What is an “old car”

Hi. I probably fit in the “nut” category but I am 50 year old woman and I live in downtown SF. I have a 2011 Ford Escape that we have only put 32,000 miles on in 11 years. I don’t want a new car but I am worried I am being unsafe by having an old car. We have new tires and have just replaced wiper blades (that were fine) after 11 years. Brakes have been checked. Is it unsafe to drive this car without newer safety features? Should I change brakes proactively. Feels like a new car to me but I do not want to be stupid as I am a safety nut. My dad tells me we should get a new car as it is better but I fit comfortably in this car (petite and can see hood!) I checked that airbags last. Is there anything I am missing or am I just being a worrier?

Rubber parts age so you were correct to replace tires on time. The same is true for brake hoses, brake fluid, and coolant.

Rust is not your problem in CA. Age of interior glues and plastics can be an issue but otherwise 10 years is not old for a car. In fact the average age of cars on the road is now 11.5 years.

Tell dad not to worry, and drive on.


just make sure the recalls were done.
2011 Ford Escape Recalls | Cars.com

Welcome @Tracyhodes_177722

You are by no means a nut asking such questions!

I’m not a mechanic or a DIY person but I have been reading here in the forum for many years and have learned valuable knowledge about car maintenance and upkeep. (BTW, I am a fellow woman so am speaking from a POV mostly like yours.)

Your car is neither old in years or mileage. It should have quite a bit of life left in depending on several factors:

Does the car have any rust?

Has the car maintenance been kept up on the time schedule and not just mileage schedule?

Your car’s owner manual has a specified schedule for maintenance which is based on mileage and time, whichever comes first.

It is worth your time to carefully read through that schedule and note anything that needs doing based on time. Get estimates on the cost of bringing those service items up to date. Since your car is out of warranty you don’t need to go to a dealer shop. But stay away from chain shops. Find an independent shop with good reputation.

Items I personally would check if they have been done on time schedule:

At eleven years old, your car should have ALL the hoses looked at and possibly replaced. Rubber degrades with time.

Has the brake fluid been changed? Brake fluid is hydroscopic and gradually becomes contaminated with condensation over time.

What is the condition of the brake lines? Keep in mind that the metal brake lines have an inner rubber lining that degrades and eventually collapses with time.

Has the coolant been changed?

Has the transmission been serviced? The transmisdion fluid changed?

What is the condition of the suspension system? Has it ever had all four wheels aligned? How are the struts/shocks?

What is the condition of the motor mounts and the transmission mounts?

The very knowledgable regulars here in the forum can give you good advice about these items and more. Any answers you can provide to my listed questions and any questions others ask will be helpful for those who can advise you.

Keep in mind that new cars are in very limited supply at present and therefore there are few “deals” to be had. And the used car market is crazy expensive as a result. Unless your car has any major deficiencies that would cost more to remedy than the cost of replacing the car you will be financially ahead to keep what you have.

Others here will have differing views and suggestions which are also worth taking note of and considering.

Please do stay around and consider all the advice within the context of your needs, financial resources, typical car needs and use, and family dynamics.

And I will add, taking time occasionally to simply read through a variety of the discussion topics is quite educational. It’s how I’ve learned much over the years.

Best wishes to you.

@Mustangman and @weekend-warrior Your posts were typed faster than mine!


I am doing my part to prop up this figure. Currently, my newest car is a 2004, we also have a 2000 and a 2002. There’s also a 1993 sitting in my garage waiting to be restored.

I would have no problem buying or driving a car from the early 1990s to mid 2000s. Remember that the most important piece of “safety equipment” isn’t installed at the factory–it’s the person driving the car.


Was this question prompted by a recent Cartalk Q&A? I disagree with Ray’s recommendation to replace a perfectly good 2011 just because of safety features on a new car. I would consider it if yours doesn’t have features you really want. I’m thinking of that for our 13 year old car.


@Tracyhodes_177722 You do not have an old vehicle . As for the newer safety features the only one that you really need is a Backup Camera . That can be added as a unit that mounts on your dash or the rear veiw mirror can be replaced with a backup camera in it. Not that expensive and this is really a bad time to be car shopping.

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I have a backup camera!!! I just wonder if I am being remiss in not having automatic brakesOr a front camera. That said. I walk 1000 miles a year in the city and drive about 100, so maybe I just need to make sure everyone else has the safety feature!

Thank you. I don’t want any new features, just feel I am being remiss if I have an accident and didn’t have them. That said, I can’t control the world I guess.

I have been asking my husband to read the manual for years. Not that I can’t as well, but I somewhat Am the action planner for all things house, kid, finances, safety, jobs, travel. That said, he does execute all the work with a great attitude! He usually doesn’t see any need to do anything if jiffy lube says everything is okay but jiffy lube may not notice everything. This email is so valuable to me!!! I am logging all of our services and will map to your recommendations. Sounds like I should really look at hoses. Our tires looked so new and the ford dealer wrote the date wrong on our check so they never recommended to change, but glad we did.

Actually I think you are safer in the car than out walking in SF. Just pay attention to the wear items that you have been doing and don’t worry about all the fancy new safety gadgets. Your car is perfectly safe for what you use it for.


Got it. We got brake fluid changed last year (might have been first time…). Sounds like hoses are on the list. Is a jiffy lube visual for hoses good enough? The visual for tires missed it. Maybe the ford dealer will notice. We just had our wiper blades changed after 11 years. They were “fine” but decided that seemed somewhat insane not to do. I am more than happy to spend on repairs that are proactive that might not be needed.

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You should get un-insured /under insured coverage if you dont have it. just in case the other driver does not have insurance or not enough. it seems to common lately that there are drivers out there with no insurance or license. just a thought.

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A few days ago, a young woman in a late-model Honda CR-V came within ~8 inches of hitting me as I crossed the street–legally–in a crosswalk, in broad daylight. Presumably, she had more “new features” on her car than I do in my 2011 Outback, but she still managed to come uncomfortably-close to hitting me. When I refused to move from in front of her vehicle until she exited and explained her dangerous driving behavior, she did exit from the vehicle–probably because her only alternative was to actually run-down a senior citizen.

To her credit, she was somewhat apologetic, and her excuse was “I had something in my head”. I suggested that she might need professional help to enable her to rid that “something” from her head, reminded her that she was a genuinely dangerous driver, and then removed myself from her path.

All of that being said, I do plan to trade-in my perfectly-performing 2011 vehicle in order to avail myself of new safety features, but I am not going to do it until the current microchip shortage comes to an end, and new car prices return to a sane level.

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Wiper blades rarely last 1 year, they were past due.

Most of us here are over 50 and very few have a “Newer” car, mine is a 2011 and I have no intentions of replacing it just to get some of the newer safety features.

if jiffy lube says everything is okay but jiffy lube may not notice everything.

You might have gotten lucky using ///IFFY LUBE\\\ but I and most others here would not trust them for anything. :upside_down_face: :roll_eyes:


Even if someone’s car is garaged, wiper blades don’t last for 11 years, or 5 years, or even 3 years before they become hardened and less-effective.

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As one of our now-departed forum members (Joseph Meehan) used to say…
NEVER go to a quick-lube joint. Not even for directions!


no. safety features dont always help. my daughter has a 2021 VW Tiguan with all the safety features. Friday she was at a dead stop in traffic and was rear ended. it is the other drivers you need to worry about the most.


But, if that other driver was piloting a vehicle with automatic emergency braking, it is very possible that her car would not have been hit.