My car is only 6/7 years old but over in the UK anything diesel (boooohhhh) is deemed pointed at by Greta and the climate change lobby, so is essentially worthless. I never intended on keeping it longer than 3 years, but nothing went wrong and it all seemed a low priority to change while I worked.
Having retired a couple of years ago I was going to change my car about a year ago, but decided to keep the money invested which turned out to be a very good move (kerching !). Unluckily, during a high power test in the annual MOT the turbo blew. My first thought was ‘yeah right’ garage fitted me up, but having spoken to the actual mechanic, it really happened: having spent the last 7 years of my working life in Automotive development and testing I have been round enough mechanics to know when they are full of it.
I was just unlucky… or lucky as had it occurred on the road it would have blown the engine, but the mechanic killed it all before any damage was done.
So a grand later !!!! I decided I would keep the car until at least late Autumn.
And hear we are in the autumn and I really don’t want to release anything invested to buy a new car as everything is doing so well. Also, I really have no clue what I want to buy… just not diesel… and not electric… but hybrid …. mmmmhhhhh .. dunno.
So parking a decision until sometime next year I have to face another large spend. My tyres needed changing. The rears have lasted 50K miles (seemingly little wear but do wear in a way that gets to a point of making a noise: some unique wear pattern they tell me). Fronts last about 18K. So needed 4 tyres. I never skimp and have a particular type I like. So £524 later (although apparently I can claim £50 back when I figure out how), I get the next issue.
The EU passed a rule that all modern cars had to have a Tyre Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) for reasons that seem beyond anyone, and the real problem is that construction ends up with dissimilar metals. Any metallurgist will tell you about corrosion and fatigue. Apparently mine are bad and the technician said he had to give me an advisory but very very very very strongly recommended change asap as they had issues re-fitting….. so another £300 next week !
So with last years service, this years service in Dec, Tyres and TPMS system I am knocking on what is now the plummeted value of the car (thanks Greta) and it all seems like good money after bad…..
Or is it ?
If I buy a brand new car I will loose about 35% at least of its value in year 1 and around 55% by year 3. Yes there are a small number that have better numbers but for the most part this is what happens. So if I spent say £30-40K on a car then I will loose at least £10K if I had to sell before then end of year 1. Compare with what, more maintenance and tyres for say £1K. Not much of a decision really vanity aside.
There is nothing really wrong with my car. I am not a hard driver, speed merchant or aggressively drive round corners. Aside from basic maintenance the worse I ought to expect in the next couple of years is maybe some of the CV joints need a change of their covers (Rubber degrades after all), and whilst I can be sure I don’t need any of that in a new car that peace comes with a price.
I have popped a bit at the enviro-lobby (Greta et al), but we have lived in a wasteful society for a long time. When I was growing up as a young boy in Yorkshire I remember many a freezing day spent bleeding brakes with my dad and fixing valves, re-setting tappets and generally maintaining what would now be classed as an old wreck. But people had to do this as they did not have either the affluence to buy every 2 or 3 years or the mentality. My parents grew up post WW2 where you learned to maintain and keep things going. Recycling really did occur and very little was actually thrown away.
Whilst I slightly rail as I would like a new car, it is only really as a have the odd pang for a change. There is nothing wrong with my car. It is roomy, comfortable, quiet and really good to go a long way in without getting tired.
How does this help my FiRe goals ?
Well, self evidently, my investments stay where they are and I don’t liquidate to buy another car. In a similar way, our Mortgage remaining is about £67K. The effective interest rate is 1.42% I know .. I got a great deal some years ago, so why would I dissolve investments to pay it off. Yes there is the cash flow saving, but unless I get to a point of having a cash-flow problem I may as well let it ride out.
FiRe is a balance. It is not just the chattels we want, we can buy, we aspire too. It is the freedom to actually choose both what we do, when we do it and for how much, and not because we have to, or feel we need to.
If I was still working where I needed to go into Europe regularly I probably would change the car. Not because there is anything intrinsically wrong, but older cars just have more issues that can occur, and I would have struggled to have the time to phaff about in Europe fixing or transporting. I have cover in the UK to get me wherever I want and give me a temp replacement so keeping it is really not a problem.
So the balance of need vs cost changes depending on both what cover we have but what freedom we have also.
In a similar way, the mortgage is a cash-flow drag (being half our household costs), but the upside is the investments grow and deliver me a higher income later on. But if our home circumstances changed and I needed to reduce outgoings then paying it off and foregoing future income may well be the best option.
It was a few months ago when I thought about this that FiRe really hit home. I am still learning and working out how I re-balance risk and reward in a more relaxed retired world…. and the unintended upside is I make less of an environmental impact that changing my car every 2/3 years.
Makes you think !!!