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Replace your car soon or drive it until it dies?

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

Americans have no plans to replace their cars every few years, even if the economy is fine, according to a survey by, a free auto repair website owned by US Auto Parts Network.

Just three percent of the more than 4,000 car owners surveyed said they plan to replace their car every three to five years, and just four percent pegged buying a replacement at six to seven years. A whopping 78 percent of those surveyed said that they would keep their car "more than 10 years or until it dies," while the remaining 15 percent of owners said they'd replace their cars every eight to 10 years.

While numerous studies have shown that Americans are holding onto their cars longer than ever before, notes that this survey shows the trend to keep cars longer is growing, even though the economy is improving. More than half of those surveyed said an improving economy would not encourage them to buy a new car sooner, while 80 percent of all of those surveyed said they plan to drive their cars for more than 100,000 miles. The top reasons why were:

  • Economy -- 47 percent.
  • Vigilant repair/service -- 44 percent.
  • Cost Savings -- 37 percent.
  • DIY-ing -- 28 percent.
  • Better-built cars -- 19 percent.

Keeping your car beyond the length of your auto loan means you can save money by not having a monthly car payment, plus car insurance gets cheaper as a car gets older.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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August 23, 2012 at 9:58 am

If Rich is so great and rich, WHY does he feel the need to brag about it and make fun of everyone else? He is obviously a Big Fat Liar with a sick need to promote himself! He is such a LOSER!

August 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I drive a Dodge Neon has 106,800 miles on it. I have 14 months left on the loan, owing $2,700. At most, it's worth $1,400.
A few days after getting a tuneup two weeks ago, the check engine light went on. I took it back to the place where I got the tuneup and they told me it needed a new catalytic converter, which costs anywhere from $600 to $1,000. I can't afford it right now but I have until the end of October to either take care of it or get another car because that's when it needs to pass state inspection.
As I have learned over the last few years, Dodge Neons are not known for their reliability. There was a six-week stretch in the spring of 2011 when I had to replace the rack and pinion, the transmission (twice), rear brakes and a fan in the air conditioning system. Luckily I had an extended warranty to take care of most of it, but that warranty has since expired due to mileage.
Given that I have 14 months to pay it off and it could cost in excess of what that car is worth to keep it running and passing state inspection until then, would I be better off trading the car in and rolling the balance on this car into the next loan or should I just keep fixing it?

August 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

We have 3 used cars; 1 waiting for repairs, 1 in good running condition; and 1 barely running...had a plymouth van bought new in 97 but caught fire while i was driving it to work in i just can't get myself to buy new...can't handle monthly payments anymore now that hubby does not want to contribute to expenses...but that's another used is all i say...

August 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

rich also sniffs boys bicycle seats

August 21, 2012 at 5:42 am

i have two vehicles, my dodge pickup truck (which i bought new back in 95) which gets me about 12 miles to the gallon, and my chevy tracker, a real gas saver compared to the dodge. i bought tracker used, for $500. dollars, fixed that up, now i use the tracker for daily commute to work and back, all i care about is getting from A - B, it is not a luxery vehicle, just the basics. that tracker paid for its self in 10 weeks alone just by the fuel savings, by keeping the tracker as the primary vehicle, my insurance dropped lower yet, because the dodge would cost more to repair,finally if one of them should need repairs, i still have the other to continue getting to work. Do not see why i need a new car in the future. cheaper to repair them than it is to go keep up with the jones.

August 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm

he also has three girlfriends because his right hand is missing two fingers

August 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

rich is a liar who has probably molested more boys than sandusky

August 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

2001 chrysler caravan used for work only. I travel over 20,000 annually and basically change the oil. When it goes, I'll get my wife a newer car and takes hers [a 2006 town and country mini-van. BTW the caravan has 212,000 miles.
Rich--you seem like an idiot!!

August 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I buy a new Rolls Royce every year. I'm pleased to see all the poor people look at my car, while I point and laugh at theirs. I also have 3 girlfriends..and people say that lying and cheating won't get you anywhere in life. then why am I worth over $5 million?

August 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm

wren, figure the monthly payments of the "new" car you want and get an annual cost, plus the increase in auto insurance for a new car and you have a rough idea. If your maintenance payments are about the same, then time for a new car.