mileage high club

Why The Mileage High Club is The Only Car Club For Me

Just to make things clear off the bat, I’m not mistaken for the mile high club, nor am I a member of that one 😉 

The mileage high club is a bit more boring, but I’m still proud to be a member and plan to be for the foreseeable future. 

So what is the Mileage High Club?

To be in the mileage high club, your car has to have at least 100,000 miles on it. To me, hitting 100,000 miles is really only breaking the car in. I’ve never even bought a car that had less than 100,000 miles on it.

Bought this Toyota Celica back in 2013 with 160,000 miles on it. I gave it to my sister a couple of years ago and it’s still on the road today with nearly 300,000 miles on it! There have been a few minor repairs, but nothing major.

So why is this club a thing and why would I buy cars with so many miles on them? There are many reasons to drive a car until the wheels fall off!

Why I’ll always be in the Mileage High Club

Going forward, I may not always buy cars with more than 100,000 miles on them, but I’ll always drive them until they can’t go anymore. To me, it just makes sense. 

As long as something is still useful to me, I will try to get every bit of value out of it until I can’t anymore. I make exceptions every now and then, but try to stick to the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as much as I can.

Here are the main reasons I have chosen to be a lifelong member of the mileage high club:

Save Money

If you drive a car that is dependable, you can save loads of money over the years. I’ve paid less than $10,000 for every car I’ve ever bought and have never really had to get a major repair done.

I did buy a cheap Volkswagen Passat one time that ended up being in terrible condition. I just sold it once I realized it was going to continuously give me problems.

I’m a fan of Toyotas now. I expect I’ll be driving my 2001 Tundra for another 10-15 years before I start having to worry about big repairs. It’s currently got about 140,000 miles on it. It helps that I work from home and drive less than 100 miles a week typically. 

Every mile you drive that your car doesn’t break down is a mile you’re saving money when you buy cars for cheap. If I had bought a brand new Tundra instead of the nearly 20-year-old one I have, I’d be paying about 3 times the amount per mile I’m paying now. 

To put that into context, I paid $9,600 for my truck and would’ve paid about $30,000 for a brand new one. If I drove both trucks for 100,000 miles without doing any repairs, I’d pay 30 cents a mile for the brand new truck and 10 cents a mile for the truck I actually bought.

You might be thinking, “sure, but if you bought a brand new truck, you’d be able to drive it for a lot longer and might save money that way.”

Let’s say both trucks last until 300,000 miles. That would make the new truck price = 10 cents a mile and since I bought the old truck with 123,000 miles on it, that would be 5 cents a mile. $9,600/177,000 miles = 5 cents a mile.

So the used truck still comes out to be half as expensive and that’s not even considering the additional costs that come with owning a brand new car like full coverage insurance. 

Stay out of Debt

Another additional cost with new cars is loans. Most of us don’t have the cash on hand to buy a brand new car without going into debt. 

If you get a loan and can’t get it paid off before the 0% interest time period is over (if your loan even has one) then you’ll have to pay interest on top of the total price you paid for the new car. 

Maybe you don’t even have a couple thousand dollars saved up that you could buy a car with. If that’s the case, getting an “affordable” loan that’s “only” a few hundred dollars a month isn’t the answer. 

It may be hard, and you may have to sacrifice some things, but figuring out how to save up the cash to buy a cheap car is your best option. 

If I wasn’t driving my Tundra, I’d probably get something like a Toyota Camry or Corolla. I might even go for the extra storage and get a hatchback! They may not be the flashiest rides, but being flashy isn’t how you become wealthy.

New Cars Depreciate Rapidly

Picture yourself sitting in a brand new, leather-seated, luxury vehicle. You’ve dealt with the salesman, signed all the paperwork, figured out the loan details, and now you’re ready to get your car on the road!

Now imagine as soon as you pull out of the dealership, someone runs up and opens your car door and steals $1,000 out of your pocket. Depreciation is a bit more sneaky, but your brand new car loses value super quickly the first few years you have it. 

In the first 5 years alone, brand new cars can depreciate as much as 60%! You might not look at your car as an investment, but in reality, it is. Any money you spend that could’ve been saved and invested instead, is technically a losing investment. 

I’m not saying you should never spend money on things that aren’t going to go up in value, but when you have the opportunity to save money and get equal results, why wouldn’t you? 

We know that due to hedonic adaptation, you will be just as happy with a used car as a new one (as long as they both get you where you need to go). 

Buying Used is Good for the Planet

Think about all the resources that go into making just one vehicle. Thousands of pounds of metal and other materials go into the manufacturing process, and if you’re buying new, you’re contributing to the depletion of the world’s natural resources. 

A counter-argument might be that the companies are going to make the vehicles anyways, but that’s only true in the short term.

Over time, if less and less people bought brand new vehicles, the manufacturers would be forced to stop making as many cars or face being overstocked and losing money in the long run. 

If everyone started buying used, we would have to start buying new eventually when all the used cars were been bought up, but at least the world would be operating at maximum efficiency when it comes to cars. 🙂 

New Cars aren’t Necessarily More Dependable

While new cars SHOULD be more dependable, it isn’t always the case. You’re more likely to avoid the repair shops when you buy a new car, but it’s never a guarantee and most car warranties are a joke and only cover major issues.

Any car purchase is a gamble, so you can either pay lots more for a new car and risk repairs, or you can buy a dependable used car for a fraction of the cost and have a little more chance that you’ll have to repair something.

As long as you stay prepared for financial emergencies, car repairs will never be a major concern to you anyways. 

You’re at Risk of Getting in a Wreck at All Times

Any time you’re on the road, you’re at risk of getting in a wreck. While your new car would most likely be covered by insurance, your insurance rates might go up as a result of the wreck. This is due to you being seen as more of a liability to the insurance company. 

If you buy a new car with a loan, you’re going to have to get full insurance coverage so the company providing the loan knows they will get their money back if something happens to the car.

In my personal situation, I don’t pay for full insurance coverage on vehicles. We have enough cash saved up to buy a cheap car if one of ours was totaled and since I don’t commute to work, full coverage just doesn’t make sense for us. 

If you can’t afford to replace your car if it was totaled, it might make sense to pay for full coverage in case you get in a wreck. Most of the time, you’re probably just going to spend more money without ever needing the extra coverage though.

So are You Convinced to Join, or are You Already a Member?

What are your thoughts on the mileage high club? Are you already a member, or planning on becoming one?

To me, buying a new car is just starting a big expense snowball effect that gets bigger as time goes on.

Let me know your thoughts on the topic as well as your mileage in the comments 🙂 

13 thoughts on “Why The Mileage High Club is The Only Car Club For Me”

  1. This is definitely a great thing. I made a ton of vehicle mistakes before I was married and learned the hard way. In 30 years of marriage, we bought 2 new vehicles, both for my wife, not me. This has been a real positive in our wealthbuilding journey. The first exception, my wife’s van was wrecked within 2 days of moving and we thought we didn’t have time to shop used. The other time, much later, was to give my wife exactly what she wanted. Otherwise, we have generally bought vehicles between 50K to 110K and drove then until the wheels fell off (almost). The last one we bought for kid’s use was an 04 CRV at 110K, it is still going strong at 230K!

    1. Sounds like learning the hard way paid off! I’ve heard that buying cars that are 6-7 years old with less than 100k miles on them is the sweet spot in terms of the car has already depreciated a lot but still has a lot of life left.

      1. I have always went by the $1000 a year rule. So if you buy a car for $6000 and it last you 6 years you got your money’s worth! Hopefully it lasts longer though!

          1. Back in the 90s, I used to love buying used Crown Victorias that were used alot in oilfield and police depts. I figured if that model was respected by those heavy use groups, they must be fairly reliable and they weren’t super popular on the used market so I could get one relatively inexpensively. I would buy at between 50K and 70K and put on a ton of miles after that with very few issues. I think today a used Toyota fits this mold somewhat but would be curious what others think.

  2. Thanks for the article – always nice to see affirmations of my lifestyle choices out there! My Honda accord just rolled over 200k. I got it slightly used in 2009, and paid way too much. However, 10 years and 150k miles later, I have yet to do anything other than brakes, tires, oil changes. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and big stuff to start going bad, but then I remind myself I was paying $250/mo in car loan before. So even if I start having a $1k repair every year, I’m still coming out $2k ahead until the engine gives out.

  3. Been a member most of my life. Daily driver is 81 Toy PU with 334,000 miles. My winter beater car is 1990 Civic with 332,000 miles. Both however did have engines replaced in the 2XX,000 mile range. I research and buy a car I like and try to keep for decades. I will say that it’s not as easy keeping a car forever as it used to be. All of the side technology the newer cars require to run fails over years regardless of meticulous upkeep and maintenance. If you think about it, not many people can still use their PC from 2002. Electronics just don’t hold up and as I found with one car I was proudly headed to 100K mikes with that some replacement electronic control modules were out of production and no after market so once failed it was done unless you could find an overlooked one in a junk yard. But even then they sell for exuberant dollars for a used aged electronic part with no life guarantee. Most new cars can go well over 200K miles but time is the enemy of electronics so buy something you like, maintain it, and drive the snot out of it during its youth.

    1. Yeah, seems like the electronics on cars are what makes them hard to maintain over the years. I’ve been fortunate so far and haven’t had to deal with a major electronic component going out.

  4. My last car reached 125k before I got rid of it for a brand new one, my current one. My current one is up to 125k and I don’t see myself keeping it much longer. It has become uncomfortable to drive, and at my 30-33k per year pace, that is a lot of time in it. We are looking to get my wife a used car this month to replace her least. “Slightly used” though, nothing close to 100k. Thanks for the motivation though!

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