I graduated in 1999-2000. Right when the economy went into a recession (remember that era?). But anyway, no jobs could be had except in lower paying service industries. So that's what I did, for almost 3 and a half years. When you're making $8 an hour in a very expensive metro, it teaches you how to rub pennies together. I shared houses with sometimes 4, 5, or even 6 other people. I kept my Tacoma because obviously I couldn't afford a new one.
When I got a 'decent' job, the housing bubble was in full swing and very soon we were priced out. So we still rented with house mates, saved, and waited. Then the bubble burst and a few years later we bought. I think having had those experiences taught me to be cautious. I always keep a good chunk of cash on hand as a result.
Times have changed. Even as a kid I remember my parents bought new cars every 3-4 years. This was in the early 80's. Now they are like me and keep them 'til the wheels fall off. My Dad's truck is close to 300,000 miles. He used to never keep things that long.
Even the fluids in cars lasts longer. My Wife owns a Prius, and when I got the shop manual, the transmission oil and the engine coolant has a life expectancy of 100,000-150,000 miles. That used to be the life of the car a few decades ago. Now her car has 155,000 miles on it, and unless a car makes it to at least 200,000 miles, I'm not satisfied that it's lasted long enough. I had an '87 Corolla in high school, and I remember that the engine coolant would get all rusty and gross after about 50,000 miles. I changed the coolant in my Brother's 12 year old car and it had never had it done. The stuff was still totally clear.
Some people keep cars longer because that type of car is no longer available. My wife loves her 10-year-old truck-based SUV because it sits higher, is much better built and far safer than flimsy front-drive cross overs. Over the years, two small unibody imports have destroyed themselves against her SUV's back bumper without so much as a scratch on the SUV. Since the Trailblazer/Envoy SUV's have been replaced by the poorly built and flimsy Acadia and Traverse, she plans to keep her Envoy for another ten years. In 114,000 miles it has not required even a brake job, so we figure it should be good for around 250,000 miles easily.
If you are a daily distance commuter, I say sell. Rack up 100,000 miles in a few years and then comes timing belts, water pumps, sensors, tires, and brakes. Car repairs with complex components and downtown with extra mileage is more a necessity than keeping up with the Joneses.
Many people buy as much as they are told they can afford, especially in housing. So if you drive down the street, you may think someone is well off, but they are in heavy debt. But then the guy next door has no mortgage. Usually in the past it was one breadwinner and moms stayed home. If you wanted to appear successful, it was a new Cadillac in the drive. Or you had a color console TV, which looked like furniture with a remote in your home. And more than one phone, usually just in a kitchen. Now it's having 7 flat screens in the home with 2 working.
I wouldn't underestimate the Chevy Traverse. My brother owns the first model year, and has had not one problem with it. It all depends on the brand of crossover you choose. I currently own a Nissan Murano, and it too has been great. It replaced a Toyota RAV-4, which was very troublesome, and possibly the worst crossover that money can buy.
High miles on a car these days isn't an automatic indicator to sell over potential problems. 100,000 miles these days is nothing, and that goes for all of the brands at this point. About the most expensive maintenance item to replace is the timing belt, but as of now most manufacturers are moving to timing chains, which last the life of the car.
We've had numerous 250,000+ cars in the family that cost hardly a thing to keep going. My Tacoma is approaching being 20 years old. It's paid for itself many times over. I bought a house last year. Had I decided to sell every 100,000 miles, I'm not sure that would have happened.
Making a 200-300 monthly new car payment should not prevent a middle class average buyer from buying a home. Once I have exceeded 100000 miles in every import I have ever owned, the wallet comes out. Timing belts, A/C issues, ball joints, tie rods, batteries, starters, and on and on. And then depreciation. I just experienced that with my daughter's car recently as well. She's better off paying 200 month for a new car. If she gets huge car repair bills, she won't be able to pay her townhouse mortgage!
Well most brands except Hyundai. They still have insurmountable issues with longevity. There are also a few other cars out there that just won't last very long, but this is generally a minority. Most cars' engines will run for a long time; however, they usually stack up issues on other parts until the owners decide to bug out on the car. Thankfully, such problems have been addressed in most vehicles today.
To each his/her own. But if you look at how much the occasional repair or maintenance might cost, that expenditure is going to pale compared to buying a new car every 100,000 miles in a case like mine.
As much as my commute is, it only takes about 4-5 years to rack up 100,000 miles on our cars. That would mean spending $20,000+ every 5 years. So figure over $100,000 in 20 years total.
As of now, my truck is almost 20 years old and the car is 12. Putting that together, had I bought new vehicles every 5 years, we would have bought 6 new vehicles by now, representing a minimum of $120,000. That compared to the around $35,000 we spent on the cars we have now.
Even so, yes - we have had to do maintenance. I do it myself. The truck has needed a new clutch, which was around $300 total, a new starter motor - $75 for a re-manufactured one, a new water pump, which was around $100, and a new fan clutch, which was $150. I've changed the spark plugs around 3 times and the distributor and rotor 3 times as well, or around $50 total for those components. The brake pads have been replaced around 3 times too, and those are about $60 a set. I've bought 4 sets of tires - usually cheapy-cheap ones. That runs about $200 per set.
So all told, I've spend around $1,500 in parts on my truck in around 18 years. That represents an average of $83 a month in expenses related to maintenance. The truck was paid off well over 16 years ago. So I'm paying 1/3rd the cost of a car payment on my truck.
The math works out well in my favor. But like I said - we bought a house this year, and most of the reason we were able to do so was because we saved a lot of cash, which was helped a great deal by not buying lots of new stuff all the time.