MY CAR EMAILED ME to say its tire pressure was low. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it this way: An email from Subaru was triggered by data uploaded from my 2020 Forester, all part of the automatic safety and maintenance technology built into the vehicle. The email confirmed the dashboard light indicating the same problem.
My frugal friends and I have had friendly debates about car buying. Is it better to buy a used car and avoid the instant depreciation when you drive off the dealer’s lot? Or should we pay more to purchase a new car, with a plan to drive it for many years?
This same debate was featured in the book The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Their research for the 2010 edition found that the millionaires surveyed were split on the issue, just as my friends and I are. The book said 63.4% of millionaires were buying new, versus 36.6% choosing used.
Historically, I’ve bought new vehicles. The Subaru replaced a 2008 Mercury. Our second car is a 2010 Honda. Like the Subaru, we purchased both the Mercury and Honda new. I dislike the car-buying experience, so I want our vehicles to last. I buy new and keep up with routine maintenance to delay the need to replace them.
My push to shop for a new car in 2020 was because of the new safety technology now available. Many studies have shown that 80% to 90% of Americans feel they’re “above average” drivers—a statistical impossibility. Based on my wife’s reactions in the passenger seat, I’ve concluded that I must be average at best. When Consumer Reports began touting the many safety improvements available today, I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to improve our safety.
After buying the Forester, I became an instant fan of adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts a car’s speed to keep a safe following distance. There have also been a few occasions when my car’s automatic braking system reacted faster than my reflexes. Lane change assist, blind spot sensors and a backup camera with collision warnings all combine to reduce my accident risk.
My reasons for buying new cars in the past were threefold: to maximize the time between purchases, to reduce the chance of buying a hidden problem and to control the vehicle maintenance from the outset. To these, I now add a fourth—the peace of mind that comes with the latest safety technology.
And, yes, there was a leak in my car’s front left tire valve stem. I’ve now had it repaired.