So Long Prius

How long do you drive your cars? Do you buy new or used? Dan and I bought this 2010 Prius brand new on December 30, 2009. We paid $23,639. Clark Howard advises if you buy a new car, you should keep it for 10 years in order for it to be a good financial decision. Well, Clark, you’ll be happy to know, we made it! And then some.

Here’s another view. This one taken inside the car:

Yes, that’s right. The car has 334,953 miles on it. We returned late Tuesday night from a quick 2 day trip to Minneapolis to help my son move into his apartment. Before we went on that trip, the check engine light came on. We took it in for service, and something was fixed for $700. However, during our trip, the check engine light came on again. Then on our way home, another light came on at times. This new light was red.

As we got closer to home, we began to hear noises. It almost sounded like evil spirits, like a ghost or something. I thought I heard it say my name. It probably didn’t help that it was dark then. I asked Dan if an animal could be caught under our car. It’s a hatchback, so we knew there wasn’t someone tied up in our trunk. The noise was not a consistent sound. It varied. So, while we were still driving home, I made an appointment online at the Toyota dealer service department for 9 am the very next morning.

It didn’t take too long, just $99, to run a diagnostic to tell us the head gasket is blown. The car is driveable, but nobody knows for how long. Maybe that’s what those spirits were trying to tell us.

We don’t feel too bad. It’s more than 10 years. We got a lot of miles out of that car. But our big question is, what do we do next?

Our other car is a 2010 Ford Expedition with about 73,000 miles. That’s our tow vehicle. The gas mileage, even when not towing, is horrible. In reality, Dan and I only need one car. So, we think we are going to just use the Expedition. We will spend more on gas, put more miles on the Expedition, but we will save on the costs of purchasing and owning another vehicle.

We could buy a used Prius though, and spare the miles on the Expedition. But then we would have to take the money out of our investments or finance it. We did research this possibility just a bit.

We stopped by CarMax. We told them about the head gasket, of course. They’ll give us $500 for the Prius. We saw a 2012 Prius with 24,000 miles on it for $15,000. Great price. Really practical. It’s black. It’s fine, but I’m not excited about it. We make our last house payment on February 1, so I’m way more excited to be completely debt free and to leave our savings in tact. Clark says, when you save money you are creating options for your future. I like options.

So, our plan is to drive the Prius for however long it will last. According to Google, it could be a day or it could be months. Then we’ll junk it and live with one car. Any guesses how long it will last?

What do you think of our plan? What would you do?

Update: The Prius lasted until 10/28/2020, almost 2 months from the blown head gasket diagnosis.

The final mileage:

That’s 4,214 miles after the blown head gasket diagnosis.


  1. I know that the dumbest decisions I have made since I became a widow have had to do with cars. And even though I know that I sometimes think about buying a different car again, but I think I will take Clark’s advice and try to hang onto mine for 8 more years. I kept my Explorer for 10 years and my Wrangler for 14, so I have no idea where my car obsession came from. I’m a little upset that I already have 37,000 miles in my car in less than two years, but I’m sure that will slow down because, well, I am. But for now my next two trips are booked, while I still can…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We are also struggling with going down to one car. We have two vehicles in good condition (new tires, good brakes, regular service records). Since the pandemic, we are driving very little and don’t need two cars. Our plan is to wait until one needs expensive repairs and then sell it for whatever money it brings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a heap of miles on one car. My hat is off to you on keeping it that long and evidently keeping up with the maintenance on it. Now one car sounds good but here is another thought. If you are down to your tow car, do you really want to put a lot of extra miles on it just running around town? The more miles on it the sooner you may have to replace it and I’m sure the dollars for the proper tow vehicle will be a lot higher than a used car for just running around town. Just thinking out loud.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You do have a point. We went round and round in our head with those same thoughts. We can always change our mind. Right now, if just feels right to wait. I hope you enjoy the weekend!


  4. If more people held on to their cars for longer, they’d have more options, like you said. Our 2002 Toyota Siena is still going strong at 158,000 miles. We bought it 10 years ago with 80,000 on the OD. Can we afford to buy something else? Probably. But we are living debt free too, and it feels great! Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That is amazing! I never knew a car could last through that many miles. Congratulations on the last house payment. We have been debt free for years. I am a true believer of saving your money then buy what you can afford. Having your house paid off is a great feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know what, I do like the RAV! I don’t get real excited about cars, but that is one I would definitely consider. I like the fact that it is a bit larger than the Prius. Feels safer to me. Thanks for reading, and Happy Trails to you!


  6. Our 2010 Prius had 85,000 miles on it. I’m impressed you have over 300k! We purchased a 2017 Pruis V and love it – too bad they discontinued the model. I would be inclined to get a hybrid RAV if we were purchasing another one. Our tow vehicle has to last.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, a hybrid RAV would be great. When purchasing our tow vehicle, I researched SUVs/trucks that get over 200,000 miles. (It was an article on Clark Howard’s website.) Then, I researched which of those vehicles could pull our travel trailer. I think there were 4. We then went to CarMax. We ended up buying a 2010 Ford Expedition (same engine then as F150) with 63,000 miles on it. It had 1 owner; no accidents. We paid $20,000. We are hoping our tow vehicle lasts for several years. We are religious with oil changes and tire rotations. Thanks for reading, and Safe and Happy Travels to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I drove my first car, a 1970 Datsun 510, for 15 years. Then we switched cars every four or five years while I was working and commuting long distance. Our current car, an Acura MDX, is 14 years. It’s the most comfortable and reliable car we’ve owned with low maintenance. We’ll keep it as long as we can. Good luck on your decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good luck with your Acura MDX. My uncle had a car for 20+ years. Of course, he didn’t put a lot of miles on it. Dan ensures we have the regular oil changes, and I think that helps a lot. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

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