By: Revanche

Old beater cars

May 11, 2009

I love my current ride, which I did buy new, but I just don’t see myself doing that again. New cars are great but they mostly smell like big fat monthly payments, insane insurance premiums, and freaking out over every ding and dent. My car’s six years old and I still get mad every time I discover a new scratch. My nerves just can’t take this.

I discovered three new dents in the driver’s side door last weekend and my blood’s still boiling.

The older I get, the more I feel like I’d be happy with an older beater car, something about 10 or 15 years old with just basic amenities like heat, a/c, working locks and windows. Not just happy, happier. Happier that I can worry less about the car being stolen, broken into (I leave nothing of value in there), or vandalized. I could be totally wrong about that last, because if you’re parking in an iffy area, I doubt it matters what you drive. But again, if it were an old, properly functioning vehicle, that wasn’t worth too much, it probably wouldn’t matter as much as a $23k car, right?

Am I fooling myself, though? I’ve only ever driven a real beater car for a short time back in college when I was between cars and someone had gifted my brother a really old two-door Toyota circa 1980.

Blame it on a hazy memory, but it wasn’t that bad. I do hate manual windows because I can’t reach across the car and roll down the passenger side window, but also because my hands are the first to go when I’m having a bout with the disease. Then again, it’s not like I was stuck with it.

Perhaps I’m more willing to wear [a little of] my money than drive it. This is all hypothetical anyway. She’s on a 20-year contract, aka: I’m driving her until the wheels fall off, replacing them, and driving her some more. 🙂

7 Responses to “Old beater cars”

  1. From experience owning a 1998 minivan, it is a good car.. if you don’t plan on using it a lot, and only just for driving intermittently to work and back.

    A newer car just has less problems. I’d suggest something 3-5 years old rather than 10-15.. 3-5 is what I’m aiming for, for my next ride

  2. Matt says:

    I’ve had new cars and I’ve had beaters and the reality is that you just pay more for the beater. The next care I’ll buy will be used unless for some reason it makes sense to lease a car. There is rarely any good reason to pay the premium for a new car.

    Whatever model of car you’re looking at you can probably buy the same car a couple years old with the same options and low mileage for great price.

    Beaters have their uses too though they often come with issues or the owner wouldn’t be getting rid of the car.

  3. Sense says:

    H yes, beater cars are awesome!

    You do have to do some up-front legwork and shop around a bit, but it’s worth the time and effort.

    I’ve only driven cars that were < $3K when I got them. In my last car, had a/c, a sunroof, 5 cd changer with remote (tricky on the highway), automatic windows...the only thing i really wanted other than those amenities was a remote door un-lock and locker (those keychain button things, dunno what they're called). I NEVER worried about scratches or dents or whatever. I’m a good defensive driver (0 accidents with other cars) and am very careful with other cars, but have trouble with stationary objects (fence posts, electric poles, garage door springs…). The one time i did ding my car pretty badly (only cosmetic damage), I actually just learned how to fix it myself, even painted it with $10 worth of car paint. Wasn’t noticeable until you got right up on top of the dented/scratched section. Plus, people are less likely to bum a ride off of you when you drive a beater, even if you keep your car pristinely clean like I did. 🙂 Just get AAA, and you’re golden.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Hi, I’m delurking to say I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and it’s very entertaining! Also, I can totally relate about the dent thing. My b/f and I just bought a car in December and until very recently, managed to avoid getting scrapes and dents. Well…let’s just say b/f drives in to work sometimes and parks at a garage, and the guys that work there are careless sometimes. We discovered two huge scratches in less than two weeks’ time! It doesn’t bother me as much as I’m not the primary driver, but b/f has been complaining about it for a while now.

  5. I got all of my nervousness out when – after owning her for about 2 weeks – I hit the side of my garage. Instead of stopping, I pulled forward, scraping the hell out of the side.

    I cried, but it was probably a good thing. Now I don’t worry about other dings or scrapes as much!

  6. Revanche says:

    FB: I could deal with the 3-7 year range.

    Matt: You just pay more for the new, right? Unless you’re talking about repairs? Depending on where I am, and where my handy car friends are, I might have to lean towards newer than older cars, but that’d only be if I simply couldn’t handle maintenance/repairs myself.

    Sense: Wow, wherever did you go used car shopping? I’ve got to come with. 🙂

    Kathleen: Welcome to the fray, I hope you stay delurked! I can’t say that I blame your BF, it’s bad enough when you’re the cause of the damage. It’s more aggravating when someone else hurts your baby! 🙂

    paranoidasteroid: I cried a little inside, when I read that.

  7. Katie C. says:

    I have a used car, but I wouldn’t classify it as a “beater.” My first car was a beater (1988 Chrysler Lebaron), and I never worried about it. My latest used car is a 2005 Dodge Stratus bought with cash $4,000 with 40,000 miles on it. Even being a newer vehicle, I don’t *worry* about it. I definitely don’t worry about bumps and bruises. But then again, I’m not much of a car person. As long as the car runs, I’m happy. My friend Amy, on the other hand, can’t imagine life without a car payment and treats cars like children. We all have our vices. 🙂

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