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Are 3 Old Better Than 1 New?

Total cost for the trio including repairs less taxes was $16,000. For this we get three nice running vehicles. Licenses and basic insurance in Saskatchewan are $2,410 per year for all three.

Let me qualify this headline a bit. “New” for us means newer — under 100,000 km and in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. “Old” for us means 200,000 to 300,000 km and under $7,500 in cost. If this scares you off already, you had best turn the page. Or perhaps if you’re a dedicated new vehicle buyer, you could apply this theory to “new” versus “newer” vehicles and see if you save some money.

If you’re still with me, here we go. Because of our business as a body shop, we have more vehicles than most farmers. Our personal vehicles also serve as courtesy vehicles for our customers, so we have one or two more cars and trucks around than most farmers would have. However the basic question is the same. Do you run newer vehicles or older vehicles?

As our fleet has aged, we found ourselves in need of some replacement vehicles. Instead of buying one newer vehicle, we bought three older ones. Here’s what we bought:

A 1999 Chevy Venture van. This was an insurance write off. We had to do some repairs to it in our shop and send it out to be inspected before we could license it. Retail price on the repairs and the cost of the van and inspections would likely be about $5,500. This was the short van and didn’t have all the bells and whistles of the longer model, but it only had 160,000 km on it and new Michelin tires. There’s lots of these around in this price range in good condition.

1993 Buick Park Avenue. This became my wife’s car. We bought this from a local farmer who had had it since almost new. Basically it was quite sound but needed an exhaust system, struts, a water pump, plugs and wires plus a bit of other stuff. Our cost plus repairs added up to approximately $4,000. It had 275,000 km on it, but it runs fine, doesn’t use oil and gets over 30 mpg on the highway.

2001 Ford F150 4X4. Our old truck was getting a bit tired plus it had a couple of wildlife collisions that made it look really rough, so I thought it was time for a newer unit. This truck was bought from a large dealer for $6,700. The odometer read 210,000 km. It has been very well looked after and needed very little in the way of repairs when we bought it.

Total cost for the trio including repairs less taxes was $16,000. For this we get three nice running vehicles. Licenses and basic insurance in Saskatchewan is $2,410 per year for all three.


If you’re looking at a new vehicle that will carry four to six passengers and do duties as a truck, you’re likely looking at a full size four-door pickup with 4WD. Your cost would likely be in the $32,000 range. Cost for licences and basic insurance for a 2010 four-door 4WD pickup in Saskatchewan is $1,120 per year. Plus you’d likely have to have extra insurance on the truck, which would be around $250 per year. Total cost of license and insurance would be $1,370 per year.

So for half the price and double the license cost, you can have three vehicles instead of one. You can’t forget the repairs that the older ones will need, but with the older vehicle option, you have backup vehicles. If one needs repair, likely the other two will take you where you need to go. You can do some of the repairs yourself or take it to a local business for the stuff you don’t want to do.

A newer vehicle should be more trouble free and require less repair and maintenance. But when warranty problems crop up, you have to take it to the dealer for this. How close is your dealer? Here in

the wilds of central Saskatchewan, we’re 70 km to the nearest dealer. Many people are closer than that, but you still have to take it to the dealer for the warranty stuff. Also the parts for a newer vehicle once it’s off warranty will likely be more

than parts for an older vehicle.

My final point is about image. If you’re concerned about your image and can’t stand the idea of driving something older than the neighbour’s truck, then this likely isn’t for you.

In conclusion, we’ve driven older vehicles for most of our lives and I can only recall a couple of occasions in 25 or so years where we’ve been left on the road. This includes trips to the east coast and Alaska in our old units.

I’ve given you a few thoughts to ponder the next time you’re in the market for a vehicle. Maybe this will help you save a bit of money on vehicles so you can have a little more to spend on yourself and your family.

Ron Settler, his wife, Sheila, and their sons Ben and Dan farm and run a repair and salvage business at Lucky Lake, Sask.

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