3 Reasons I Drive a 15-Year-Old Car -- Even Though I Can Afford a New One

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KEY POINTS

  • My 15-year-old Prius has some issues and isn't the most comfortable car to drive.
  • Even though I can pay for a new car, I'm keeping this old one around for the time being.
  • If you're thinking of replacing your car, first consider whether it's paid off and in working condition, and whether the new car you want is available.


Keeping an older car makes sense for us right now.

The Toyota Prius my husband and I bought back in our pre-parenting days was a great idea at the time. My husband had an 80-mile round trip commute to work back then, so it made sense to purchase a vehicle that was known to be fuel-efficient. And while the Prius is too small to comfortably fit our family now that we have kids, back when it was just us, we enjoyed perks like being able to park in cities without stress.

These days, our Prius doesn't suit our needs as well, and it's also not in the best of shape. At 15 years old, some of its sensors aren't functional -- for example, we're constantly warned of low tire pressure, even when our tire pressure is fine.

Our Prius also does this quirky thing where the trunk seals shut when the weather is hot. So if I want to get into the trunk between June and September…well, I can't.

Meanwhile, my husband and I are, thankfully, in a strong enough financial position to purchase a car to replace the Prius. Not only do we have money in our savings account for a down payment on a car, but we keep our expenses fairly low relative to our income. As such, there's money in our budget to take on a car payment -- something we currently don't have due to having two paid-off vehicles.

But while we've been tempted to replace the Prius on more than one occasion, right now, we're sticking with that 15-year-old vehicle. Here's why.

1. It's paid off

My husband and I have plenty of monthly bills we're on the hook for. While we can afford a monthly auto loan payment, it's nice to not have one -- especially at a time when living costs are higher across the board due to inflation. The way we see it, we own the Prius outright and have for many years, so we might as well drive it into the ground.

2. It's drivable

As mentioned, our Prius clearly has some issues. But while some of its features don't work all that well, we don't have safety concerns related to the vehicle. As such, we don't have an issue driving it around town.

3. The car we want to replace it with isn't available

At some point, we know we'll need to replace the Prius -- and that point may come soon. It doesn't make financial sense to sink a lot of money into a 15-year-old car, so we figure that the next time a major repair issue arises, we'll instead try to sell the car and use our proceeds to buy a new one.

For now, though, the car we're looking to replace our Prius with isn't available due to inventory shortages. Not only that, but when my husband called a dealership to try to get on a waiting list (just in case the Prius goes sooner than expected), the price he was quoted for the car was a good $10,000 above its MSRP.

Right now, car prices are through the roof due to supply chain shortages. But since the Prius still works, it doesn't make any sense for us to pay a premium for a new car.

Even though our Prius has served us well over time, at some point, and probably soon, we'll need to let it go. But for now, keeping that car makes sense. A new car is only going to cost us more, and our auto insurance premiums will probably rise with a new car because its value will be much higher than what the Prius is worth. So we figure we might as well keep the Prius around while we can and reap some savings.

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