Author Topic: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?  (Read 3789 times)

tariskat

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Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« on: December 15, 2013, 08:03:07 AM »
Hi Mustachians,

I was asked yesterday if keeping my beater car (which is in the shop for solenoid troubles) was still worth it, by a friend who recently replaced hers (and I think is still paying on a loan for it).  Which got me looking - I've spent $2,679 in the last 15 months on it, which means 178.60$ / month, on my car.  This means insurance, service and parts, gasoline, oil changes, everything.  I have Mint so that is quite close - I might have missed a few purchases of fuel injector cleaner that got lumped as groceries or something, for example.

Is this outrageously high?  I'm not about to take out a loan on a car; and I don't see that replacing my current old car with another old car would have fewer mechanical problems.

It's a 96 Ford Escort with about 170k miles and while it requires a few tows now and again (timer belt went out a few years ago while driving, etc) it's a pretty solid car.  I drive about 2x a week to my second job and have a bus pass for most of my regular travelling, which I get for 97$ per semester through my university.  That 97 isn't included above because if I didn't have a car I'd still get it.

Thoughts?  Am I still in the right?  Normal mortals might tell me 176$ / month is cheap.. but mustachians can actually tell me if I'm being stupid.

melalvai

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2013, 09:18:39 AM »
I guess it's possible to do better than that but compare it to anything else and you're doing great. You could certainly own a more expensive car. Way to go on keeping it running for so long. I'm still sad about losing our 1998 Ford Escort with 222,000 miles on it-- to a deer. :(

tariskat

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2013, 09:30:23 AM »
If I lived any further north, a deer would probably take mine out, too.  Thankfully I'm in a big city and squirrels are about the biggest threat.  Sorry to hear about your car, though. I hope mine lasts as long!

OzzieandHarriet

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2013, 09:55:12 AM »
Earlier this year I gave up on my 1995 Escort. It was having more and more problems and I was worried about getting stuck somewhere with the exhaust system lost on the road. It only had about 80k miles on it, and I'd done all the necessary upkeep over the years, but it was worn out from age. I spent a couple thousand bucks on it in the last year I had it, so I decided that when the next problem happened I'd upgrade. There's probably a happy medium between that and a new car (i.e., a newer used car in better shape), but I couldn't find anything used for a significant savings over an inexpensive new car, so I went for the new car. Paid for in cash. It probably cost $5,000-$7,000 more than a used car in good condition. If I'd been in the position of not having that cash, I certainly would have bought a used car that was within my budget. But spending almost $200 a month on an old car may not be the best use of your money -- if that's not your only option.

Rural

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2013, 01:27:34 PM »
Hi Mustachians,

I was asked yesterday if keeping my beater car (which is in the shop for solenoid troubles) was still worth it, by a friend who recently replaced hers (and I think is still paying on a loan for it).  Which got me looking - I've spent $2,679 in the last 15 months on it, which means 178.60$ / month, on my car.  This means insurance, service and parts, gasoline, oil changes, everything.  I have Mint so that is quite close - I might have missed a few purchases of fuel injector cleaner that got lumped as groceries or something, for example.


I've bolded a couple of items from your original post that you will have to pay for regardless of what car you own. You should take those out of your calculation and then see where you stand, because they are a function of car ownership, not of owning this car. As long as you intend to replace it, look at what it costs you that a replacement (hopefully) won't in making your decision.

melalvai

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2013, 01:35:36 PM »
That's a good point and some of those costs, like insurance, are likely to be higher for a newer car.

more4less

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2013, 01:38:09 PM »
I drive '98 Eclipse. I've had it for 5 years. $2024 were spent on service, and car depreciated for $1000. Roughly it costs me about $50/mo. Plus gas and insurance - another $250 and $30 per month. From time I think about changing it to some other 10 year old car, yet as of today I can't come up with any more cost-effective alternative.

melalvai

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2013, 04:46:06 PM »
Of course, the best choice to replace a car with is a bicycle. :)

tariskat

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Re: Reasonable amount to spend on a car?
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2013, 06:39:41 PM »
melalvai, yes, I know I should switch to a bike :)  I'm weaning myself off of carrying my laptop with me to work and using the systems there before I take to the ice and snow (Minnesota) on a bike - I teach computer science and like my own system better, it's hard to give in to someone else's OS.

Thanks, Rural - good point.  1,683$ went for insurance/oil/gas, so I guess that only leaves 996$ for random fixes / breakdowns / etc over the last 15 months, which is around 66$ / month for owning just this particular piece of machinery.  Until I get my next mechanic's estimate anyway.  Seems hard to beat that with a newer car, but I probably could.  Guess I should start stashing for that now in case I find a better deal.