February 15, 2024

Make It Last: Cars

I made my very first car last me for 13 years.

My first car, a used 1969 Mustang, was bought for $750 dollars. I fixed it up myself in my parent's garage, then proceeded to drive it for the next 13 years. 

When I decided to try going car-free for a while, I sold it... for $750 dollars.

Buying a car has become a bit more expensive since then. 

Right now it is more expensive than it has ever been, with the average price of a new car in Canada having risen by 30% just since 2019. 

The best way to beat car manufacturers selling $50,000 average vehicles is to not buy them. That was our choice when our van went to the vehicle cemetery a few years back.

The next vehicle I buy will be a mountain bike.

However, most people have cars, and often need cars to do the things required to get by. Our entire system is designed to encourage the buying and use of cars, because that is where the money's at.

For those that need a car, the best way to beat big vehicle manufacturers is to make your ride last as long as possible, like my Mustang experience.

The British actor known as Mr. Bean agrees with me. He has pointed out that the world would be better off environmentally if we would keep our vehicles longer. 

While cars are built to last about 14 years, the majority of drivers replace their cars before they are 5 years old.

Rowan Atkinson said, and he has degrees in electrical engineering, that keeping our regular vehicles longer is better for the climate than switching to an all electric fleet.

Of course, that was massively controversial, and he was immediately demonized for saying so. 

The media went on to singlehandedly blame him for declining electric vehicle sales, never mind the possibility that consumers are finding they just don't like the heavy, expensive, and somewhat awkward to operate new cars.

Perhaps we should have a debate about the issue.

That is what used to happen before they rolled out the much more convenient cancelling of everyone with a differing opinion, or facts, or data, or evidence, or reality.

So which is really better? 

Keeping our regular cars much longer by taking good care of them, or changing over the entire global fleet to electric alternatives?

Considering the drawbacks of going all electric, which consumers are becoming very familiar with as the rollout begins to flounder, it may be time to look at other solutions.

What if the more effective answer is just making your current car last longer?

What if Mr. Bean is right?


  1. Anonymous2/16/2024

    I completely agree that keeping a car that is well maintained for as long as possible seems sensible. For me, the most important factor is a safe car with airbags, seatbelts, and protection for my child and so long as our compact car provides those features then I am okay. We choose to keep just one car, live in town in a condo for our family of three so that the adults are able to walk to work and the kiddo can walk to school. We can walk to the post office, town hall, library, and the town playing fields on a well maintained town foot path. Aside from a weekly grocery pickup, doctor and dentist appointments, and a bi weekly sports practice for my daughter- we rarely drive. I could imagine having no car once my daughter is out of the house and we could rely on a ride share to go to appointments..

    1. Anonymous2/17/2024

      Your situation sounds highly walkable and pretty ideal. Sounds so nice.

      When we had a vehicle we only used it for the things you mentioned, meaning that we hardly used it. Now we order our groceries online every 4 - 5 weeks, then generous friends pick up for us. For everything else we book a ride with a local group that provides accessible transportation for a low price. I often ride my bike into town, too.

      Ride shares are an excellent idea. We love the lack of hassle in being car-free, and the savings really help.

      - Gregg

  2. Anonymous2/17/2024

    I drive a really tiny Skoda Citigo which is now 8 years old and as good as new, thanks to my excellent mechanic. I hope I will not need another car for at least another 8 years. The problem is that all these small cars are no longer built, neither with a combustion motor nor with a battery. As electric cars, they would be so heavy and so expensive that nobody would pay so much money for so little car. Or so the car manufacturers say.
    Hilde in Germany

    1. Anonymous2/17/2024

      Cars are getting larger, more complex, and more expensive all the time. That is the wrong direction. What we need are smaller, simple, inexpensive cars, like yours. Perhaps a hybrid instead of all electric would work. Good job on making your ride last.

      - Gregg

  3. Anonymous2/17/2024

    I am 100% in Mr. Bean's camp. My first car was a used Chevy Nova, which I drove for 8 years. When it sadly died, I bought a used Ford Tempo, which tragically was annihilated by a dump truck after I had only had it for four years. (I was thankfully unscathed - that car was a TANK.) Next was my wonderful Hyundai Accent, which, thanks to a great warranty and my wonderful mechanic, I drove for seventeen - yes, SEVENTEEN - years. When, on my mechanic's advice, I knew I was throwing good money after bad trying to repair its issues, I bought (from my mechanic) a 1999 Honda Accord, which I am currently driving. I keep up with routine maintenance and take it in to my mechanic for the bigger stuff. Hopefully, it will last me a few more years, and may actually be the last car I ever have to buy. I live out in a rural area, and a car is a necessary evil for all transportation here. So yes, Mr. Bean is
    completely correct in what he says, but a civilized debate (I know, a true impossibility these days) would be fascinating and informative.


    1. Anonymous2/17/2024

      17 years! You show us what can be done to make a car last.

      And last, and last, and last.


      - Gregg

    2. Agree with everything you've said Gregg. We have one car, 2003 Toyota Corolla and we bought it second hand 10 years ago. And for cash- we don't borrow money. High on the list of needs for us was that it hold 3 children in car seats and be economical to run. It fit the bill on both then and now it fits in wood, chicken feed, friends and dogs as required lol. But the reality is that it is hardly used. We walk everywhere and haul it out maybe once every 7-10 days for a short (but not walkable) trip to the nearest 'big' town. We will run it into the ground and then discuss what- if any-car we replace it with. I can guarantee though that if we do that it won' be new, or fancy LOL

    3. Anonymous2/21/2024


      If one needs a car, the way you are doing it is a good model. Buy used, pay cash, use only when necessary. Big Auto hates it, which means you're doing it right.

      - Gregg


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