The Joys of Owning a Beater Car

When you think of a beater car, a specific type of vehicle likely comes to mind. We typically consider a beater car to be an older model with higher mileage that still runs decently despite living a hard life and showing some minor malfunctions to prove it.

Maybe each panel is a slightly different shade. The hood and roof are often baked by the sun, and maybe some of its clear coat has faded away. While the doors open and close with ease, the car’s body panels probably have some battle scars, maybe a few scratches and at least one big dent. Bonus points if your beater car has rust on it.

Typically, drivers might be embarrassed if they have a beater car, but owning one can actually be a freeing, joyful experience. And while everyone’s version of a beater car might be a bit different depending on their income bracket, owning one comes with the same benefits. Here’s why you should consider owning a beater car.

It’s Still a COVID World

The utility and purpose of a beater car continue to change over time. Back in my grandparents’ days after the Second World War, buying a car was a sign of growth and prosperity. In the ’80s, a car represented the freedom and ability to go anywhere on a whim. Today, we’re seeing a lot of people who are more cautious about taking on medium to long-term financial risks and are enjoying the upside of the gig economy’s ride-sharing services.

COVID has changed why a lot of people have become interested in car ownership, however. An AutoTrader survey revealed that Canadians are still not as comfortable as they used to be taking public transit and using ride-sharing as a result of COVID, so driving themselves has become a lot more important. A beater car can give drivers the freedom and flexibility to travel in a safe way, without the larger investment that buying a newer car would require.

Stop Paying to Lose Value

Unlike a new car or a slightly used modern car, a beater car is probably not going to dramatically lose its value any further. This is a huge benefit considering a new car will get hit by depreciation as soon as you drive it off the lot.

A beater car would be a great option for the short to medium term, especially if you buy it outright with cash and drive it until it dies. This would mean no monthly payments or paying interest on a loan, and you wouldn’t be obliged to commit to the car, so you can offload it far easier than if it was leased. See how much you can afford to pay with cash and check out different options for safe but reliable beater cars. You might be surprised by what you can find.

Looking for Adventure

Sometimes you just need a getaway. Without your own car, taking a road trip on a whim can turn into hours, if not days, of having to plan ahead. With renting or borrowing a car, you’ll have to rely on other people, or travel at the mercy of train and bus schedules. Sometimes the cost of renting a car for longer trips might be higher than buying a beater car outright.

Also, if you treat a beater car right, it can last you hundreds of thousands of kilometres. Older cars are typically less complicated to keep on the road and they’re easier to fix because they’re made simpler and without all those complex electronics.

If you’re taking a beater car on a long road trip, however, I would suggest considering an affordable roadside service subscription. That way, if something goes wrong, your engine overheats or you run out of gas, for example, you’ve mitigated one of the downsides of owning a beater car.

Go Full Mad Max

If you’re buying a new car with hopes of selling it one day, you’ll probably end up picking the most mainstream, boring colour and never modifying it to help retain some of its resale value. That really takes a lot of fun out of owning a car.

With a beater car, you can mod it to your heart’s content or paint it any colour you wish. You may not be able to install a flamethrower or pull off tire spikes, but you’re able to take more liberties with customizing a beater car because you’re probably not worried about its resale value.

Park Anywhere

One of the most stressful parts of owning a new or expensive car is parking it. If you frequent mall parking lots, indoor parking garages, or have to use street parking with a new car, you’ll always be on the lookout for potential hazards; a little door dent or bumper crunch is such an eyesore on a new car and can end up costing you a lot to repair.

With a beater car, you can park it anywhere without worrying. You can park in high-traffic areas, in tight spots, and even close to the dreaded shopping cart stand without worrying about that neighbouring car that might ding your car door. Go ahead, roll a cart into my beater car’s bumper and see if I care. A beater car probably already has some bumps and bruises, and another one will just add character!

Cheaper to Insure

An old beater car will likely cost a lot less to insure versus a brand-new car because it’s simply not worth as much. Cheaper insurance means a lower cost of ownership. Plus, your insurance company knows that a beater car probably doesn’t look like a big score for potential car thieves, who often target luxury vehicles or popular models because they’re worth more money on the black market.

Winter Wonderland

Winter is as harsh on cars as it is on people. You’ve seen cars bash into snowbanks, slam into each other on the roads, or even slide down hills like toboggans. If you live in an area that uses road salt, it slowly eats away at your car and its protective surfaces, exposing it to the elements and expediting rust. If there is any season where driving a beater car makes even more sense, winter is it.

Final Thoughts

Buying a car is an extremely personal choice. Some people care deeply about what a car says about them, while others simply see a car as a tool to get stuff done. If you belong to the latter group of drivers, you might appreciate the benefits of a beater car, mainly the practicality and low cost of entry.

While new cars are great for many reasons, the financial commitment and depreciation is not something everyone is ready for. Maybe you’re saving up for a new car or are just unsure of what kind of car you want. While you figure that out, consider getting a beater car to hold you over. When you’re done with it, you can sell it, donate it to get a tax receipt, or push it off a cliff (kidding!). Either way, it’s sure to bring you some new, fun adventures and stories that will likely last longer than your beater car will.