For the better part of 4 years, my family has been a two-car family, but have been saving money for a different car. We have done this by having one nice, reliable family car and one older “throw away” car. In fact, in these four years, I have had three such cars. One lasted a little over a year, but I only paid $800 for it, so we feel like we got that out of it. I lost the second car in an accident. That one cost $1,150, but I got over $1,700 from it in insurance payouts (have to love that!). The one I have had now for almost two years cost $1750. Yes, sometimes people make fun of my cars. I am currently driving a 1998 Grand Prix, and it is easily (and I mean easily) the nicest of the three older cars I have had during this time (the other two were a Taurus Wagon and a Delta 88 with a vinal top). It has over 175,000 miles on it, but runs very well. Each of these three cars have been bought with cash, and buying inexpensive cars has helped us stay out of debt and build up money for purchasing a nicer family car when that time comes. We have considered each of these “throw away” cars, because my plan was and is to drive them until they cannot be driven any more, then to just sell them for parts or scrap. The $800 car brought almost $300 in parts, so we only lost a few hundreds dollars in over a year. The second car actually made money , due to the insurance payout, but had held its value well anyway. The car I am driving now would probably still bring over $1000, and I have driven it for nearly two years. When you buy cars this cheaply, there isn’t much less to depreciate! Some people do not want to drive older cars (especially when they are not nice looking), but I am content to do so, especially while we are working so hard on building a financial foundation. If you want to look for a “throw away” car, here are some things to keep in mind. 1. Be Patient. Trust me, you are not the only person looking for this type of car. It is easy to overpay just to be the first person “in” on a deal. When I bought the Grand Prix, I shopped for almost a month and we lived with one car for all that time. That patience, though, led to a good car at a decent price, and we could not be more happy. 2. Don’t shop for bells and whistles. I have driven in Nashville, Tennessee, for a couple of summers now with no air conditioning. Another car had a heater that didn’t work. If you are willing to go without a thumping stereo or keyless entry, you can buy a much less expensive car that is still reliable. 3. Listen carefully during a test drive. Turn off the radio (if the car has one) and really listen. Those “little” knocks might not be so little. You want a car that is reliable. Miles matter, but not as much as you might think. My car has only been in the shop one time in two years, and it has nearly 180,000 miles on it. When I test drove it, I noticed that famous “purring like a kitten,” and I knew this car would be okay. 4. Remember you are saving money in the long run. If you buy a car for $1200 and it only lasts one year, you have only paid $100 per month for the car (and you can still sell it for scrap or parts, so it is really less than that)! That is far less expensive than nearly any car payment, and the car you are driving has lost nearly all the value it can lose. My $1700 car has lasted almost two years. That’s under $75 per month (minus what I could sell it for). I’ll take that over a $300 car payment on a depreciating asset anytime. 5. Don’t focus on looks. Unless you absolutely are forced to have a nicer looking car for your job, swallow your pride and buy a car that may not look so nice. When I am going to preach at a funeral, I take our nice car. When I am visiting someone in a hospital, or just driving to my office, I really do not care what my car looks like on the outside. People will pay a small premium just for looks, when that does not factor into a car’s performance at all. 6. Shop everywhere. I have had great luck on Craigslist , but you can look in the classifieds, estate sales, yard sales, or just by asking around. The more places you look, the more likely you are to get a deal. What tips would you give for buying “throw away” cars that aren’t so “throw away”? Meet us in the comments and let us know! Old car image from Shutterstock Related Articles: How Cars Affect your Financial Freedom – GS17 You Won’t Believe Who Makes The Most Reliable Cars How Do You Save Money for a Replacement Car? Purchasing A Car? Advantages Of Buying Used Cars Adam Faughn is a minister in Nashville, Tennessee. He is married to Leah and they have 2 children. You can check out his personal blog or follow him on Twitter .
How to Buy “Throw Away” Cars