When To Get Rid Of Your Car

We are having a number of threads on prolonging car life. We have different tolerance for breakdowns.
For non-business use, my rules for getting rid of a vehicle are:

  1. When the car becomes unsafe and cannot economically be made safe, e.g. rusted out.
  2. When the car cannot meet emission inspections any longer, where applicable
  3. When the car becomes unsightly and causes your wife and neighbors to complain
  4. When the upkeep and ownership costs start to rise to where a new car makes better economic sense (accounting approach).
  5. Car is damaged in an accident and cannot be economically repaired
  6. When the car becomes unreliable as to starting in cold weather or is no longer suitable for reliable daily use.

In my case, #1 and #4 have been the main reasons for getting newer wheels.

Those of you who have hobby cars would not necessarily agree with above points. I would like to hear of additional reasons from other posters. No one here would advocate driving an un safe car, for instance.

When your day-to-day lifestyle makes it more expensive to keep a vehicle at all, than to have none.

( my son and his husband spent ten years in San Francisco…car-less. It worked out perfetcly and would have cost way too much to even have a car. Now that they’re in Toledo Ohio ? they went out and finally got one. )

When the car no longer meets your transportation needs (new family, empty nester, etc.).

#kengreen and @Texases Thanks. I once lived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada for 1 1/2 years. It made no sense to own a car there; public transportation was good and cabs were always cruising around., like in New York. For out of town trips I simply rented a car.

Montreal is the worst environment to be a car; lots of snow, salt, cold winters, high insurance rates, and careless drivers.

@texases Important point; when my brother in law passed away, my sister sold his Buick Park Avenue and kept her Mercury compact.

Montreal is the worst environment to be a car; lots of snow, salt, cold winters, high insurance rates, and careless drivers.

It also has an extremely high car theft rate.

Many cities have goo public transportation. Boston is very good (except when it snows)…and it’s also a very easy city to walk. I wouldn’t own a car if I lived in a city with good public transporation. I have cousins in NYC who are in the 50’s thru 70’s who’ve never had a drivers license. There was never a need to get a drivers license.

But I would never live in a City.

The last 5 vehicles we owned - the only reason to get rid of them was they had very high mileage (well over 300k) and we started to put money into repairs. Probably could have nursed them a lot longer (my daughter did with my 98 Pathfinder…she nursed that another 150k miles). But we felt 300k miles served us well…time to get another vehicle.

Something doesn’t smell above board about the above link.

That site was created only 8 days ago. Pureself joined this forum at 4:03 PM and created that post at 4:09 PM.

[Update] Now I know that link (usedcardonate) is a scam. The OP has been creating links on various car related sites. But what’s interesting is he uses different approaches to interject his website, which definitely gives him away.

@joemario Donating your old car is always an option, although when one of my friends tried to do that they said the car had to be running well, in other words they should be able to sell it quickly. If that’s the case you would of course be better off selling it yourself.

We normally don’t promote other businesses on this forum.

I nearly always donate our old cars. But the above site is definitely suspect.

AND…this being a PBS associate site…any car donating should just go to PBS as is heavily advertised on the air.

I have donated 4 cars in the past, but all of them to relatives. The ones I scrapped were not safe to drive anymore.


When it costs more to fix them than they are worth…With many of today’s cars, that’s when the automatic transmission fails…

". . . costs more to fix them than they are worth. . . " I get dangerously close to that line if I get the oil changed and fill up the gas tank on the same day. :smiley: Still beats having a car payment tho…

Almost every car I’ve owned has been kept until my needs changed.
The exceptions were
(1) my '61 Beetle… I went into the Air Force
(2) my '64 Fairlane… the engine froze solid in -40 weather.
(3) my '72 Vega… I got rid of it when the rear axle shaft slid out of the housing wheel I was driving. This was a known problem for these cars.
(4) my '79 Toyota pickup, in '89 when the frame rotted in half.
(5) my '89 Toyota pickup, which I gave to my daughter
(6) my '91 Camry, which I gave to my son

Every other one was traded as my needs changed.

When you don’t want it anymore. We’re going to get rid of our Aurora I think. Probably just junk it so I don’t have to deal with it. But it looks good, runs good, has been well maintained, etc. and only costs a couple hundred a year for license and insurance. But it has been taking up a garage stall and for the last five years only gets 5-10 miles a year. Its nice to have a spare car but really, I would like the garage stall.

Owning and driving two aged vehicles, one 20+ years old and the other 40+, I have a lot of leeway. If it won’t pass emissions, I’ll work on it until I find out why. Likewise if it won’t start reliably or makes weird noises or important parts keep falling off. Up 'til now at least it seems like there’s a solution for pretty much every problem. But I don’t like unsightly cars. That’s when it would come time to make the decision. Old is ok, but not if they look old and beat up. And if there’s enough rust to make them unsafe, they’ll look pretty old and beat up. Wrecked cars that the owners keep driving are the worse. In Colorado that’s a pretty common thing to see on the road, but here in San Jose, that’s pretty uncommon still.

I have kept a few cars to the end. One was seeping too much oil and the fumes were a health hazard IMO.

I have also got rid of a few earlier in their life. It was usually a combination of changing needs and feeling that I would be minimizing my losses. These were actually cars that have had the lowest cost of ownership, because I was able to get very close to purchase price or sometimes more.

I don’t have a problem with charities asking for cars in running condition. The donations are supposed to provide them with operating funds after selling the car. Fees associated with the sale can eat up a pro fit quickly. Making that request keeps unscrupulous donors from dumping Junkers on the charity. We donated cars and all of them could be driven away.

Thanks all so far! It seems very few actually “drive a car into the ground” . Police here have the power to pull any car off the road if it appears to be a potential traffic or safety hazard. They would then test the steering, brakes, muffler, brake lights, wiper, turns signals, and order repairs if the owner wants to keep driving. Excessive smoke will also lead to a tail pipe test.

I agree that appearance has to play a role; we just won’t drive something that looks like junk, even if it is mechanically fit. Over the years I have repainted 4 cars since the bodies were good but the paint started to wear off.

My relatives in Holland have to submit their cars to rigorous annual checkups for both safety and emissions. For low mileage drivers this is arduous since the checkup is quite expensive.

Unfortunately, not all those car donation charities are created equal. Many, especially the ones who advertise on the radio all the time, keep most of the money for themselves and only give very little of the donated revenues to the charities they name. Often the end charities get less than 10%.