Author Topic: Car replacement options?  (Read 1513 times)

GreenShirt

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Car replacement options?
« on: August 16, 2017, 04:43:18 PM »
Hello everyone, I'm looking for advice/recommendations on a replacement car. My wife and I are not very car savvy and have never bought a car before (the car we drive now was originally my wife's sweet sixteen birthday present). When we took our car to the shop yesterday, we were told that fixing the more serious issues it currently has would cost ~$1800-$2300, with the majority of that price coming from needing to replace the transmission.

Our current car is a 2006 Chevy Malibu with 122,000 miles in what Kelley Blue Book defines as fair condition (kbb also prices the car at $3,100 for a private party sale). It's not used very much, mostly as a commuting car for her (1 mile each way) and for groceries (there's a Winco 6 miles away that we prefer, but there's also a Fred Meyer 1 mile away). We do drive across the state to visit family (220 miles each way) 5 or 6 times a year.

Given this information, what sorts of cars should we be looking at to replace our current car?

neo von retorch

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 08:50:21 AM »
Given your information, I'm not sure that a replacement car would be better than your car with a new transmission.

What is the value of the car without repairing the transmission? Probably a lot less than $3,100. Let's say $1200. So $1200 + $2300 maximum saved from repairs is $3500. Can you get a better car than the Malibu (with a brand new transmission) for $3500?

You'd probably be looking at 2000-2006 Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics, and they'd have 140-180k miles on them in that price range. Possibly "better" than your Malibu, though going through the trouble rather than just getting the repair seems like a stretch.

marielle

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 09:05:00 AM »
Seems like it would be cheaper to go car-less and just rent a car 6 times a year. 1 mile commute should be walked. 6 miles to the store is easy by bike.

Plus, when you do rent a car you will get something fancy and new, which will also be more reliable. Double win!

ketchup

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2017, 09:12:19 AM »
Given your information, I'm not sure that a replacement car would be better than your car with a new transmission.

What is the value of the car without repairing the transmission? Probably a lot less than $3,100. Let's say $1200. So $1200 + $2300 maximum saved from repairs is $3500. Can you get a better car than the Malibu (with a brand new transmission) for $3500?

You'd probably be looking at 2000-2006 Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics, and they'd have 140-180k miles on them in that price range. Possibly "better" than your Malibu, though going through the trouble rather than just getting the repair seems like a stretch.
I'd probably go with this too, given the situation.  Maybe have them check out your engine (compression test?) first to verify it's still got plenty of life left it in (it should) before going for it.

Also, get a second opinion from another shop.  Maybe they're wrong and you don't need to replace the transmission after all.  Either way, it can't hurt to get another set on eyes on it (and don't tell them what the other shop said before they look at it, just say "symptoms are happening, what's wrong with my car?").

researcher1

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 09:26:14 AM »
When we took our car to the shop yesterday, we were told that fixing the more serious issues it currently has would cost ~$1800-$2300, with the majority of that price coming from needing to replace the transmission.
Our current car is a 2006 Chevy Malibu with 122,000 miles
Given this information, what sorts of cars should we be looking at to replace our current car?

First, have you gotten a 2nd and 3rd opinion on the supposed work that needs to be done, along with estimates for said work?

Second, you don't mention why you don't want to just have your current car repaired. 
Is there a reason you don't want to fix it?

Third, you don't mention what your budget is for a new vehicle. 
Is it $5K, $25K, $50K?  Do you have the funds saved up to pay for a new vehicle in cash?

GreenShirt

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2017, 01:59:12 PM »
[edit] Thank you all so much for your responses!

Given your information, I'm not sure that a replacement car would be better than your car with a new transmission.

What is the value of the car without repairing the transmission? Probably a lot less than $3,100. Let's say $1200. So $1200 + $2300 maximum saved from repairs is $3500. Can you get a better car than the Malibu (with a brand new transmission) for $3500?

You'd probably be looking at 2000-2006 Toyota Corollas and Honda Civics, and they'd have 140-180k miles on them in that price range. Possibly "better" than your Malibu, though going through the trouble rather than just getting the repair seems like a stretch.
We're getting our car appraised right now to see how much it's actually worth in its current state. It seems like the usual advice (at least around here, and correct me if I'm wrong) is to only replace your car when the cost of the repairs exceeds the value of the car.

When faced with a problem like mine, could it also make sense to pay more for a car in nicer shape and use that for another X years?

(thinking our loud, bear with me)
There's a break even point somewhere between fixing your existing car and paying for a new one.
If I bought a new-used car for $9000 and kept it for 10 years, the annual cost of buying that car would be $900.
If I chose to repair our current car for $2300 and kept it running for 3 years, then the annual cost of owning the car would be $766, or cheaper than buying a new-used car.

hmm, I guess it doesn't really make sense, does it? It would really only tip in favor of buying a new-used car if I kept it for significantly longer, or if the transmission repair would only keep the car going for another year or two (unlikely).

First, have you gotten a 2nd and 3rd opinion on the supposed work that needs to be done, along with estimates for said work?
Also, get a second opinion from another shop.  Maybe they're wrong and you don't need to replace the transmission after all.  Either way, it can't hurt to get another set on eyes on it (and don't tell them what the other shop said before they look at it, just say "symptoms are happening, what's wrong with my car?").
We haven't gotten a second opinion, partially because I trust the first diagnosis. A transmission fluid flush was initially suggested - the mechanic said that it had a decent chance of fixing the problem, and a replacement would be needed if that didn't work out. However, our car has had a history of transmission issues, including a transmission-related recall that we had maintenance for around a year and a half ago IIRC. Only after telling him this did he decide that a fluid flush probably wouldn't fix the problem and would be a waste of money.

I suppose a second opinion wouldn't hurt, though.

Second, you don't mention why you don't want to just have your current car repaired. 
Is there a reason you don't want to fix it?

<omitted>

Third, you don't mention what your budget is for a new vehicle. 
Is it $5K, $25K, $50K?  Do you have the funds saved up to pay for a new vehicle in cash?
There are other flaws the car has (gas gauge is somewhat broken, mirror buttons don't work, lock/unlock buttons are getting worn out) that don't bother me as much as they bother my wife, but that does factor into our decision as well. Also, since neither of us are very car savvy, it would be nice to have a car that requires low maintenance.

Tentatively our budget is ~$9k. We don't have a new car fund but we have emergency funds that can cover the cost of a new car.

neo von retorch

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2017, 02:09:19 PM »
There's a break even point somewhere between fixing your existing car and paying for a new one.
If I bought a new-used car for $9000 and kept it for 10 years, the annual cost of buying that car would be $900.
If I chose to repair our current car for $2300 and kept it running for 3 years, then the annual cost of owning the car would be $766, or cheaper than buying a new-used car.

hmm, I guess it doesn't really make sense, does it? It would really only tip in favor of buying a new-used car if I kept it for significantly longer, or if the transmission repair would only keep the car going for another year or two (unlikely).

Generally pretty good line of thinking there. Further - how much would this affect your annual savings rate? How much of your emergency fund are you comfortable putting towards the car purchase? By your use case, it doesn't sound like car spending should be super high.

If you could find a Honda Fit or Toyota Corolla for $5500-6000, and get $2000 for your Malibu, so that you're only spending $3500-4000, and then you get that new-to-you car to last you ten years (easy!) then you're talking about annual (new car) expense of just $350-400 (plus brakes, tires, oil and other wear items you'd have to put into whatever car you happen to have.)

GreenShirt

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2017, 02:16:54 PM »
Seems like it would be cheaper to go car-less and just rent a car 6 times a year. 1 mile commute should be walked. 6 miles to the store is easy by bike.

Plus, when you do rent a car you will get something fancy and new, which will also be more reliable. Double win!
I did a very rough pro/con on this about a year ago, but we've since moved and are living in a different place so I should do another comparison test.

I am in support of going car-less, but my wife is, shall I say, very hesitant about making this sort of change. The good news is that without a workable car we'll be forced to test drive (hah!) a car-less lifestyle.

I also mapped the grocery store route, turns out it's actually 8 miles instead of 6 by bike. :( :( :(

Aggie1999

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2017, 02:17:44 PM »
What's the issue with the transmission? If it's slipping there is a certain fluid you can add that will help the issue for a while. My father has been using the fluid for a few years now in his old beater work truck. Of course this type of solution might not be appropriate for car driven by a woman, etc.

KCM5

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2017, 02:41:24 PM »
What's the issue with the transmission? If it's slipping there is a certain fluid you can add that will help the issue for a while. My father has been using the fluid for a few years now in his old beater work truck. Of course this type of solution might not be appropriate for car driven by a woman, etc.

Why not?

researcher1

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2017, 02:51:37 PM »
There are other flaws the car has (gas gauge is somewhat broken, mirror buttons don't work, lock/unlock buttons are getting worn out) that don't bother me as much as they bother my wife, but that does factor into our decision as well. Also, since neither of us are very car savvy, it would be nice to have a car that requires low maintenance.

There is a common theme I see in virtually all of these "car replacement" threads...
The OP wants to upgrade to a nicer/newer car, and therefore, comes up with a bunch of weak reasons & justifications for the purchase.

You need to understand something...
EVERY CAR requires routine maintenance and occasional repairs.  EVERY CAR.
Unless you are willing to accept this, you should either not own a car OR lease your vehicles.

Replacing vehicles more frequently to avoid maintenance/repairs is OK if you budget for this expense and cut back on other areas of your life to make it happen.

But the fact is you are driving a 2006 vehicle and have NO car replacement fund in place.  Why is this?

lbmustache

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Re: Car replacement options?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2017, 05:39:49 PM »
What is your budget and what kind of car do you need?

If the budget is ~$9k as hypothesized above, then you have a pretty decent number of choices. A new-ish Corolla or Civic (2012-ish) can be had around there, a Camry a little older (09-11), probably the same with the Accord, etc.

Honestly with the level of driving you'd do, I wouldn't go any higher than $8-$9k, and any of the cars mentioned above will last forever.