Brave the Winter Weather and Boost Your Budget with a Beater Car

Posted on 14 October 2019 by Tony Santos

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Pumpkin spice season is in full swing, the leaves have started turning brilliant autumnal colors, and many retailers have already begun putting up displays of Christmas decorations just behind the shelves of fun-sized candy bars and animatronic skeletons. Can freezing temperatures, slippery streets, and blizzard warnings be far behind?

If you live in a colder climate, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to deal with the snow and ice. One solution is to tuck your head-turning, high-performance sports car or vintage convertible into the garage for a long winter’s nap, and get yourself a beater car to use during the wintery months to come. Not sure what attributes to look for, or even what a beater car is? We’ve compiled this guide to buying a reliable, if not particularly attractive, vehicle to see you through the snow and storms

What Is a Beater Car?

Essentially, the beater is an older vehicle, usually with pretty high mileage and maybe some cosmetic imperfections or minor flaws, that you can drive into the ground. One reason people like to drive them in the winter is that they don’t have to worry about the corroding effects of road salt on the exterior. 

Another is that if you happen to skid out of your driveway and into the mailbox, the dents and dings you incur won’t bother you. The same holds true if a careless driver, or one who’s unaccustomed to handling a car in poor conditions, causes a fender bender

Your beater car isn’t going to win any beauty pageants, so it’s OK if it has some rust around the wheel wells, a rip or two in the upholstery, stained floor mats, or a CD player that’s seen better days. Just so long as it runs OK — and passes inspection, of course.

Qualities of a Good Beater

This car has to be reliable above all else. You need to know that the engine will turn over every morning and that you’ll be able to get yourself to work or school no matter what the weather. In addition, you’ll want something that can be repaired on the cheap, preferably with parts sourced from the junkyard.

It used to be that once a car hit 100,000 miles, it was time to start keeping your eye out for a new one. But cars’ lifetime expectancy, just like peoples’, has increased over the years as manufacturers have figured out how to build both chassis and components that would last longer.

Nowadays, it’s not that difficult to squeeze 200,000 miles out of a vehicle with a little TLC and some regular maintenance. Moreover, these types of autos tend to get pretty good mileage for both city and highway driving. 

When shopping for a beater, look for Honda Civics, Subaru Outbacks, or used Toyota Corollas for sale.

Beaters Are Budget-Friendly

Another huge benefit to driving a beater car all winter long is that you’re going to save some serious cash. For one thing, they’re inexpensive to buy outright — it won’t be hard to find one under $5,000 or even less. Scour Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Autotrader, and your local classifieds. 

Since you’re paying cash for it, you might be able to get a good deal from a used-car lot, and you won’t have to worry about depreciation. If the old gal has any life left in her come spring, you can hold on to her for next winter, or let her go for a song to someone else. 

The insurance on your beater likely won’t set you back too badly, either. All in all, these vehicles are an extremely budget-friendly choice. That means you can put more money toward the payments on your “good” car, or toward your credit card bills, student loans, or vacation fund!

The Bottom Line

You might not look very cool driving a Camry or Escort around town, but who cares? Swallowing your pride and buying a reliable beater car is going to save you money and sanity. You won’t need to worry about the toll that winter weather takes on a vehicle, nor will you fret every time someone parks next to you in the grocery store lot. A couple of scratches and dents just add to your beater’s personality! 

Categorized | Car News, Car Tips

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