Opinion: In Defense of the Beater Car


Photo by Gabby Martinez/RooNews.

Gabby Martinez, Staff Writer

  Used car prices continue to rise each year, and college students need to take advantage of the old cars out there just waiting to be saved from the junkyard. 

  The world’s largest wholesale auto marketplace, Manheim, reported a 4.3% increase in vehicle prices this February, the largest increase for that month in 14 years. The overall costs of buying, financing and insuring a car have never been higher, which can make beater cars a financially favorable option for many college students. 

  This may come as no surprise, but I drive a beater car. It’s a 21-year-old Nissan Sentra. It has chipped paint, a few dents, over 175,000 miles on it and is by far the ugliest car in every parking lot. 

  I paid less than $1,700 for my ride, and it’s lasted me five years so far. I could get something easier on the eyes if I really wanted to, but a nicer car just isn’t a priority. I would rather save my extra income to pay for travel, education, or a down payment on a house.

  Here are five benefits I’ve enjoyed from driving a cheap, older car:

1.) Less upfront costs: I was able to buy and register my car with zero monthly payments for less than the cost of six credit hours at UMKC.

2.) Lower car insurance: Newer cars typically cost more to insure. I am free of the exorbitant insurance payments that inevitably come with being the driver of a nice car in your early 20s. I pay $37 for liability insurance every month. I don’t even bother with full coverage, since my car isn’t worth much anyways. 

3.) Lower depreciation: New cars lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot, whereas older cars have already gone through most of their depreciation. 

4.) Less stress over keeping it pristine: I don’t have to be as concerned about someone hitting my car because it was already ugly to begin with. The big dent on my passenger side was from a man reversing into me without looking. I didn’t report it to my insurance company because I just didn’t care that much. Not worrying about the aesthetic condition of my car saves me so much stress. If I had a visually appealing and expensive car I’d care too much about it.

5.) More financial freedom to accomplish other goals: Without a newer car, I can afford the things I value more in life. I was able to travel to Italy over spring break, and I will be graduating college at the end of this year debt-free. As a full-time student on a part-time income, I don’t want to saddle myself with large debts quite yet. 

  When it comes to beater car ownership, I’m not saying there aren’t drawbacks, but that the drawbacks are worth the benefits. I refuse to buy a newer (but still used) car until I graduate and work full time. If you want maximum financial gains and minimal financial pains while in college, I highly recommend the infamous beater car.

[email protected]