How long do you hold onto your cars?

My husband and I hold onto our cars as long as we can.  My SUV is five years old and my husband’s van is seven.  We had the previous van twelve years before finally taking it to the dump when the repair costs got to be more than it was worth.  Luckily my husband is handy at working on cars so we can hold onto them longer than most people.

Back before the recession it was common for people to turn their cars in for new ones every four years, sometimes two.  Nowadays people are holding onto their cars longer because they can’t afford to replace them as frequently.

If you think we’re crazy for holding onto our cars for ten years or longer you’ll be amazed at how many miles this guy has driven his Volvo.


3 thoughts on “How long do you hold onto your cars?

  1. I agree! We hold on to ours as long as the body is sound and the engine can be repaired at a reasonable cost. And even then, we compare it to what it would cost to purchase a used vehicle vs the repair of the current one. We had our 1995 Windstar until 2008 (13 years), and we’ve currently got a 1999 Honda Odyssey (13 years old) and a 2008 Honda Odyssey (4 years old). We do not plan to replace the 99 for another several years, as it is still running just fine. We’d rather spend the money on the kids’ college tuition or family vacations that create great memories.

    • We were hoping our 1996 Dodge Caravan would make a good starter car for our son who was born that same year. Unfortunately the van didn’t make it that far. That’s another good use for old cars..letting teenagers drive them.

  2. This IS a complex question.

    The body is the most INFLUENTIAL characteristic that is noticed. Unavoidable.

    However, maybe a working standard of this description? Unfortunately can NOT recall source. But here goes:

    The WORST years for car repairs are: 1, 3, 5, TENTH, and finally, the 7th years. The reasons are based on a new car, and its life span. Obviously, years 1 and 3, are wearable parts replacements years; and these DO fold into other years’ repair stats.

    Along about year 5, brake rotors are ripe for cashiering. That would also fold into year #10.

    Years 3,5 7 and 10 are also candidates for auto transmission replacements. All depends on vehicle maker, materials used, and HOW you drove the car. You can check the transmission oil levels all you want. But, a lock-up while on the road is quite unpredictable. I had that experience, although it was the engine that filed. My ORIGINAL tranny gave out at 35K. The replacement was doing just fine.

    Then too you can have your car in for a completely different repair. And, if a front-wheel drive type; failure to PROPERLY hook up inter-connected steering gear CAN cause premature, and total tranny damage.

    The final “yard stick” is the “nickle and diming” effect. Along about year nine, IF, your repair bill starts showing $500. and more, as a steady cost for each repair, time to OFF-LOAD this turkey.

    Around 100k miles, look for either engine re-build, or engine replacement.

    However, in searching for a newER-to-you vehicle, note the mileage readings. Car Fax Reports are a great tool. BUT, there ARE glitches. Only 27 states ARE “Car Fax” states. No great stretch to note the possibility of weather-damaged cars being “imported” at lower prices in your market area., is a menu page for searching., and,; are Car Fax site-based info portals., gives a review as to Car Fax efficacy.

    Thomas J. Baglin

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