Author Topic: A Mustachian Car  (Read 5469 times)

girly mustache

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A Mustachian Car
« on: October 23, 2012, 12:02:51 AM »
I'm buying into the fact that I need a car with better gasmilage and ideally a lower value (lower insurance, less cash out of pocket etc..). I currently drive a 2007 Honda CRV-EX about 13,000 miles a year. I was thinking of a Prius -- I see many 2001, 2002 and 2003 available with low mileage (60,000-80,000) miles. My question is - even with the low miles - is this too old a car to buy? Relibility is super important to me.... Looking forward to your feedback...

thurston howell iv

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 06:10:25 AM »
Maybe I can help... I'm new here too but, cars are my vice.

I think if you stick with Honda you'll be ok. But, I also think late 90's is still ok for buying a decent car.

Here's an example: I have been known to buy and sell cars relatively often until I decided to get a little more serious about my mpg. Sadly, my situation is such that I must commute so, the mpg has to be good. On the flip side, I have not had a car payment since 2003 and I'm not about to start.

Most recently, I researched various sites that talked about highest MPG cars made- many older cars will surprise you. During this time I was selling a VW Jetta. One Sunday morning I sold the Jetta, went home and jumped on CL to find a 1997 Honda Civic HX, 5 speed  (hx is one of the high mpg models). I drove down and purchased it a few hours later... Was it perfect? Of course not. It was an old car with 150k miles!  I replaced tires, brakes and wheel bearings, belts and still have less than $3k into it. (DISCLAIMER: I usually do most of my own work- surprising how much you can save!) It has been in service for several years. Currently sitting at 207k miles and driven daily.

It is extremely reliable. Averages 38mpg if I drive crazy and into the 40's if I take my time.

I think the key is to look at the older cars with the idea that some things will need to be addressed (ie: tires, brakes, etc.) . If you keep the price cap low, you also, in turn, keep the registration and insurance low as well... I think my bare minimums on insurance put me at about $200 a year for the car. (These small econo-cars are usually cheap to repair as well).

I can honestly say that I actually enjoy driving the car! It's not a hotrod, it doesn't handle particularly well, or accelerate very well either. It does however, do the job of getting me back and forth to work- rain or shine and generally passing all the gas stations on the way. LOL

I got rid of a newer Audi and Cadillac some years ago and have been trading down since-(not always sure it's a good thing, LOL-) It's been a great way to save on expenses.

I think if you were to entertain older cars you might be pleasantly surprised... I just purchased and repaired a 99 ford escort for my dad (It shares a platform with a Japanese or Korean brand IIRC). It was under $2k. I drove it from ky to fl with zero issues and he drives it daily. Will it win any beauty contests? Nope. It's an ugly little car but it is clean, reliable and does the trick.

If you dump the CR-V (not sure if it's paid for or not)- you could theoretically buy a "new" old car and take the rest of the left over money to add to the 'stash.
Not sure I'd fool with Prius and battery issues. (I am not a mechanic but, I work on my cars and this one is one I would avoid. I don't like to be at other peoples mercy- especially "stealerships".)   Your local, and sometimes not-local Craigslist is your best friend. Lots of great deals to be had.

Hope this rambling might have helped a little.

 

Jack

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 06:19:58 AM »
Given that a 2001 model is three years newer than the newest of my household's cars, no, 2001 is not too old.

RadicalPersonalFinance

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 06:27:46 AM »
In order to calculate the answer to this question for you, here's what you need. (And we need to help. :)

Price you can sell your current car for.
Price you will pay for your new car (including transaction costs like sales tax, tag, and title, etc.)
Any changes in monthly costs for switching (higher or lower insurance bill, etc.)
Miles driven in an average month. (13,000 would be 1,100 per month)
Gasoline cost per gallon in your area.

If you provide these answers, we'll be able to calculate your exact break-even point for the cars you're considering.

In general, it's very difficult for it to make financial sense to trade up from older, cheaper vehicle to newer, more expensive vehicle and have the numbers work if the only reason for doing it is because of gas mileage.  (Especially when you include transaction costs, which many people don't do in their analysis.)  In many cases, you're better served by focusing on driving more efficiently.

However, it always makes financial sense to go from fuel-inefficient vehicle to equivalent-price or cheaper fuel-efficient vehicle as long as the more fuel-efficient vehicle meets your lifestyle needs.

RadicalPersonalFinance

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 06:31:10 AM »
I'm sorry. I went back and re-read your question and realized I didn't answer your actual question.

I was thinking of a Prius -- I see many 2001, 2002 and 2003 available with low mileage (60,000-80,000) miles. My question is - even with the low miles - is this too old a car to buy? Relibility is super important to me.... Looking forward to your feedback...

Reliability is often based more on the manufacturer and model rather than the age and mileage.

Be careful of Gen 1 Priuses.  They are great cars, but they have some quirks.  They do have legitimate battery issues which were corrected in 2004 with the Gen 2.  Visit www.priuschat.com for tons of info on all things Prius.

frugal_engineer

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 08:35:06 AM »
To get a great deal, just think old in years, young in miles shoot for < 50,000 for sure for a 10 year old car.  Getting a car when it still has very low mileage is key to long term reliability.  If you can ensure the car is well maintained throughout the majority of its life, it will be far more reliable than picking up something with 100,000 miles that may or may not have been maintained.

MMM has many posts about about getting cars with wildly good mpgs.  However, those cars always come at a premium over equally reliable cars with say, 25-30 mpg vs 35-40.  If you pay several thousand extra dollars to buy a car with better mpgs, do the math on how many miles you need to drive to recoup the additional investment on an equally reliable car.   

$2000 of gas @ $4/gal will get you 15,000 miles at 30 mpg.  Would you rather pay that $2000 up front for a higher mileage car? Or save it for fuel costs and get a lower mileage car that is also probably better to drive than a compact?

This is a small discrepancy I see in mustachianism, leaning towards saving the environment through lower fuel consumption while sacrificing pure cost/benefit regarding vehicle purchases.

Jamesqf

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 11:26:08 AM »
With Toyota & Honda, reliability is not all that much of an issue.  10 year old models are just nicely broken in.  Go for an early-mid '90s model, and you get to the point where if one does break down, you can just buy another with the money you've saved.

thurston howell iv

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 12:08:59 PM »
^^ what he said... (In alot less words than me)

frugal_engineer

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 01:26:33 PM »
its best to measure the age of a car in miles rather than years.  a 10 year old car with 50k miles is newer than a 4 year old car with 100k

cbr shadow

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 01:36:04 PM »
One thing that nobody touched on here is that prius batteries (and Gen 1 Honda Insights) are generally good for 10 years - that goes for a car that has 10k miles or one that has 200k miles.  In many cases the battery lasts LONGER on the cars with more miles because they've been exercised more.
Anyways that's something to look into.
The good news is that batteries have gotten better since 2001, so your replacement is likely to be less expensive or higher capacity or both.

I just bought what I consider the most mustachian car on the planet - 2001 Honda Insight.  I got a great deal on it ($4700, 77k miles) and right away I'm getting 65-75 MPG.  Again, the hybrid battery is something that I'm anticipating replacing in the next few years, which will cost approximately $1500 for an aftermarket one that is better than what Honda provided originally.

ketchup

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Re: A Mustachian Car
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2012, 03:03:52 PM »
Reliability is often based more on the manufacturer and model rather than the age and mileage.
This.  I'd rather drive a 1993 Volvo 940 with 210k (lovely car my girlfriend used to drive) on the clock than a 2003 Saturn VUE with 80k (car-shaped object my mother used to drive).

To get a great deal, just think old in years, young in miles shoot for < 50,000 for sure for a 10 year old car.  Getting a car when it still has very low mileage is key to long term reliability.  If you can ensure the car is well maintained throughout the majority of its life, it will be far more reliable than picking up something with 100,000 miles that may or may not have been maintained.

MMM has many posts about about getting cars with wildly good mpgs.  However, those cars always come at a premium over equally reliable cars with say, 25-30 mpg vs 35-40.  If you pay several thousand extra dollars to buy a car with better mpgs, do the math on how many miles you need to drive to recoup the additional investment on an equally reliable car.   

$2000 of gas @ $4/gal will get you 15,000 miles at 30 mpg.  Would you rather pay that $2000 up front for a higher mileage car? Or save it for fuel costs and get a lower mileage car that is also probably better to drive than a compact?

This is a small discrepancy I see in mustachianism, leaning towards saving the environment through lower fuel consumption while sacrificing pure cost/benefit regarding vehicle purchases.

My 1988 Chevy Sprint that I got for $1000 and gets me 53MPG (best tank so far has been 57) disagrees with this.  Came with 46,496.7 miles on it, I'm up around 55k now.  Engine and transmission are solid, just has some rust on the body.  Rust I know will be my main enemy as I continue to drive my car, especially this winter. This car is mechanically solid; the little Suzuki 3 cylinder engine under the hood is known for lasting forever and being easily rebuildable when it finally does start to show age.  Unless my car falls apart due to rust (which I plan on combating), there is no reason it shouldn't be able to last me for years to come.  Any decent car when taken care of should last you to at least 200,000 miles.

Going with an older car and being prepared to do work yourself is definitely the most economical way to get yourself from point A to point B.  Just get something well-taken-care-of, known for reliability and ideally fuel-efficiency.  Newer and lower miles can mean better, but is not an absolute.