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:
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 🙂
Nathan has been a personal finance writer since early 2018. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand at the age of 25 and are on their way to financial independence. His favorite way to make money is selling things on eBay and has grown his eBay business to earn five figures selling part-time. He loves sharing what he learns about finance and any eBay tips he comes across. If you’re interested in becoming an eBay seller, check out his reseller Facebook group.