Author Topic: A Car Conundrum  (Read 1595 times)

henramdrea

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Southwest
A Car Conundrum
« on: July 17, 2021, 01:24:10 PM »
Let me see if I can lay this doozy out for my mustachian family to make some sense of it.

We have cars in various states, but it's well-agreed they have lots of miles on them and are starting to cause some headaches.

2004 Kia Sorrento 158K miles.  Just recently was the victim of a catalytic converter theft.  Currently in the shop for.....8, 10 weeks?

2011 Ram 1500 174K miles.  Runs well, but DW has been driving this one lately and she's ROUGH on transmissions.  Drove it last evening and noted some difficulty getting the shifter out of Park.  I saw dollar signs.

2004 Nissan XTerra 127K miles.  No A/C.  I live in the desert SW.  It's summer.  Looking like it's about $1000 to fix, so planning to fix that.

Now, keep in mind this has happened over the last few weeks...so all at once it feels like.  So for those of you ready to say, "you shoulda saw this day coming!"  I really didn't.

3 drivers, me, DW and 20 y/o DS (working part-time and going to college again next semester).  We all 3 need to have a vehicle.  I have a stupid commute (80+ miles r/t), DW ferries my youngest to school, dance lessons and other activities.

The question.  We need 3 cars for our busy lives.  These cars seem to be nearing the nadir of their existence.  Do we get 3 newer cars? (REALLY feels like a financial setback even if DS can help out a little).  Keep dumping thousands into 3 iffy cars?   Keep 2 get 1/get one keep 2? 

The Kia is the one causing the pinch right now because of it's length of time in the shop.  They have to litterally build a custom exhaust for this...can you believe the lack of wisdom from the insurance company?  Almost $2600.  Sheesh.  And, I meant to add, it also needs $1200 in A/C repairs!!  You see where I'm going or not going here?

I used to love car ownership.  I really hate it right now.  I've never had this many cars before, and certainly not 3 cars that conspired at the same time to cause such indigestion.  Any help, condolences, gentle shaking is greatly appreciated.

RWD

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5065
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2021, 02:08:50 PM »
Those shop prices seem a little high to me.
https://repairpal.com/estimator/kia/sorento/catalytic-converter-replacement-cost
https://repairpal.com/estimator/kia/sorento/ac-compressor-replacement-cost

I had a generic catalytic converter welded into my exhaust for under $500 (including the parts). Just because it's "custom" doesn't mean it has to be expensive.


You say you need three cars but do you need them to be two SUVs and a truck? What about three economy sedans/hatchbacks? Or two of those and one pickup/SUV? As long as you're planning to update the fleet might as well go for efficiency, especially with the amount of miles it sounds like you'll be doing. Also consider an EV for at least the one doing the most miles.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2368
  • FIREd at 36 ...sort of.
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2021, 02:30:10 PM »
Cars are my hot button issue at the moment. Mainly because I haven't had one in almost 2 years and really need one now but the rising costs (crazy!) and lack of availability are making it impossible to find anything. So before you make a decision to buy or repair  I'd check what car options there are your your area at what price range. Since prices are so high now for even fuel efficient little old beaters (and trucks, vans and Suvs are thru the roof) it may make much more sense to repair right now. Your location may have different choice then mine but this seems to be a nationwide issue. Like you I am kind of hating the car thing now and could continue to go without awhile longer but with your commute and family needs you really can't. Maybe one newer compact car for your commute and repair the others.

StartingEarly

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 490
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Arizona but travelling
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2021, 02:41:29 PM »
I'd say get rid of the truck and replace it with something smaller and more practical like a ridgeline or a colorado or ranger. The dodges aren't reliable. Nissan isn't known to be reliable either is Kia. I would look at affordable reliable vehicles to be replacing all three and just bite the bullet because I don't see one of your cars that I would want to keep long term.

henramdrea

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Southwest
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2021, 02:46:57 PM »
@RWD, we don't need 2 SUV's for sure.  They just happened to be in the price-range at the time and up till now, everything was doing fine.  The truck has been handy for hauling the odd peice of furniture, yard stuff, etc.  Do I really still NEED it?  No, I could drive a Corolla and be fine.  Totally understand the pricing on the exhaust work seems WAY out of line and I said as much to the insurance company.  No wonder insurance rates are so high.

@spartana yeah, it's not too bad in AZ for used cars and they seem to be getting more reasonable lately.  I think between 10K and 12K can get you a less than 100K mile vehicle made within 5-7 years range.  Still, dipping into the EF for a vehicle hurts a little.  May have to, we'll see.

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2188
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2021, 02:59:13 PM »
From what youíve shared Iíd probably just:
1. replace the Kia, since youíre going to spend $3800 and have to wait 8-10 weeks on a car you said is needed now (so sell it to offset the new car and buy a used one for $5k or less);
2. Leave the Ram until itís useless, which it doesnít seem to be right now
3. Fix the AC in the Nissan, as you havenít listed any other issue

If you bought 3 new ones right now, itíd cost $15-25k at least right, for all 3 even if you go mustachian. Hereís youíre spending around $5k right now for 2 cars (counting DS contribution and selling the Kia for whatever you get for it). Then, maybe 6 months from now you replace DWís car after selling hers and then 6 months after that you replace yours, if you feel you need to. Outside of DS, thereís no emergency but you should fix that AC ASAP.

alsoknownasDean

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2021, 02:17:05 AM »
Firstly, what do you need to haul around with each vehicle? Three gas guzzlers isn't really ideal. If it's just one or two people, then that can be done just fine with a normal car.

My views on each car are the following:

- If the truck is still going, then that can wait a little bit and you could get it checked by a reputable shop in the meantime. The issues might be just related to the lever or the electronic lockouts rather than mechanical parts within the transmission. If you're not using the truck to haul things regularly, maybe replace it with something a bit more suited to the role of a passenger vehicle?

- The Nissan sounds like a cheap fix, go for it if it's otherwise reliable. How long realistically does it need to last? My guess is it needs to last until your son graduates and then he can buy his own damn car.

- Sounds like the Kia's time is up, how much would you have to pay out of pocket (if there's a deductible on the insurance) to sort out the cat converter?

For now, would a used Camry/Accord/Civic/Corolla/Prius be adequate as a commuter to replace the Kia? What's a 2000s era 4cyl Camry worth over there? A similar-era Buick with the tough-as-nails 3800? A later Camry would be fine too if you've got the extra cash.

The other factor is of course your financial situation. If you don't have any non-mortgage debt, a high savings rate and a decent amount of investments, you'll have more choices than if you've got $30K in credit card debt, a car note on the truck and a spending habit.

If you've got a decent emergency fund, and you need to repair or replace a vehicle, well that's why the EF exists :)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 02:28:44 AM by alsoknownasDean »

Paper Chaser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 836
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2021, 07:09:30 AM »
Trucks and SUVs seem especially valuable in the current market, particularly in the SW. If you're going to sell, now is probably the time to do it. Just make sure you're replacing them with less desirable vehicles that will also be cheaper for you (sedans, hybrids, smaller more efficient trucks, etc) because buy low/sell high.

I'd fix the Nissan and sell it. They get poor fuel economy, and intake gaskets and transmission coolers tend to fail over time which can cause even more expensive repairs. Maximize what you can get for it and replace it with a fuel efficient, reliable econobox for your kid.

If you like having a pickup available, I'd consider selling the Ram and replacing it with a smaller option. Minivans can do the same tasks that you mentioned needing the truck stuff for,  and will be relatively cheap to buy.

Might as well let the shop fix your Kia, and then I'd unload it and replace with a fuel efficient, reliable econobox.

henramdrea

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Southwest
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2021, 06:47:52 AM »
I appreciate the insights here and will be seriously thinking about likely selling the Kia ASAP as it's beginning to look like the most far-gone vehicle of the bunch.  None of these cars have loans out on them, they were all paid for with cash and the Nissan was given to us so that car owes us nothing.  The insurance deductible on the Kia is going to be $250.

All 3 will need to be replaced soon, so it may look like it's coming down to:

1.  Sell the Kia as soon as it gets back from the shop before the other shoes drop
2.  Keep the Nissan short-term (fix the A/C)
3.  Sell the Ram as soon as feasible (?)  Not sure what to replace this with in the moment here.

DS is a good kid, he's paying for community college without loans so I want to support that as far as possible.  He''d love to get his own car and I made him understand the costs associated with that including insurance, gas, maintenance.  The current crisis has sort of brought that into focus for him.

DW is the penny-pincher when it comes to vehicles.  She wants to drain every last bit of life from the cars before replacing.  I can appreciate that, but where we live the stakes are pretty high when the car leaves you stranded in 110 degree weather.  In my case, I drive through some fairly desolate desert highway 4x per week to work and back.  I don't want to become a pile of bleached bones before my time.  We'll have to come to some sort of agreement on a replacement vehicle.

Any mustachian vehicle suggestions?  I know the usual: Honda Fit, Toyota Matrix/Vibe, Scion XB, yadda, yadda.  Some of those are now becoming high-mile and older vehicles.  DW likes small SUV's for the visibility they offer.  Do any of you have experience with a decent small SUV?

alsoknownasDean

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2021, 07:32:26 AM »
Any mustachian vehicle suggestions?  I know the usual: Honda Fit, Toyota Matrix/Vibe, Scion XB, yadda, yadda.  Some of those are now becoming high-mile and older vehicles.  DW likes small SUV's for the visibility they offer.  Do any of you have experience with a decent small SUV?

Honda HR-V? Mazda CX-3/CX5? Toyota Rav4 or whatever the smaller one is? Subaru Crosstrek? Hyundai Tucson or Kona?

Most of those SUVs are basically the passenger car but slightly taller, slightly more ground clearance and significantly more expensive.

A lot of the Mustachian vehicle recommendations boil down to the following:

- Buy only enough vehicle to do what you need of it.
- Buy from a brand with a reputation for reliability.
- Avoid expensive status symbols.
- Buying used usually makes more financial sense.

By the way, I'm guessing you have a cell phone, right? If you do break down, couldn't you call for help (AA or equivalent), or is there no reception on those routes?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 07:34:46 AM by alsoknownasDean »

RWD

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5065
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2021, 08:24:46 AM »
Take a look at the Chevy Bolt. I believe it has a surprisingly high seating position.

six-car-habit

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 461
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2021, 08:26:51 AM »
 I'm surprised the insurance company is willing to drop $2600 on an exhaust, which my semi-local shop would get done in a day, correctly, for about $600 - if you just walked in and paid cash and did not involve insurance . How much is your deductible ? - for $100 more out of pocket ,than the $500 deductible you'll probably pay as your share of the claim against your comprehensive coverage you could be driving this car today.  I can't think the Kia is worth more than $4K in a private party sale, and that price assumes it is beautiful inside and out.

 I don't understand the vitriol against the dodge in general from other posters, as yours has 174K miles and you say it runs well. Apparently your wife likes shifting from reverse to foward before the car slows, or performing 'neutral drops' where you rev up the engine in neutral and slam the shifter into drive to get the tires to chirp and your high school friends [ or son ] laugh. Maybe you could drive this one for awhile instead.

 Someone already mentioned a Buick with the 3800cc engine.  There are always several post-2000 Buicks and Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles with that motor, [which is one of the better long lasting GM designs] in my local Craigslist with low miles [ less than 110K] that were owned by one family or an elderley couple, which are clean and undented , fully functional, and available for about $3000, and often cheaper.  This seems like a great answer for any of your family which is likely to increase your gas milage over your current vehicles as a bonus.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 08:29:06 AM by six-car-habit »

Sibley

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5466
  • Location: Northwest Indiana
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2021, 08:40:43 AM »
I find it ironic that your DW is a penny pincher with vehicles yet destroys transmissions. Tell her to cut it out. If she needs driving lessons in order to cut it out, so be it. Basically, either she stops destroying transmissions or she doesn't get to complain about spending money on replacing/fixing her vehicle. Which she damaged. (and that's coming from someone who had a Ford Focus with a messed up trans and it didn't die because of an accident or trans related issues. And I AM an aggressive driver.)

Safety trumps saving money. I'm not talking about buying some massive SUV because its "safe". I'm talking about not getting stranded in dangerous conditions.

RetiredAt63

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 15928
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2021, 04:28:42 PM »
DW sounds like she would be happier driving an automatic.

The Mazda SUVs are on car chasses.  CX-3 is on the Mazda 2, CX-30 is on the Mazda 3, and CX 5 is on the Mazda 5.  My 2010 Mazda 3 hatchback is coming up on 294,000 km.

« Last Edit: July 19, 2021, 06:59:23 PM by RetiredAt63 »

ChpBstrd

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3481
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2021, 06:07:00 PM »
I recently wrote a post on this and suggested it be made a sticky. Feel free to revive it if itís helpful:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-buy-a-car-(if-you-must)/msg2854611/#msg2854611

Bottom line is youíll constantly be dealing with the costs of worn out cars until you do something about that commute. Might it be easier to get a different job or move than it is to deal with constant car maintenance?

henramdrea

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Southwest
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #15 on: July 19, 2021, 09:04:43 PM »
I recently wrote a post on this and suggested it be made a sticky. Feel free to revive it if itís helpful:

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-buy-a-car-(if-you-must)/msg2854611/#msg2854611

Bottom line is youíll constantly be dealing with the costs of worn out cars until you do something about that commute. Might it be easier to get a different job or move than it is to deal with constant car maintenance?

Excellent read, thanks for the link.  This was not too long ago either.  Guess I should have just scrolled a little further.

I'd love to work closer to home.  Problem is, I'm in a pretty relaxed position in a frontline healthcare field right now and if I worked in town I know I'd be in a higher-stress situation, litterally putting my life on the line to go to work.  The commute is justified right now.

The A/C, some belts replaced and an oil change in the Nissan ended up under $300, so that was some good news today.

AccidentialMustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2021, 09:59:57 PM »
Recently test drove a bolt and can attest, the seating position is a bit higher than the fit. I am not sure I have as good of visibility forward because of the bulky dash and rear viz is not as good as my fit (smaller window, rear seat/headrests more in the way). Getting the seat raised up helped a ton. That said, they're only 3 inches different. It really isn't a lot of added height. Having a seat with height adjust is more of it than the actual car height (my fit is too old to have the height-adjustable driver's seat) for me, but I'm long-legs-short-torso. YMMV.

There is that little problem of them lighting themselves on fire, even post-software-fix.

chesebert

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 805
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2021, 10:04:51 PM »
A lot of the Mustachian vehicle recommendations boil down to the following:

- Buy only enough vehicle to do what you need of it.
- Buy from a brand with a reputation for reliability.
- Avoid expensive status symbols.
- Buying used usually makes more financial sense.

Lol. I only check 1 out of 4. Used car prices are insane now in the states and at some point you just go f'k it and get whatever you want.

sonofsven

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 343
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2021, 07:54:46 AM »
I'd just keep driving and fixing them.
Unless you want a new car, then do that.
It's all about maintenance.

henramdrea

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Southwest
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2021, 07:52:15 PM »
Recently test drove a bolt and can attest, the seating position is a bit higher than the fit. I am not sure I have as good of visibility forward because of the bulky dash and rear viz is not as good as my fit (smaller window, rear seat/headrests more in the way). Getting the seat raised up helped a ton. That said, they're only 3 inches different. It really isn't a lot of added height. Having a seat with height adjust is more of it than the actual car height (my fit is too old to have the height-adjustable driver's seat) for me, but I'm long-legs-short-torso. YMMV.

There is that little problem of them lighting themselves on fire, even post-software-fix.

Will probably skip the full-EV route for now.  Hybrid, maybe but I just haven't really educated myself much on them other than the Prius.  Normally, my DW doesn't care about which or what car, but she's made it pretty clear "no Prius!"  I think Toyota had a Highlander hybrid, didn't they?

Anyway, still neck-deep in all this with some breathing-room now that the Nissan is on the road and on the insurance.  3 weeks till DS starts back at school.

RWD

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5065
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2021, 08:55:36 PM »
I think Toyota had a Highlander hybrid, didn't they?
Yes, and they still do. Fuel economy is a good bit better on the RAV4 Hybrid though (by ~14%). If you're looking at new cars there is also the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid which is eligible for the $7.5k federal credit (and it has 300 hp so you won't be confusing it for a Prius).

ChpBstrd

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3481
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2021, 09:58:06 PM »
I think Toyota had a Highlander hybrid, didn't they?

Yes, they start at $39k vs. $24k for a Corolla hybrid that gets 52mpg. Why is a large luxury SUV being considered?

alsoknownasDean

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2512
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2021, 11:34:33 PM »
A lot of the Mustachian vehicle recommendations boil down to the following:

- Buy only enough vehicle to do what you need of it.
- Buy from a brand with a reputation for reliability.
- Avoid expensive status symbols.
- Buying used usually makes more financial sense.

Lol. I only check 1 out of 4. Used car prices are insane now in the states and at some point you just go f'k it and get whatever you want.

In the current used market a new Toyota Yaris or similar might make more sense.

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2368
  • FIREd at 36 ...sort of.
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2021, 08:30:47 AM »
A lot of the Mustachian vehicle recommendations boil down to the following:

- Buy only enough vehicle to do what you need of it.
- Buy from a brand with a reputation for reliability.
- Avoid expensive status symbols.
- Buying used usually makes more financial sense.

Lol. I only check 1 out of 4. Used car prices are insane now in the states and at some point you just go f'k it and get whatever you want.

In the current used market a new Toyota Yaris or similar might make more sense.
Yep this is what Im seeing in the compact car market. Something like a new Kia Rio or Forte, new Nissan Versa or Sentra going for $15k - $17k but used with around 50k miles on them going for $13k -$15k or more. I've been looking at a Nissan NV 200 mini cargo van (to make a small camper) and new they go for $24k. Used with very high miles they seem to go for around $20k. Im still carless because I seriously don't know what to do or what to get.

Also just saw on the news that truck manufactures can't get any chips so production has stopped. That means used truck prices (including the OPs high mileage Ram) will likely continue to climb.

ChpBstrd

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3481
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2021, 08:43:27 AM »
It's just a horrible time to buy a car. When the bottlenecks resolve, which they will, the people who bought those used cars with lots of miles for 80% of the cost of a new one are going to experience depreciation like we've never seen.

If you can switch to a bike or moped for the next few months, or go from a 2 car family to a 1 car family, you could essentially get paid a few thousand dollars for the effort. It's a great time to sell down one's fleet of cars. NOT a good time to build a fleet.

chesebert

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 805
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #25 on: July 22, 2021, 09:42:11 PM »
If you need a car now you just gotta suck it up and pay the premium. There is always Uber at 3x the pre covid price or you can sit next to a few potential delta carrier on public transportation. Personal choice right?

henramdrea

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Southwest
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2021, 06:24:19 PM »
Well, for now I think we've settled on keeping the pickup and the Nissan for a bit longer until this used-car squeeze passes.  I'm now remembering the Ram has a recall bulletin on the park-lock mechanism, so I should be able to get the problem solved for free. Don't know when the Kia will re-join and when it does, it's outta here.  Very soon all vehicles are going to have to be replaced, that's just a given, but it looks like we've bought about another 6 weeks here.

For our current budget, we're not getting much more for our money (at this particular point in time) than what we have.  DS goes back to school in sept and he may be able to afford a beater of his own.  His commute is 1 mile to work from the house and about 8 miles to school.  He works nights, so it's really just safer to drive than walk or bike at that time of night.

AccidentialMustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 597
Re: A Car Conundrum
« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2021, 06:54:59 AM »
For our current budget, we're not getting much more for our money (at this particular point in time) than what we have.  DS goes back to school in sept and he may be able to afford a beater of his own.  His commute is 1 mile to work from the house and about 8 miles to school.  He works nights, so it's really just safer to drive than walk or bike at that time of night.

Would an e-bike work for school? 8 miles each way is well within their range. Cheaper than a car. If you're southwest, you probably don't have a ton of inclement weather to worry about? Provided the e-bike has a throttle on it, hot should be less bad than a scooter or similar since you can get away with less hot/heavy protective gear, and still don't have to work to move yourself. Throttle in, go to classes, bike home (with assist on), shower after.

Is walking/biking for the job out because of drunks, or because of sketchy-after-dark? 1 mile really isn't that bad to walk if you have a sidewalk.