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Pay now or Pay later - When should i buy a new(er) car?

I have two cars:

2002 Ford Focus - 125k mi

2001 Ford Escape - 120k mi

i’m not a big fan of Ford, but both cars are paid off. I’m wondering if i should sell the escape and get something newer with about 10-20k miles. What’s more economical? Waiting three years with what i have (by then i’ll be near 200k) but my cars will be worthless or should i sell my escape, get some cash, and buy a new car, have it paid off around 70k miles?

This is a very personal decision based on your financial situation and preferences.

If you have stated the problem correctly, it looks like you drive over 20,000 miles a year. (120,000 to 200,000 in three years = 27,000 miles a year.)

Are these cars reliable at this point? How much is a 2001 Escape with 120,000 miles worth now? We are talking depreciation, and frankly the reduction in value, per your own statements, is called depreciation.

I guarantee you depreciation on most newer cars is going to be a lot more than on a 2001 Escape that already has 120,000 miles on it. Plus, you will be paying interest at high rates on the loan.

If, repeat, if, those cars are reliable for your needs, save part of the amount you would be paying every month for a new car, and keep going. IF they let you down a lot, then you need to get a newer one.

This is a personal choice issue, but either car will be cheaper than buying a new or newer car on average. You are about half way to the brake even point.

How many years do you have left? Live it up and buy new. One day it will be too late for that.

Some people have a goal of dying with as much money in the bank as possible; not me and I hope not you.

I hate to be the smart @ss here but if you are not a big fan of ford why do you own two of them ?

well the focus was my wife’s before we married and the escape… i bought that. Before these two vehicles i was indifferent, but now i just think Ford vehicles (save the trucks) are shoddy

Most economical on average is waiting and waiting. Save all you can in the time between now and then. Figure out how the car fits in with the goal of home ownership, retirement and your overall five year plan for your life.

You didn’t tell us much about either one. A 2001 Escape XLS with a V6 and auto transmission could sell for around $3800 if it is in clean condition. The mileage is the big detractor from value.

If you like Ford trucks, why not sell the Focus and keep the truck? You could get $2400 or so for a 2002 Focus SE with the auto transmission. You might want to look at Ford’s new smaller cars. Take a look at the Malibu; it’s very highly rated.

he said they’re both paid for.
I’m just wondering what type of vehicle the OP is looking for

Provided you haven’t neglected or abused them, neither one is worn out. On the other hand, they are old enough and have enough miles on them that they will not bring much in a private sale or as trade ins. Their value as transportation considerably exceeds their market value.

I have a 10 year old Subaru with 185,000 miles that I expect to keep for at least three more years. My reason for replacing it will be to get something with a 5,000 pound towing capacity so that I can pull a horse trailer.

Your least expensive option is to keep both vehicles until something fails that will cost several thousand dollars to fix. If you want and can afford a new car, it’s OK to treat yourself. Use the one you like less for a trade in. But don’t kid yourself that you are saving money by buying a new car.

Ironicly I have a similar situation. I should wait until my personal finances are better but this is a fantastic time to invest in things like new(er) cars and homes because consumer spending is down. This is all an indication of how the politicians manipulated the economy for the election - but I don’t dare get into that.
I have a Ford Explorer that I will never get rid of. It currentley has 225,000 miles on it. I would strongly recommend that you buy nothing but Ford because of the current situation with the domestic automakers. Ford will probably stay in business, I don’t think Chevy will because of their overhead and their reputation. Chevy/GM will just stay in business and continue their struggle in a couple of years like Chrysler did after Iacoca left them.
So what I have stated here is that depending on how these two fairly new makes of Fords have treated you, you may want to keep them and gamble on the economy getting better for car buyers in the future. Or you might want to dump them because of poor dependability - even Ford can make a lemon. Aerostar is proof of that. If you decide to get a new(er) car stick with a Ford product that has been around a few more years then the Escape of Focus. Let Ford work out the “First of the production years” blues.
Trust me, don’t buy a GM product.

Do you mean the Focus, or are you encouraging him to look at Chevy? Either’s fine in my book - both cars have been well received.

how can one “invest” in a newer vehicle?
Only way to turn a profit in a vehicle is if you can find that rare Hemi Cuda convertible that’s rusted out, restore it, and take it to a big auction like Barret Jackson

Sell the old Focus and look at a new midsize car.

You’d never make a profit on a car like that. There’s too much labor involved to make money on it. Unless you amortize your time at a few dollars an hour. The cars that sell for lots of money are either numbers matching cars with moderate restoration or resto-rods that are extremely well done.