Driving An Old Car: Pros And Cons

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: June 15, 2022

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At first glance, driving an old car might not seem like the most appealing option.

They don’t come with all the bells and whistles that you might get with a newer car, and you miss out on that new car smell. (Talk about a bummer!)

On the other hand, there are also some distinct advantages that you should definitely consider.

In this post, we’ll explore all the pros and cons of driving an old car, so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.

Pros Of Driving An Old Car

The benefits of driving an old car might not be immediately obvious, but they’re definitely there.

Here are a few of the reasons you might want to consider driving an older car:

Lower Purchase Price

The most obvious reason people choose to drive an old car is that they are much less expensive than new cars.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of a new car in December of 2021 was $47,077. I don’t know about you, but that is way too rich for my blood!

On the other hand, I just spent a few minutes searching online and found all sorts of high-quality used cars for $10,000 – $20,000.

For many people, (myself included) that’s a much more realistic purchase price–especially if you want to avoid debt.

Of course, you can always find cheaper used cars if you’re willing to sacrifice quality and reliability.

But the point is, if you’re looking for a solid used car that will last you for years to come, you don’t have to break the bank.

See Also: How Do People Afford New Cars?

Much Less Depreciation

One of the biggest benefits of driving an old car is that you don’t really have to worry about depreciation.

On the other hand, new cars depreciate at an alarming rate. It’s not unheard of for a new car to lose up to 30% or 40% of its value in a matter of 2-3 years.

With an old car, however, you can buy it, hold onto it for a few years, and then sell it for almost as much as you paid for it.

See Also: How Much To Spend On A Used Car?

Less Technology To Worry About

These days, cars are crammed full of high-tech gadgets and gizmos.

And while that might be fun for some people, for others, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Beyond that, all of that new tech can be expensive to repair if something ever goes wrong.

Plain and simple, if you can do without the latest tech features, driving an old car might be a better option for you.

Pros and Cons of Driving An Old Car | Be The Budget

Lower Insurance Costs

Another advantage of old cars is that they usually cost a lot less to insure.

Since insurance companies typically view older cars as less risky, they tend to charge lower premiums.

Of course, this isn’t always the case, so be sure to check with your insurance company before making a purchase.

See Also: 10 Best Ways To Lower Your Car Insurance Costs

Cheaper Registration

In most states, the registration fees for an old car are going to be lower than they would be for a new car.

This is because the value of an old car is usually much lower than that of a new car.

And while registration fees might not seem like a big deal, they can add up over time.

So if you’re looking to save some money, an old car might be the way to go.

See Also: 7 Best Ways To Save Money On Car Expenses

Repairs Are Usually Cheaper

Assuming it isn’t too old, another benefit of driving an old car is that repairs are usually cheaper.

This is because parts for older cars are often easier to find and less expensive than parts for newer cars.

Of course, this isn’t always true, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re considering an old car.

See Also: Buying A High-Mileage Car: 10 Practical Tips

You Can Get Classic Cars

If you’re a car enthusiast, then driving an old car can be a dream come true.

This is because you can find classic cars from years gone by that are simply not available anymore.

In rare cases, some classic cars can actually appreciate in value. Granted, this probably won’t happen on a car you use as a day-to-day driver.

But still, it’s worth mentioning.

Old Cars Are Inconspicuous

These days, it seems like everyone is trying to outdo each other with their cars.

But if you’re not interested in drawing attention to yourself, an old car might be a good choice.

They’re not flashy or ostentatious, and they definitely won’t turn any heads. Because of this, old cars are also less likely to be stolen.

I’m not saying that you should leave your doors unlocked, but an old car is definitely less of a target than a shiny new one.

You Can Modify Them

If you’re the handy type, you might enjoy the fact that you can modify old cars to your heart’s content.

You can soup them up, make them faster, or change them to suit your specific needs.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about voiding any warranties.

Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re into cars, it’s definitely a perk worth considering.

Old Cars Can Be A Fun Experience

If you’re looking for a unique driving experience, an old car is definitely the way to go.

There’s something about driving an old car that’s hard to beat–especially if you purchase a car with a stick-shift.

Whether it’s the way they look, the way they sound, or the way they drive, old cars can be a really enjoyable, almost nostalgic, experience. And in a world that’s becoming increasingly homogenized, that’s definitely something worth considering.

See Also: Is Buying A Car With 100K Miles A Bad Idea?

Cons Of Driving An Old Car

While there are many pros to driving an old car, there are also some cons that you should take into account.

In this section, we’ll discuss some of the disadvantages of owning an older vehicle.

Less Reliable

One of the biggest disadvantages of driving an old car is that they’re typically not as reliable as newer cars. Beyond that, they don’t come with any kind of guarantee that you would get from a new or certified pre-owned vehicle.

Sure, this isn’t always the case, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind before making a purchase.

Fortunately, you can avoid a lot of these problems by getting a thorough inspection from a trusted mechanic before you buy an old car. In most cases, they’ll be able to tell you what is most likely to go wrong, and if they even recommend purchasing the car in the first place.

Not As Many Safety Features

Another downside to driving an old car is that they often don’t have the same safety features as newer cars.

This might include things like extra air bags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control.

For some people, this is pretty much a deal breaker. But, the good news is most older cars these days are still pretty safe.

Fewer Bells And Whistles

If you’re looking for a car with all the latest bells and whistles, an old car is probably going to let you down.

Sure, you might be able to find an older car with some of the features that are common today. But in most cases, they’ll seem pretty basic.

For instance, the last car my wife and I purchased had a 6-disc CD player. At one point in time, that was a really awesome feature. However, these days, it’s basically useless.

Plain and simple, older cars are going to lack the technological features of a brand new vehicle, but they also come at a much cheaper price–which is hard to beat.

Can Be Difficult To Find Parts

Another potential downside to driving an old car is that they can be difficult for which to find parts. This is especially true for cars over 15 years old.

Of course, this depends on the make and model of your vehicle. But in general, it’s usually easier to find parts for cars built within the last 5 to 10 years.

Rust Can Be A Problem

If you live in a humid area (like we do), rust can be a big problem for older vehicles.

It’s not uncommon for cars in these areas to develop rust within just a few years.

And once rust starts, it’s only going to get worse. So if you’re looking at an older car, just make sure to get a thorough rust inspection. If it’s bad, you might want to move on.

Older Cars Can Be A Lot Of Work

Owning an older car can be a lot of work. If you’re not mechanically inclined, it can be tough to keep up with all the repairs and maintenance that an older vehicle requires.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to lessen the inconvenience of these problems.

To list a few, you can:

  • Save up a car repair and maintenance fund
  • Find a good mechanic that you trust
  • Learn how to do some basic repairs yourself

At the end of the day, it really comes down to how much work you’re willing to stomach. If you’re not afraid of a little elbow grease, owning an older car can actually turn into a very rewarding experience.

Other Tips For Owning An Older Car

Now that we’ve covered the benefits and disadvantages of driving an older car, here are a few other tips to help you make the most of your experience:

Budget For Repairs And Maintenance

One of the most important things you can do when owning an older car is to budget and save for repairs and maintenance.

These kinds of expenses are inevitable and, thus, should never surprise you.

If possible, you should keep a couple thousand dollars in an automotive sinking fund. This will help you cover the cost of any big repairs that come up without hurting your other financial goals.

See Also: Budgeting For A Car: 10 Tips To Help You Save And Pay Cash

Be Proactive With Maintenance

Another important tip is to be extra proactive with your maintenance. This means keeping up with things like oil changes, brake pads, and tires.

If you wait until something breaks to fix it, you’re going to end up paying a lot more money. Plus, you’ll have to deal with the headache and stress of scrambling to get your car functioning again.

I know that paying for car maintenance isn’t fun, but in the long run, these proactive expenditures will save you a ton of financial pain.

See Also: Fix Hail Damage Or Keep The Money? (A Guide For Car Owners)

Do Tons Of Research

Finally, make sure to do your research before buying an older car. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a real lemon.

Check out websites like Edmunds and Cars.com to get reliable information about different makes and models. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends or family members who might have experience with a particular car.

Throughout your research, you’ll probably identify a few vehicles that excel in terms of reliability. From there, it’s just a matter of finding the car you want for sale.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! These are just a few things to consider if you’re thinking about purchasing and driving an old car.

While there are some potential downsides, there are also a lot of benefits that you might make it a fantastic option for you.

Do you drive an old car? If so, what kind of benefits and disadvantages have you experienced? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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