What Are the True Costs of Owning and Keeping a Clunker in California?

Californians love their cars. From head-turning, wallet-busting Bugattis to budget-friendly SUVs, the Golden State is no stranger to vehicles of all price ranges. Since most of the state doesn’t have adequate public transportation, California residents depend on their four-wheeled friends. However, the older they are, the more they may hit you in the wallet.

If you’ve determined it’s time to sell your less-than-desirable clunker in southern California, you’ll want to find a San Diego junk car buyer. Don’t waste your time with tire kickers; go directly to the peeps who specialize in buying difficult-to-sell vehicles.

The True Costs of Owning a Clunker in California

Owners of older vehicles, those with a decade or more of miles, may feel they’re being financially savvy by holding on to their old clunker. Not being responsible for a hefty monthly car payment has benefits, but your old junk car may be costing you more than you realize. Driving old cars can end up costing you more than you may think.

Let’s look at 6 areas of owning an older car you may not have thought about.


One of the keys to keeping an older vehicle on the road is to keep up with its preventative maintenance. Routine oil changes and tire rotations are crucial for limiting major mechanical breakdowns. Brake pads and rotors should be checked regularly and replaced when necessary. However, with inflation affecting all areas of our lives, these required service station visits can become costly.

Frequency of Repairs

It’s common knowledge that older vehicles require more frequent repairs than those fresh off the new dealership’s lot. Many of the major components of older cars will wear out and require costly repairs. If your vehicle is over ten years old with 150,000 miles or more on its odometer, you can expect timing belts and other critical engine parts to fail more frequently. All it takes is one repair that costs more than the vehicle’s value for you to question keeping it.

Car Insurance

California requires that all registered vehicles carry insurance. Owners of older vehicles typically carry the least amount of required insurance, and these policies do not have comprehensive coverage. You’ll be 100% responsible for repairs if you’re involved in a collision. You’ve immediately lost what you saved in insurance premium costs in vehicle repairs that will be on your dime.

Fuel Costs

Newer vehicles are generally much more fuel efficient than older ones. With California having some of the highest gas prices in the country, operating a gas-guzzling clunker could hit your wallet harder than owning a newer, more fuel-friendly model.


All vehicles depreciate in value. The very second a brand-new car is driven off of the dealer’s lot, it’s lost value. However, older vehicles, especially clunkers, may have reached the point where they hold very little value, if any. One major repair could cost more than you could sell it for. To determine the value of your clunker, you can use one of the many online vehicle value calculators, such as Kelley Blue Book.

Safety Issues

How safe is your clunker? Although placing a cost on its safety can be difficult, what is the likelihood of it breaking down in the middle of nowhere? What are the chances of a mechanical failure that can leave you and your loved ones stranded or, worse, involved in an accident? Holding on to a clunker may not give you the peace of mind that it’s safe to operate. Unless you’re a savvy roadside mechanic, breakdowns will require a costly towing service on top of the repair costs.


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    Sell Your Clunker to a Specialized Dealer

    Owning and keeping a clunker is probably costing you more in maintenance, gas, and repairs than you realize. If you’ve researched its resale value, you may be shocked that it could be the equivalent of just one major repair. Older vehicles are more prone to breakdowns and probably use more gas than newer models.

    Selling a clunker to a private buyer could be incredibly time-consuming if you get any interest in it. Used car lots won’t be interested, and junkyards will pay you bottom-shelf prices. However, you can get top dollar for yours by selling it to a specialized dealer that buys any car regardless of mileage, age, or condition. Don’t put yourself and your loved ones at risk by driving around in that old jalopy. Sell it to a junk car dealership.

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    What Are the True Costs of Owning and Keeping a Clunker in California? — Bike Hacks