Author Topic: The mental shift to driving an older car  (Read 12707 times)

RelaxedGal

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The mental shift to driving an older car
« on: November 07, 2014, 10:14:55 AM »
I love reading the case studies, and a frequent piece of advice is to sell the new-ish car with poor fuel economy and instead buy an older car with great fuel economy.  The math works, its great advice, but how do you get past the mental hurdle?

Example: my mother-in-law.  From what my husband says she has always leased cars.  She doesn't want to deal with maintenance, and she wants the latest safety features, so every 3 years she leases a new car and has for the past 30 years. 

Example: myself.  In high school I drove old beaters, 10+ year old cars with 150,000+ miles.  My dad is a mechanic and kept them in running order, but never for long.  I think I got a "new" car every other year from age 16-22, when I finally got a 5 year old, 60,000 mile car.  I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something to fail... and suddenly it didn't.  I had a dependable car where the brakes never fell off, the brake line didn't rust out, the head gasket didn't blow, the check engine light wasn't on (and covered with electric tape to avoid being annoying), the engine didn't overheat, the transmission never went out.  I just took it in for scheduled maintenance and it WORKED.

How do you mentally gird yourself for the troubles of an aging car?

Or am I and my mother-in-law just expecting the worst because Michigan winters are Hell on cars?  Are there different rules of thumb in mild vs. harsh climates?

slugline

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2014, 10:28:28 AM »
Remind yourself of the math. If you feel the need, set up a "virtual account" tallying up the money you are not spending on car payments, and directing to savings instead. Within a couple of years, you should see enough in that account to handle most car repairs on your paid-off older car.

Dude on a Mission

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2014, 10:33:13 AM »
I would say first off - the person needs to want to make the switch. Otherwise they may resent the whole thing and revert back to leasing (yuck).

Almost any car from mid-2000's on is going to be reliable enough to get to 100k with few problems and will be just as safe as new cars. And if she chooses wisely, she can snag a car that will easily get to 200k miles. It's always possible that a transmission goes or something else pricey happens, but that's unlikely and still cheaper than leasing.

I assume she drives under 12k/year with the leases, so buying a car with 50k miles on it she won't even get to 100k miles for 4-5 years. Also, insurance will be cheaper.

I recently bought a 2005 Subaru Outback base model (winters can be tough here) with 64k miles for $10k. Yes that's more than MMM and a lot of other people recommend but it's what worked for my family. It's also relatively cheap to insure, has AWD, gets decent mileage, and has room for our family without being a monster SUV. It'll be paid off after 6 months of owning it and will serve us well for a minimum of 5 more years with no monthly payments.

humbleMouse

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2014, 10:34:15 AM »
I think you owned crappy cars in highschool.  If you take the time to find a good used car with 150k+ miles on it, you will probably not have many major issues with it. 

Look for hondas and toyotas.... not pontiacs and fords.  There are plenty of cars out there with 150k+ miles that you can buy that will be reliable and will only need routine maintenance. 

I think are just a victim of bad luck in highschool. 

catccc

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2014, 10:35:27 AM »
I have noticed there are a larger proportion of older cars that look to be in respectable condition when I visit family in the Bay Area.  Where I live, in the barely-north-east US (PA outside of Philly, maybe mid-atlantic would be more appropriate), either everyone likes newer cars, or, more likely, the road salt from winter storms trashes old cars a lot faster.

That said, it's just what you are used to.  There are little bells and whistles on newer cars, and a lot of people that drive older cars are fine without them.  I personally prefer less power stuff (power windows, power locks, etc) on my cars.  But I like to own them for a while, and that is just stuff that is likely to break, IMO. 

We have an 05 Matrix and and an 04 Dakota, both purchased new.  So they are 9-10 years old now, with 145K and 104K miles respectively, and in my mind they are about 1/2 way through their useful life.  The Matrix is just now hitting it's neediness stage, with shocks/struts and a new clutch put in this year.  Plus a few other maintenance items- alignment, tires (though this isn't the first time for new tires), replace a broken door handle (so proud that I did this myself...)  Altogether we've put at least $3000 into it this year.  Which feels like a lot, but hopefully it will keep the "old" (it's all relative) thing going for another 145K miles.  We always planned to take it to 200K, but with a fresh new clutch in it, I want to make it last longer.

I have thought a time or two this year that it would be nice to get a fresh new car and not have to worry about maintaining this one, but reaching for a new when things get a little old isn't a good habit.  I still consider our cars very reliable and I don't worry about surprise break downs or anything.  But then again, they really aren't that old.  Older than most of my peers' cars, but in the grand scheme of things, I wouldn't go entering a "brag on your old car" post with these guys.

APowers

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2014, 10:38:27 AM »
It's actually the opposite for me-- my first cars were old VWs, reasonably reliable, but not luxury vehicles either, and 30+ years old ('71 Super Beetle, then '67 Squareback). When we bought our '91 Chevy Astro, it was like living on the ritz with cruise control and working heaters and everything. We've since upgraded to a couple Honda Civics ('95 and '96) which are almost 20 years old, and I'm still like *Awwwww yeaaaahh! Intermittent wipers!* We've never had any real problems with them (had to replace the battery on one a while back, and new tires, but those aren't hard things); no jumping out to fix the generator brushes with a q-tip as a spacer....

senecando

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2014, 10:46:45 AM »
There's a thread somewhere here with some great advice, but I think the best was: Eventually, you realize that getting stuck on the side of the road really isn't a big deal.

I've been stuck on the side of the road in the middle of winter. I've been stuck on the road in the middle of nowhere. In each case, I was out a few hundred bucks once everything was said and done. Get AAA.

With good maintenance, and a good mechanic, you will get stuck on the side of the road very rarely.

Once you realize that, and start taking care of the thing, you lose the feeling that the thing is about to fall apart.

skunkfunk

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2014, 10:57:03 AM »
not pontiacs and fords.

Meh. I think I've spent $200 this year on my 20+ year old pontiac and chevrolet. Big whoop.

MayDay

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2014, 11:49:20 AM »
I think there are situations when it is justifiable to be worried about maintenance.  But I don't think they apply to everyone. 

When I had a 30 minute commute, and H was home with a toddler, it sucked donkey balls when I had car trouble, and he had to come out at bedtime in the middle of the winter with a screaming toddler to fetch me home.  Etc.  but ultimately, I did have an H with a second car who could come fetch me and I wasn't driving my toddler with me.  If I had been a single mom and my baby was in the car with me for that commute in the old beater, I think the scales might have tipped more in favor of a newer car. 

Currently my H works only about 3-4 miles from home, so worst case scenario it is only a ten minute drive for me to go pick him up. 

I do remember as a teenager, we were on our annual camping road trip out west.  We were rocking a Ford Windstar minivan in the middle of nowhere.  Luckily for us, when it died right before we went up into the mountains on a Saturday morning, there are Ford mechanics in the middle of every nowhere in the US.  Double lucky us, it was Saturday morning and the shop was open until noon.  Oh man would it have sucked if either we had a fancy car (had to wait for parts to come in or have it towed a long way) or it had been Saturday afternoon/Sunday.  So I do have a sort of minimum reliability threshhold for road tripping with kids in remote areas ;).

Louis the Cat

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2014, 12:35:37 PM »
You could start with a brand new VW Golf TDI in 2003 and with it: finish college, get married, complete a master's degree, take a couple dozen in and out of state auditions, move to Colorado, have unexpected twins, take a few more auditions and end up with an 11 year old VW Golf TDI with 197k on it. It doesn't get the fuel economy that it used to (down to 42 from 50), the antenna on the radio died so reception is spotty, and the rear windshield wiper died due to a design flaw. And you can pry it from my cold dead hands. About every 6-12 months, we start talking about buying a used Prius and then we do a road trip to visit friends and family and cram everything a family of 4 needs for 3 weeks into and wonder why on Earth we would replace it. It was especially exciting when the twins were babies and needed travel cribs and diapers and bottles and pacifiers and...how we survived, I'll never know but here we and the VW are, happy as clams.

caseyzee

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2014, 12:47:51 PM »
I'm the single mother of a pair of 7 year olds.  And, I am the Maintenance Manager at a manufacturing facility, so I need to be at work when I need to be a work.  I actually have 2 old cars - a 14 year old Chrysler minivan with 175k on it, and a 10 year old PT Cruiser with about 95k on it.  Until this past summer, I was fine driving those cars - generally, I drive the cruiser to work, and use the minivan on weekends and long trips, unless one of them is feeling under the weather - then I just take whichever works.

Over the summer we went to the beach in the minivan and the damn thing died right on the main drag, before we even made it to the hotel.  It was a serious pain in the ass for about an hour because it was about 400 degrees, there was traffic, and I had to keep my kids belted in the car.  But I have AAA, the tow truck came, Papa came for the girls, and I lost a couple hours of my vacation.  It was definitely nerve wracking, and I had to pay highway robbery rates to fix the car (about $400, probably 4x what my local guy would have cost), and I was nervous driving home. 

When I got home, I immediately started scouring Craigslist for a newer minivan.  Found a 2010 Town and Country that looked great, smelled great - cost $12000.  But, I didn't pull the trigger.  I realized that hey, I've driven the minivan 1000 miles since then and nothing terrible has happened.  This has been an unusually expensive year for the minivan - I've made $750 worth of repairs (including oil changes and new sparks/wires/air filter).  That's about 6% of 12,000.  I'm going to stick with it for now. 

And I think AAA is worth every penny.



neo von retorch

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2014, 12:50:57 PM »
In July, I traded in a 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a 2008 Honda Fit.

I gave up:
  • USB input for music
  • Being up high / clearance / crossover suspension
  • Smooth on the highway
  • No squeaks, clunks or rattles (wiper blades are annoying in this Fit)
  • Always on car charging ports (including bonus one in rear hatch area)
  • 6th gear, 46 HP
  • Flawless paint job

The first few weeks were a little rough. The highways around here have lots of bumps that were kind of jarring in the Fit. I got used to it. I am still aware of them now, but they don't really bother me. I'm still missing having 32GB of MP3s at my disposal... swapping MP3 cd discs is just not the same! I still have heat, A/C, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry.

I also get about ~4mpg more. Not huge, but it's better. Insurance is about the same, too, but I pay very low insurance in general. The money I got making the swap has been sitting happily in investment accounts. No huge payoff yet - the market has been rocky since midsummer.

But after 4 months - the Fit has really started to feel like my car. And it's certainly fun on the windy roads I drive on my commute!

Yes - you give up some luxury feelings, but you adjust quickly. Challenging ourselves makes us stronger. It's similar to how MMM recommends turning the thermostat a few degrees and getting used to the cooler/warmer temperatures. Our bodies adapt. Our mindset adapts. And we grow. And that kind of growth is central to human happiness!

Dude on a Mission

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2014, 01:17:26 PM »
I have noticed there are a larger proportion of older cars that look to be in respectable condition when I visit family in the Bay Area.  Where I live, in the barely-north-east US (PA outside of Philly, maybe mid-atlantic would be more appropriate), either everyone likes newer cars, or, more likely, the road salt from winter storms trashes old cars a lot faster.

Hey fellow Pennsylvanian! I'm also about an hour outside of Philly. North, near Green Lane Park, if that means anything to you. Even though we're in a pocket of rural area it seems as though the majority of people here drive very new, very expensive vehicles. We're definitely outliers with our 2005 and 2006 cars. When we visit family in Indiana we marvel at how it's the opposite - almost everyone drives older vehicles and far fewer BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, Cadillacs, etc.

neo von retorch

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2014, 01:32:17 PM »
Hey fellow Pennsylvanian! I'm also about an hour outside of Philly. North, near Green Lane Park, if that means anything to you. Even though we're in a pocket of rural area it seems as though the majority of people here drive very new, very expensive vehicles. We're definitely outliers with our 2005 and 2006 cars. When we visit family in Indiana we marvel at how it's the opposite - almost everyone drives older vehicles and far fewer BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, Cadillacs, etc.

2006? 2005?! That's so old! I have a luxurious 2008. I'm not sure they'll ever even make newer ones. This is the pinnacle! :-)

Also I live about 40 minutes from Green Lane Park, in the home of the Firebird Festival! Just moved here in September. Hello there fellow Pennsylvanians!

Dude on a Mission

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2014, 01:45:42 PM »
2006? 2005?! That's so old! I have a luxurious 2008. I'm not sure they'll ever even make newer ones. This is the pinnacle! :-)

Also I live about 40 minutes from Green Lane Park, in the home of the Firebird Festival! Just moved here in September. Hello there fellow Pennsylvanians!

Ooohh a 2008? You must be a baller! I work 10 minutes from the home of the Firebird Festival. That's a nice town you're in. A nice park, running trail, and some good craft breweries/bars too :) Sly Fox is underrated; I may have me a Helles Golden Lager in an awesome 360 can tonight.

Cassie

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2014, 01:47:29 PM »
WE usually buy cars that are about 4 years old. That way we have at least 10 more years to drive them. We drive them until they start costing a fortune to fix. Recently we bought a 2008 Toyota Corolla because it only had 27,000 miles on it. 

RelaxedGal

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2014, 01:49:25 PM »
Thank you for the great feedback, guys! 

I also got some good feedback on another thread from Orbix and So Close, which is what made me wonder if it's just me.

Positive news, for the curious:
My Mother in law couldn't find a new car that she liked more than her current car at the end of the lease, so she bought it and at 5 years old now I think she has quite a few years left in it. 

On my end, my 2005 Scion xA is now 10 years old/135,000 miles.  I keep waffling about keeping it.  I did test drive a couple of cars this summer but like my mother-in-law found in her shopping, there was nothing I liked as well as my own car.  I am still drooling over electric cars but can't justify the leap yet.

2527

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2014, 05:36:13 PM »
One thing I do is carry towing insurance which is really cheap and gives me peace of mind if my car needs to be towed long distance.  Another thing is I am fairly confident in my ability to detect an emerging problem and get the  in the shop before it fails and leaves me stranded.

catccc

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2014, 08:07:38 PM »
Hey fellow Pennsylvanian! I'm also about an hour outside of Philly. North, near Green Lane Park, if that means anything to you. Even though we're in a pocket of rural area it seems as though the majority of people here drive very new, very expensive vehicles. We're definitely outliers with our 2005 and 2006 cars. When we visit family in Indiana we marvel at how it's the opposite - almost everyone drives older vehicles and far fewer BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, Cadillacs, etc.

2006? 2005?! That's so old! I have a luxurious 2008. I'm not sure they'll ever even make newer ones. This is the pinnacle! :-)

Also I live about 40 minutes from Green Lane Park, in the home of the Firebird Festival! Just moved here in September. Hello there fellow Pennsylvanians!

1 (on-topic)  When I visit my family in the DC metro area, I am appalled at the number of "luxury" vehicles that surround me.  It's like every single car is a Mercedes or BMW.  And interestingly, two cars I drove while still under the protective and enabling wings of my family (as a teenager and college student) included a Mercedes, a BMW, and Lincoln.  But they were old cars.  The Mercedes was a 1979, as old as I was when I started driving it at 16, the BMW was probably 10 years old and the Lincoln continental was probably 10 years old.  Some of our frugal friends in the area have similar cars, but most other people we see (like picking up kids at private school) are in fancy, schmancy, newer SUVs.  Lexus and friends.

2 (off-topic, sorry)  I'm now SW of Philly, North of the DE state line.  But the Firebird Festival!!!  I know of it.  Never been, but I used to work at the farmers market nearby, and recall seeing Firebird construction late in the season.  If you go to the market already, great.  If not, it is on Saturday mornings, and you MUST check out North Star Orchard, their apples are amazing.  And the owners aren't there to boutique-ify or overprice good, whole, foods.  They want you to buy their stuff like you'd buy food at a grocery store, be a regular consumer of the excellent local bounty.  Apples are $2/#, I think, and have been since 2007, which might be more than your grocery store on a sale, but they are sustainably grown, and seriously, taste many many times better than any other apples I've eaten.

rtrnow

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2014, 08:04:13 AM »
not pontiacs and fords.

Meh. I think I've spent $200 this year on my 20+ year old pontiac and chevrolet. Big whoop.

The American cars suck mentality is an outdated one. American cars over the last 20 years can be just as reliable as anything else. My last ford (91 thunderbird) was sold with >250K miles still running strong with original engine and trans. My next car was a mustang with no issue until I totaled it with 105K miles.

BlueMR2

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2014, 08:26:35 AM »
On my end, my 2005 Scion xA is now 10 years old/135,000 miles.  I keep waffling about keeping it.  I did test drive a couple of cars this summer but like my mother-in-law found in her shopping, there was nothing I liked as well as my own car.  I am still drooling over electric cars but can't justify the leap yet.

Keep it.  You're likely to get another 10 years/135,000 out of it with only minimal repairs.

MrsPete

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2014, 08:56:38 AM »
I can't see much on this thread to which I can relate.  I believe in "buy it new, drive it forever".  It's been working for me.  I don't have "new car fever", which is the biggest reason for trading in cars frequently, and which often leads to getting into the lease-game.

We bought my current car (cash, paid in full) for just under 20K eight years ago.  We take care of it like it's a baby, but aside from expected maintenance -- oil changes and alignments -- the only thing it's ever needed has been tires.  It's up to 85K or so in mileage, and I can easily see this car lasting 'til it's 20 years old.  If so, our cost will only have been 1K per year of use.  Our total cost for transportation (including insurance and four drivers) is around 5% of our income, and I'm satisfied with that.  Obviously we'll have more maintenance as the years go on, but I don't know how to figure those at this point. 

I would not stick with a car that was likely to let me down by the roadside.  No, I don't have toddlers any more, nor do I have any extinuating circumstances, but I'm just not going to worry about whether this is the day that my car lets me down. 

RWD

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2014, 11:32:14 AM »
In July, I traded in a 2013 Mazda CX-5 for a 2008 Honda Fit.

I gave up:
  • Being up high / clearance / crossover suspension

I test drove a Fit and one of the things both my wife and I disliked was the high seating position! I guess everyone has different preferences.


I'm still missing having 32GB of MP3s at my disposal... swapping MP3 cd discs is just not the same!

I believe the 2009 Fit has USB. ;)


I believe in "buy it new, drive it forever".  It's been working for me.  I don't have "new car fever", which is the biggest reason for trading in cars frequently, and which often leads to getting into the lease-game.

This is the plan with my latest purchase. If you keep it long enough (10+ years) the depreciation doesn't dominate the cost too much. It still comes out more expensive than used, of course, but I'm not too worried as long as my savings rate is still high.

I did some extensive calculations (which I might make a thread on at some point) and found that a new 2015 Mazda 3 should cost about $1,200/year more to own than a used 2010 Honda Fit if you own them both for 10 years. This includes accounting for paying sales tax on new cars but not used and opportunity costs. And of course the gap gets smaller the longer you keep it. Also, the Mazda 3 is not the cheapest new car you can buy either. You could go for a new Mazda 2, Honda Fit, Mitsubishi Mirage, etc. to save more. On the other hand you could find cheaper used cars as well.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2014, 11:35:31 AM by RWD »

TheThirstyStag

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2014, 09:18:47 PM »
not pontiacs and fords.

Meh. I think I've spent $200 this year on my 20+ year old pontiac and chevrolet. Big whoop.

The American cars suck mentality is an outdated one. American cars over the last 20 years can be just as reliable as anything else. My last ford (91 thunderbird) was sold with >250K miles still running strong with original engine and trans. My next car was a mustang with no issue until I totaled it with 105K miles.

Agreed.  My Ford has been one of the most mustachian purchases of my life.

Jesus Christ

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2014, 10:13:16 PM »
You have to have a change in attitude when dealing with older cars. The major trick is to never overheat the car. If you see the temperature rising pull over IMMEDIATELY and have the car towed to get properly fixed to prevent damaging the engine. Don't think you can make it home.  Obviously manual transmissions are more bullet proof then auto's. The rest of the repairs are very minor compared to the cost of purchasing a new vehicle.

Also you have to re-calibrate your expectations with cars. If you have a dent, issues with power locks/windows, A/C broken, or a crack in the window that is still state legal you do not have to have those items fixed so you can just laugh at them.

If you have the desire to go buy a new car, stop and clean yours to a "detail" finish and you will feel better with the car you already have.

Greg

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2014, 09:49:42 AM »
You have to have a change in attitude when dealing with older cars. The major trick is to never overheat the car. If you see the temperature rising pull over IMMEDIATELY and have the car towed to get properly fixed to prevent damaging the engine. Don't think you can make it home.  Obviously manual transmissions are more bullet proof then auto's. The rest of the repairs are very minor compared to the cost of purchasing a new vehicle.

This is good advice.  A used car (any car actually) will eventually need repairs or maintenance, and planning ahead for that rather than reacting to a breakdown is much better.  Cars don't just magically overheat.  Something goes wrong, like a coolant leak or a thermostat sticking, and so you have to be mindful of symptoms and/or check the fluid levels.  Knowing what is normal for your car is helpful.

MrsPete

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2014, 08:11:59 AM »
I test drove a Fit and one of the things both my wife and I disliked was the high seating position! I guess everyone has different preferences.
Yeah, I drove a Fit . . . and I found the seat uncomfortable.  Also I didn't think it was quite big enough for a family of four.

Agreed.  My Ford has been one of the most mustachian purchases of my life.
I have a 1990 Ford in my driveway.  We bought it one year old, and it's still going strong. 

cjottawa

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2014, 09:21:41 AM »
Older car: reduced worry about dings, dents, theft, vandalism, increased worry of ongoing maintenance issues.
Antidote: budget some maintenance money into a used car purchase and buy smart.

Buying a low-mileage used car from the Lemon-Aid guide's "recommended" or "above average" lists has always served me well, provided the car was well treated. (my mechanic gets a say in what I buy)

Recommended:
Honda Fit (2009-10)
Hyundai Elantra (2007-10)
Mazda3 (2006-10)
Suzuki SX4 (2000-05)

Above Average:
Ford Focus (2005-10)
Honda Civic (2010)
Honda Fit (2007-2008)
Hyundai Accent (2006-10)
Hyundai Elantra (1999-2006)
Mazda3 (2004-05)
Mazda5 (2006-10)
Mazda Protegé (1999-2003)
Nissan Sentra (2007-10)
Subaru Forester (2003-10)
Subaru Legacy, Outback (1999-2010)
Suzuki Aerio (2003-07)
Suzuki Swift, Swift+ (1999-2009)
Toyota/GM Matrix/Vibe (2005-10)

My go-to on the above list? 2006 Hyundai Elantra GT. Half the price of the Honda Fit, more room, way more comfortable, very easy to maintain, low-repair bills, parts easily available etc. The "market" seems to still remember Hyundai as makers of unimpressive cars in the mid 1980s which drives the resale value down on the Elantras.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2014, 11:59:50 AM by cjottawa »

RapmasterD

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2014, 12:15:40 PM »
The 'buy it new and keep it forever' rationale doesn't make economic sense. And who cares, if that works, and you truly DO keep the car forever, I think it ends up being pretty close to a wash, depending on what you buy and drive.

Also, be cognizant of your thoughts and attitude. The statement, "How do you mentally gird yourself for the troubles of an aging car?" is interesting in that it uses the word "gird," a LOVELY word! But, why does one need to GIRD oneself for the TROUBLES of an aging car?" How about, "What is the best way to proactively maintain a car to ensure a bare minimum of 'surprises?'

And so I'd say:
--Change out your battery every 24-36 months whether it needs it or not.
--Replace all belts and hoses every 36 months whether they are needed or not.
--I'm not going to get into the 'fluids' discussion.
--Vigilantly track your maintenance in a spreadsheet sortable by date, mileage and service(s) performed.
--Drive your car like it is a delicate elderly patient. Easy on the gas, easy on the brakes, bro dude.
--Yadda yadda yadda...

jeromedawg

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2014, 12:33:26 PM »
I've been driving around a pass-me-down 93 Camry for the past 8 years or so. The thing just runs so smoothly but it has had its share of repairs. Have had to replace the radiator twice now, new shocks, new transmission, new catalytic converter I think, several tire changes, brake changes, etc. Feels like I've spent quite a bit on this but I think it's still a lot less than that $24,000 WRX STi that I wanted way back when LOL. My mechanic always reminds me of how I'm still saving a lot of money doing these kinds of repairs vs owing new car payments every month on a new car or whatever. It does make a lot of sense and helps remind me that my car just gets me from point A to point B. It's a good thing I don't work too far from home either. The AC intake is kinda busted on the car and I have to find a sun visor replacement still but it gets me where I need to go. At some point, I'll need a new car but for now, I'm driving this thing into the ground.

RelaxedGal

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #30 on: November 12, 2014, 08:31:24 AM »
The 'buy it new and keep it forever' rationale doesn't make economic sense. And who cares, if that works, and you truly DO keep the car forever, I think it ends up being pretty close to a wash, depending on what you buy and drive.

Also, be cognizant of your thoughts and attitude. The statement, "How do you mentally gird yourself for the troubles of an aging car?" is interesting in that it uses the word "gird," a LOVELY word! But, why does one need to GIRD oneself for the TROUBLES of an aging car?" How about, "What is the best way to proactively maintain a car to ensure a bare minimum of 'surprises?'

And so I'd say:
--Change out your battery every 24-36 months whether it needs it or not.
--Replace all belts and hoses every 36 months whether they are needed or not.
--I'm not going to get into the 'fluids' discussion.
--Vigilantly track your maintenance in a spreadsheet sortable by date, mileage and service(s) performed.
--Drive your car like it is a delicate elderly patient. Easy on the gas, easy on the brakes, bro dude.
--Yadda yadda yadda...

My mechanic would think I'm crazy if I insisted on that level of maintenance on my 10 year old car.  He already thinks I'm a little over the top, and has gently alluded to it "aging".  When I asked for a body shop recommendation his first response was "Have you considered buying a newer car?"

I guess it's just the surprises that I don't deal with well.  This spring I was committed to driving this car another 2-10 years.  It's a Toyota, it will last forever!  But when I was vacuuming I discovered water in the rear passenger floor.  WTF?  After 2 weeks without a car I have a resealed windshield and the rusted through floor has been replaced.  The theory is that the seal on the 9 year old replacement windshield was leaking, letting water into the headliner which then ran to the back of the car, down the C-pillar and into the foot well where it pooled and quickly rusted.  The repair was only $500, but 2 weeks without a car sucked.  More pertinent to this discussion: after a surprise like that I keep waiting for something else to go.  Did the water in the headliner start corroding anything electrical, like the side curtain airbags?  Was the windshield really the problem, or is there still a leak somewhere? I'm paranoid, I keep checking under the carpet when it rains to see if there's water.

I'll definitely keep up on the routine maintenance and anything recommended by my mechanic which will reduce the surprises, but there will still be surprises.

Jack

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #31 on: November 12, 2014, 09:21:28 AM »
Obviously manual transmissions are more bullet proof then auto's.

I'm beginning to wonder about this. In my life, I've owned a 1992 Ford Aerostar (automatic), a 2003 Hyundai Accent (manual), 1998 VW Beetle TDI (manual), and a 1996 Ford Ranger 4x4 (manual).
  • The Aerostar never had a transmission problem
  • The Hyundai started slipping out of 5th gear at maybe 60k miles; it was fixed under warranty (the car was totaled by a falling tree, or I'd still be driving it)
  • The Beetle had the bracket that attaches 5th gear to the rest of the transmission break, causing the loss of 5th gear. I kept driving it until I also lost 4th gear, and it is now in my driveway on jackstands in the midst of a DIY transmission swap (which is a whole damn lot harder than I thought it would be).
  • The Ranger had its transmission (allegedly) replaced before I even bought it, has worn synchros, and had the clutch catastrophically fail (literally, chunks of the friction disc broke off). The clutch was replaced by an independent mechanic for about $1000.

I enjoy driving manual transmission cars enough that I'd refuse to consider a slushbox, but I have to admit they might work out better for me...


How about, "What is the best way to proactively maintain a car to ensure a bare minimum of 'surprises?'

And so I'd say:
--Drive your car like it is a delicate elderly patient. Easy on the gas, easy on the brakes, bro dude.

This is not always good advice. In a VW TDI, for example, it's a recipe for gumming up the intake and turbocharger with soot. Sometimes you want to perform an "Italian tune-up" by flooring it all the way up to redline. If you do that and see a big[ger than normal] cloud of smoke out the back, you know your intake was dirty...

10dollarsatatime

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #32 on: November 12, 2014, 09:43:15 AM »
It wasn't difficult for me to make the shift... but I think that's because I started out with $500 and less vehicles:
'87 Chevy Nova - $500
'89 Honda Accord - $250
'87 Chevy S-10 - $450
'89 Mazda b2000 - $500

And then I pulled a giant dumb and bought a $21,000 2005 Nissan Frontier the very weekend I got my first full time paycheck.  I owned it for three years.  I found MMM last February, spent March and April convincing myself I didn't actually need a truck, and got rid of it in May.  I had spent more than $1500 in repairs and maintenance in the three years I owned it, which is more than I spent on repairs/maintenance for the previous 4 vehicles (owned for 7 years total) combined.  At those prices, they were rather disposable, I suppose.  If anything came up that would have cost more than the vehicle to fix, I just sold them and bought a new one.  It was still massively cheaper than the Frontier...

I moved down to a '99 Honda CR-V.  It does everything I need it to do... including hauling around trailers and grandpa's fishing boat.  It gets twice the gas mileage.  It's reliable.  And I absolutely love the thing.  As little as I drive, the shape that it's in, and the fact that it's a Honda have me pretty convinced it will last another 10-15 years.

I guess mine wasn't so much a mental shift as much as it was getting back to my roots. :)

FarmerPete

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #33 on: November 12, 2014, 10:20:14 AM »
Everyones life situations could warrant different options.  For instance a single older woman should probably spend a little more to get a car that is less likely to break down on the side of the road.  Where as a family with two cars has some built in redundancy that should allow both of the cars to be considerably less reliable.  If that same family went down to one car, I would recommend that it be a more reliable car (I'm thinking 5 years old when purchased).

One thing that I've been prone to do is that if I don't trust my car for a road trip, I either rent or borrow one that is reliable.  I can rent a car for $200 a week with unlimited mileage.  That's long enough for most vacations.  If my parents are are feeling generous, I could probably swap a car with them for a week or two as well.  If you figure that you take two weeks of vacation a year, spending $400 in rental fees is a LOT cheaper than making a $200-500 a month payment on a car.  Having said that, just because a car is old doesn't mean it's unreliable.  I only consider a car to be unreliable when it 1) Shows symptoms of a bigger failure to come.  In that case I typically would get it fixed unless there is no gain from fixing it immediately.  2) It's left me stranded several times in the recent history that weren't fully fixable.  3) I've had it too short of a time to gauge whether there are any problems or not.  My 2010 Ford Fusion has been in the shop more than our 2004 Honda Element in the last two years.  My Fusion died on my way home from work at 5pm on Friday, the day before we were leaving on a vacation.  Luckily, we were planning on taking the Honda anyways (hitch + bike rack = vacation win), but that would have really sucked if it was our only car.  Having said that, the problem was 100% fixed and I have no concern of it happening again.  Now when my last car blew it's second head gasket in 110k miles...I was a little skeptical about it's ability to continue on in this world.

Eric

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #34 on: November 12, 2014, 11:31:38 AM »
If you're worried about breaking down on the side of the road, the proper action is to carry a cell phone, not buy a different car. 

Unless your car has had multiple large issues (transmission, engine, etc) smaller repairs are just part of the expense of owning a car.  It's almost always better financially to repair rather than replace.

skunkfunk

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #35 on: November 12, 2014, 03:22:56 PM »
Obviously manual transmissions are more bullet proof then auto's.

I'm beginning to wonder about this. In my life, I've owned a 1992 Ford Aerostar (automatic), a 2003 Hyundai Accent (manual), 1998 VW Beetle TDI (manual), and a 1996 Ford Ranger 4x4 (manual).
  • The Aerostar never had a transmission problem
  • The Hyundai started slipping out of 5th gear at maybe 60k miles; it was fixed under warranty (the car was totaled by a falling tree, or I'd still be driving it)
  • The Beetle had the bracket that attaches 5th gear to the rest of the transmission break, causing the loss of 5th gear. I kept driving it until I also lost 4th gear, and it is now in my driveway on jackstands in the midst of a DIY transmission swap (which is a whole damn lot harder than I thought it would be).
  • The Ranger had its transmission (allegedly) replaced before I even bought it, has worn synchros, and had the clutch catastrophically fail (literally, chunks of the friction disc broke off). The clutch was replaced by an independent mechanic for about $1000.

I enjoy driving manual transmission cars enough that I'd refuse to consider a slushbox, but I have to admit they might work out better for me...

Oh yeah?!! Well my anecdotal evidence is entirely opposite! On my in-laws side, I have several manual transmissions on their original clutch even (including my old pickup with 241k on the original clutch.) On my other side, I have a huge slew of automatics that had to be swapped or rebuilt (including my own old car that I rebuilt the 3-speed auto in the garage. Holy shit those automatics are complicated.)

So there?

RapmasterD

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Re: The mental shift to driving an older car
« Reply #36 on: November 12, 2014, 04:49:23 PM »
The 'buy it new and keep it forever' rationale doesn't make economic sense. And who cares, if that works, and you truly DO keep the car forever, I think it ends up being pretty close to a wash, depending on what you buy and drive.

Also, be cognizant of your thoughts and attitude. The statement, "How do you mentally gird yourself for the troubles of an aging car?" is interesting in that it uses the word "gird," a LOVELY word! But, why does one need to GIRD oneself for the TROUBLES of an aging car?" How about, "What is the best way to proactively maintain a car to ensure a bare minimum of 'surprises?'

And so I'd say:
--Change out your battery every 24-36 months whether it needs it or not.
--Replace all belts and hoses every 36 months whether they are needed or not.
--I'm not going to get into the 'fluids' discussion.
--Vigilantly track your maintenance in a spreadsheet sortable by date, mileage and service(s) performed.
--Drive your car like it is a delicate elderly patient. Easy on the gas, easy on the brakes, bro dude.
--Yadda yadda yadda...

My mechanic would think I'm crazy if I insisted on that level of maintenance on my 10 year old car.  He already thinks I'm a little over the top, and has gently alluded to it "aging".  When I asked for a body shop recommendation his first response was "Have you considered buying a newer car?"

I guess it's just the surprises that I don't deal with well.  This spring I was committed to driving this car another 2-10 years.  It's a Toyota, it will last forever!  But when I was vacuuming I discovered water in the rear passenger floor.  WTF?  After 2 weeks without a car I have a resealed windshield and the rusted through floor has been replaced.  The theory is that the seal on the 9 year old replacement windshield was leaking, letting water into the headliner which then ran to the back of the car, down the C-pillar and into the foot well where it pooled and quickly rusted.  The repair was only $500, but 2 weeks without a car sucked.  More pertinent to this discussion: after a surprise like that I keep waiting for something else to go.  Did the water in the headliner start corroding anything electrical, like the side curtain airbags?  Was the windshield really the problem, or is there still a leak somewhere? I'm paranoid, I keep checking under the carpet when it rains to see if there's water.

I'll definitely keep up on the routine maintenance and anything recommended by my mechanic which will reduce the surprises, but there will still be surprises.

I'm following Pareto Principle here. For a minor additional cost over lengthy periods of time one eliminates 80-90% of the causes for breakdowns, including dead batteries, busted hoses, broken fan belts...