More and more Americans are learning that the true beauty of car ownership is not in having shiny new metal parked in the driveway, but in owning a beat-up old beast that costs you almost nothing to drive.
The average age of a car in America is now 11 years, the oldest it’s ever been. One in five Americans is driving a car that’s 15 years old or older, according to data from NPD Group.
It’s become a real point of pride to hold on to your car for as long as you can. Do you have a beloved daily driver that’s pushing past 200,000 or 300,000 miles…or more? I want to see it! Upload a photo, and view the gallery.
I have been so excited by people who drive a car until the wheels fall off. New vehicles lose most of their value — approximately 70% — in the five years of ownership. After that, a car loses almost no value because the depreciation curve flattens out.
We have a van that’s 10 years old in our family. It’s beat up from years of toting our kids around. That beast stopped declining in value about four years ago. So we drive very nearly for free in that vehicle, just paying the cost of maintenance, gas, and the occasional repair.
Unfortunately, too many people tire out of a car way before the car ages out. It’s not uncommon for some people to get a new car every three or four years, usually before they’ve even paid it off in full. So then they roll the outstanding balance on that loan into the purchase of a new vehicle and basically commit financial suicide.