Me and my car

Over the holidays, my wife and I will spend a lot of time in the car.  According to Google Maps over the next three weeks I’m driving 2,400 km which is basically a giant circle around Southwestern Ontario.  I’m not sure what other people do on their trips, but for the most part our time is split equally between the following activities:

  1. Listening to podcasts: I am heavily attached to several, but I would highly highly recommend The Vinyl Cafe podcast (available through iTunes) – most of the other ones are not really family friendly.  Many hours have passed by listening to these.
  2. Dance Parties: I do all of the driving on these trips (my spouse does not have a license) and the only way my passenger will stay awake is with the stereo cranked and singing/dancing along to some country (or at this time of year Christmas) songs – a lot of people like to “admire” these dance parties.*
  3. Talking: Over 20+ hours in a car allows for some fairly in-depth conversations on many topics (if you want to get caught up with your significant other, just start driving).

In a recent conversation we talked about what we were going to do with my car.  I am currently driving a 2002 Nissan Sentra S-ER.  I bought the car used five and a half years ago and have averaged 19,000 km per year in driving (it currently has about 155,000 km on it).  There are a few obvious rust spots starting to show up that will need attention in the spring, as well as a few repairs that will probably total about $1,000 to $2,000 over the next year or so.  We were planning on buying a car in the fall of 2011, but after a lengthy discussion came to the following conclusions:

We’d like a “new” (to us) car, but don’t need one: The current car just had a new engine installed 50,000 km ago (under warranty).  The engine in this car is probably in just as good or better condition then anything we’d buy right now.

We’d rather pay off the house then have a new car: Provided there are no major repairs, it seems like it aligns better with our current financial goals to use any available money to pay down our mortgage then to have something that is not really needed.

In the end we decided that we are going to drive my poor Nissan into the ground.  Financially I think this makes sense, to essentially bring the vehicle value to $0 and get all of the use we can while we are paying down our mortgage.

While we are paying down the mortgage we will still be saving money for a new car.  There has to be a point where it isn’t worth fixing.  We decided that $3,000 would be our cut-off where we would essentially call it quits, even if it happens next year.  I’m hoping that because I have kept the vehicle maintained this will never happen, but sometimes this kind of thing is beyond a car-owner’s control (as I have found out with previous vehicles).

I’m sure this plan will get refined over time, but that’s what we are currently thinking.

I’d like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.  If you see a silver Nissan driving around with a girl dancing in the front seat, after you’re done pointing and laughing, give me a wave 🙂

What do you think of our plan for our car? Any Suggestions?

*According to my iTunes most played songs – the current favourite is “My Favorite Things” – as made famous in The Sound of Music.

7 thoughts on “Me and my car”

  1. I drove 16000km from Calgary – st John’s and back a few months ago…

    I would highly recommend audio books!

    My favourites were a series of short sci-fi stories by Arthur C. Clark, Dan Brown’s latest book (11 hours of fun, albeit slow and repetitive at times), and the China Study… probably not something to listen to on the way to holiday celebrations, but maybe on the way home.

    And I also had fun trying to find CBC 1, to listen to ‘the debaters’ and ‘Q’… who knew it wasn’t always on a AM station! I’m such a prairie girl!

    Have fun, and be prepared for winter storms.

  2. As we are long term car owners too, I can relate to what your vehicle plans are.

    D’s car (same as mine) got replaced after a couple of years of low to mid $1000’s worth of bills. Luckily my car is still behaving.

    It takes a long time to get a $0 vehicle value on a Japanese car. My ’97 Crv is still at the $2200 range.

    Have a wonderful holiday and safe driving Dave!

  3. Cheers for the Vinyl Cafe – I haven’t proactive enough to do the podcast thing, but it always puts a smile on my face on a weekend morning when I’m driving around town doing errands!

  4. Your views on the car echo our practice. I have delivered my last three vehicles to the local wrecker. I get a couple hundred bucks for them and he fixes them up (he has the time and a large supply of cheap parts) and someone else gets another year or two out of them. It feels like recycling and we get our full value out our cars.

  5. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile.

    I’m driving a Honda now with about 240,000Km on it and just redid the transmission. I’m going to start saving up to get another vehicle as soon as the wife finishes school.

    It’s going to take awhile to calculate, but I want to compare a set of criteria. Ford vs Honda, New vs Used, keeping for 5 years, vs 10, vs into the ground. Then determining the lowest cost option.

    Hopefully I can do that before my car dies.

  6. I’m on my 3rd Honda Civic. The first two lasted 469k and 385k respectively. My current 2000 model has only 210k on is so I hope to get another 5 years out of it. I bought it in 2003 and since then had only done oil/filter changes and redid the brakes once. This past fall we had a whole bunch of small non-fatal problems fixed by a friend (Honda mechanic). ~$1500 later and it’s good as new. It was bought mostly with cash and the small loan paid off in 2006 so all these years are virtually free. I also sent my last two to the wreckers at the end and plan to do the same with this one. It will likely be replace with another 3yr old low mileage Civic which I’ll keep for 10+yrs.

    As for the long drives, we too use it for lengthy conversations we otherwise don’t seem to make time for. When doing long drives with the kids I’ve read the entire Harry Potter series aloud (with accents).

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