response, manufacturers will just start building crappier cars, designed to become irreparable after a few years? Works like a charm for home appliance and electronics.

    Wife has an ’02 Camry that has just received new suspension and drives like a brand new car. About 160k miles. I see it lasting another three or four years.

    The only thing wrong with my ’07 Fit is that it’s SO basic. I wish I had a little more comfort and luxury since I spend a couple of hours a day in it. The seats aren’t all that comfortable, the stereo isn’t all that great, it’s somewhat underpowered to deal with the blast off then brakes nature of traffic here, and it’s somewhat small to accommodate kids and accouterment on the rare occasional I’m tasked with taxiing. A new Focus looks awfully appealing. I bet I could get around $8k for the Fit and use the $6k we have in our car savings to pay for half a new ST, then pay off the other half in only a couple of years.

    But then I think about those two or three years of car payments and I balk. It just doesn’t seem worth it, especially considering the Fit is such a strong commuter in most respects.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    Totally depends on the car. My mom’s 2006 BMW will NOT be here in 10 years, nor 5, and likely will be replaced no later than 12-15 months. My dad’s 2007 Camry? Definitely. Our 1998 Avalon and my 1994 Hilux with 56,000 miles will also be here long term, but the Avalon could use a little TLC in the body and a new paint job, which we will likely do soon.

  • avatar
    littleMac

    I just bought my 1992 Volvo 940… I figure that a modest new car will cost me between higher insurance and taxes, and then a car payment somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6K per year easily. So that $2500 car which will need few repairs in the next couple of years is great sense since I can put 500 into every month and still break even, on top of that I really enjoy my old car more than I enjoyed my 6 year old xc70. Not too mention I could replace my engine in the 940 for the cost of almost any repair on the xc70. I figure that I should save close to 25k in the next five years if I can keep repairs under 5k. Not to mention my old ass volvo looks pretty classy in my opinion for a fraction of the cost.

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