Author Topic: At what point do you stop repairing a car?  (Read 29801 times)

MustachianAccountant

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At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« on: August 21, 2013, 01:32:09 PM »
So, the specifics of my situation are not really that relevant. I have a car that is approaching 10 years old, and the repair bills are starting to roll in. I am not a DIY guy when it comes to cars. So, yes, I'm paying a mechanic at this point. Here is my question:
Does anyone have a criteria that they use to determine when continuing to repair a car is no longer worth it, and they should buy another one instead?

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 01:35:31 PM »
It all depends on the car and the repair it needs.

Generally the repair is almost always cheaper than the car payments/cost/debt of getting another car.

Numbers Man

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 01:46:07 PM »
Regular maintenance will extend the life of the car. Stuff still needs to be replaced in newer cars as well.

I had to replace my car since it caught on fire in 2008. The replacement car is currently 12 years old with 136,000 miles and running strong. The wife's car is 14 years old. I hope to hold on to those cars for at least another decade.


Frugal_in_DC

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2013, 02:18:38 PM »
Definitely agree about the importance of regular maintenance. 

I had to get rid of my previous car when it kept stalling and several mechanics couldn't figure out what was wrong with it.  Weird.  The car was only 10 y.o. and I was not happy about having to replace a relatively new car.  My current car is 11 y.o. and is running strong.  My guess is that I'll replace it when the cost of a single repair exceeds its value.

FWIW if a car is in an accident some insurance companies declare it a total loss when the cost to repair it is 75% of its value.

Frankies Girl

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2013, 03:57:45 PM »
I made do with my last vehicle for 17 years. It stopped being worth it to repair when I was getting stranded in traffic. Once the reliability is questionable, that's my personal cutoff.

Money-wise, I was spending up to $1K a year for the last couple of years on replacing parts that were wearing out. I didn't do any of the repairs myself, but I was okay with the cost vs getting a new/used vehicle replacement up until the last time. Fortunately, I have a pretty decent mechanic that would tell me that some things just weren't worth repairing as they weren't hurting the drivability and weren't going to get the car failed during the state inspection.

moostachio

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2013, 05:30:04 PM »
I have two cars that are 15 years old, and one that is 7 years old.  I strongly think having an old vehicle is the way to go.  I think the key  in answering the question is understanding  two alternatives:

Case 1: Keep the old car and keep repairing vs buying a 2 year old car or newer

Case 2: Keep the old car and keep repairing it vs. buying a 5 year old car or slightly older.  At 5 years it has depreciated to about 40% of it's original value and pretty much flatlines.


In Case 1 I would almost always say it makes sense to keep the old car and repair it until it gets to the point of having to replace the engine etc....

I like to think Case 2 is the preferred way to operate.  Have an old car but always on the lookout for a 5 year old or slightly older car to trade for.

The 5-10 year old car is the sweet spot, you can carry only liability insurance, have a nice car, and have very little maintenance.  I doubt driving a car until it is near complete breakdown makes sense.  The other thing is the type of driving you do, if it is just local 5-10 mile trips or it must make a several 1000 mile trips a year.  If you have an occasional long distance trip something on the brink of a major breakdown is not wise.

CDP45

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2013, 06:55:48 PM »

randymarsh

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2013, 08:15:49 PM »
I felt like it was time to replace once I started doubting whether I'd get to my destination and back every time I started the engine and the repairs just seemed to be coming every few months with no end in sight.

From a pure cost standpoint, repairing will almost always be cheaper. But in terms of value and utility, there's some benefit in having a vehicle you can depend on (not that this requires a $30,000 car or anything). This is part of why reducing the need to drive is often stressed here. If you can bike/walk, then your car not starting one day or being repaired for 2 days isn't nearly as stressful as when you're leaving for work/school and suddenly your whole day is turned upside down.

Dee 72013

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2013, 10:01:55 PM »
We had this same problem last year. The repairs costs more than the blue book on our truck but we thought it was still cheaper than having payments. When asked by the mechanic why we were repairing it instead of getting something "new" I told him that our truck was like a dog you don't put it down just because it's getting old.

Blindsquirrel

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2013, 10:57:02 PM »
 if the car is ancient and ugly with high miles, blown engine or tranny is it. Anything else, it is almost always cheaper to fix. If you can do tax law, fixing your own car should be easy.
 

Forcus

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2013, 08:36:48 AM »
Contrary to your first statement, the specifics are kind of important. To wit, if you are driving a mile to work on surface streets to a job as a septic tank cleaner, having a car that is missing 3rd and 4th gear, and the windows are busted out so you have a moldy interior, and the engine is running on 5 out of 6 cylinders, is not really a big deal. But showing up to your job as an executive, after a 20 mile commute on the interstate, and you can't telecommute if you have a breakdown, is not really an option.

Also, if you have an older car that will break down, but parts are cheap, may still be ok. My situation - my primary driver is a 2002 Focus with 115k (parts are extremely cheap, available, and I have a cheap parts car with it, and easy to work on), my secondary is a 1987 Grand Marquis with 82k (very reliable, cheap repair parts, easy to work on), and third line of defense is my wife can drop me off at work with her car. So me upgrading to a newer car would be pure vanity. If I wasn't married, and all I had was my low mile, but 26 year old car, and it was critical to be at work every day (and I live 17 miles from work), I'd be a bit more worried.

So.... what's your situation?

Spork

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2013, 08:43:28 AM »
Someone smart figured this out here: http://www.saveinvestgive.com/2011/02/budgeting-part-23-buy-or-repair-fallacy.html

This article pretty much sums up what I was going to say.  I.e.: when you're spending more (or even close to) what the car is worth, it's time to consider replacement. 

Also when you're paying someone to replace things like engines/transmissions/etc, it's a bit of a sign of things to come.  It's not that immediate doom is on the horizon, but... things are probably going to start breaking more often.

If you have a spare car (not all that mustacian, but... I've got a couple of spares) then this might be acceptable.  If you're someone that enjoys tinkering and doing it for fun/education ... again: maybe ok.

Forcus

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2013, 08:54:39 AM »
Someone smart figured this out here: http://www.saveinvestgive.com/2011/02/budgeting-part-23-buy-or-repair-fallacy.html

This article pretty much sums up what I was going to say.  I.e.: when you're spending more (or even close to) what the car is worth, it's time to consider replacement. 

Also when you're paying someone to replace things like engines/transmissions/etc, it's a bit of a sign of things to come.  It's not that immediate doom is on the horizon, but... things are probably going to start breaking more often.

If you have a spare car (not all that mustacian, but... I've got a couple of spares) then this might be acceptable.  If you're someone that enjoys tinkering and doing it for fun/education ... again: maybe ok.

That's a big thing too. If you don't work on your own stuff and you are looking at shop labor, it changes the value prop. I've accumulated lots of tools and stuff so that swapping an engine, suspension, even doing some body work is easy. If you are starting from scratch you have to 1) gain knowledge, 2) get the tools, 3) find the time, 4) pull it off. I once was forced to change a clutch with very few tools in an unheated shop (at least, I had a roof and concrete floor). It was 28 hours of hell. Now, I could do it in 4 hours. Another example, I am totally stupid with computers. I can use them but if a sector goes bad on the hard drive, it's off to the computer store even though I think there are easy ways around it. I just don't do that stuff. So I get it if someone is the same way with cars. Even if I don't understand how someone can pay $6k for a reman Jeep engine and install when I can get one for $1500 and do it in a day.

CDP45

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2013, 11:57:30 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathtub_curve
"increasing failure rate, known as wear-out failures" and Damage is cumulative. Materials do not recover when rested.

Basically lets say all the parts are rated to 150,000, and your car is at the or past that limit, it's done. Sell it if it runs, or scrap it. I'm not sure the best finance practice but I think it should be $$$/mo of ownership cost, i.e. Price0=$5000 and Price1=$1000 and the difference was 40 months in those time periods you "used up" $100/mo for a car. MMM advocated just less car you to you get to the rated limits slower, basically using up your car less. Shit, we only got 80 trips around the sun though, make 'em count!!

Micheal

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2013, 05:01:49 AM »
  If you can't repair it yourself with reasonable accuracy or have someone else do it for a reasonable price then replace it.  When the repair will cost you more than the replacement cost of the vehicle then replace it.  This usually occurs with block issues or transmission issues.  If you are even an okay mechanic or can use you tube, you can fix just about anything yourself.  It can be easy to get attached to cars, my wife names them, but don't.  Replace it if it will be cheaper to do so.

MustachianAccountant

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2013, 02:31:23 PM »
My situation:
I live 2.5 miles from work, and bike most days. We also have a second vehicle.
The vehicle in question is a 2004 Subaru Legacy, 120,000 miles.
Also relevant, I have a second job delivering pizza one night a week, but calling off because of car trouble is no problem. (I suspect many repair bills are related to this driving, and may be quitting the job soon - it doesn't bring in a ton of money, and that money is just "extra" to us anyways).
None of the repairs on the car so far has been breakdown stuff, though recently the car failed emissions because of an O2 sensor. ...Which prompted this post.

Forcus, I am the opposite of you - I don't buy my computers from Dell, I put them together myself. The power supply just blew on our computer, and I'll be putting a new one in this weekend. Cars....they intimidate me, and every repair I've tried on my cars has ended in nightmare. I do replace bulbs and wiper blades though, does that count?

Micheal

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2013, 10:01:25 PM »
Forcus, I am the opposite of you - I don't buy my computers from Dell, I put them together myself. The power supply just blew on our computer, and I'll be putting a new one in this weekend. Cars....they intimidate me, and every repair I've tried on my cars has ended in nightmare. I do replace bulbs and wiper blades though, does that count?

It counts in a small way, but if you can put together a tower then a car is the same idea, troubleshoot, fix, troubleshoot.  No reason to be intimidated, but I can't say much i don't like to work on cars newer than mid 90s too many sensors and chips for my liking, and when they go bad you cant just bypass them.

daverobev

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2013, 08:51:26 AM »
My situation:
I live 2.5 miles from work, and bike most days. We also have a second vehicle.
The vehicle in question is a 2004 Subaru Legacy, 120,000 miles.
Also relevant, I have a second job delivering pizza one night a week, but calling off because of car trouble is no problem. (I suspect many repair bills are related to this driving, and may be quitting the job soon - it doesn't bring in a ton of money, and that money is just "extra" to us anyways).
None of the repairs on the car so far has been breakdown stuff, though recently the car failed emissions because of an O2 sensor. ...Which prompted this post.

Forcus, I am the opposite of you - I don't buy my computers from Dell, I put them together myself. The power supply just blew on our computer, and I'll be putting a new one in this weekend. Cars....they intimidate me, and every repair I've tried on my cars has ended in nightmare. I do replace bulbs and wiper blades though, does that count?

Not strictly on topic, but an O2 sensor went on our Civic a little while back. After some umming, aahing and research... I found the replacement on Amazon, bought an O2 sensor socket, and changed it. Total cost was $150 instead of $300 (our Civic has a 'wide band' sensor which is more expensive).

The only downer was that my wife had a mechanic check the CEL code.. which they charged her a $75 diagnostic fee for. Sigh.

SunshineGirl

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2013, 10:28:16 AM »
We have an older car with 165K miles on it, and while we will keep it as long as feasible, we're at that in-between stage where we know both that repair costs will likely rise and we will need to replace it soon. I use YNAB, and I'm putting $100/month into a car repair fund, and $200/month into a car replacement fund. I figure in a couple years, it will work itself out one way or other. Once I'm spending more than $100 average per month in repairs, I'm going to be more willing to replace it. Plus, we're sick of the car, which is a non-monetary consideration which affects us monetarily.

daverobev

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2013, 10:58:45 AM »
We have an older car with 165K miles on it, and while we will keep it as long as feasible, we're at that in-between stage where we know both that repair costs will likely rise and we will need to replace it soon. I use YNAB, and I'm putting $100/month into a car repair fund, and $200/month into a car replacement fund. I figure in a couple years, it will work itself out one way or other. Once I'm spending more than $100 average per month in repairs, I'm going to be more willing to replace it. Plus, we're sick of the car, which is a non-monetary consideration which affects us monetarily.

What do you class as repairs, though? Oil change? New tyres?

My wife's had $500+ yesterday but that included an oil change and two new tyres.

Posthumane

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2013, 11:02:26 AM »
MustachianAccountant - Check to see *which* O2 sensor on your car is actually throwing a code. You can post the code # here if you like. Your subaru (like most newer cars) has two oxygen sensors: one on the exhaust manifold actually checking the fuel/air mixture of the engine, and another after the catalytic converter checking its operation. The subaru catalytic converters from that time frame were crap, and failed prematurely (I have almost the same model, and have the same issue with mine) which caused the downstream O2 sensor code. Replacing a catalytic converter is a matter of cutting out the old one and welding in a new one, which an exhaust shop can do for you for not much more than $200 I suspect. It's actually not a part that's critical to the functioning of the car, and if you lived in a place that didn't do emissions checks you could simply ignore it or bypass the second O2 sensor to get rid of the check engine light, but it sounds like that's not an option where you live.

Logically speaking, the time to really move on to a car is when the anticipated cost of repairs over the next couple of years will be greater than the anticipated cost of paying for a new car over that same time frame. However, one should take into account that there will be less down-time and possibly more features with a new car, so you should figure out what that's worth to you. On the other hand, a new car (if financed) will require full coverage insurance, scheduled dealer maintenance to keep up the warranty, etc. all of which may cost more money.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2013, 11:05:08 AM by Posthumane »

SunshineGirl

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2013, 02:10:41 PM »
We have an older car with 165K miles on it, and while we will keep it as long as feasible, we're at that in-between stage where we know both that repair costs will likely rise and we will need to replace it soon. I use YNAB, and I'm putting $100/month into a car repair fund, and $200/month into a car replacement fund. I figure in a couple years, it will work itself out one way or other. Once I'm spending more than $100 average per month in repairs, I'm going to be more willing to replace it. Plus, we're sick of the car, which is a non-monetary consideration which affects us monetarily.

What do you class as repairs, though? Oil change? New tyres?

My wife's had $500+ yesterday but that included an oil change and two new tyres.

Right, I don't count oil changes and routine maintenance that I'd pay on any car. Not sure where I'd put tires.

Micheal

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2013, 01:16:47 AM »

The only downer was that my wife had a mechanic check the CEL code.. which they charged her a $75 diagnostic fee for. Sigh.

Most auto parts stores will do this for you for free.  I know O'reiley's and Autozone do

sleepyguy

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2013, 07:28:46 AM »
Personally I think most well made Japanese cars and run to 300-400kms without much of an effort.  My old Acura Integra was a beast and still sold well considering I had 350km on it :)

To ease the mind, timely oil changes and checkups from a trusted mechanic and get a CAA membership (AAA in US i think).  Also reading your auto manual and general routine hickups your vehicle has for that year is key.  You US guys have it great with autoparts stores as in Canada everything is a huge ripoff (I'm talking like 2-3x markup).

I plan on driving my 03 Impreza for at least another 5-7yrs :)  I has about 250kms on it already.

Also pls pls get yourself a bluetooth CEL reader

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/ELM327-v1-5-Bluetooth-Interface-Auto-OBD2-OBD-II-Scanner-Adapter-ODB-scan-tool-/251325436079?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&hash=item3a8429d0af&vxp=mtr&_uhb=1

Then get someting like Torque for android to read the codes.  I've fixed multiple CEL on both my Subarus over the years.


But to answer OP's question... I would ditch it once I deemed the repairs as a "bandaid" (as it knowing it would need repairs again in next few months) and the cost over the year would outweight it's worth.  Also safetly reasons as well.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 07:31:50 AM by sleepyguy »

Bakari

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2013, 09:32:12 AM »
I am not a DIY guy when it comes to cars.

You make it sound like a fixed and invariable condition.  As long as you have a bit of time free, your own driveway or garage (or a friends), and two working hands, you could become one.  Especially these days, where every imaginable problem has been encountered, asked about, and subsequently answered online.  You don't even need to buy a shop manual anymore.  Most common procedures even have a bunch of videos to walk you through them.


Right, I don't count oil changes and routine maintenance that I'd pay on any car. Not sure where I'd put tires.
About the only thing less technical than an oil change is an air filter change.  You don't even have to search for an online tutorial, I'll walk you through it right now:
1: get a wrench, an oil filter wrench, and a drain pan (total one time cost of about $25)
2: look under the engine for a big bolt that doesn't attach anything, in about the center.  Put the drain pan under that bolt (this may be easier if you raise the front of the car with a jack.  If you do that, rest it on jack stands ($20)
3: Remove the bolt with the wrench, wait for all the oil to drain out.
4: use the oil filter wrench to take off the oil filter
5: put the new filter on (dab a little oil on the rubber seal)
6: put the drain bolt back (if the car is jacked up, put it back down now)
7: pour in new oil.  Wait a minute, check the dipstick, add more if necessary.
8: Done.  Save about $30, and get some confidence turning a wrench and getting dirty.  With a little practice, shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes.



My girlfriend did one oil change by herself (well, with my supervision), and a couple months later jumped into the project of disabling the power steering system (for better fuel mileage) with no more help than my advice by phone. 


if the car is ancient and ugly with high miles, blown engine or tranny is it. Anything else, it is almost always cheaper to fix. If you can do tax law, fixing your own car should be easy.

A rebuilt engine or transmission is about 1 or 2 grand, figure maybe another $500-$1000 for installation, replacing a blown engine is still cheaper than replacing the entire car. 

when you're paying someone to replace things like engines/transmissions/etc, it's a bit of a sign of things to come.

Except, then you have an entirely new* engine, so any recurring or building problems are all gone.  You essentially have  zero mileage now.  The engine and tranny are the most complicated (and therefore failure prone) parts.  Replace them, and, unless the frame is rusting away, there isn't much left to go wrong.

The only downer was that my wife had a mechanic check the CEL code.. which they charged her a $75 diagnostic fee for. Sigh.

Most auto parts stores will do this for you for free.  I know O'reiley's and Autozone do

Or get a scangauge (instant MPG feedback) for $100 (if you shop around), which has a built in code reader.  Even without that, it will eventually pay for itself in saved fuel costs.
Or, do like me, and never buy a vehicle made after about 1985, so there is no computer, and all home maintenance and repair becomes oh so much simpler!  Not to mention avoiding all the "features" that newer cars force on you!

SunshineGirl

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2013, 09:37:31 AM »
I've actually been inspired by this thread to check out auto mechanics classes where I live, and found that at the community college, at least the first two classes are go in on your own time and do the work under the supervision of the instructor, but it's self-paced. I've missed the fall deadline, but think I might sign up for one or both next semester! I would love to build some competence in this area. 

BlueMR2

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2013, 12:10:48 PM »
This actually came up recently in my household.  I went to order a repair part for my '91 only to find out that the part has been discontinued.  The aftermarket has not picked up support for this car either.  Now, luckily it's not a critical part and it's something where I'm sure I can adapt some other piece to fit (it's a piece of custom fit weatherstripping). 

However, last brake job I had to wait 2 weeks while they shipped the front rotors from clear across the country (only 1 warehouse in the USA had any left), and when the coil ignitor failed it was down for almost 3 weeks while they worked on locating one.

I suppose the day to let them go is when replacement parts can't be found anymore.  However, even that case is not for certain.  In my location, it's legal to upgrade to parts off of newer cars.  So, since the same  model engine I have continues on in new cars these days, but with a new ignition system, I could retrofit that ignition system to my car...  Likewise I can pull the brake systems and mount them on my car as well (however, it may take time to figure out the ones with the right brackets to fit and probably will also mean I can't use my old small wheels since cars these days come with larger brakes and wheels).

Ultimately, I'm not sure there's a right answer.  It seems to be a highly complex time/money/skill equation that will be different for all of us!

Spork

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2013, 04:51:10 PM »
This actually came up recently in my household.  I went to order a repair part for my '91 only to find out that the part has been discontinued.  The aftermarket has not picked up support for this car either.  Now, luckily it's not a critical part and it's something where I'm sure I can adapt some other piece to fit (it's a piece of custom fit weatherstripping). 

I've waited months... sometimes as many as 4-6... for parts for my '75.

In my case, the majority of the aftermarket was driven by one guy.  He was just a frustrated driver that couldn't find parts.  He now has a parts empire.  In many cases, he has gone back to find the original factory tooling and found someone to retool parts from scratch.


Vilx-

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2013, 02:36:36 AM »
TL; DR.

Money is always a numbers game. Sit down and put on your Math Hat, and you'll see the answer yourself.

The basic question is - over the next 1/2/5 years, which will cost me less - to keep repairing this car, or to buy a new car? To do that you'll have to make an educated guess about both of those numbers. For your current car you can make a good estimate by looking at the past numbers. For a new car, you'll have to get some numbers off the internet and guess the rest (you can't predict what will fall apart after 1 year of driving anyway).
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 03:04:02 AM by Vilx- »

Forcus

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2013, 02:53:44 PM »
My situation:
I live 2.5 miles from work, and bike most days. We also have a second vehicle.
The vehicle in question is a 2004 Subaru Legacy, 120,000 miles.
Also relevant, I have a second job delivering pizza one night a week, but calling off because of car trouble is no problem. (I suspect many repair bills are related to this driving, and may be quitting the job soon - it doesn't bring in a ton of money, and that money is just "extra" to us anyways).
None of the repairs on the car so far has been breakdown stuff, though recently the car failed emissions because of an O2 sensor. ...Which prompted this post.

Forcus, I am the opposite of you - I don't buy my computers from Dell, I put them together myself. The power supply just blew on our computer, and I'll be putting a new one in this weekend. Cars....they intimidate me, and every repair I've tried on my cars has ended in nightmare. I do replace bulbs and wiper blades though, does that count?

I'd say that your car repairs are pretty normal, maybe below normal for the age / miles. An 02 sensor is a wear item so 120k isn't shocking. You will have stuff go wrong with some miles, but as long as they are somewhat minor, they shouldn't drive you to a new / newer car especially because you have contingencies in place (only 2.5 miles from work, you are used to biking anyways, and you have a second car). Additionally, cars now are generally smart enough to allow you to pinpoint issues. A free scan at Autozone I believe even narrows down which 02 sensor is faulty. Also a thought, pizza delivery can be hard on a vehicle so you may not be netting much money after you factor out a set aside for repairs.

All that being said, from what I've read, leaking head gaskets are an issue on Subies. THAT would worry me more than mundane items.

Personally, if I loved the car, I'd just keep it, keep the miles off it, and enjoy life while budgeting for the occasional repair like the 02 sensor. It's unlikely with unless you are doing a ton of additional driving not work related that a new / newer car would make financial sense at least (though that has not stopped me before...).

wannabfrugal

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2013, 03:45:02 PM »
Forcus, I am the opposite of you - I don't buy my computers from Dell, I put them together myself. The power supply just blew on our computer, and I'll be putting a new one in this weekend. Cars....they intimidate me, and every repair I've tried on my cars has ended in nightmare. I do replace bulbs and wiper blades though, does that count?

It counts in a small way, but if you can put together a tower then a car is the same idea, troubleshoot, fix, troubleshoot.  No reason to be intimidated, but I can't say much i don't like to work on cars newer than mid 90s too many sensors and chips for my liking, and when they go bad you cant just bypass them.

This struck me... ironically I'm an accountant who used to be a computer programmer and built computers for fun...  and I share MA's sentiment about cars!  My biggest fear is I'm going to do a poor repair that will leave myself or someone else hurt if my repair leads to an accident.  I change filters, fluids, bulbs etc and would love to do more, but I feel like self teaching is risky.  With a tower you can test if it will work and your worst case you is frying the system and are out the cost of parts.  With a car I fear worst case could lead to someone's death. 

I have a couple ideas on how to get over that fear, but have not made it a priority due to constraints on my time... but I'd be excited to hear either that my fears are unfounded or other ideas.

My ideas are

1) take a class at a local community college
2) look for a mentor (I don't know anyone personally that is car handy but I anticipate I could find someone in my network)

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2013, 07:26:52 PM »

I have a couple ideas on how to get over that fear, but have not made it a priority due to constraints on my time... but I'd be excited to hear either that my fears are unfounded or other ideas.


Its like everything MMM says about risk.

yeah, it's possible.  Its also possible that a mechanic makes a mistake.  Or that you have a car that missed a recall.
Regardless, it is far more likely you cause an accident due to speeding or distracted driving.  Actually driving is way more dangerous than working on cars.  I believe its less than 1% of crashes are due to mechanical failures.

There isn't a lot you could do wrong that you wouldn't notice within the first few seconds of driving anyway.  Forget to tighten the lug nuts, and the wheel starts wobbling and falling off, don't bleed the brakes, you step on the pedal, it feels squishy, (probably the worst two things you could do), so then don't keep driving and get on the highway. 

wannabfrugal

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2013, 07:11:40 AM »

I have a couple ideas on how to get over that fear, but have not made it a priority due to constraints on my time... but I'd be excited to hear either that my fears are unfounded or other ideas.


Its like everything MMM says about risk.

yeah, it's possible.  Its also possible that a mechanic makes a mistake.  Or that you have a car that missed a recall.
Regardless, it is far more likely you cause an accident due to speeding or distracted driving.  Actually driving is way more dangerous than working on cars.  I believe its less than 1% of crashes are due to mechanical failures.

There isn't a lot you could do wrong that you wouldn't notice within the first few seconds of driving anyway.  Forget to tighten the lug nuts, and the wheel starts wobbling and falling off, don't bleed the brakes, you step on the pedal, it feels squishy, (probably the worst two things you could do), so then don't keep driving and get on the highway.

Thanks for the thoughts.  I don't know the worst cases, and if most things can be tested that quickly it is encouraging to me to start trying more repairs... now to find some jacks on CL so that I can get under the car :)

wannabfrugal

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2013, 08:02:29 AM »
After a little searching, looks like a ramp may be a better place to start.

Forcus

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2013, 08:40:05 AM »
I have a couple ideas on how to get over that fear, but have not made it a priority due to constraints on my time... but I'd be excited to hear either that my fears are unfounded or other ideas.

Some fear, some real.

Some people just aren't hands on people and no amount of mentoring is going to change that. I can't shoot a basket or catch a ball to save my life. No amount of training (or will) is going to change that.

I consider myself mechanically inclined but passed on installing a used HVAC unit this year. The whole system is pretty simple - simpler than some car mechanical systems I've worked on - but I just wanted it done right and have a warranty (I had a new one installed instead with the correct sizing).

That being said, most stuff on newer cars that folks deal with is going to be pretty straight forward. I'd wager that pretty much anyone (except for the truly helpless) can do brake pads, tire rotations, bleeding brakes, fluid changes, etc. After that comfort level has been achieved, more advanced stuff - timing belt changes, shock / strut changes, etc. could be attempted. Would I advise someone who has never worked on cars to go change a clutch, no. It's a learning curve and change in comfort level. Additionally, there is SO MUCH on Youtube now, it's incredible. I'd consider myself "advanced" as far as being a home mechanic but I've used those especially when I am unfamiliar with the car.

So, yes, you can do it. Whether it fits your lifestyle / situation you will have to determine.


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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2013, 09:16:11 AM »
8: Done.  Save about $30, and get some confidence turning a wrench and getting dirty.  With a little practice, shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes.

This always bugs me, an oil change for me is about $30, maybe a few more, to have done by my mechanic, he also does the tire rotation for free when doing this, i know i could do the change myself (and have) for about $25, but then i have to pay to dispose of the oil, you can't just throw it away, and it is a PITA, so i don't know where an oil change is costing you $55 that you save $30, but for me it works out the same, in which case i can go do other things  since my mechanic is within walking distance of my home.


i agree with all your other points though

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2013, 09:21:21 AM »

This always bugs me, an oil change for me is about $30, maybe a few more, to have done by my mechanic, he also does the tire rotation for free when doing this, i know i could do the change myself (and have) for about $25, but then i have to pay to dispose of the oil, you can't just throw it away, and it is a PITA, so i don't know where an oil change is costing you $55 that you save $30, but for me it works out the same, in which case i can go do other things  since my mechanic is within walking distance of my home.


i agree with all your other points though

Your mechanic may be awesomely different, but let me generalize:  $30 is usually 5w30 of the cheapest crap you can find with a cheap Fram filter.   The oil will break down with exposure to heat/air.  The filter will let small particles through.

Self changes (at least in my case) use high quality synthetic oil.  (The only reason to change it is to remove the dirt.  It does not break down.)  They use high quality filters that filter to a much smaller particle.  In other words: it lasts twice as long.

...I'm not sure where you live, but at least in Texas you cannot charge someone to take used oil.  If you do oil changes, you are required to take my oil free of charge.

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2013, 10:19:22 AM »

This always bugs me, an oil change for me is about $30, maybe a few more, to have done by my mechanic, he also does the tire rotation for free when doing this, i know i could do the change myself (and have) for about $25, but then i have to pay to dispose of the oil, you can't just throw it away, and it is a PITA, so i don't know where an oil change is costing you $55 that you save $30, but for me it works out the same, in which case i can go do other things  since my mechanic is within walking distance of my home.


i agree with all your other points though

Your mechanic may be awesomely different, but let me generalize:  $30 is usually 5w30 of the cheapest crap you can find with a cheap Fram filter.   The oil will break down with exposure to heat/air.  The filter will let small particles through.

Self changes (at least in my case) use high quality synthetic oil.  (The only reason to change it is to remove the dirt.  It does not break down.)  They use high quality filters that filter to a much smaller particle.  In other words: it lasts twice as long.

...I'm not sure where you live, but at least in Texas you cannot charge someone to take used oil.  If you do oil changes, you are required to take my oil free of charge.

Hmm, what about when you take it to the dealer, i drive a 2005 toyota camry, bought new and been paid off for years now, (i know not mustachian), and have just over 70,000 miles on it, 67k of which are mine (it was a demo car) and the dealer would charge $36, which was still worth it to not have to deal with the used oil part. im in PA, and maybe i am wrong about the having to pay a disposal fee, or maybe a few places just tried to screw me over, recommended intervals is 5,000 miles, is synthetic really worth it over the regular oil?

Spork

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2013, 10:33:24 AM »

Hmm, what about when you take it to the dealer, i drive a 2005 toyota camry, bought new and been paid off for years now, (i know not mustachian), and have just over 70,000 miles on it, 67k of which are mine (it was a demo car) and the dealer would charge $36, which was still worth it to not have to deal with the used oil part. im in PA, and maybe i am wrong about the having to pay a disposal fee, or maybe a few places just tried to screw me over, recommended intervals is 5,000 miles, is synthetic really worth it over the regular oil?

You'll find differing opinions there.   I change mine at 7,500 (unless it looks dirty earlier).  I'd go longer, but that's the edge of most manufacturer's recommendations.  The higher end filters do make a significant difference (IMO) in keeping it clean as well.  They generally have more "pleats" in them and have finer screening material that picks up smaller particles. 

I've taken 10 gallons of oil to my local oil change place without them saying a word.  (The tractor oil change can create significant amounts of oil when a hydraulic fluid change occurs.)  Someone around here decided that charging people for used oil increased pollution.  And ... the oil change places actually sell this stuff to be re-refined.  They're only making a few dollars, but it adds up.   In the Dallas area (where I used to live) they had free oil dump stations at the various city trash transfer stations as well. 

jba302

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2013, 10:54:02 AM »
Someone smart figured this out here: http://www.saveinvestgive.com/2011/02/budgeting-part-23-buy-or-repair-fallacy.html

This article pretty much sums up what I was going to say.  I.e.: when you're spending more (or even close to) what the car is worth, it's time to consider replacement. 

Also when you're paying someone to replace things like engines/transmissions/etc, it's a bit of a sign of things to come.  It's not that immediate doom is on the horizon, but... things are probably going to start breaking more often.

If you have a spare car (not all that mustacian, but... I've got a couple of spares) then this might be acceptable.  If you're someone that enjoys tinkering and doing it for fun/education ... again: maybe ok.

I have trouble with his third option ("buying a similar used car"). If I'm taking the option of replace the engine vs. buy another car that is on track to needing the same damn repair due to similar age/mileage, having a brand new engine seems like a pretty smart move.

Spork

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2013, 11:09:48 AM »
Someone smart figured this out here: http://www.saveinvestgive.com/2011/02/budgeting-part-23-buy-or-repair-fallacy.html

This article pretty much sums up what I was going to say.  I.e.: when you're spending more (or even close to) what the car is worth, it's time to consider replacement. 

Also when you're paying someone to replace things like engines/transmissions/etc, it's a bit of a sign of things to come.  It's not that immediate doom is on the horizon, but... things are probably going to start breaking more often.

If you have a spare car (not all that mustacian, but... I've got a couple of spares) then this might be acceptable.  If you're someone that enjoys tinkering and doing it for fun/education ... again: maybe ok.

I have trouble with his third option ("buying a similar used car"). If I'm taking the option of replace the engine vs. buy another car that is on track to needing the same damn repair due to similar age/mileage, having a brand new engine seems like a pretty smart move.

Maybe.   But if that brand new engine is still attached to a crummy transmission, a leaky differential, bad alternator, blown A/C compressor and a suspension that is in need of total repair...  you may or may not be better off.

Sometimes engines go.  If everything else is in ship-shape... and a new engine is not more than the car is worth... it might be worth it. 

But I've had cars hit a critical mass where crap just started breaking every month.  If you have a spare ride and time to fix it, you're probably better off muscling through.  But if you're having to lose a day or two of work every month and putting $300 a month into a car that's worth $1500...  It is not long before replacement seems like a good option.

Bakari

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2013, 11:27:49 AM »
i know i could do the change myself (and have) for about $25, but then i have to pay to dispose of the oil,

Maybe there's an exception, but as far as I know, every chain auto parts store in the country accepts used oil for free (Kragen, autozone, O'rielies, Napa, Advanced Auto, Pepboys)
Some recycling centers will even PAY YOU for your used oil.

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #42 on: August 27, 2013, 12:08:43 PM »
i know i could do the change myself (and have) for about $25, but then i have to pay to dispose of the oil,

Maybe there's an exception, but as far as I know, every chain auto parts store in the country accepts used oil for free (Kragen, autozone, O'rielies, Napa, Advanced Auto, Pepboys)
Some recycling centers will even PAY YOU for your used oil.

I hope you are right about that Bakari, i will check my area to see, i always found it odd they charge knowing that they would then sell it to another company

SavingMon(k)ey

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #43 on: August 27, 2013, 02:19:26 PM »
It can be easy to get attached to cars, my wife names them, but don't.
Lol! I named mine too, but it's to help me take good care of it since I pretty much despise cars deep down and tend to leave regular maintenance off the schedule when I really shouldn't. When my previous one broke beyond repair (the repair was more than the value of the car), I had NO attachment problems whatsoever. I said "Go, Golden Dragon, go give someone else a headache." The "Mountain Ninja" is in good shape and being taken care of.

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #44 on: August 27, 2013, 08:09:32 PM »
My husband's theory is that you should sell it while it runs, but has a pending repair bill greater than its value of things that wouldn't extend its lifespan (ie if the transmission blows early but the rest of the car is still good, that might be worth fixing, but a bunch of little things probably mean the downward spiral has started.) In our area you can always get $1000 for a car that still runs and $500 for one that doesn't.

Jack

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #45 on: August 27, 2013, 09:07:06 PM »
Forcus, I am the opposite of you - I don't buy my computers from Dell, I put them together myself. The power supply just blew on our computer, and I'll be putting a new one in this weekend. Cars....they intimidate me, and every repair I've tried on my cars has ended in nightmare. I do replace bulbs and wiper blades though, does that count?

It counts in a small way, but if you can put together a tower then a car is the same idea, troubleshoot, fix, troubleshoot.  No reason to be intimidated, but I can't say much i don't like to work on cars newer than mid 90s too many sensors and chips for my liking, and when they go bad you cant just bypass them.

The difference between cars and computers -- and I know because I attempt to fix both -- is that computers are usually a lot easier to deal with because they don't get rusty, require large amounts of strength or flexibility to deal with, require a whole bunch of specialized equipment, or get super dirty.

Replacing a component in a computer involves unscrewing a few (or a bunch) of bolts, pulling the offending part out, sticking the new one in, and screwing the bolts back in.

Replacing a component in a car is nominally exactly the same -- except oh, by the way, to reach said bolts you have to go outside in the heat/cold/rain, jack up and crawl under the car, then reach around the exhaust or subframe or whatever (getting dirt, oil, or assorted other fluid on you in the process), go find the right tool, try it and realize that you actually need some other tool that you don't have, run to several different parts or tool stores and pay $50 for it, try again, realize that the damn fastener is rusted on, spray PB blaster on it and wait an hour, try again, whack it with a hammer, curse at it, FINALLY break it free and then it's dark and you realize you've accomplished nothing the whole day.

Working on a car is only like working on a computer if said computer is a Mac. (And not even then, really -- I'm overhauling my Volkswagen (replacing the transmission, suspension and brakes) and so far it's taking about 50x longer than it took me to replace the hard drive and CPU on an iMac and I'm not even halfway done yet.)

That said, sooner or later I will get used to (and decent at) auto repair, and I still think it's worth it despite the complainypants tone above.

I have trouble with his third option ("buying a similar used car"). If I'm taking the option of replace the engine vs. buy another car that is on track to needing the same damn repair due to similar age/mileage, having a brand new engine seems like a pretty smart move.

Maybe.   But if that brand new engine is still attached to a crummy transmission, a leaky differential, bad alternator, blown A/C compressor and a suspension that is in need of total repair...  you may or may not be better off.

Sometimes engines go.  If everything else is in ship-shape... and a new engine is not more than the car is worth... it might be worth it. 

But I've had cars hit a critical mass where crap just started breaking every month.  If you have a spare ride and time to fix it, you're probably better off muscling through.  But if you're having to lose a day or two of work every month and putting $300 a month into a car that's worth $1500...  It is not long before replacement seems like a good option.

The whole argument that you should repair it until the repair cost exceeds $X amount then sell it makes absolutely no sense to me. If I'm repairing it, then every repair shortens the list of remaining things that could go wrong. If I then sell it, I'm trading a car with at least some known-good parts for one with potentially unlimited unknown issues (assuming I'm not buying a much newer, more expensive car than I usually do).

My advice would be to get an "interesting" older car (the kind that might eventually become a "classic") and then keep it in good repair no matter what goes wrong (unless it gets totaled in an accident). The best candidates for this kind of car would also be ones that are more common/standardized (and therefore cheaper to fix) than you would expect. For example, the candidate list for my next car includes 10+ year old Mazda Miatas (they're fun, cheap, and have a huge aftermarket and racing community), 15+ year old Chevy Corvettes (they seem exotic but use the same parts as any other V8 Chevy, and a lot of them are in really good condition because their owners only drove them on special occasions), or a 10+ year old BMW 3-series (probably not as good a choice as the other two).

Spork

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #46 on: August 28, 2013, 08:10:59 AM »


The whole argument that you should repair it until the repair cost exceeds $X amount then sell it makes absolutely no sense to me. If I'm repairing it, then every repair shortens the list of remaining things that could go wrong. If I then sell it, I'm trading a car with at least some known-good parts for one with potentially unlimited unknown issues (assuming I'm not buying a much newer, more expensive car than I usually do).

Let me put some real numbers to it.
I have a 1995 Mustang.  The engine runs great.  In excellent condition, edmunds.com puts it at about $2,000.  I might be able to get $1500 for it.  (kbb has it at $5k, but that is way out of line with what they're selling for.  I've been watching them.)

It needs, or will need very soon:
clutch: guessing $1000.  I've done clutches before and could do it myself, but my project list is probably too long to get to this in a timely manner.
a/c: guessing $500.  I don't have the tools to do this myself.  I guess I could buy them.
struts/shocks/bushings: guessing $400 if I did it myself
front seat motor is about to break: about $80 on ebay

So if I spend about $2000 on this, it will be worth $2000.   These cars are a dime a dozen.  I could probably sell it for $1200-1500 and go out and find one that doesn't need this work and spend a net amount of about $800.

My advice would be to get an "interesting" older car (the kind that might eventually become a "classic") and then keep it in good repair no matter what goes wrong (unless it gets totaled in an accident). The best candidates for this kind of car would also be ones that are more common/standardized (and therefore cheaper to fix) than you would expect. For example, the candidate list for my next car includes 10+ year old Mazda Miatas (they're fun, cheap, and have a huge aftermarket and racing community), 15+ year old Chevy Corvettes (they seem exotic but use the same parts as any other V8 Chevy, and a lot of them are in really good condition because their owners only drove them on special occasions), or a 10+ year old BMW 3-series (probably not as good a choice as the other two).

This is a great idea for a hobby or a learning experience.  It's not a great idea for saving money.  I've got almost $20,000 (yikes!) in an old classic that would be worth maybe $10,000 in perfect shape.  In the shape it's in, it's maybe worth $5000.  It's fun to play with... but not something I'd rely on.   How does one spend a ridiculous amount like $20k on a car?   Over the last 30 years I've probably replaced every single item on that car... some of them more than once.  That $20k is mostly me doing all the labor, too.  (I suck at paint/body work, so that part has been farmed out.  And ... it needs to be done again.)

Forcus

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Re: At what point do you stop repairing a car?
« Reply #47 on: August 28, 2013, 08:55:39 AM »
What's funny about this thread is everyone is right, depending on the circumstance.

So I think the real question is what is your situation, what is your comfort level with do it yourself repairs, and what is your general attitude towards car ownership.

Personally, if I lived in sunny California I'd probably be driving a '66 Mustang, '66 Fairlane, '69 Torino, an old Mopar, or something in that area. Extremely easy to repair, parts widely available and cheap, no issues with rust, and adequate performance respective to todays cars. Others would consider this some sort of automotive torture. Your mileage will vary.