The Case For Keeping A Clunker

That less-than-attractive, somehow-still-working car in your driveway? It seems just ripe for a trade-in for a more efficient and green vehicle. Then again, it might be better for your wallet, and the planet, to let it ride out its remaining life.

Photo by anselm.

Kentin Waits at the Wise Bread blog sums up some of the fallacies of thinking you'll save money, and environmental impact, by trading in a working but weathered car for a brand-new hybrid. As Waits writes, there's a lot to be said for the advancements in safety, but depreciation, insurance rates and manufacturing costs should weigh into the equation:

By some estimates, more than 25% of a car's carbon dioxide emissions come from the manufacturing process (this can include design, testing, building, marketing and shipping). Since my used car has already gone through the manufacture and transport phase, it produces no new demand for automobiles and therefore, no additional environmental demand. Even though it only gets 22 miles per gallon on a good day, driving it responsibly arguably produces less pollution than purchasing new. If going green is truly driving (pun intended) your purchase, this consideration should give you pause.

Read up on the rest of the arguments for keeping a clunker, then tell us about your own favourite beater, and why you keep it around, in the comments. If nothing else, you'll make my 2000-ish Nissan Sentra feel upbeat and affirmed.

7 Ways My Clunker Is Smarter than a Hybrid [Wise Bread]


    I've always driven old cars (minimum 10 years old, once 20+). Friends and family tease me about how often they need repairs, but I keep track of the costs, and it works out on average to about $1000 a year. That's less than a new or nearly-new car depreciates per year, and I can usually sell my beaters for the same price I bought them at (ranging between free and $3000).

    I hadn't thought about the environmental side of it before, but this post was reassuring on that front too!

    I drive around a little Mr Bean-type car that is falling apart left, right and centre, although mechanically it's near "A1". I'm dying for an upgrade because I lust after new, shiny things, but I don't need one, nor can I afford one, so this post comes as good news to me.

    Modify a diesel car to run on used cooking oil from fry shops.

    I'm Driving a Nissan Skyline R31 (1988 Manufacture 4 anyone unfirmiluar)
    The Good: It's the Ti version and in it's life has had a security system fitted. It has factory mags, elecrtic mirrors & windows, trip computer, cruise control, central locking and keyless entry. A new sony sound system I put in with CD/MP3/USB. The Engine is in good condition and quite powerful. With a Trip Computer showing me between 9.6 to 11 L per 100Km (depending on where and how I Drive), I think it is good for a 3L, 6 cylnder car.

    The Bad: The paint job is failing and the plastic is drying out (some break on the lightest touch). It's 21 years old. There is a noise from the Diff when the car is full, not really any otherwise.

    Looking for a newer car with all of the features of the skyline would cost a lot more I think.

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