Reader Question: Older Cars vs. Classics?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Gwyn asks: I have a 2001 Honda Accord that I Love. Reliable, fast, good pickup and fewer computers hiding all over the place.  I don’t care about looks so much, or even appreciation – mainly reliability.  If you were a 72 year old woman still pretty spry and savvy about a lot of things, what would you do in my place? And by the way,  I am living on CA poverty level with just Social Security income.

My reply: Well, the first thing I’d do is keep the Accord! As you already know, these are fantastic cars. They will often go 250,000-plus miles without major work being needed – and when major work is needed (such as a new transmission or even a new engine) it can be money very well spent to just put three or four thousand in the car – which will then be a reliable car again for another very long time.

Keep in mind that what you’re not spending on that car right now – and haven’t spent on it during the past however many years you’ve owned it since it was paid off – is money in the bank.

Set aside say $50 every month in a Repair Fund. At the end of a year, you’ll have $600 ready for whatever comes up. After three years, $1,800. If nothing comes up, you have the $1,800!

Or, buy a slightly newer/lower miles Accord (or similar car). And then practice the same polices as above.

I have an ’02 Nissan pick-up with appx. 154,000 miles on it that still runs flawlessly. It has the original clutch, too. When that needs to be replaced, the cost will be a minor nick compared with the cost of a new truck.

Keep in mind as well that you are saving a lot on property taxes and insurance due to the age and low retail value of your car. If you were to buy a new/newer car, both of those costs would go up.

If you like the Accord, it’s good financial sense to keep the Accord!

The only caveat here is rust – which is likely not an issue for you. A rusty car is a car you don’t want to keep; structural rust is dangerous and can be very expensive to repair properly.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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