Gonna Buy a Beater? Only Do So Under these Circumstances…
You need a car, but buying a new one will cost too much and you may even need a loan to finance it. So your friend asks you what you’re going to do to make a new car affordable, or at least, what you’ll do to get from point A to B. Taking the bus is out of question, so you say “I’ll probably just drive a beater for now.” You can ignore the rattling and the rust – it’s obviously not your dream ride. But driving an old car, ones that are eligible to enter a junkyard, can work against you both on the road and on your wallet. So if you decide to drive a beater (a.k.a jalopy), you need to have strong evidence that it won’t breakdown by the roadside anytime soon.
You have 100% assurance it works well & is safe
When you buy a new car (or at least a relatively new one), you’ll get a warranty, not to the mention the confidence that the vehicle is “fresh”, free of damage and wear-and-tear. Of course, new vehicles can have their glitches, often leading to recalls in the future, but at least there are safety protocols in place. You don’t get that with a beater. And even if it glistens in the sun or roars like a beast, you can’t be sure of what’s going on under the hood. Additionally, you can’t take it into the dealer and have them fix it. So you need to do your own work.
Safety/performance to-do list
- Get it Safety/E-tested – An old car is more likely to pollute – it is the reason why air pollution is on the rise in North America. Remember too, that it’s unlawful to drive a car that hasn’t passed an emissions test.
- Change the tires – Please, please, please don’t drive an old car with equally old tires. The treads may be seriously worn out, and fail to provide you with enough traction when needed. If your “beater” is more than 5-7 years old, and the tires haven’t been swapped yet, change them!
- Address any sign of damage immediately – Whether you have a brand new car or an old one, you should take your car “into the shop” at the first sign of trouble.With a jalopy, however, the urgency is greater. The damage they may have sustained over the years could be significant.
You are a car junkie (or someone else is) who can take care of it
We need to clarify something here – the beater that runs smoothly on the road wasn’t just built for longevity. In fact, they live on for so long because their owners maintain them. And that truth brings up some questions you need to answer. How much do you know about auto mechanics? How much time and money are you willing to spend on major fixes? How far are you willing to go to keep this car operational? A beater requires a lot more attention than newer vehicles do, so buying one means you’re willing to put forth a lot of effort to keep it running.
Old cars need TLC
- Prepare to spend – Get ready to spend money and time on a beater. It will need part replacements from time-to-time, and a few hours of “wrench-work” (ie. think of a mechanic on a creeper during the summer working under their car).
- Familiarize yourself with the brand – Certain car brands are known for producing cars that are superior than others in certain aspects of performance. Longevity is one of those things. Before buying a beater, consider the brand behind the car.
- Designate someone who can help you – If you’re not the car junkie type, the best thing you can do is get someone who is knowledgeable about cars. At least if you experience some car troubles, you can have a family member or friend who can put their mechanical skills to work and get you going again.
Finding parts won’t turn into a treasure hunt
As cars get up in age, the stock available of parts decrease. Auto makers focus on providing products and services to their current or more recent lineups of vehicles. Besides, they’re too busy working on future vehicles, revamping their design, engines and overall lineup. So buying an old car should come with the understanding that finding replacement parts when needed may be a bit challenging at times. If that’s something you can live with or have ways around, then it shouldn’t cause too much trouble. However, if you’re like most drivers, your obligations may not allow you to spend so much time looking for spare parts.
Finding parts for older cars with ease
- Recycling/junkyards – Roaming through a junkyard on a Saturday afternoon may not sound too fun, but it’s a haven for spare parts. Many functional parts that are still usable end up in junkyards (basically, graveyards for cars). So if you plan on buying a jalopy, keep the scrapyard in mind.
- Online marketplaces – Sites like eBay or Kijiji can open you to a hidden (not illegal) market of car parts that would be hard to find in other places. Of course, you should proceed with caution, by verifying the contact info and product details.
- Specialty shops – There are also specialty stores out there, which cater to people looking for rare parts, whether they are for exotic or older cars. They may be a bit tricky to find, but a Google search for “specialty car parts” (with your city added) can help you locate these shops.
Let’s Get Real
Now it’s time to inject a dose of reality into this post. The majority of drivers out there who want to drive a beater aren’t willing to put in the time and effort needed to sustain such a car. Let’s use the idea of fitness or bodybuilding (anyone lifting to shape up is bodybuilding, not just muscleheads in colourful undies) for a minute. Everyone wants to look and feel fit, but only a few people are willing to put in the work to attain and maintain such a physique. The same could be said about achieving many other lofty goals. Using this analogy, you have to understand that it takes work to keep a beater running. If you’re not willing to dedicate yourself so much to a car, then it’s better to buy a new or relatively new vehicle.
Better to Buy Newer
We’re not going to tell you that you have to buy a new car. A current model may not fit your budget, so it would seem that buying an old car is the right way to go. However, it often works in your best interest to find a vehicle that is newer since the need for vigorous maintenance (and their costs) isn’t as urgent. Affordable financing options are available for everyone, including those who have financial problems or troubled credit histories. So if you’re on the market for a new car but have a limited budget, don’t assume your only alternative is a beater. With that said, if you have a love affair for old cars and a passion for motor oil and grease, then knock yourself out.