Author Topic: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]  (Read 3674 times)

alsoknownasDean

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Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« on: December 11, 2018, 04:03:48 AM »
UPDATE 2: Fixed the clutch, but now there's some coolant issues. Hoping it's not the head gasket. :(

UPDATE: The car's clutch has died and the quote for repair is about the same as the market value of the car. Now it's a 'what to replace it with' question. See the later post :)

Hi all,

So lately I've been having some thoughts about replacing my car (either now or in a year's time).

Currently I've got a 2002 Holden Barina with 150,000km on it. It's a fairly simple (and surprisingly reliable) little car with a 1.4L engine, three doors, a manual transmission, basic trim with wind up windows, and I tend to average about 8L/100km in it. I've owned it about four years and I've put just under 40,000km on it in that time.

Although, I've started to toy with the idea of selling it and buying something a bit newer. Some info about why I'm considering this is the following:

- My state requires a roadworthy certificate (issued by a mechanic) to register a car or transfer registration, there is effectively a floor price on used cars that already have this certificate of about $1500-2000 (cars can sell for less without rego/RWC but the price of getting the RWC is an unknown quantity). I suspect it wouldn't require much for this and I could probably get $2000 for it.
- Due to this, I wonder if it's worth replacing it while it's still worth something rather than drive it until it's completely toast and get a few hundred bucks for it as scrap.
- A decent small car (same size or slightly larger, Corolla or equivalent maybe) from about 2006-2009 can be had for about $3-5K (even with the RWC). If the changeover cost is only a couple of grand for something five or so years newer (although possibly higher km), it's a tempting and almost sensible proposition.
- A newer vehicle would generally be safer. Given some of the dumb things I've seen other drivers do and the oversized SUVs and utes many people tend to drive, a bit more crash protection would be definitely desirable.
- I've only owned manual vehicles since 2006, but I'm starting to be keen on the idea of driving an automatic next.
- My current car doesn't have cruise control, and after breaking my ankle in 2016, I find that I've had some pain in my ankle when driving for more than a couple of hours at a time in my current car. I drove two automatic rental cars this year (both covering hundreds of kilometres on some days), and didn't have a problem. I looked into retrofitting cruise control to my current car, but it's expensive.

Although there's a few good arguments against it.

- The current car still works fine for now and has low kilometres for its age. For all I know it could have another decade of useful life left in it with regular maintenance. Although hey, it's a GM product, not a Corolla :p
- If I'm getting an automatic or something slightly larger (let alone both), fuel economy would suffer (especially as I do a lot of lower-speed city driving). A used Prius would change this equation, but they're more expensive (the cheapest 2nd gen Prius on Carsales in Victoria is $6800 with an RWC).
- I'm trading a known quantity for an unknown quantity. Any car I buy could need $1000 of maintenance the previous owner has neglected doing. For example, if there's no evidence that the timing belt has been done, I'm safest to assume that it hasn't, and budget for it's prompt replacement.
- I'm looking to buy a place in the new year, and spending that cash on a car instead of using it as part of a deposit seems unwise now (although in a year's time once I've moved it may not be so bad).
- The 'I wants' have largely resulted from driving a rental 2017 VW Polo with a fancy-pants 7 speed DSG transmission for a couple of thousand kilometres on holiday last month. Any car in my price range is more likely to have a stone-age four speed automatic that I won't enjoy as much :)

Yes, I could go and buy a brand new car for $20-25K and burn through a big chunk of my savings or deal with a car loan, but I've been here long enough to know that's a silly idea :)

Do I deserve a facepunch, or is replacing my car not a completely dumb idea?
« Last Edit: July 06, 2019, 05:14:50 AM by alsoknownasDean »

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2018, 04:37:05 AM »
Broken ankle? Justified to upgrade to a reasonably cheap/efficient car with cruise control. There's a difference between badassity and unnecessary suffering.

As for the 2017 VW Polo... you don't need to keep thinking about it. These aren't the depreciations you're looking for.

Ps. I have a manual '07 Barina :)

Ecky

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 04:44:25 AM »
I think you've pretty well laid out the positives and negatives. Any replacement is going to put you in the negative financially if only for the transaction costs, and you'd be trading a known-reliable vehicle for an unknown - one with an automatic at that, which pretty reliably fail sooner than manuals. 150k km is pretty low; I just rolled past 400k in my Honda and I still wouldn't hesitate to drive it across the country on a moment's notice, without even checking fluid levels, but as you say it's a GM product. ;)

On the other hand 8L/100km isn't that great by my standards. My girlfriend drives a (manual) 2007 Honda Fit (probably the Jazz in your region) with ~340k km and very consistently averages 5.0-5.5L/100km. I average 3.0-3.5 in my Insight depending on the weather. I know the automatics don't do as well, but you're likely to see an improvement with most Japanese cars.

Cruise control was around $300 USD to add to my car, FWIW.

Overall I'd say it would be a face punch idea if you didn't have the ankle problems. I can't be the judge of how bad they are, but I could see that as being reasonable justification for a change.

Car Jack

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 08:07:03 AM »
I do have to laugh at thinking a 4 speed auto just isn't up to standards these days.  The famous GM powerglide automatic transmission used in all first year Corvettes and in a gaggle of other cars was a 2 speed automatic. 

From a "What's cheapest?" perspective, keep what you have.  From a "I want to be more fancy pants but not too much so" perspective, certainly you can upgrade.  The way I look at your situation, you hardly ever drive the car (by your km per year), so why bother upgrading until you've scrapped your car?

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2018, 12:07:37 AM »
Broken ankle? Justified to upgrade to a reasonably cheap/efficient car with cruise control. There's a difference between badassity and unnecessary suffering.

As for the 2017 VW Polo... you don't need to keep thinking about it. These aren't the depreciations you're looking for.

Ps. I have a manual '07 Barina :)

As for the ankle, any issues don't pop up all that often, but driving for over two hours at a time on a freeway can contribute to some pain. That said, I don't drive that far very often, and when it does I can just stop for 10-20 minutes and walk around to loosen it up. I've looked into retrofitting cruise control, but the aftermarket kits seem expensive (it's drive by wire), and I don't know if the bits from the fancier trim level of the car which does have it would fit (different engine). I think I'm probably better off spending the $600 (price of the similar kits online) on physio appointments to get my ankle right than fitting aftermarket cruise control on the car. :)

On the other hand 8L/100km isn't that great by my standards. My girlfriend drives a (manual) 2007 Honda Fit (probably the Jazz in your region) with ~340k km and very consistently averages 5.0-5.5L/100km. I average 3.0-3.5 in my Insight depending on the weather. I know the automatics don't do as well, but you're likely to see an improvement with most Japanese cars.

As far as fuel economy goes, I get around 6L/100km on the freeway and 9.5-10L/100km in the city (lots of low speed driving and traffic). I live in a major city so there's plenty of the latter, but about 40% of my driving is longer freeway trips (so average is high sevens-low eights overall). I used to average around 9L/100km from my old (manual) Peugeot 306 with a 2L engine. Given the amount of city driving I do, a couple of grand extra for a Prius may even make sense in the long run. By my estimate the fuel costs (and registration discount) would be about $600-700 per year, compared to an automatic Corolla/Astra/Mazda3/i30/etc with similar driving.

I do have to laugh at thinking a 4 speed auto just isn't up to standards these days.  The famous GM powerglide automatic transmission used in all first year Corvettes and in a gaggle of other cars was a 2 speed automatic. 

From a "What's cheapest?" perspective, keep what you have.  From a "I want to be more fancy pants but not too much so" perspective, certainly you can upgrade.  The way I look at your situation, you hardly ever drive the car (by your km per year), so why bother upgrading until you've scrapped your car?

True, but my first car from 1988 was also a four speed auto. There's a few six speed automatics becoming available from the late 2000s onwards. Although older tech is generally more proven and reliable.

After my original post, I noticed this:

http://www.howsafeisyourcar.com.au/2002/Holden/Barina/XC-Hatchback-3dr-Man-5sp-1_4i/

I know that the safety rating of the car when it was new was four stars (ANCAP), but the used-car safety rating is quite a bit different. I'd assumed that it wasn't too bad because of the safety rating when new.

Thinking about it more, I'll hang on to what I've got for another year or so, and then see where I'm at. By then a used Prius might be a worthwhile upgrade.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2018, 12:09:56 AM by alsoknownasDean »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 05:15:34 AM »
And just like that six weeks later the urge to replace the car with something fancier is gone.

Although Iím keen on picking up something cheap once I get some garage space and working on it to get it roadworthy and learn how to work on cars. Iím sure that urge will go too when I stop looking at cars under $1000 on Gumtree...

MrOnyx

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2019, 06:50:53 AM »
Iím sure that urge will go too when I stop looking at cars under $1000 on Gumtree...

...oof! That's about £550 GBP. So if the used car market in Australia is anything like I'm used to, that won't get you very much! I spent about £600 (almost 1100AUD) on my first car - a ~14 year old Renault Clio. After a slew of problems, I traded it in before the year was out for something else. Called up the dealership soon after to sort something out on the warranty of my new car, and they'd actually scrapped my old car because it had a major oil leak. Ouch!

Of course, not every used car is the same, but it is a bit of a minefield. Best of luck if you do go into this. It's always good to add to your skillset, but if you need a car, I wouldn't choose something like this as a reliable go-to.

Moral of the story? Something about old, cheap, used cars, or maybe specifically French ones.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2019, 04:17:39 PM »
Iím sure that urge will go too when I stop looking at cars under $1000 on Gumtree...

...oof! That's about £550 GBP. So if the used car market in Australia is anything like I'm used to, that won't get you very much! I spent about £600 (almost 1100AUD) on my first car - a ~14 year old Renault Clio. After a slew of problems, I traded it in before the year was out for something else. Called up the dealership soon after to sort something out on the warranty of my new car, and they'd actually scrapped my old car because it had a major oil leak. Ouch!

Of course, not every used car is the same, but it is a bit of a minefield. Best of luck if you do go into this. It's always good to add to your skillset, but if you need a car, I wouldn't choose something like this as a reliable go-to.

Moral of the story? Something about old, cheap, used cars, or maybe specifically French ones.

Yeah $1000 doesnít get an awful lot here (usually about 15-20 years old), and itíd require some work (and possibly another $500-1000) to get to roadworthy standard. Itíd be a learning experience if anything. And yeah, probably not a Renault, would be far easier to get parts for a Mazda or Toyota :)

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea?
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2019, 09:45:28 PM »
And the clutch has just gone pop at 155,000km. The quote from the mechanic for replacing the clutch is almost as much as the market value of the car.

I was happy to hang on to the car another year or so, but with this issue, I've decided it's probably time to get rid of it.

If I had the space where I'm living now I would try replacing the clutch, but it ain't happening where I currently live.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 08:20:53 PM by alsoknownasDean »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2019, 02:37:39 AM »
The quote for replacing the clutch was about $1500. Looking at the part prices on eBay and the quoted labour time that's a reasonable enough figure for the job.

So, as I don't think it's worth spending $1500 on a car that's barely worth more than that in working order, it's time to be rid of the thing. I could probably get about $500-1000 by selling the car as-is on Gumtree and cashing in the plates for a refund of the remaining registration. I can get by fine without a car for most things, and don't mind doing so for a month or two (in fact I didn't own a car for most of 2014), but eventually I'll want another one.

The main situation is...what on earth do I replace it with?

I've had a look around online, and there's some tidy 2006-2009 era small cars for about $3500-4000, with roadworthy certificates, appear in decent condition and with reasonable km on the clock. Manual transmissions are a bit cheaper but I'm looking for an automatic this time around.

Alternatively, I could get a used Prius for about $6000-7000 in similar age/condition/km to the cars above, or about $3800-4500 for the higher km ones (often with over 300,000km on them and may have seen Uber/taxi use).

My estimates are that a Prius would cost about $600 per annum less in fuel, and hybrids get a $100 registration discount, and maintenance could go either way (timing belts etc in normal cars, but the risk of HV battery failure in the Prius). Issue with that is that I'd really rather not spend so much cash when I'm looking to buy a place (I'm planning on biking to a couple of inspections this weekend), but don't want to spend over $4K on a tired ex-cab.

I haven't completely counted out fixing the current car either, but again I'm kinda ready for a change.

So, tough decision, spend up and burn a bit more of my 'downpayment fund' than I'd like, spend a bit less on something that is a bit heavier on fuel (although still probably under 10L/100km combined), or buy a high km Prius and take my chances.

What to do? :)
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 02:39:33 AM by alsoknownasDean »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2019, 05:13:27 AM »
So short story is I decided to have the car repaired. I didn't want to spend big cash on a replacement at this point when I am looking around to buy a place. I'll be getting rid of it in 6-12 months anyway.

All was well for a while, but I noticed a week or two ago that the heater wasn't working well on a long trip home (and it was getting close to freezing outside on the way home). I checked the coolant level and it had dropped a bit (I added a couple hundred ml of water to top it off). Uh oh.

The temperature gauge seems normal, there doesn't seem to be any bubbling in the coolant overflow bottle (at least not when I had it on for 5-10mins), and there was only a bit of occasional white smoke from the exhaust (it's winter so it may have been steam).

Still, what could it be? Am I looking at a new heater core (though there's no pool of coolant in the passenger footwell), or a leaky head gasket? The mechanic said when the clutch was done that there was a very slight leak in the radiator, but surely that wouldn't result in a weak heater?

It was always a risk spending the money to get it fixed. If this is a HG leak six weeks later, then that gamble hasn't paid off. I've saved a bit more since then and I'd probably just cut my losses and replace it.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2019, 02:20:49 AM »
I've driven it for 250km today and the temperature gauge stayed solid in the high 80s įC. That's a good sign that maybe the head gasket is fine. The heater was still weak/almost non functional.

I might get it professionally tested but my guess is that it needs a new heater core.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2019, 05:59:50 AM »
I've continued to drive it and it has continued to be reliable, aside from the fact that I had to put a litre of coolant in the thing last week.

It's going to the mechanic's tomorrow for a service, and to determine what exactly is causing the coolant loss. Whatever is causing the issue will determine whether or if I fix it.

The car seems to feel almost every tiny bump in the road (I'm getting them to check over the suspension too), and I'm rather sick of putting the clutch in and out in slow stop-start traffic. Short answer is, I'm ready to buy another car, and I need an excuse :)

Sibley

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2019, 07:43:33 AM »
Buddy, just go get a new to you car. You've been worrying at this, pull the damn tooth already.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2019, 07:57:14 PM »
Buddy, just go get a new to you car. You've been worrying at this, pull the damn tooth already.
Yeah you're right. I'm just agonizing over the decision, but I think I've made the decision :)

Turns out that it's most like a slightly leaky radiator, but nothing too major, suspension is apparently OK too.

I've decided that I'll drive it until February/March and then buy a replacement. The registration on the car runs out in April, so I might as well keep it until then. I'll just have to keep an eye on the temperature gauge on hot days.

I've been trying to decide whether to get a Prius next (about 6-7k) or something like a Corolla or a Civic or an Accord or a Focus of the same age for $3-4k. The fuel cost of a Prius would probably be $700-1000 less per year.

peachyb

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2019, 05:32:37 AM »
Keep in mind that though the Prius costs more up front, it also retains value well (as you're seeing with the 300,000-mile vehicles selling for multi-thousands). If you want to run the car into the ground, maybe that doesn't matter. But i you plan to swap it for a newer vehicle again in a few years, you can make up the depreciation in what you save on gas.

35andFI

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2019, 07:13:09 AM »
I would recommend doing a break even calculation on the higher mpg (but more expensive) Prius vs a lower mpg (but less expensive) other car.

I did this myself when I was deciding between a Prius and a Honda Fit.

The difference in purchase price divided by the gas savings per year will give you the number of years that it would take to break even due to better fuel economy by purchasing the (more expensive) Prius.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2019, 05:29:14 AM »
I would recommend doing a break even calculation on the higher mpg (but more expensive) Prius vs a lower mpg (but less expensive) other car.

I did this myself when I was deciding between a Prius and a Honda Fit.

The difference in purchase price divided by the gas savings per year will give you the number of years that it would take to break even due to better fuel economy by purchasing the (more expensive) Prius.

Good idea.

Iíve done a quick calculation, based on an estimated number of kilometres per year, an estimated split of city/highway, and an estimated price of fuel.

Based on this a Prius would cost about $500pa less in fuel than my current car, and about $700pa less than a Corolla or similar, about $800-900 less than a Camry or Accord or similar, and probably about $1200 less than a Falcon or Commodore or similar (which are fine on the highway but thirsty in the city with 4.0L or 3.8L engines).

A $3000 price difference would mean that a Corollaís additional fuel consumption over a Prius would mean the savings in purchase price are used up after four years, and a Camry/Accord in just over three years.

In the short term, Iíve purchased a 5L bottle of coolant and will top up as required. In February or March Iíll step up the search and get something else :)
« Last Edit: October 27, 2019, 05:33:38 AM by alsoknownasDean »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is replacing my car a bad idea? [UPDATED]
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2020, 05:29:57 AM »
I replaced the radiator, battery and coil pack a month or two ago, but now the water pump has let go. That'll be probably $1000 if the mechanic does it, and about $200 if I try and do it. I'm ready for something different anyway.

Time for it to go. Let's see what decent cheap cars are available. :)

Tough decision as to whether to get something cheap (if a bit thirsty) or something a bit nicer and potentially more fuel efficient for a couple grand more. Big six cylinder Aussie-made sedans have cruise control in almost all models and are dirt cheap, everyone either wants smaller cars or SUVs. Could pick up a cheap VT-VX Commodore/AU-BA Falcon/TJ-TW Magna/etc for almost nothing, but they'd drink around town. Something smaller is less likely to have cruise (but still possible). Try finding a ZZE122R Corolla hatch with cruise and a slushbox for 4K or less :(

Maybe a first-gen Mazda6? LS-LV Focus? Even a mid 2000s Camry? AH Astras are cheap but I don't know.

Time to spend my free time checking out Carsales, Gumtree, and the auction websites.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2020, 05:37:54 AM by alsoknownasDean »