driving an older vehicle

There are moments when I really detest our car.

Don’t get me wrong: I am thankful to have a reliable vehicle. At 203,000 miles, she is still running strong. We’ve been driving Dory for nearly seven years and still have had to do only routine maintenance and very few side repairs, such as replacing a cracked window and a broken ignition.

It’s just that she is so low to the ground, and the seats are so very uncomfortable, and it is so very awkward to get two small children in and out of their huge carseats in the backseat, and it is so annoying to have to cram groceries in every nook and cranny, and I wish I could take the stroller with us all the time instead of just on select trips. My bi-weekly grocery shopping trips to the city an hour away are becoming a thing of immense exhaustion and much inconvenient maneuvering. I’m tired of having no room in the car to change a diaper, I’m tired of taking everything out of the trunk to get the stroller in, and most of all I’m tired of those darned uncomfortable seats.

And I wish there was a windshield wiper on the rear window. And maybe dual climate control. And a CD player. And I wish that one of our rear seat belts wasn’t broken. And I wish there wasn’t that blind spot where the huge molding on the back window interferes with my line of sight.

This is really nothing new. I have been fighting discontentment with Dory for various reasons for a few months out of every year for oh, the last six years or so. Overall, she’s a great car. But the discontentment has been strong lately, so we have been analyzing the situation again and reminding ourselves why it is not yet time to get a different vehicle. Here is the reasoning:

  • We’re driving Dory less than 1000 miles per month right now. I see no reason that this car wouldn’t last easily until 225,000 miles, meaning she has at least a few good years left in her.
  • Most of my miles are highway miles, so if the average speed (between town driving and highway driving) is 50 mph, then I’m really only in the car for 20 hours per month.
  • If we were to get a newer car, we’d want to get one that was good quality and thus would last us another seven years or more. If car payments were $300 per month, and if we were only driving it 20 hours per month, that means that we would effectively be spending $15 per hour for the privilege of driving the new vehicle, or $20 per hour if you count gas.
  • As uncomfortable as Dory may be, the four of us can still fit in her and she still works for us. I look forward to the day when we get a higher vehicle with more room in it, but the ability to pay down other debts still seems more important than paying $20 per hour for the privilege of driving a newer car.

I think that for me, when it comes to things that are such strong wants that they are almost becoming needs (such as getting a newer vehicle), it is exceedingly helpful to analyze the cost ratio. Our car is not nickel-and-diming us; on the contrary, she is saving us car payments and is holding up tremendously well. The gas mileage is good, the air conditioning works, and the vehicle is acceptable in every other way. For now, it behooves us to continue driving Dory and continue putting more money toward our already-existing debts rather than taking on new ones.

And when the time comes to get a new vehicle, we will just be that much more grateful for it. Right?

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Published in: on August 31, 2010 at 12:15 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Had to laugh at your comments about the cd player, rear wiper, and dual climate control. The kids stuffed money in the cd player 2 days after we got the van (ruined it), and someone yanked on the rear wiper and broke it shortly after that (happened in a parking lot). And the climate control has never quite worked right. So, take solace in the fact that you may have a car with those things eventually, but you may shortly not have them 🙂 I feel your pain in getting the kids in and out. Been there done that. The remedy for that situation is to have another baby! Anyway, good job on figure out the cost per hour. I would have never thought to do that, and it does make it sound absurd to buy something new when you put it that way. Thanks for sharing this post!

  2. Don’t get a new car. I so understand, but please keep chugging along with your car that “does the job”. I have a beater van, that I hit a deer with, and have duck tape holding the headlight in. She has 204,000 miles on her but she is paid for. When I get that twinge of discontent with her, I remind myself that every newer car I see out there on the road has atleast a $300 a month trailer dragging behind it.
    Check out this Dave Ramsey video! If you take what you are willing to spend per month on a vehicle and sock it away for a year, you could buy a used vehicle with no loan.
    http://www.youtube.com/daveramsey#p/a/745CE46CA336AED6/0/iIgLyl66QxQ

  3. […] summers ago, I shared about our sturdy Toyota Camry that we’d been driving for more than seven years. Much in keeping with the recommendations of […]


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