Countdown To 200,000 Miles

Many of you may not know this, but I drive a beat-up old farm truck.  I grew up on a farm, and this 1997 GMC Sierra makes me think of home.  Plus, I can throw junk in the back and haul stuff around.


Anyway, this beauty (which I affectionately call “The Green Hornet”) is approaching 200,000 miles.  My auto mechanic recently told me that she needed to be placed in hospice care, but I have determined that she is still fit to drive.  I really believe that she can go to 200,000 miles.

CURRENT MILEAGE:  190,639 miles


So … that means that I am going to write a series of posts as The Green Hornet approaches the 200,000 mile milestone.

PART ONE Why would anyone keep driving this junker?

This is a fair and legitimate question.  After all the gas gauge is broken, there are several dents, and there is a slow oil leak.  The primary reason I’m still driving this vehicle is because there is tremendous financial benefit to fully harvesting the value of PAID-FOR assets.  It is true, however, that there is a point that an asset becomes a liability.  At this point, The Green Hornet is not a liability (don’t ask my team about their thoughts, however!).

Once The Green Hornet achieves the 200,000 mile marker, she will most likely be put out to pasture.

QUESTION: Are you driving a “green hornet”?  I would love to see pictures and hear your story!  Send to me at

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  1. Nathan Rice on May 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    On our journey to financial freedom, my wife and I drove a 1993 Toyota Camry. It had 211K miles on it when we bought it (for $1200 cash), and it had close to 230K miles when we sold it, a little over a year later.

    – It had a pretty bad oil leak, which we never fixed. We would just check it 2x a week, top it off, and were sure to park it in the grass.
    – It had a big ugly dent in the side.
    – The radio antennae had to be manually pulled up.
    – It wasn’t exactly a status symbol. Not ugly, but not pretty either.

    but …

    – It got us to Orlando and back, last summer, no problem.
    – It got my wife to work and back every day, and never broke down on her.
    – It got us 35mpg on the highway.
    – It cost $25/year in taxes, and maybe $40/mo to insure.

    In the end, we probably put about $500 into it over 12 months. New tires, new radiator, new belts, and some electric work.

    But we sold it for $1100. Considering what we saved in taxes and insurance, I’d say we probably drove that car for free. The cost per mile was definitely as cheap as you could possibly expect.

    While we had it, we paid ourselves $500/mo, the equivalent of an average car payment. We were able to buy a $6000 Camry, 10 years newer, with cash.

    We continue to pay ourselves that car payment every month. Before you know it, we’ll be buying nearly new cars every 5 years, with just the interest we earn from our savings.

    This is the way to live.

  2. Sean on May 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    My wife and I are now the proud owners of our second car. We have lived using only one car for 2-3 years so we could purchase one with cash. Working for a non profit (both of us) we weren’t fortunate to be able to put a huge payment away each month, but we did what we could. We bought an 02 VW Passat Wagon with just over 100K on it. Paid cash for it and now are driving two cars that are both paid for. I love my cars because I don’t owe anyone anything on them. Here’s to another cash car in 3-4 years!

  3. Karen on May 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

    From a family who thought it was ok to trade in every two years, because we’re always going to have a car payment anyway so why not keep upgrading….!!

    We are the proud owners of a 1996 Lexus with 201K and a 2001 Acura MDX with 205K. We have had these cars for 4 years now. They are both still in good shape and they are very low maintenance, so we intend on driving them until they are ready for the pasture.

    Though reading the other comments, I realize we have not started putting away for the future car, we are almost out of debt and we are now determined to start that car savings today!

  4. Lindsay on May 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Yes! I drive my 1999 Honda CR-V. It *only* has 130,000 miles on it, and I intend to drive it until the day it has to go out to pasture, as well. I honestly think it could last another 100,000 miles. It’s been a wonderful car.

  5. Nancy on May 18, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I have a 1998 GMC Jimmy. For over a year now, it has been fully paid for. I did not buy it new. The bearings on the top of the engine need to be replaced, the windshield wipers don’t work (thank God for Rain-X), there is something going on with the right front tire and the A/C has a slow leak. But its paid for and it runs. I figure…save up for a new (to me) vehicle and run it til it drops. It has about 178K I think (give or take). For some reason my philosophy on vehicles is to drive the wheels off them so I guess it will be around a while. On the flip side, I actually LOVE driving it!

    My husband drives a 1998 GMC Sierra. Again, fully paid for and way over 100K. Its in better shape although the windshield wipers seem to have a mind of their own. We bought both from the same lot at different times and they are the same color so we have “his and hers” vehicles (funny after the fact thought). This one also has a very small A/C leak but seems to last longer than mine.

    Their a couple of gas guzzlers and we have thought about (many times) trading in for more fuel efficient vehicles, but we just can’t get over that they are paid for and a payment would take a bite out of the budget. I guess we are in it for the long haul on these two.

  6. Deneice on May 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I am currently driving a 2001 Pontiac Montana van. (It has the top of the line features and was “the cat’s pajamas” when it was made!) We bought it used for about $7000 and it is ALMOST paid off! It has marks in the paint from it being strapped down when it was transported and a few dings in it…but so far it has been mechanically great. It fits our family +dogs so its easy to take on trips. The van doesn’t get the greatest gas mileage but will be totally worth it when its paid off and the $200 per month payment will actually cover the expense of gas for a month!


  7. Cody on May 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I currently drive a 2000 Toyota Camry, and it has been an excellent car. I originally bought it for $2000 and it had around 175,000 miles on it. I have had it for about 1.5 years now. It has not given me any problems, and runs like a champ. (That’s my nickname for it “champ”) I plan on driving it until it reaches 300,000+ miles, or until the engine gives up! It has around 215K on it now. I just keep the oil changed on a regular basis. I’m so glad I read this, now I can start “paying” myself for a new car!

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