The Real Costs of Driving a Clunker

costs of driving a clunker

For people interested in cutting down on their expenses, a common piece of advice you’ll find out there on the internet is to drive a clunker. This may seem logical at first glance. After all, buying a clunker certainly won’t cost as much as buying a brand-new car or a late-model used car. But you also have to consider more than just the purchase price. When you dig deeper into the real costs of driving a clunker, the picture can change dramatically. In fact, you might find out that the strategy of driving a clunker to save money doesn’t work out very well at all. This article explains why.

The Safety Factor May be the Most Important of All


The kinds of advanced safety technologies available on newer cars are so much better than older cars. One of the real costs of driving a clunker can be poor braking power. Some older cars have drum brakes on the rear axle, which aren’t nearly as effective disc brakes, meaning stopping distance is inferior on those older clunkers. Newer cars have disc-brakes on all four wheels. A clunker might also not have ABS (anti-lock braking system), which once again increases stopping distance. When all the other cars around you can stop much faster than you, your safety is at much greater risk.

Besides braking power, newer cars are way more advanced in terms of not only more extensive airbag systems, including knee bags and curtain bags, but they’re also built with better materials and techniques that result in an overall stiffer body that can withstand higher impacts better than older cars. These safety factors are incredibly important. You could be the safest driver in the world, which is great, but it’s all those other drivers you have to worry about. When the stakes are as high as life or death, that puts a whole new perspective on the real costs of driving a clunker, don’t you think? Ten years of constantly advancing technologies makes a world of difference when it comes to automobile safety.

Constant Costly Repairs

costly repairs

When you drive a clunker, it’s true that you probably won’t bother to have every little ding, dent, or blemish fixed, which gives you the illusion that you’re saving money on repairs by driving a clunker. But the older the clunker, the more things that start to go wrong with it. For a while, you may convince yourself you’re still saving money because any given repair might not be that expensive, but examine what you’re spending on repairs more closely. You’ll likely discover that the frequency of needing repairs keeps increasing. And the prices on parts and labor only ever rise over time, they never go down. You might be shocked and unpleasantly surprised when you discover just how much its costing your to keep your clunker going. You thought it was saving you money, but it might actually be costing you more than newer used car. There comes a point where the real costs of the driving a clunker just in terms of repairs is not worth the investment, but you have to dig into the details to discover the reality of the situation.

Higher Fuel Costs

poor gas mileage

As a general rule of thumb, older cars are less fuel efficient, which means one of the real costs of driving a clunker is that you’re probably spending more on gasoline than you would with a newer car. The advances in fuel efficiency technologies just in the last decade are every bit as impressive as the advances in safety technology. While the numerical increase may seem small, such as 3-4 mpg over the past 10 years, those numbers are huge in the world of fuel efficiency, and they add up quickly into real savings at the gas pump. This is all thanks to better engines with advanced technologies such as multiple displacements systems that can turn off a couple cylinders when not needed, or stop the engine when stopped at traffic lights, turbocharge systems, and more. Add the extra money you’re spending on gas to the more frequent repairs you’re making and you might realize the real costs of driving a clunker are much higher than you thought.

Stranded by Breakdowns

being stranded

Your clunker is much more likely to break down than a newer car, which means you’ll have to deal with the real costs of being stranded. You might miss a really important event, whether something work-related or family-related. In today’s work world, time is money and you can’t afford to waste time being stranded by your clunker breaking down. And if you miss an important family event, well, how do you even calculate the cost of that? Obviously, you can’t.

Frequent Towing

towing expenses

The higher chance of your clunker breaking down means that in addition to more frequent repair costs, you’ll also have to deal with cost of towing, which can get very expensive. Everyone thinks they don’t have to worry about towing with whatever roadside assistance program they have through their car insurance policy or AAA membership. But check your roadside assistance benefits and you’ll find out they’re limited, both in terms of how many service calls you get to make in a year, and the distance you can be towed for free, which might be as little as five miles. In the greater San Diego area, a tow truck service can easily end up costing you at least $100.

Emissions Testing and Repairs

emissions and smog

As a general rule of thumb, the older your clunker, the more pollution it produces. So among the real costs of driving a clunker is the cost to the planet and people of dirtier air and contributing more to global warming than a newer car would. And if your car doesn’t pass its smog test, you might not be allowed to register it or drive it unless repairs are made that will get it to pass, and those repairs can be very expensive. Even something as simple as replacing a knock sensor could run you several hundred dollars or more.

Beat the Real Costs of Driving a Clunker: Sell it to Driveo!

sell it to driveo

Driveo buys cars directly from consumers who want to get a fair price for their ride. And we don’t do “automatic” or “instant” quotes. We do real market research to come up with a competitive offer for your car. Our goal is to make it as easy and fast as possible for you to sell your car when the time comes. Here’s how it works:

  1. Tell us about your ride by filling out our quick online form.
  2. In a matter of minutes we’ll get back to you with a real quote that’s good for 30 days.
  3. If you like our offer, you’ll schedule an appointment to come in so we can verify everything, make any needed adjustments, and then we’ll cut you a check on the spot.
  4. And we’ll arrange a complimentary ride to anywhere in San Diego County!

When it’s time to sell your car in the greater San Diego area, you won’t find an easier, faster way to cruise in and cash out than Driveo! If you have questions, feel free to visit the Common Questions page of our website, or give us a call directly at 619-212-1212. We’re here to help!