Maintaining an Old Car vs. Buying A New One


Let me tell you about the car that I drive.

I’ve been driving the same car for the past 12 years. It was a gift from my father after my SPM examinations so that I could drive to and from college every day comfortably.

Over the years, both my friends and my family have constantly told me to buy a new car like most other people do, but I have so far resisted the urge to get rid of my beloved car. As far as I’m concerned, I love my car, it has sentimental value to me, and because of how many hours I’ve spent behind it’s wheel, I’m an expert driver when I’m driving my own car.

But to give them the benefit of the doubt, I decided to think a bit about the justifications and challenges of purchasing a new car versus investing in maintaining the car I already have and love.

Here are a few considerations I’ve come up with.

What are your personal priorities?

When it comes to your personal vehicle, what are your priorities? Do you only want a car that can get you from Point A to Point B, or do you prioritize comfort and performance above everything else?

For some people, a car is nothing more than a way to get to their destination and back. They’re not trying to look cool, and they’re not trying to impress anyone with their car. When it comes to car owners like these, and I’ll admit that this is the kind of car owner I am, ego plays no role in it. I do not feel bad whenever people make negative comments about me driving an old car.

Other car owners, however, want a car that’s shiny, new, fast, and that handles well on Malaysian roads. One of my closest friends is like this: to him, a car isn’t just a vehicle. It’s a status symbol, and as such he needs a car that’s luxurious, comfortable, and fast.

Since there isn’t really a right or wrong answer, the key here is self-awareness: like any big decisions in your life, you have to be honest with yourself and figure out what a car means to you.

Maintenance Payments versus Car Loan Payments

An important factor when it comes to making the decision of sticking with the car you have or buying a new one, is money.

When you choose to keep an old car, you have to be ready for the times when you have to carry out major repairs or spare parts purchases to keep your car operational. On top of the regular servicing you conduct on your car, car parts will eventually malfunction after a few years and they’ll need to be replaced. If you’re like me, you’ll be insisting on only original spare parts which are much tougher on the wallet. Since your car’s warranty would have probably expired by now, any expenses on the car come straight out of your own pocket.

Choosing to trade that old car in for a new one is not necessarily easier, either. Buying a new car usually means taking on a new car loan, and that means monthly payments.  A part of your paycheck every month for the next few years is already gone, since you have committed it to the shiny new car that you’re proudly driving. This is on top of your other financial burdens such as your monthly bills, perhaps your student loans and rent as well.

Again, there is no right or wrong answers, but when it comes to money you have to decide what sort of financial commitments you are comfortable with. Ask yourself: are you the kind of person who prefers to pay as-and-when needed for repairs, or are you the kind of person who doesn’t mind paying loan payments every month? Only you can answer that question for yourself.

Familiarity or Better Quality?

Personal priorities and financial concerns aside, let’s take a look at the machine itself: the car.

Buying a new model means that you’re driving something state-of-the-art, a car that has the latest technologies, a much better in-car entertainment system compared to your old one, and probably more power and definitely better fuel efficiency. Your new car will give you an improved driving experience and might even save you a bit of money when it comes to fuel.

Your old car definitely won’t be as advanced as the new model, but it is familiar to you. After so many years of driving it, you know exactly how it handles, and just seeing how the car handles or by hearing certain sounds, you can tell whenever something isn’t right. Your car is more than just a machine, its an extension of you as a person!

For me, I’m very confident that I can handle my car well even during the most severe of driving conditions, simply because my car and I have done so many times in the past.

Added to this could be the sentimental value. In my case, my car was something that my late father purchased for me, a car that we shared and took turns using for many years. For that reason alone the car has a lot of personal value to me.

Think about all the memories, the good times, and the experiences that you associate with your car. You and your car have what they call ‘history’, and that’s something that money can’t buy!

A Personal Decision

The decision to change cars can be a very significant decision, but at the end of the day its a personal one as well. That car will be under your name, and much like a romantic relationship, your car requires your commitment and care so that it’ll last for many years to come. Whether you decide to maintain and upgrade the car you already have or get rid of it and invest in a new one, make sure that you think very deeply about all of the considerations mentioned above, so that you can be confident that the decision you’ll make will be a wise one.