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You wrote, The longer you drive it, the more value you get out of the money you put into it...

While I generally agree with the sentiment, I'm not sure I would treat the statement as an absolute. Maintaining a car, especially when you are talking about having multiple major mechanical issues, can cost you a LOT in labor. Unless you are your own mechanic, this can get prohibitively expensive ... and you may never be able recoup all of that cost.


Usually when I've gotten rid of a car in the past, I've already started paying for expensive repairs I know I'll never be able to justify relative to the depreciation cost of a new car. Of course I never see it until I've already paid for a few expensive repairs and can still tell there are other expensive repairs deferred. At that point I throw up my hands and buy another car.

But of course I'd never consider replacing a 4 year old car unless I've put a 250K miles on it or it's been totaled in an accident. That would just seem wasteful to me. Maybe I'd do it if the cost of a car were pocket change, but probably not. My own car is a 2006 Accord. It's been paid off since 2007. Savings rates were falling and I decided I didn't need that much of a cash cushion, so I paid it off in less than a year.

I have to confess I've been tempted to break my own rules though. My new house and job are really close together. My Accord now gets lousy gas mileage (no better than 22mpg) because of the short distances, hilly terrain and traffic signs/lights. My girlfriend's hybrid seems unaffected by any of it. So I might wind up selling / trading in my Accord before my 10 year target in part because of its fuel economy.

- Joel
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