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Keeping your car on the road for 3 million miles

Keeping your car on the road for 3 million miles
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What were you doing in 1966? Irv Gordon knows what he was doing. The 74-year-old was buying a new Volvo P1800 for $4,150. The same car that he’s driven for 47 years during his daily commute…and now it’s hit 3 million miles!

Irv made his purchase back when LBJ was president and shortly after Beatlemania in America. So what’s the secret to his car’s longevity? Proper maintenance and meticulous record keeping.

A couple of years ago when I last talked about Irv, The Orlando Sentinel wrote, “He has never missed an oil or fluid change, a tire rotation, a lubrication or anything else specified in the manual. When he stops for gasoline, he checks fluid levels, tire pressures — all the stuff service stations used to check for you, when service stations actually offered, you know, service.”

I love the idea of keeping your car for as long as possible to save money over time. When I’m out doing speaking engagements, I often ask the audience who has the oldest car. If it’s a particularly large group, it’s not uncommon to have people with cars that are 25 years old.

I talked recently about the severe financial harm of cycling in and out of new cars every couple years. The longer you keep a car, the more your wallet smiles on you. But the key target to aim for in car ownership is not 47 years, it’s 10 years.

A mathematician named Jonathan Pond believes that making a lifelong habit of driving a new car for 10 years will allow you to retire five years earlier than you normally would. I crunched his numbers and found it also works (in a typical economy) when you drive a two-year-old car for four years as a lifelong habit.

We forget how expensive new wheels can be. Cycling through them too quickly may be fun now, but it’s not fun down the road!

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