Author Topic: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?  (Read 8696 times)

reader2580

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Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« on: November 19, 2015, 07:57:31 AM »
One of the biggest things MMM says about cars is to buy old ones like 8 to 10 years old and then drive them until they are basically dead.  (Of course, he also says to severely limit driving and bike or walk everywhere.)

I live in an area where salt is heavily used.  Cars at 10 years old could be having severe issues with rust.  I'm way more concerned with safety issues related to rust rather than cosmetic issues.  Things like brake lines and shock towers will fail due to rust.  Yes, brake lines can be replaced, but it is a major project on a rusty car usually involving replacing more than just brake lines because nothing will come apart.  In a climate where cars rust do you just buy an old car and run it until it fails due to rust issues?  It is so much easier to run an older car in a climate where salt isn't used and you aren't near salt water.

The obvious mustachian solution is to move to an area with a moderate climate where salt isn't used, but it doesn't get so hot that air conditioning is used heavily.

My parents have a 15 year old vehicle with under 150,000 miles on it.  It is so rusty that the top of one of the shock towers will just break off one day and the vehicle will be going to the scrap yard.  My parents are starting to look for a replacement now.

innkeeper77

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 08:47:04 AM »
I sold a 8 year old car I drove in the midwest, and bought a 9 year old Colorado car, because of major rust issues. You could buy an out of state car, drive it back, and consider rustproofing it! That would get you a fairly rust free car cheaply... Consider adding rustproofing to the undercarriage.

reader2580

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 08:58:15 AM »
I forgot about the option of buying a car in another area.  My brother actually drove to Florida to buy a four year old vehicle.  He said it was $2000 less than the same car locally.  The $2000 savings paid for the trip and the vehicle had no salt exposure.  The car he was driving to Florida suffered a catastrophic failure in Georgia and he had to rent a car to make the rest of the trip to pick up the car.  (I think he planned to trade in or junk the car.)

Gone Fishing

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 09:12:02 AM »
I forgot about the option of buying a car in another area.  My brother actually drove to Florida to buy a four year old vehicle.  He said it was $2000 less than the same car locally.  The $2000 savings paid for the trip and the vehicle had no salt exposure.  The car he was driving to Florida suffered a catastrophic failure in Georgia and he had to rent a car to make the rest of the trip to pick up the car.  (I think he planned to trade in or junk the car.)

Talk about driving one into the ground!  I like it!

Blatant

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 09:44:12 AM »
I was just thinking about this today as I'm finally about to jump to getting out of my wife's car payment, giving her my new Subaru Crosstrek and buying an old car for cash.

Slightly different argument than the OP, but I've been trying to put the reality into the MMM trope of the 10-year-old $5k car that you can drive to infinity.

I suppose this does exist somewhere. Once I actively starting searching in Phoenix, however, it doesn't appear to exist here.

No rust issues here, of course, but people must really drive a lot more than I do. The average $5k car or small pickup has upward of 150,000 miles on it already and very likely has a salvage title.

ketchup

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 09:51:40 AM »
I'd second looking outside your area, or looking at cars that just tend to rust less.

I live in the salt belt (Chicago suburbs), and have a 16 year old car and a 23 year old car.  Both have rust but have some life left in them.  The older one is actually more likely to last longer rust-wise, as it's a full-size body-on-frame rear-wheel-drive station wagon, and the newer one is a subcompact made of tin foil.

lthenderson

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 09:54:13 AM »
Older vehicles in rust prone states do rust and eventually you will have to have components replaced in the steering and suspension areas but the costs of these replacement parts are generally way less than the depreciation on a new vehicle. When buying older cars, stick your head in the wheel wells and check out the components before buying and price it accordingly. Older cars (pre-90's) you had to be concerned with frame and body rust more so than modern cars. The painting process on post-90's cars has come a long ways and most cars have plastic pans underneath much of the body of the car to prevent the frames from rusting.

reader2580

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 11:42:01 AM »
Certainly a new car is going to have more depreciation than fixing an older car, but MMM himself seems to recommend buying 8 to 10 year cars.  A Minneapolis car at 8 to 10 years old is a lot different than an Atlanta car at 8 to 10 years old.  Being in a rust belt I think I would be better off buying at about four years old, or going south to get an older car that hasn't seen salt.

The car I'm driving could certainly be considered a clown car so I might sell it and get something that is potentially less expensive and gets better MPG.

lbmustache

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 01:31:02 PM »
I think there is a good middle ground - buying a car that has depreciated already but not so old to the point it's being eaten away by rust. So maybe a 4-5 year old car?

Exflyboy

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2015, 06:13:21 PM »
My '97 Dodge Neon with 190k I took to the scrap yard had absolutely no rust whatsoever.. None!

cars at this age in salt states are appalling by comparison.

see salt map below..

http://oppositelock.kinja.com/states-that-dont-use-road-salt-1448867398
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 06:20:44 PM by Exflyboy »

kimmarg

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2015, 04:56:28 AM »
My '97 Dodge Neon with 190k I took to the scrap yard had absolutely no rust whatsoever.. None!

cars at this age in salt states are appalling by comparison.

see salt map below..

http://oppositelock.kinja.com/states-that-dont-use-road-salt-1448867398

You might not even need to go that far south to get a better car. I'm in Maine. Stuff rusts like crazy here. I lost my last two vehicles to rust (as in stick your finger through the sidewall won't pass safety inspection rust) as we were looking at used vehicles one thing our mechanic (who sells some vehicles in the side) mentioned is that he buys his cars at auction in Connecticut or New Jersey. That's only about 4-6 hours drive time south but they are in much better shape because while they still use salt they get much less snow. He says he only buys Maine vehicles for trade in as parts cars.

reader2580

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2015, 02:26:13 PM »
No safety inspections were I live so you could drive a rusty car until it broke into pieces.

My uncle is so cheap he drove cars past the breaking point and still had them fixed.  He had a 1965 or so car with a frame.  The frame broke from rust which he had fixed.  He had another rusted out car that had a fire in the engine compartment.  He paid a shop way more than the car was worth to have the wiring and everything else damaged by the fire replaced.  I suspect he could have retired early, but he stayed at his state job beyond normal retirement.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2015, 03:37:31 PM »
Is there anything stopping you from buying a car from interstate and re-registering it in your current state?

BlueMR2

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Re: Cars and rust: Is a ten year old car really a bargain?
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2015, 04:10:55 AM »
I live in a heavily salted and brined area and have not found it to be that bad.  We have Winter driven 1991, 1995, and 2002 vehicles in our fleet.  The '91 (277k miles) has had the most work, with sections of the floor replaced as well as having one of the frame rails cut open for repair, plus some cosmetic wheel arch work done.  One small hole in one strut tower that I just keep oiled down which has kept it from spreading.  The '95 (129k miles), every couple of years I crawl under it and scrape off loose undercoating/paint, use rust primer, repaint, re-undercoat.  No sheet metal replaced yet.  One strut tower does have some bubbling and bears watching (and oiling).  The 2002 (179k miles), no work done one it ever, but there's some cosmetic wheel arch rust I'll probably have cut out and replaced in the Spring...

Our cars are pretty much white with salt from late November through March/April.