The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

31 December 2007

Refi your Ford, sir?

I spent most of my life not having car payments, and I miss that. When World Tour '06 ended in a pile of sheetmetal and coolant (and a separate pile of venison), I'd chalked up a little over a year and a half in that happy state, and the worst thing about shopping for replacement wheels was the certain knowledge that I'd be back on the treadmill again for another five years.

Okay, four years. Two and a half to go. Admittedly, it's a smaller squeeze each month, inasmuch as I put almost all the insurance settlement into the down payment, but a squeeze it is, just the same, and I'm not anxious to prolong it. It's not an uncommon reaction:

When I needed to own a car, I remember that you looked forward to finally paying the car off, so that you had at least a year or two car-payment free before getting on the new-car carousel again. Looks like that's out the window these days. Instead, we're left with a perpetual payment model that carries a timebomb of macro-economic proportions.

And it's the same sort of bubblicious nonsense that's contributed so much to the national housing market, but with a nastier twist:

In the housing game, the assumption was that the piece of property bought would rise in value — not an unreasonable assumption, given real estate's traditional security as an asset. But that notion is laughable when it comes to cars, because common knowledge holds that a vehicle depreciates the second it rolls off the dealership lot. So the constant trade-ins and roll-overs had nothing at all to do [with] even the illusion of building equity — it's pure consumerism, disguised as upgrades in reliability.

Which explains much about why I bought a used pre-owned experienced vehicle this time around: someone else had already eaten most of the depreciation. (I paid 40 percent of the original sticker price.) Still, I'm not even thinking about trading in this none-too-wee beastie any time in the next thirty months, so long as it's running well, which at the moment it is despite 104,000 miles on the clock.

Posted at 11:30 AM to Common Cents , Driver's Seat


congratulations for getting off that 'new car treadmill'.

the car i bought new in '98 has been paid off for almost 6 years now. it's still doing really well with 141,000 miles and counting, even after an incident where one small deer in utah gave itself a nasty headache from the left front fender.

Posted by: hatless in hattiesburg at 12:18 PM on 31 December 2007