Author Topic: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?  (Read 13759 times)

baffi

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My family (parents, siblings) have been trying to persuade me that I should upgrade my car for a more reliable/newer car.  I drive a 1998 Saturn that I bought used in college and use it currently for a work commute about once per week that is 96 miles RT and then maybe once or twice per week for a a shorter drive such as to a friend's.  I live in a downtown area and walk to pretty much everything (park, grocery store, sister's house). 

My goal has been to get as much use out of this car as possible even though I could easily pay cash for a new car that might have more safety features.  As for the reliability of this car--the only thing I've had to fix in the last few years was a belt that needed replaced last month and the battery that needed replaced about 2 years ago.  There is currently a check engine light on, however, a mechanic that I trust tells me that this is due to something that is not a safety concern. Does anyone else drive a car this old and think it still makes sense to do so?  I do plan to replace it with a used Honda Fit eventually, which will be safer in that my Saturn doesn't have side airbags.

kendallf

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2015, 07:57:11 PM »
If it's not worth much now (and it probably isn't), drive it into the ground! I would check and maintain safety items such as tires and suspension, make sure it has good hoses, belts, and fluids, and then just save your money and enjoy your low cost, paid off car. 

This summer my daughter is driving my 1994 Lexus SC300, which has 210,000 miles and still runs beautifully.  My other daughter drove her 1995 Camry to ~280k before the transmission finally died.  We bought that one for $400 (some assembly was required), drove it for 7 years, and sold it to a salvage yard for $315!

AllieVaulter

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2015, 08:33:09 PM »
Mine's not quite as old, but it's a 2000.  I'm of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.  A belt and a battery sound like pretty inexpensive problems (as far as car problems go).  I'd drive that thing as long as you can - it sounds like a great car!

3okirb

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2015, 08:48:58 PM »
I look at it from a more mathematical approach than most.  I have a goal in mind on the cost per mile that I'd be happy with.  Currently that number is 7.5 cents.  That means if I buy a new accord for $21,000, then I have to get 280,000 miles to make that happen.  That being said, sometimes, I'll find that a car hits a sweet spot in the middle somewhere when I can sell it and still get the 7.5 cents per mile.  For example, if I buy a used accord for $16,000 and drive it for 50,000 miles, and then sell it for $12,500, because I got a great deal when I bought it and sold it for a good price on the back end, I can actually exceed my goal and not have to worry about repairs down the road by running my car until it dies.

In my opinion, you just have to keep an eye on it and sell it early when it makes sense.  If you're driving a 2-3K car, you're probably going to do even better on a cost per mile, but your repairs might add to it a little more.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2015, 09:51:43 PM »
If you are driving that many miles every day, and you upgrade from a 25 mpg car to a 40 mpg car, it might make sense to upgrade sooner rather than later, just do some math. For most people this answer would always be to drive the old car, the only reason you might need to upgrade sooner is because the length of your commute.

DeltaBond

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2015, 09:37:29 AM »
I have a 2014 Accord, and get 27-47 mpg, I have the CVT transmission.  The car was $23K, though, and I recommend you drive yours into the ground, but start researching newer cars so when you're ready, you're really ready.

2ndTimer

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2015, 09:57:34 AM »
This is a good time to be looking around and figuring out exactly what you want.  Then when you see it at the right price you can spring on it like the Ninja Mustachian you are. 

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2015, 12:29:48 PM »
I think it was Mythbusters that did the math on this and basically it's (almost) always cheaper to keep repairing your existing car until the frame is too rusted to bolt parts onto.  Mileage on old car vs new car can change that but if you're only doing ~100 miles/week (~5000/yr, $700/yr in gas at 25mpg and $3.50/gal), it would take a long time to make up the cost of replacement even if you got something with double the mpg, saving a whole $350/yr in fuel.  I'd keep it until the risk of getting stranded becomes more of an issue than you want to deal with.  I once ran a car so far into the ground and it was so unreliable that I literally never expected to make it to where I was going.  That's probably taking it too far, but it was actually quite freeing once I accepted and was ok with that risk.

Eric

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2015, 12:31:50 PM »
It's always a good idea to not buy stuff you don't need.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2015, 12:38:55 PM »
It's always a good idea to not buy stuff you don't need.

Nice :-)  Very succinct.  Added to the mustachian quotes thread.

AZDude

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2015, 01:15:41 PM »
If the car still runs well, then keep driving it. I keep thinking about buying a newish car, but my current pos still runs, so I can never bring myself to shell out more money for something else, even if the gas gauge and headlights do not work anymore.

Cassie

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2015, 01:31:16 PM »
WE drive our old cars until they get too expensive to repair. Then we buy used cars that are 2-4 years old with low miles.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2015, 01:37:24 PM »
IMHO part of the new(er) vs. old(er) car equation is the actual cost of repairs & maintenance.  The old(er) cars can make more sense, if owned by someone who is mechanically handy, and has the time/space/knowledge/tools/motivation to do the work on their own. 

Keeping a 15-20 year old car running and paying a mechanic for 100% of all repairs & maintenance seems likely to outweigh the savings of simply buying a newer car.

acroy

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2015, 01:47:41 PM »
"if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality.  A belt and a battery sound like pretty inexpensive problems (as far as car problems go).  I'd drive that thing as long as you can - it sounds like a great car!

this!!

Eric

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2015, 01:52:04 PM »
It's always a good idea to not buy stuff you don't need.

Nice :-)  Very succinct.  Added to the mustachian quotes thread.


Rosy

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2015, 01:58:47 PM »
My car is a 1998 Ford Escort Cpe, it is at 109,000 miles now. It is in good shape and we do regular maintenance on it, I'd say we average about $500 a year. It gets decent gas mileage and since I am retired I only drive it maybe once or twice a week.
I plan to drive it until I start feeling unsafe, the AC goes out for good or it needs a repair over $1000. So yes, I vote for keeping your car as long as it makes sense to you.
You might start looking around and think of replacing it within the next year since you do need a reliable car for work, but if you come across a good deal now, I'd say go for it.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2015, 01:59:02 PM »
It's always a good idea to not buy stuff you don't need.

And while you are not buying stuff, try to figure out how to get rid of that commute.  97 miles!  Holy smoke, Batman!

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2015, 02:43:10 PM »
I drive a 1997 Saturn with 165K and I hope to drive it to 200K. So I think you'll be just fine.

JLee

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2015, 04:54:42 PM »
It's always a good idea to not buy stuff you don't need.

And while you are not buying stuff, try to figure out how to get rid of that commute.  97 miles!  Holy smoke, Batman!

96 miles once a week isn't that bad....that's the equivalent of someone living less than 10 miles from work commuting Monday through Friday.  It's certainly not great, but the frequency makes it much less severe than it would initially appear.

To the OP, I would keep the car...belt/battery are maintenance items (like brakes and tires).

Jeremy E.

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2015, 05:18:05 PM »
I misread and didn't see the long commute was only once per week, in that case keep the older car and run it into the ground, once the tranny goes out or you can't fix the engine and it costs more for a mechanic to fix than the car is worth, that is your sign to scrap it or sell as parts car

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2015, 05:28:01 PM »
Thanks, everyone.  It was really great to hear from people who don't think I'm being completely ridiculous for keeping my car---and from another 90's saturn owner who is still driving his/her Saturn!   I've actually been driving this car for 11.5 years now (it has 140,000 miles, all but 30,000 of which were from after I bought it) and it's original purchase price was 5.5k.  I've spent maybe 2 k total on maintenance (including replaced tires and brake parts in addition to the more recent battery and belt replacements) so it's definitely worked out to be a good deal for me...I just want it to be an even better deal by getting more time out of it! :) 

As for my commute--I know the 96 miles RT is really far but I have a job love, working for a really special non-profit and I work from home twice a week and then carpool with co-workers 3 days a week (one day of which is my turn to drive).   

And I strike a middle ground paying for repairs I think.  I completely agree that I'd be better off if I could be my own mechanic however I don't currently have the skills or tools to do repairs myself but I do have a great mechanic who gives me better prices that a dealership or other shop would.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2015, 05:49:18 PM »
Don't beat yourself up over the commute, you have a great setup going on here. All else equal, longer highway trips are easier on the car than short trips.

If you feel safe driving it, keep at it. Besides, you work for a non-profit, you probably look even better in an older car!

Bob W

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2015, 06:11:03 PM »
Drove our Camry till the motor blew at 385k.  The ac and heat had been out for 3 years.  Ac is for wussys anyway.   So yeah drive em till they die.  Just bought another Camry with 148k for 5k.   Hoping for 20 years.

GreenPen

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2015, 06:53:12 PM »
There is currently a check engine light on, however, a mechanic that I trust tells me that this is due to something that is not a safety concern.

I recommend picking up an ODB II Code Reader, so you don't need to take the car to a mechanic to see why the check engine light is on. This would also allow you to monitor any new codes that might pop up over time (since the light might be on for multiple reasons).

Back when I used to own a car (before I ran it to the ground), I picked one up used on Craigslist for $20. Now I know absolutely nothing about cars... but I found that by scanning the codes beforehand and doing a few minutes of research, I could at least pretend like there wasn't a huge informational asymmetry between the mechanic and me. I know you trust your mechanic, but I think in general, having one of these might make it less likely that a mechanic might mislead you.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2015, 07:49:35 PM »
There is currently a check engine light on, however, a mechanic that I trust tells me that this is due to something that is not a safety concern.

I recommend picking up an ODB II Code Reader, so you don't need to take the car to a mechanic to see why the check engine light is on. This would also allow you to monitor any new codes that might pop up over time (since the light might be on for multiple reasons).

Back when I used to own a car (before I ran it to the ground), I picked one up used on Craigslist for $20. Now I know absolutely nothing about cars... but I found that by scanning the codes beforehand and doing a few minutes of research, I could at least pretend like there wasn't a huge informational asymmetry between the mechanic and me. I know you trust your mechanic, but I think in general, having one of these might make it less likely that a mechanic might mislead you.

http://dealnews.com/OBD2-Bluetooth-Diagnostic-Scanner-Tool-for-5-free-shipping/1398741.html

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2015, 08:21:04 AM »
Don't beat yourself up over the commute, you have a great setup going on here. All else equal, longer highway trips are easier on the car than short trips.

If you feel safe driving it, keep at it. Besides, you work for a non-profit, you probably look even better in an older car!

:)  Yes!  I definitely feel better rolling up to work in my aged little Saturn than I would in something fancy.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #26 on: July 17, 2015, 08:29:50 AM »
There is currently a check engine light on, however, a mechanic that I trust tells me that this is due to something that is not a safety concern.

I recommend picking up an ODB II Code Reader, so you don't need to take the car to a mechanic to see why the check engine light is on. This would also allow you to monitor any new codes that might pop up over time (since the light might be on for multiple reasons).

Back when I used to own a car (before I ran it to the ground), I picked one up used on Craigslist for $20. Now I know absolutely nothing about cars... but I found that by scanning the codes beforehand and doing a few minutes of research, I could at least pretend like there wasn't a huge informational asymmetry between the mechanic and me. I know you trust your mechanic, but I think in general, having one of these might make it less likely that a mechanic might mislead you.

This sounds amazing! My one concern with the check engine light being on right now for something non-essential/non-dangerous is that I won't see it come on if/when something else comes up that would turn it on.  If I could check for codes periodically on my own, then I might catch something else.  I wasn't aware that you could get a code reader that worked for all cars like this.  Does it pinpoint only broad things and then more specialized equipment is still needed to pointpoint exact issues?  The mechanic that I use said that my current check engine light warning is being caused by an emissions issue but that I would need to take it to a dealership to figure out exactly what the problem is.  His recommendation though was not to bother since it was not a safety issue and to just drive the car "til the tires fell off."  He also said that when something goes wrong, I'd be more likely to notice by a change in how the car drives than by any warning the check engine light would give.

DeltaBond

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #27 on: July 17, 2015, 08:30:35 AM »
There is a dude who comes to my work in an 80s toyota tercel, its one of those boxy looking little wagon things... he has such a big smile on his face, and I always look at him thinking, "Now HE'S winning!"

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #28 on: July 17, 2015, 08:32:21 AM »
There is currently a check engine light on, however, a mechanic that I trust tells me that this is due to something that is not a safety concern.

I recommend picking up an ODB II Code Reader, so you don't need to take the car to a mechanic to see why the check engine light is on. This would also allow you to monitor any new codes that might pop up over time (since the light might be on for multiple reasons).

Back when I used to own a car (before I ran it to the ground), I picked one up used on Craigslist for $20. Now I know absolutely nothing about cars... but I found that by scanning the codes beforehand and doing a few minutes of research, I could at least pretend like there wasn't a huge informational asymmetry between the mechanic and me. I know you trust your mechanic, but I think in general, having one of these might make it less likely that a mechanic might mislead you.

http://dealnews.com/OBD2-Bluetooth-Diagnostic-Scanner-Tool-for-5-free-shipping/1398741.html


Thanks for the link!  It sounds like this doesn't work with iphones so I would need to find one that did?  It's great to know there are such deals on this out there though.

3okirb

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #29 on: July 17, 2015, 09:12:56 AM »
Most autostores (advance, o'reilly, etc.) will let you use their code readers for free if you have one near by.  If it's something you have to fix, they'll also sell you the part and walk you through how to do it.

Jeremy E.

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #30 on: July 17, 2015, 09:18:44 AM »
There is currently a check engine light on, however, a mechanic that I trust tells me that this is due to something that is not a safety concern.

I recommend picking up an ODB II Code Reader, so you don't need to take the car to a mechanic to see why the check engine light is on. This would also allow you to monitor any new codes that might pop up over time (since the light might be on for multiple reasons).

Back when I used to own a car (before I ran it to the ground), I picked one up used on Craigslist for $20. Now I know absolutely nothing about cars... but I found that by scanning the codes beforehand and doing a few minutes of research, I could at least pretend like there wasn't a huge informational asymmetry between the mechanic and me. I know you trust your mechanic, but I think in general, having one of these might make it less likely that a mechanic might mislead you.

http://dealnews.com/OBD2-Bluetooth-Diagnostic-Scanner-Tool-for-5-free-shipping/1398741.html


Thanks for the link!  It sounds like this doesn't work with iphones so I would need to find one that did?  It's great to know there are such deals on this out there though.
There are lots of similar ones, I have one that works with my Android phone, but I had to buy an app to go with it. If you look around you should be able to find one for Iphone, or for more money you could probably find one with it's own display, although I prefer the one I have over one with a display, because my app will look up the codes for me and tell me what they mean. Another upside to having an OBD2 scanner, you can clear the codes and a lot of the time the car will run better when it doesn't have a check engine light on. I think some cars enter some sort of emergency mode when the check engine light comes on for some reason. For me, I clear the codes and they stay off for 3-5 days and then they pop back on so I turn them off again. Some codes might come back quicker than others.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 09:20:32 AM by Jeremy E. »

secondcor521

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #31 on: July 17, 2015, 09:39:12 AM »
I bought my 1995 Toyota Corolla new and sold it last year with ~220K miles on it.  I would have kept driving it, but my parents offered me their Lexus which only had ~120K miles on it.  It's a 1993 :-D  I plan to drive it indefinitely.

stlbrah

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #32 on: July 17, 2015, 09:57:11 AM »
Hoping to drive my 08 audi a4 until at least 150k miles. Not sure how possible that will be, but so far its at 91.5k with no mechanical problems.

I bought it 4.5 years ago before I learned about saving and investing. It gets about 30mpg, and I would rather drive it than a honda (keyword there is drive, I would rather buy a honda). Since I already have it and its fully depreciated, I figured why not. I thought about making a post in "Ask a Mustachian" once, but I ended up making the decision on my own.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 09:59:01 AM by stlbrah »

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #33 on: July 17, 2015, 09:58:38 AM »
This sounds amazing! My one concern with the check engine light being on right now for something non-essential/non-dangerous is that I won't see it come on if/when something else comes up that would turn it on.

I don't know if it's common across manufacturers, but my last car (Honda) had a difference between a mild check engine concern and a major one, and the light would start flashing for something big.  The light was on for the last 100-150k miles I had it due to a leak in the evap system.  At one point I replaced the spark plugs and didn't tighten one down enough and it worked its way loose while driving and the check engine light, which was already always on, started flashing.  I had just enough time to think 'that can't be good, I didn't even know it could do that' before the car started acting very unhappy.

JLee

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #34 on: July 17, 2015, 10:02:34 AM »
This sounds amazing! My one concern with the check engine light being on right now for something non-essential/non-dangerous is that I won't see it come on if/when something else comes up that would turn it on.

I don't know if it's common across manufacturers, but my last car (Honda) had a difference between a mild check engine concern and a major one, and the light would start flashing for something big.  The light was on for the last 100-150k miles I had it due to a leak in the evap system.  At one point I replaced the spark plugs and didn't tighten one down enough and it worked its way loose while driving and the check engine light, which was already always on, started flashing.  I had just enough time to think 'that can't be good, I didn't even know it could do that' before the car started acting very unhappy.

A flashing check engine light means you have an active misfire, which is very bad.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #35 on: July 17, 2015, 11:17:01 AM »
This sounds amazing! My one concern with the check engine light being on right now for something non-essential/non-dangerous is that I won't see it come on if/when something else comes up that would turn it on.

I don't know if it's common across manufacturers, but my last car (Honda) had a difference between a mild check engine concern and a major one, and the light would start flashing for something big.  The light was on for the last 100-150k miles I had it due to a leak in the evap system.  At one point I replaced the spark plugs and didn't tighten one down enough and it worked its way loose while driving and the check engine light, which was already always on, started flashing.  I had just enough time to think 'that can't be good, I didn't even know it could do that' before the car started acting very unhappy.

A flashing check engine light means you have an active misfire, which is very bad.

Saturn is like Honda in that a flashing check engine light is serious.  My light has never been flashing.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #36 on: July 17, 2015, 11:31:07 AM »
This sounds amazing! My one concern with the check engine light being on right now for something non-essential/non-dangerous is that I won't see it come on if/when something else comes up that would turn it on.

I don't know if it's common across manufacturers, but my last car (Honda) had a difference between a mild check engine concern and a major one, and the light would start flashing for something big.  The light was on for the last 100-150k miles I had it due to a leak in the evap system.  At one point I replaced the spark plugs and didn't tighten one down enough and it worked its way loose while driving and the check engine light, which was already always on, started flashing.  I had just enough time to think 'that can't be good, I didn't even know it could do that' before the car started acting very unhappy.

Thanks for sharing this!  It was a really helpful reminder that even if my light is on, I would still get a flashing warning for other things.  It had been so long since I'd read the manual that I'd forgotten there were two different warnings for this light :)

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #37 on: July 17, 2015, 02:48:03 PM »
There's a whole thread in the "Share your Badassity" subforum devoted to people who own and drive old cars.

My '95 Corolla is just shy of 200k miles.  Maintenance and repairs have been minimal.  Keep up on your repairs, and your car will take care of you.  My guess is that your check engine light is for an oxygen sensor.  Personally, I'd spend the $50 and an hour of labor to fix it.

Or, in short, if it ain't broke...

ria1024

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #38 on: July 17, 2015, 08:28:17 PM »
As for my commute--I know the 96 miles RT is really far but I have a job love, working for a really special non-profit and I work from home twice a week and then carpool with co-workers 3 days a week (one day of which is my turn to drive).   

As long as your coworkers will be willing to cover for you for a month of carpooling whenever your current car dies, or you can get your hands on a loaner quickly, then you should drive that into the ground.

If you're looking at having to pay for a rental until you can replace your car, then the equation changes.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #39 on: July 17, 2015, 11:19:01 PM »
There's a whole thread in the "Share your Badassity" subforum devoted to people who own and drive old cars.

My '95 Corolla is just shy of 200k miles.  Maintenance and repairs have been minimal.  Keep up on your repairs, and your car will take care of you.  My guess is that your check engine light is for an oxygen sensor.  Personally, I'd spend the $50 and an hour of labor to fix it.

Or, in short, if it ain't broke...

Thanks for letting me know about the thread--i'll have to check it out.  Does the oxygen sensor do something important and that is why you would choose to fix it?  My mechanic indicated nothing important was being affected and also that better diagnostic tools (like the ones dealerships have) would be needed to pinpoint the exact cause.  I did replace my fuel cap b/c my Saturn manual said that was a frequent cause of the light being on and my seal was definitely degraded---no luck with that being the culprit though.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #40 on: July 17, 2015, 11:23:10 PM »
As for my commute--I know the 96 miles RT is really far but I have a job love, working for a really special non-profit and I work from home twice a week and then carpool with co-workers 3 days a week (one day of which is my turn to drive).   

As long as your coworkers will be willing to cover for you for a month of carpooling whenever your current car dies, or you can get your hands on a loaner quickly, then you should drive that into the ground.

If you're looking at having to pay for a rental until you can replace your car, then the equation changes.

Yes, that makes sense that the need for a rental could tip the scales.  I helped one of my co-workers out when her car died--not for a month but for three week--so I think she would definitely reciprocate that however my parents have said I could borrow one of their cars if I needed to buy time while car-shopping if mine is dead so that is likely what I would do.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #41 on: July 18, 2015, 01:16:05 PM »
There's a whole thread in the "Share your Badassity" subforum devoted to people who own and drive old cars.

My '95 Corolla is just shy of 200k miles.  Maintenance and repairs have been minimal.  Keep up on your repairs, and your car will take care of you.  My guess is that your check engine light is for an oxygen sensor.  Personally, I'd spend the $50 and an hour of labor to fix it.

Or, in short, if it ain't broke...

Thanks for letting me know about the thread--i'll have to check it out.  Does the oxygen sensor do something important and that is why you would choose to fix it?  My mechanic indicated nothing important was being affected and also that better diagnostic tools (like the ones dealerships have) would be needed to pinpoint the exact cause.  I did replace my fuel cap b/c my Saturn manual said that was a frequent cause of the light being on and my seal was definitely degraded---no luck with that being the culprit though.
The O2 sensor is used for emissions control--it won't affect your performance at all, but if it's not working, your car might be putting too much NO2 into the air.  It's an environmental thing.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2015, 05:36:53 PM »
The O2 sensor is used for emissions control--it won't affect your performance at all, but if it's not working, your car might be putting too much NO2 into the air.  It's an environmental thing.

The O2 sensor is used to determine air/fuel ratio and can definitely effect performance and especially fuel efficiency, and if they go out completely will make the car difficult/impossible to start/run.  But the most common thing for a minor check engine light is the fuel evap system, which doesn't effect anything but the EPA gremlins.

calivianya

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #43 on: July 19, 2015, 04:40:50 AM »
I will make a point in the opposite direction of this thread and ask you - how much income can you lose with an older car?

I started having problems with my Civic this year. Only had 104k miles on it, but I took it to several different mechanics and even the dealership (I got desperate) and no one could figure out why it was overheating. I ended up buying a new car and I hate the car payments, but I have some peace of mind.

With the job I have, being tardy more than seven times a year or calling out more than three times a year results in disciplinary action. I am not eligible for a raise or a yearly bonus if I am in disciplinary action at any point in the preceding calendar year. I unfortunately cannot bike to work, and I'm guessing you can't either.

So - what does your job tolerate from you in terms of tardies/call outs? If your job has a high tolerance for you showing up late or missing work altogether, running your car into the ground is acceptable. You can, after all, miss some days or show up late if your car fails to start or has problems on the way to work and you have to pull over. If your job is more like mine where the tolerance for tardies/call outs is closer to zero, I'd say you should invest in a new car.

MMMdude

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #44 on: July 19, 2015, 10:38:21 AM »
I will make a point in the opposite direction of this thread and ask you - how much income can you lose with an older car?

I started having problems with my Civic this year. Only had 104k miles on it, but I took it to several different mechanics and even the dealership (I got desperate) and no one could figure out why it was overheating. I ended up buying a new car and I hate the car payments, but I have some peace of mind.

With the job I have, being tardy more than seven times a year or calling out more than three times a year results in disciplinary action. I am not eligible for a raise or a yearly bonus if I am in disciplinary action at any point in the preceding calendar year. I unfortunately cannot bike to work, and I'm guessing you can't either.

So - what does your job tolerate from you in terms of tardies/call outs? If your job has a high tolerance for you showing up late or missing work altogether, running your car into the ground is acceptable. You can, after all, miss some days or show up late if your car fails to start or has problems on the way to work and you have to pull over. If your job is more like mine where the tolerance for tardies/call outs is closer to zero, I'd say you should invest in a new car.

I would hate to work for an employer like this. What ever happened to "boss i will be an hour or two late but will work thru lunch and stay late to make up for it"?

Also toyotas do the flashing cel too. Happened to me last year as car immediately started chugging -ignition coil went out. Raw fuel was going into cat converter as a result.

Zamboni

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #45 on: July 19, 2015, 11:36:04 AM »
If family members are concerned with you getting stranded somewhere, then just invest in a AAA membership and get the extended mileage towing (since you work so far from home.) You can use it even if it's not your car (if you are the passenger), so consider asking if any of your carpool mates has it already as that would cover you on those trips.

AAA has worked out great for me, and usually also snags me a $10-$20 discount per night on hotel rooms when I check in. Since I'm doing those hotel stays anyway, it pays for itself just through that.

AAA has come and jumped my car several times, once they replaced a dead battery, they've changed flat tires for me, they came out when a friend I was riding with locked her keys in the car. Can I flag down someone to help me with a jump or change a flat myself? Sure, but it's damn hot here most of the time when this happens, and it's quicker, easier, and much safer for them to do it.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #46 on: July 19, 2015, 04:09:08 PM »
If family members are concerned with you getting stranded somewhere, then just invest in a AAA membership and get the extended mileage towing (since you work so far from home.) You can use it even if it's not your car (if you are the passenger), so consider asking if any of your carpool mates has it already as that would cover you on those trips.

AAA has worked out great for me, and usually also snags me a $10-$20 discount per night on hotel rooms when I check in. Since I'm doing those hotel stays anyway, it pays for itself just through that.

AAA has come and jumped my car several times, once they replaced a dead battery, they've changed flat tires for me, they came out when a friend I was riding with locked her keys in the car. Can I flag down someone to help me with a jump or change a flat myself? Sure, but it's damn hot here most of the time when this happens, and it's quicker, easier, and much safer for them to do it.

Thanks for this idea.  I didn't realize there was an option for extended mileage towing with AAA.  It's definitely something to consider given my drive.  I've considered what I would do if it got stuck around 50 miles from home and I'd planned to just pay the difference between the total miles and what the towing coverage that I do have covers (I have towing coverage through my insurance policy with USAA).  I will get quotes on both and compare the numbers.  Thanks!

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #47 on: July 19, 2015, 04:11:22 PM »
I will make a point in the opposite direction of this thread and ask you - how much income can you lose with an older car?

I started having problems with my Civic this year. Only had 104k miles on it, but I took it to several different mechanics and even the dealership (I got desperate) and no one could figure out why it was overheating. I ended up buying a new car and I hate the car payments, but I have some peace of mind.

With the job I have, being tardy more than seven times a year or calling out more than three times a year results in disciplinary action. I am not eligible for a raise or a yearly bonus if I am in disciplinary action at any point in the preceding calendar year. I unfortunately cannot bike to work, and I'm guessing you can't either.

So - what does your job tolerate from you in terms of tardies/call outs? If your job has a high tolerance for you showing up late or missing work altogether, running your car into the ground is acceptable. You can, after all, miss some days or show up late if your car fails to start or has problems on the way to work and you have to pull over. If your job is more like mine where the tolerance for tardies/call outs is closer to zero, I'd say you should invest in a new car.

I would hate to work for an employer like this. What ever happened to "boss i will be an hour or two late but will work thru lunch and stay late to make up for it"?

Also toyotas do the flashing cel too. Happened to me last year as car immediately started chugging -ignition coil went out. Raw fuel was going into cat converter as a result.

Wow, that's not much warning at all!  Sounds like the light might not always be that great of warning system anyway.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #48 on: July 19, 2015, 04:17:12 PM »
I will make a point in the opposite direction of this thread and ask you - how much income can you lose with an older car?

I started having problems with my Civic this year. Only had 104k miles on it, but I took it to several different mechanics and even the dealership (I got desperate) and no one could figure out why it was overheating. I ended up buying a new car and I hate the car payments, but I have some peace of mind.

With the job I have, being tardy more than seven times a year or calling out more than three times a year results in disciplinary action. I am not eligible for a raise or a yearly bonus if I am in disciplinary action at any point in the preceding calendar year. I unfortunately cannot bike to work, and I'm guessing you can't either.

So - what does your job tolerate from you in terms of tardies/call outs? If your job has a high tolerance for you showing up late or missing work altogether, running your car into the ground is acceptable. You can, after all, miss some days or show up late if your car fails to start or has problems on the way to work and you have to pull over. If your job is more like mine where the tolerance for tardies/call outs is closer to zero, I'd say you should invest in a new car.

Wow! That's a really strict policy you have at your job.  I'm lucky to work somewhere with a lot of flexibility.  I already work from home two days a week and could work from home another if something came up.  I can also flex my hours and work later or start earlier the next day, etc.  I also have 20 days of PTO to use however I want.  I really can't foresee a situation in which my car breaking would prevent me from getting to work for more than one day at a time since I have the option to borrow a car if it does break.  Even if it broke three times, I'd still only have to flex three days or take three PTO days.  Once I can't depend on it to run regularly through, I will bite the bullet and replace it.

baffi

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Re: Driving a car until it stops running--good idea or bad idea?
« Reply #49 on: July 19, 2015, 04:23:46 PM »
There's a whole thread in the "Share your Badassity" subforum devoted to people who own and drive old cars.

My '95 Corolla is just shy of 200k miles.  Maintenance and repairs have been minimal.  Keep up on your repairs, and your car will take care of you.  My guess is that your check engine light is for an oxygen sensor.  Personally, I'd spend the $50 and an hour of labor to fix it.

Or, in short, if it ain't broke...

Thanks for letting me know about the thread--i'll have to check it out.  Does the oxygen sensor do something important and that is why you would choose to fix it?  My mechanic indicated nothing important was being affected and also that better diagnostic tools (like the ones dealerships have) would be needed to pinpoint the exact cause.  I did replace my fuel cap b/c my Saturn manual said that was a frequent cause of the light being on and my seal was definitely degraded---no luck with that being the culprit though.
The O2 sensor is used for emissions control--it won't affect your performance at all, but if it's not working, your car might be putting too much NO2 into the air.  It's an environmental thing.

Oh dear, I don't want to be polluting extra either.  I did have my car tested for emissions about a year and half ago when I had to register it in Colorado for my temporary residence there and everyone was surprised that it passed the test with the great numbers that it did given its age.  Not sure if this is the same sort of measure or if it could quickly and drastically start polluting excessively but I do have that baseline measure of it having met standards.