Cars as Houses? Why Not?

Why not buy a car with the intention of keeping it for 30-50 years? When you buy a house, you fully expect that it will last a long time-the house we live in is 93 years old. Instead of throwing away cars every 5-10 years, suppose we could rebuild them and keep them running indefinitely? If you could keep them running, would this be a good thing? true, you would no longer be building 11 million new cars per year-but this would also spawn a huge industry , refurbishing the old cars. Would this make sense?

I thought this thread would be about self-driving cars. If you have self-refillable as well as self-drivable cars, you could in theory live in your car and simply drive on the highway through the night. Would probably be useful for long distance commuters especially if it was a van with lots of room and privacy.

Houses generally increase in value, or at least hold all or most of their value, long-term.

Cars significantly depreciate literally the moment you purchase it, and wear-and-tear deterioration is, relative to a house, much quicker.

Now, CAN you purchase a car and keep it running for several decades? Of course you can. Lots of people do this already. In some parts of the world it’s practically a way of life.

As far as it becoming a huge industry, it already is. But people like new cars. Many, if not most people, consider a car to be not an investment but rather a tool, a simple conveyance to get from Point A to Point B, and sinking a lot of time and money into making significant repairs is impractical and massively inconvenient if they have the financial means to simply purchase a new one instead.

Some people do. In my experience, they’re typically collectors who don’t daily drive the car, or they’re frugal/don’t prioritize new(er) car ownership. As such, they don’t have an immediate need to swap a car every 5-10 years (I believe the average number for years of ownership has moved up, anyway…7-15 wouldn’t surprise me).

30-50 years may be pushing it, since cars deal with mechanical wear & tear, vibrations, bumps, bruises, the elements (a lot of salt on the east coast, a lot of sun out west), and all manner of abuses throughout their lives. Many people prefer to move onto something with more features, efficiency, safety, etc. or just something different while their current vehicle still has trade-in value. They can manage a consistent monthly payment, but aren’t as prepared to handle a sudden mechanical failure or that service they’ve been putting off.

But if you’re like most people, you probably aren’t the original owner(s) and it would be pretty normal if you moved out of that house and/or sold (or rented) it to someone else, eventually. That works the same with a car. The original owner may move on, but if properly maintained, the service life of a car can last well past 10 years. It’s just most people don’t care to maintain something that typically depreciates and deteriorates like they do, as DcnDC said.

Also, it’s much easier to get rid of a car, as we have mechanisms tailor-made to make it a relatively simple and attractive process. Remove your things from the vehicle, drive over to Carmax, and you can get rid of your car today. Moving out of a house? It’s quite a bit more involved.

Not really. a lot of the safety and emissions advances are things that can’t be “bolted on” to a car. You can’t make a '58 Chevy Impala pass modern crash tests; you’d need to re-design it and you’d just end up with a 2016 Chevy Impala. You also couldn’t make a '58 small block Chevy V8 pass emissions, you’d have to re-design it and you’d just end up with a Gen V small block with DI, VVT, and all the other modern stuff.

Plus, people generally buy/lease cars on 3-5 year financing, and not 15-30 year mortgages.

See Cuba. Let’s be like Cuba.

Over a fifty hear period, there aren’t too many changes and developments in housing that can’t be added on to existing residences. For automobiles, however, there are a lot of quite significant improvements in a similar time period, most of which cannot be retrofitted. Furthermore, the cost of keeping up with normal deterioration seen as a percentage of purchase cost tends to be pretty low for houses and eventually rather huge for autos.

It’s essentially an apples and oranges scenario. People generally don’t keep cars for 50 years because it doesn’t make sense compared to buying a new one well before then. It’s not so with houses.

There are many counter-arguments to this. For one thing, as pointed out, most people don’t keep the same house that long. People grow out of them when they have kids, and needs change as they grow older and the kids leave. We don’t live in a world where all houses are heirlooms that only change hand when someone dies.

As far as cars, speaking as someone that’s owned and driven cars older than I am, you have to consider that cars are technology. Newer cars are safer, more reliable, more efficient, less polluting, more comfortable. You can reasonably add modern appliances and conveniences to a home, but you can’t make a '55 Chevy Bel Air into a Toyota Prius or Tesla.

I personally went from owning a 1983 German car a 2003 German car and it was like I’d used a time machine - everything was just a giant leap forward. I grew up in a house built in 1950 while my own house was built in 1900, and the differences are nowhere near as dramatic. Even compared to a cousin’s house built in 2010, the differences aren’t on the same scale.

I thought this thread would be about the movie Americathon, but the short answer to OP is that houses don’t collide head-on with each other when their kitchen sink’s pipe bursts.

Cars are still rapidly changing technology. An old car is an inferior product. An old house generally isn’t, although it will need upgrades.

My house was built in 1993. I was the 2nd owner, buying it in 2000. It has needed more $ in repairs than the original purchase price. Almost everything major and minor has needed repair/replacement and supposed to (as far as I can tell). Many of these things are 3-5 or more house payments.

I have 1 car that was purchased new in 1995 and is still on the road. It was fully paid for in 1997. The insurance and registration is the biggest expense. The most I’ve spent on repairs is around 2 grand in 1 year. The biggest “problems” are cosmetic, and yeah a 20 year-old car is obsolete by style/fashion standards, but so are houses. Everything cosmetic in the house is dated- from the bathrooms to the kitchen cabinets to some of the layout style. I wasn’t including those in the needed repairs (I was just thinking of things like the roof, furnace, etc).

And the house is not really worth more than it was in 2000. It would take a significant amount in repairs to be able to sell it, and then it might break even. I would make more selling the old car.

Tiny motorhome. (Manufacturer video)

What huge industry? We already have an auto repair industry, and even assuming that keeping cars running for 30 years was practical or cost effective there’s no way you would even make a dent in the job losses in the new car industry.

The title made me think of one of Steven Wright’s routines.
"I accidentally stuck my car key into my front door.

My house started up.

So I drove it around for a while. The police pulled me over and asked ‘Where do you live?’

I answered ‘Right here.’

Then I parked in the middle of the freeway and yelled at everyone to get the hell out of my driveway."

A house is just a shell, really. All the stuff inside your house - appliances, electronics, HVAC, furniture, etc. - is pretty easily replaceable and typically at a cost much, much less than that of the house, itself.

All the stuff in your car - engine, transmission, total brake system, body controls, etc. - are fairly integrated and not so easily swapped out. And over time the cost of repairing or replacing those parts will be more than the car itself. The uniqueness and integration of those parts is more true now than ever. You can’t put whatever transmission or engine you want in your new Toyota Camry.

The problem with a car as a house is the fireplace. The masonry fire brick is so damned heavy it really screws up the mileage.

I think that once technology on vehicles kind of levels out it will be practical to keep them for at least 20 years or more. Still changing too fast presently.

Cars have a bad habit of trying to occupy space occupied by other solid objects. That culls the ranks somewhat. Houses rarely collide with other houses.

Compare the price of a house to the price of a car. If cars were built to last fifty years, they’d cost ten times as much as they do.

If a car dealer came out with a fiberglass or plastic body and guaranteed that all future upgrades of power trains and suspensions would be mountable and easily swapped it might be feasable. All aspects of the car including electrical and componets could be modularized.