Economy Drives Many to Keep Old Cars - NBC Southern California

Economy Drives Many to Keep Old Cars

Not only are drivers putting off costly repairs to save money, but there's also a new growing trend to hold onto older cars.

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    Not only are drivers putting off costly repairs to save money, but there's also a new growing trend to hold onto older cars. Jesse Gary reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011)

    The struggling economy is taking a toll where it really hurts -- in our cars and the gas we put in them.

    Not only are drivers putting off costly repairs to save money, but there's also a new growing trend to hold onto older cars.

    Nathan Simmons of C & C Collision said he started noticing the current trend two years ago. Many drivers are opting to cash insurance checks without having repair work done, or in some cases, trying to do the work themselves, thanks to the tight economy.

    "Desperate times warrant desperate measures," said Simmons. "And people, they're doing anything they can with their money, waiting for the dust to settle before they spend it."

    But, experts said this trend can lead to disaster.

    "It's just a recipe for a car breaking down at some point," said Jeffrey Spring with Southern California AAA.

    A new survey by the American Automobile Association finds that one in four drivers cannot afford a $2,000 repair job. One in eight would struggle with a $1,000 repair bill. And, half of those surveyed said they're hanging onto clunkers instead up upgrading to a new ride.

    "I don't want to go out and buy a new car or even a good used car," said Linda Gill, a Long Beach resident.

    And, with older vehicles on the road, there are bound to be more service calls.

    "They're not maintaining the cars as well as they would in a stronger economy," said Spring. "So we're seeing an increase in roadside calls."

    Back at the Pasadena repair shop, Nathan Simmons said there is, however, a silver lining. His business is up, but there's a desire by some for cash instead of a fix for a collision.

    "If they're up to wanting to just take the money, we don't get much further than the estimate process with them," he said. "We just never see them again."

    Adding to the seriousness of the economic situation, Edmunds Buying Guide reports that new car sales will likely not recover to pre-recession levels until 2016.

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