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Daren Fike: 1997 Mercury Cougar
Daren Fike: 1997 Mercury Cougar
Daren Fike and his daughter, Melody, with his 1997 Mercury Cougar.
Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.

Why I'm keeping my Cougar: I am absolutely keeping my current vehicles for as long as possible, which was my plan even before the financial meltdown. I think buying a new vehicle every few years is a huge waste of money.

In fact, my "newest" vehicle is a 2000 Chevy 1500 truck with 66,000 miles on it.

But my pride and joy is my 1997 Mercury Cougar that just clicked over 231,500 miles. It runs like the first day I ordered it from the factory for about $20,000.

Routine maintenance is the key to keeping vehicles running almost. I read the owner's manual and plugged the suggested maintenance intervals and into a spreadsheet. It tells me when it's time to change the oil, rotate my tires, etc. I do that maintenance exactly when I'm supposed to; by now it's routine.

I plan to hang onto the Cougar until it hits 500,000 miles or more. Even if the engine died tomorrow, I still wouldn't buy new car. It might cost me a couple grand to put a new engine in, but that would still be cheaper than any new car.

My thoughts on the Big 3 bailout: I know I'm the exact opposite of what the Big Three want to see. The Big Three talked about sales levels they needed to stay profitable, and I thought that was based on unrealistic numbers from when people were buying cars like crazy.

If we had only the Big Two, those companies would do much better.

NEXT: Raymond Chong: 2009 Honda Pilot SUV

Last updated June 15 2009: 10:18 AM ET
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