Here’s why I bought a 15-year old car. Recently, my neighbor, Kathryn, had mentioned how she’d brought her car, an old Audi A4 to the shop, and how her mechanic had offered to buy it from her. Before going into the details of why I bought a 15-year-old car, some background on the previous owner: Kathryn is the kind of person you could bump into on the weekend, as she heads nowhere in particular, hair and makeup neat as a pin, and whose house is always in perfect shape. While sometimes the description of a person has no bearing on how he or she keeps a vehicle, the assumption that her car would follow suit was accurate.
It turns out, that over the 15 years Kathryn owned her 2001 Audi A4, she had tracked all its regular services, including those performed by the dealership until it was 12-years old, which I’d refer to as serviced-to-a-fault. Since she’d bought the car new, it had been garaged, and the paint job was in far better nick than our much newer car, which bears many savage scars of downtown parking. The A4’s interior was also in great shape, not revealing any of the tell-tale signs of her new parenthood, by which I mean Jackson-Pollock-like milk spatters in the backseat, accompanied by cheerios wedged into every imaginable crevice. And then, the holy grail that sealed the deal – this car had only 80,000 miles. If you don’t have a calculator on hand, the car hadn’t even been driven 6,000 miles per year, so it had half the mileage of what one should expect of a vehicle “of a certain age.”
In addition to its great condition, the old A4 was the perfect car for my lifestyle. It would serve as a second car for a couple of city-dwellers in with a new kid. Until this point, we’d been cramming our baby into the backseat of a BMW 1-series (on that note, yes: it is possible to squeeze a rear-facing infant car seat into a 1-series, as long as it’s mounted in the middle and neither parent is very tall or has back issues), so it felt a bit like a clown car. Also, the Audi’s all-wheel drive could see us through the hilarity of Boston snowstorms far better than the fool’s errand of driving through snow with all-season tires on a rear-wheel drive car. The old Audi would be our grown-up car, and our winter “getter.”
Now, on to the numbers. Once the vehicle’s status was confirmed as pretty close to perfect, we went onto old faithful, KBB.com to see how much it was worth, and we were delighted to discover the A4, despite its unbelievably low mileage, clocked in around $4,000. There was no letting this car go to our friend, Kathryn’s mechanic, great as he may be. This was way too good a deal, and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. These days, subprime auto loans are on the rise, and the average length of a car loan is now a frightful 68-months long (or 5.7 years for the calculator-less). We tend to fall firmly in the “only buy used cars” camp, and those recent headlines are just one more reason we figured this 15-year old car was an ideal find.
In order to keep this gem on the road and humming along, we knew we’d have to commit to a good deal of auto repair and maintenance, and not just the wait-until-something-breaks kind. And around here, that’s easy — every Openbay employee who owns a car maintains that car through the platform. Getting auto repair through Openbay is a great excuse to speak with different local shops to get feedback, to experience the customer side of the business, and to share potential points for improvement. Plus, we figured buying a 15-year-old car would be the perfect excuse to write some blogs about all those services, so there’s more to come on this old car, from oil changes to a looming timing-belt replacement, because word on the street is that the ones on this car tend to go early.
More to come from the road, as we do our part to put some miles on this old car.