Lifestyle

Is It Time to Upgrade to A Nicer Car?

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Lately, my YouTube feed has been full of new car reviews. How did this happen? I must have Googled a new car or watched a car video. Ah… I think I got it. Last month, I complained that a new car cost too much, and a reader commented that a new Chevy Trax is selling for around $25,000. I looked it up and the AI overlords concluded that I must be lusting for a new car. This is somewhat accurate.

Our car is getting pretty old, but it is still going strong. However, a newer car would be nice. The entertainment system and safety technology have improved tremendously over the last 14 years. Also, we are much wealthier now than the last time we purchased a car. We could buy a much nicer car this time. Should I replace my perfectly functional car with a nicer vehicle?

Our trusty vehicle

Currently, we only have one car – our beloved 2010 Mazda 5. We purchased this vehicle in 2010 after our BMW Z3 went kaput. Mrs. RB40 was pregnant so we needed a more practical vehicle anyway. We paid around $17,500 for this little minivan and it served us faithfully since then.

The Mazda 5 was perfect for us when RB40Jr was born. It had enough room for a stroller, a baby seat, and various other kid stuff. It has 3 rows of seats which is very helpful when I need to drive a few extra kids around. There is enough space to bring everything for camping and road trips. We drove it up and down the West Coast and took it to Yellowstone. We made a lot of good memories with this car.

The Mazda 5 has good interior space and it isn’t too big outside. We live in the city and park on a busy street so a smaller footprint is good. It has been trouble-free as well.  

Repair and maintenance

We don’t drive much so the mileage is still low for a 14-year-old vehicle. The odometer has just 80,000 miles on it. I get an oil change every six months and follow the maintenance schedule religiously. However, there was one thing I missed…

The manual called for new spark plugs every 75,000 miles. However, we don’t drive as much as other households and it took us 14 years to get there. Last week, I finally took the Mazda 5 to the dealer to change the spark plugs and the serpentine belt. I knew the spark plugs could seize after such a long time and the dealer would be best equipped to handle it.

Unfortunately, a bolt holding the valve cover seized. They cracked the valve cover when they tried to remove it. Ugh! The dealer had to order a new valve cover. This increased the repair bill by $900. There goes my tax refund. Anyway, they were able to change the spark plugs and belt without any further issues.

The Mazda 5 is running great again. Previously, it had a little rough idle at the stop light.

Car maintenance tip – Car owners should change the spark plugs every 75,000 miles or 7 years, whichever is earlier. Don’t wait 14 years to change the spark plugs like I did.

Extended Test drive  

I asked for a loaner while my car was in the shop and they lent me a new Mazda CX-30. It was a small sporty SUV. The new car was nice. It had a leather-trimmed interior and various new features like the start/stop button, rearview camera, blind spot detection, and an infotainment display. The additional power was great too. Mrs. RB40 liked it a lot.

However, I missed our Mazda 5 and I’m very happy to get it back. The interior is old school economy car, but I love it. Everything is simpler and less distracting. I also like having a bit more interior space. If I get a new SUV, I’d probably go for something a little bigger than the CX-30.

While I was at the dealer, I checked out the new MX-5 Miata convertible. It was awesome. I’m not a big guy so I fit in the driver seat perfectly. This is the car I want. However, it just isn’t practical right now. We need a vehicle with more seats while RB40Jr is young. I could buy it as a second car, but that doesn’t make sense either. We park in the street and all the cars are full of dents and dings. I wouldn’t want to put a shiny new car out there.

Lastly, the Pacific Northwest has short summers. A convertible isn’t the best choice here. The Miata will have to wait until we move to California after RB40Jr graduates from high school.

Alright, you probably guessed right from the start that I wouldn’t get a new car while our Mazda 5 is still going strong. It’s running great now with new spark plugs. A nicer vehicle would be good, but I’m still too cheap to replace something perfectly functional. Besides, the Mazda 5 served us so well for 14 years. I’d hate to get rid of it. It’s a great vehicle for a small family. I just hope it last 5 more years without any big issues. Once RB40Jr is out of the house, I pick up a Miata. Heh heh.

What about you? When would you replace a trusty old vehicle?

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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