Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sold my car

We sold my car today. It was a 1996 Ford Escort.

I realize this isn't particularly interesting to anyone else, but since it was the first car I ever bought on my own -- heck, I even moved it with me from Virginia -- it is kind of significant to me.

Anyway, I bought it for $9800 back in 1995 and it is still running well at 154,000 miles. I sold it today for $700 (thanks to craigslist!). That means, excepting gas and maintenance costs, the depreciation was $9100 over 12 years or approximately $760/year. Given that the car got 32 miles to the gallon new and has lately been averaging around 29, it even got good gas mileage (by today's low standards, anyways).

In fact, if I assume an average of 30 MPG over the life of the car, and an average of $2.00/gallon, that comes to about $10,300 in fuel costs. You may think $2.00 a gallon seems low, but a good number of those miles were driven in Virginia, where the price of gas fluctuated between $0.85 and $1.35 before we moved to California. The price of gas has certainly been higher here in California, but I've been riding CalTrain and/or walking to work since long before the recent surge in gas prices, so I think $2.00 a gallon may be pretty close to our average per-gallon price.

Ignoring maintenance costs, which weren't extraordinary, that is $19,500 to own and fuel my Ford Escort for just over 12 years. I'd say it was all around a good purchase. I certainly won't badmouth Ford cars anymore. A hybrid will cost you more than that just to own, not to mention fuel costs.

It certainly didn't turn any heads, but then again, I never once worried about anyone stealing it, dinging it, or hitting it. In fact, I would say that having a dumpy car has its own value -- in peace of mind.


cowmix said...

I had a VERY similar experience with my 1993 Ford Escort wagon. It was the first 'new' car I ever bought.. and it just died a year ago with 245K miles. During that time-frame it kept it original engine, went through only one clutch, and I replaced the timing belt once. It truly was an amazing car.

However, please do not get sucked into buying more Ford cars. In 1999 (based on my love for my Escort) I bought a Ford Explorer and in 2002 I bought the Focus (which is the successor of the Escort). Both cars have caused nothing but heart-ache. While my Escort hardly ever was in the dealership for repairs, my two other cars have MANY times. In fact, I have gone to almost every Ford dealership in the Phoenix, AZ area and I can tell you I hate Ford service as much as I hate their cars now.

So in summary, the 90's Mazda-made Escort was a rare gem in the Ford car family.

Kelly Yancey said...

Hmm. That is a shame to hear. I was sort of hoping that Ford's reputation had outlived its reality.

Luckily, I don't have to worry about buying another car for at least 3 years (I won't be driving in Tokyo). But I'll keep your advise in mind when we do next look for a car. Thanks!

jjinux said...

You mean you've been driving around without paying for insurance this whole time?!?

I know how you feel. I bought a Toyota MR2 that had 170k miles for $1900 + a bike and a TV. I drove it for another 100k. I eventually just donated it as a tax write off. I still miss that car ;)

Kelly Yancey said...

JJ, I didn't include maintenance costs either. I figure every car needs both insurance and regular maintenance. If anything, I would expect that insurance costs less for clunkers than it does for expensive cars, if only because the cost to repair or replace the clunker is lower.

Anonymous said...


I am glad that you were able to sell the car and not take it to a dealer for his/her best offer.