Is my Car Too Old? When is a Car Past its Use-by Date?


Hi John,

My lovely commodore is a 2002 model (VY) and the last time we got it serviced our mechanic said it was ageing and not to take on long trips. I would have thought it would have lasted longer than that. What do you think? (It was my husband Chrys who rang you last night about a new key.) 

Sooo nice to hear you on air, filling in for Clive Robertson on Sydney Radio 2UE the last 2 nights. You are always so bright and fresh, don't worry about the knockers.

Best regards,



Hi Marjorie,

It's lovely of you to say  that. People like you make being on-air worthwhile. Inevitably, there are knockers. (Some people aren't happy unless they're angry, and I try to have fun with them. Having been on tabloid TV hundreds of times, I have very thick skin. I try to have fun with the knockers.)

To answer your questions: 2002 Commodores are nearly 12 years old. GM Holden doesn't exactly build the best cars on earth, so the Commodore has a use-by date that tends to expire earlier than, say, a Mazda or a Toyota of the same vintage. (If you ever get into an ageing Commodore taxi, you'll see what I mean.)

A 2002 Commodore would likely be pushing 200,000+km. That's five laps of the earth, plus. A VY Commodore Acclaim is worth about $5k in a private sale. A car like that is, as your mechanic says, nearly worn out.

Unfortunately, the economics works like this: If the engine or the transmission blows up it's likely to cost you nearly the value of the car to repair it.

You could borrow $12k over three years and have a good used car like a Toyota Corolla (see this one on Redbook here) or a Mazda3 (like this one on Redbook here). These are 5 year-old cars with a good 5-8 years left in them. A loan like that would cost less than $10 a day, and the reliability factor (as well as the saving in fuel) would be a significant upgrade. And you could sell the one you've got for a few thousand dollars, which would constitute a tidy deposit on an upgrade.

See my video on Australia's cheapest new car here - I used a colleague in finance to crunch the numbers on the $12k loan. It's real. (I'm not suggesting you purchase a Suzuki Alto, just that the loan numbers are the same for any car worth $12k.) It's pretty affordable.

Everything wears out, and I'd suggest the Commodore has done well by you. But it's time for it to go to that big parking lot in the sky soon.

Sorry to say.

Once again, thanks for listening.