Why You Should Buy A Used Car

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Why should you buy a used car?  Well, if you have been reading my blog, you know that one of my priorities is to help single income, and large families to save money and stay on a budget.  If you haven’t been reading my blog, now you know that as well.  In the following article I use the story of my van, Maxi, to make my case for why you should buy a used car.

Maxi the Van

Maxi the Van is a perfect example of why you should never judge a book by it’s cover.  Maxi is big and ungainly.  She is not very glamorous.  In fact, Maxi used to be a working girl.   Most of all, she is downright ugly, and I love her.

Maxi the Van Has Warts

Maxi started out in 2007 working for Metro Star here in Houston.  She most likely shuttled people to and from the airport.  Until one day….

Maxi had an unfortunate incident, most likely in the parking parking garage at the airport.

We are not sure exactly what happened to Maxi, but my guess is that a driver miscalculated her height and wedged her underneath the concrete roof at the airport parking garage.

Maxi also had damage to the seal around her windshield in the incident, which resulted in water leaking through the roof into the cup holders and onto the driver’s lap, every time that it rained.  It rains here very often.

Nothing a little Gorilla Tape can’t handle

Maxi ended up losing her job even though she had less than 90,000 miles on her.  She was sold at auction to a dealer. We bought her in February of 2012 for $10,000 cash.  Which is approximately what you would pay now, for a clean 2007 Chevy 2500 Express Passenger Van, six and a half years later.  All because of a scratch and a leak.

Maxi also has that awesome Chevy white paint.  You know, the one you notice peeling off of every white Chevy van on the road!

Another thing that you can count on when you have an 11yr. old van and six children is the inexplicible broken door handle.

Eventually I will pick up a couple cans of white spray paint and cover up all of the bald spots before they become too rusty.  I will also need to replace the front windshield instead of using Gorilla Tape to keep the water out. The door handle, well, we did try to glue it back on, but it didn’t work.  I guess we will just live with it.

Never Judge A Book By It’s Cover

Yes, Maxi the Van is ugly.  To make it worse, she came with a backup beeper that ensures everyone will get a good look at us in our ugly van.  If I was concerned about image, that might be a problem.  But I don’t and it’s isn’t.

I have always been super practical when it comes to cars.  Even when Carrie and I were DINKs (dual income, no kids) we drove a Geo Metro.  Speed and beauty never had an intoxicating effect on me.  I have always looked for three things in a car:

  • It must be reliable – I need a car that won’t break down often.
  • It must be economical – That means be inexpensive to own, and not just good gas mileage.
  • It must be comfortable – Most importantly a working air conditioner and comfortable seats.

When it comes to the above, Maxi the Van is loaded with value.  For example:

  • Maxi the Van comes with bucket seats and a walk through interior.  This is such a big deal that I could probably write an entire (albeit boring) blog post about the awesomeness of walk through interiors when you have six bickering children.
  • The A/C is super effective, in fact it get’s too cold for the kids in the back.  Yeah, keep up that bickering.
  • Kids can take turns laying on the floor during long trips.

Maxi also comes with a built in trash receptacle that you never have to empty.

Interestingly, it is disguised  to look like a broken cup holder.

Finally, Maxi the Van comes with a portable hand held rear view mirror that one of my kids so graciously modified from a standard window mounted unit.


Still Not Convinced That You Should Buy A Used Car?

Yes, Maxi the Van is ugly, and she has a backup beeper that makes sure that everyone notices us.  It’s true that the left side of Maxi, between the interior and exterior walls has dozens of sucker sticks, sun flower seed shells, straws and chewed up gum.  No, the radio doesn’t work because my kids filled up the CD drive slot with loose change (hey, what happens in Maxi stays in Maxi).  Yes, the rear view mirror has been snapped off of the windshield.

I realize that those things don’t exactly make you want to run out and buy a van just like Maxi.  But in all seriousness, Maxi the Van has been an incredible value.  Perhaps some comparative figures will convince you to consider a used vehicle when it comes time to make a purchase, especially if you are a large family or one income family, living on a budget.

Maxi the Van

  • I purchased Maxi for $10,000 cash, out the door 78 months ago.
  • In the last 78 months I have spent $2,850 in maintenance, repairs and towing upgrades, so we could pull our travel trailer.
  • In total, I have spent $10,280 on Maxi over the past 78 months. This doesn’t include oil changes, etc. because all cars require maintenance.
  • That averages out to $165.00 per month to own and maintain Maxi the Van (this, of course, does not include fuel and insurance).

New 2018 Passenger Vans

  • The average price of a new nine or more passenger van is slightly over $40,000
  • If you were able to take out a 72 month loan at 0% and 0% down payment, you would still have a monthly payment of  $555.00.
  • That is a difference of $390 per month.  Not to mention a significantly higher insurance premium that comes with a new car.

So My Question Is…..

  • Is that new car smell worth $27,150?
  • Is the clean new “don’t eat in my car” paranoia worth that much?
  • Are you a large family on a budget?
  • Are you a one income family?
  • Are you trying to save money so that you can stay at home?

If you think you need to replace your car and are trying to determine whether or not you should buy a new car, you should ask yourself the above questions first.

I hope you find you own special Maxi the Van, or Susie the SUV, or some other used treasure.  If you have any questions on the subject of buying used, I would love to help you find the answers. I am not an expert, but I have years of used car experiences.  First, there was the Connie the Comet.  Then there was Betsy the Bug.  After that was General Grant the Charger  then came Veronica the Vega and Slick the Monte Carlo, ……..and finally, Maxi.

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5 years ago

LOL, we have one of those magical never-ending trash cans in our car as well! I agree, used is the way to go. Scratch-and-dents are also a great deal.

5 years ago

Love this! We did buy one vehicle brand new and plan to drive it until it can’t be driven anymore, but we buy most of our vehicles used, and always with whatever cash we have. It’s wonderful not having car payments! Our latest purchase was Hank the Tank, an 18-year-old Ford Excursion 7.3L diesel with 278,000 miles so that we could pull a travel trailer and still seat our large family. Hank might not be the prettiest car on the road, but he’s a beast and helps us safely accomplish our dream – to camp! (He is, however, my husband’s… Read more »

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