I’m a big fan of driving cars for as long as I can. They offer true value after they are paid off and then continue to run. The Subaru Impreza I own is an ’02. I bought it in ’05 and I’ve had it paid off for many years now. Most years I’ve had no trouble with it either so my only expense was general maintenance, gas, and insurance. I’ve saved a bunch by continuing to drive it.
My family bought a used Armada that we still own and have paid off. It is an ’06 and we bought it in ’12. And a used Nissan Titan.
As you can see we are not only big fans of driving cars for long lengths of time, we maximize our money by buying used vehicles. We find the biggest bang for our buck is to buy used vehicles and keep them well maintained and looking nice.
They do feel like ‘new cars’ if we do our best to stick to these 7 top ways of making a used vehicle seem new.
1- Smell. A vehicle that smells good leaves a great impression for friends and family that ride in it and it also is nice for us as owners to have wonderful smells in our used cars. Usually, auto air fresheners go stale rather quickly. But PERK air freshener doesn’t! PERK has a patent-pending StediScent™ technology, which delivers consistent, high-quality fragrance which lasts at least 30 days. Every scent is awesome-seriously they are all amazing! New cars always smell good. It makes a big difference to get into a great smelling car vs. the alternative.
2- Wash the vehicle well. I like to go to the self wash places and wash my own cars. Afterward while I’m drying it with a towel I use a gentle cleanser and really soft scrub pad to get spots off that could cause rust to build. Doing this on my ’02 Impreza for many years has made the paint job last much longer (esp. in an area that uses a lot of salt on the roads each winter). Also, wash the under carriage if you live in a place that uses a lot of salt on the roads as well.
3- Tint the windows. Tinted windows make the car much cooler, the upholstery lasts longer, discourages thieves (as they can’t see what is inside very well), and the A/C doesn’t have to work as hard to keep everyone cool… Plus, tinted windows make the car look nicer/newer (in my opinion).
4- Wipe up messes immediately. Cleaning something that spills or something your child did soon after the fact will help your vehicle stay in much better shape.
5- Take out what you put in (or store it in the truck). I’m a bit of a hypocrite here as I don’t always do this. But I know I should so I’m mentioning it. While it’s easy to leave stuff in the car when you get home if you clean everything out each time you arrive home it will not pile up and accumulate. I’m much better at this than I was a few years ago but I could still improve more. A vehicle will definitely feel much newer if it is not cluttered. And give it a good vacuum now and again.
6- Detail (step-by-step instructions here) or pay for a car detail once every few years. I usually give our vehicles a really deep clean once every year or two. This is more than a vacuum and wipes down. I clean every crevice. Paying someone to do it if you have it in your budget is a great option as well.
7- Use preventative measures. We use car seat mats to go under our baby and toddler car seats in the vehicle with a leather interior to protect it. That’s helped keep it looking new despite the constant movement and weight of the plastic car seats.