Author Topic: Piece of crap older cars  (Read 6370 times)

aprilm

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Piece of crap older cars
« on: January 06, 2017, 01:55:48 PM »
Last January, I sold my 2014 Altima to get out from under the payments. I bought a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 128k miles. I figured a Toyota Corolla would be pretty freaking reliable, and although I knew it would need some work, I'm getting sick of something always breaking and needing to be back in the shop. Is this something I'm just always going to need to deal with? My driver's side door handle just broke, so I had to crawl over to the passenger side to get out of my car. That sort of put me over the edge, and I'm at my wit's end with this thing.

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this. Venting? Commiseration? Does anybody else deal with constant issues with older cars? Every little noise makes me tense up and wonder if something else is about to break.

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2017, 01:58:30 PM »
There's no two ways about it. If you're going to drive an older car, you'll have to fix things more often.

What kind of repairs have you needed so far?

Schaefer Light

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2017, 02:07:31 PM »
Not sure what other types of repairs you've had to make, but minor issues like door handles breaking are not something I'd be too concerned about.  Better to break a door handle than lose a transmission ;).

And based on my personal experience (my wife drives a '99 Avalon), the Toyotas built in that time frame had some cheap plastic parts.  I've replaced both of the interior door handles, and a couple of the exterior door handles also need to be replaced.  These are not the types of issues that would make me consider getting rid of the car, though.  As long as the motor and transmission are in good shape, I'm happy.

Cranky

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2017, 02:10:06 PM »
We never had very good luck with well used cars, honestly. Plus, we live in an area with very poor public transit. We just have one car. When it's not running, we have a hard time getting to work (well, dh does - I walk to work).

If we need a car, we need one that runs reliably.

marielle

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2017, 02:11:14 PM »
It depends on the kind of repairs you're making. Can you list what you have replaced so far? At that age, many parts are expected to have weakened or failed. But if you have major engine problems beyond a sensor or something like that, then it might be time for a new car.

Consider getting an engine tune up as preventative maintenance.

aprilm

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2017, 02:16:41 PM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

Spork

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2017, 03:37:05 PM »
For what it's worth: the plastic Toyota door handle is a common breakage.  My car has broken 2 of them.  You can get them on Amazon for about $10.  Pay attention to the finish.  There seem to be chrome (looking) handles, black shiny handles and black flat-finished handles.  It takes about 5 minutes to replace.  I accidentally bought a shiny one when the rest of mine are flat black.  Meh... It's fine.

(Yeah, I know this was just a mini rage on the straw that broke the camel's back... just thought I'd let ya know.)

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2017, 04:23:58 PM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

you might have just gotten a lemon. Did the previous owners abuse the hell out of it?  Those seem like a lot of repairs for a car with 128k miles.

Johnez

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2017, 04:35:57 PM »
The trick in my experience is to get such an old crappy car that when something goes out you can simply go "meh" and go about your day. I had a 1991 Chevy s10-not much to worry about there, I guess reaching a quarter century entitles the AC, radio, windows, and clutch to be a bit wonky.

Greenback Reproduction Specialist

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2017, 04:41:51 PM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

That's really to bad to hear all that, a corolla should be a reliable car. Something  to consider though, if you want to save money with this car, things are going to break and not everything needs to be fixed. Something's do and can be a safety hazard or cause a breakdown, others can wait, but it might be tough to know the difference if you are not used to working on cars. Also, it is super worth your time to call around and find a good mechanic that will install parts you bring to them. You can get parts cheaper by about 1/3 the cost sometimes if you go buy them yourself, then pay the mechanic for the labor. Its tough to find mechanics that do this, but they are around and worth seeking out.

Just a tips for anyone looking for a cheap old car, when you are searching, use search terms like "maintained or single owner". Ask for vehicle records, if they can show the maintenance has been kept up that's a VERY good sign. Don't buy anything that looks like it has been modified from stock under the hood. You want a vehicle that has been treated like a baby. Lots of recent work is ok, especially if it was done on the engine or transmission(means fewer things to break in the near future if repairs were done correct).

mousebandit

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2017, 04:54:03 PM »
Is the door handle completely seized or broken off on both sides?  On our older chevys the door handles break pretty freaking often.  However, when it's the inside that breaks, I can still roll the window down, stick my arm out, and open the door from the outside.  When the outside breaks, thus far it's been like a split, and I could still manage to get the sucker to unlatch, just a pain and requires gloves to protect the fingers from jagged plastic.

I would also agree that the sorts of issues you are describing sound like a car that was driven hard.  Tires and cv axles and suspension and strut mounts , all those are screaming that the car was fairly abused.  When buying used cars, look for original owners, older folks, something towed behind a motor home is usually ideal.  When buying an older corrola, I'd look to pay $2000 or less, get mid to late nineties, and put less than $150 in per repair, with maybe one or two repairs per year, and get at least 3-4 years out of it.  But, I'd spend weeks or even months finding that car on Craigslist.  I would also probably not fix suspension issues, and front end issues only when they were a safety concern, or ruining my alignment and eating tires. 

Fixing the AC hopefully means just recharging it, DIY with a can of whatever from autozone.  Rattles don't necessarily need to be fixed.  Our old red sounds worse than grandma, but she still keeps rolling.  The odometer quit working years ago, and we don't put a dime into her unless she refuses to move.  Beater cars are a very different breed than newish or even 10-years-old variety.  It's a little like playing a game of chicken with the rig.  You need strong nerve and a whole lot of unwillingness to give in. 

khangaroo

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2017, 05:12:54 PM »
My 99 Camry's gas latch is broken so I fixed it with a binder clip. However, it pops out of place every 3 months or so and gets lost so I have to redo it.

Other than that, the car has been quite reliable mostly due to the prior Owner taking meticulous care of the vehicle (bought it from a family friend).

Spork

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2017, 05:23:38 PM »
Is the door handle completely seized or broken off on both sides? 

I'm not the OP, but a large number of Toyotas have an external plastic handle that just comes off in your hand one day.  It's a latch that lifts from left-to-right (or vice versa, depending on the side of the car) and one cold day it will just go 'snap'.  Cheaply made, but cheap to fix.

Grosgrain

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2017, 06:27:20 PM »
The inside handle on my 1999 Corolla snapped off one day, too.  I ordered the part through the dealer (< $30), was super nice to the guy behind the counter in the parts department, and he was kind enough to put it on for me for free. 

I had very minimal repairs on that car.  I owned it from 2001-2013.  Bought it with about 60,000 miles.  When it was totaled (by a dumbass failing to yield on a left turn), it had 185,000 miles.  If my memory is correct, the only repairs/maintenance issues I had were: replace alternator, replace battery, replace brake pads and tires, replace broken door handle, replace spark plugs and wires, standard oil changes.  Super, super cheap car to own for 11 years - even more so since I was able to do most of these items myself.  I would probably still be driving it. 

The care of the vehicle by previous owner(s) obviously plays a huge role in reliability.  What has worked for me thus far is to buy an economical car that is a few years old and then keep it for as long as possible, doing all the appropriate maintenance and not driving it like a lunatic.  :-)

aprilm

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2017, 06:33:33 PM »
Yeah, I made the mistake of buying a car that had been "altered" a bit (black wheels, super cheesy fog lights that I have removed, trunk lining for some sort of sound system, etc.), so I'm guessing the driver was probably rough on it. I was in a bit of a rush to get something though and it seemed like a good deal at the time. I've already had the AC recharged, and it fails again within weeks, so I think it has a leak somewhere. I live in Texas, so it's almost a must to have AC (for me at least).

Several of the interior AND exterior handles seem to be on their way out. In today's case, it was the interior driver's side handle. When I tried to open it, it was like something snapped and now the door won't open from the inside. I can open it from the outside.

I checked YouTube for a tutorial on how to change it. I'll buy a replacement for it on Amazon along with replacement exterior handles since they're all in bad shape. My parents are coming in town on Monday, and I know my dad will be happy to help change them all out... and then he'll tell me, for the tenth time, that I need a newer car haha.

index

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2017, 08:59:25 PM »
I've had bettter  luck with newer relatively high mileage cars. After 15 years the plastic and glue start going bad and the interior falls apart. I like b spending 3-4k for a 7 or 8 year old car with less than 140k. I figure a car should cost 1k a year to be drive including depreciation. So if you buy a car for 3k and  put 300 per year in non routine maintenance it should last you 4 years. Anything else is gravy.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2017, 04:43:57 PM »
I have a '95 Corolla, and my brother had (until recently) a '99.  They're actually *very* reliable, especially if you keep up with the maintenance.   Well, except for the door handles.  You'll want to learn how to replace the door handles (in and out), since chances are you'll need to do it more than once :)  It's such a common problem that you can buy them off the shelf at Autozone.
If you have a garage in your house, you could learn to do DIY maintenance and basic repairs.  Find a forum for the car you have - there will be lots of good info.  Also use youtube for video instruction.  You could also buy a repair manual for your car.
This.  A thousand times this.  I've saved myself probably several thousand dollars by doing my own maintenance and repairs over the last several years.  As a car gets older, you'll find yourself replacing a few more bits, but as long as the engine and transmission themselves are fine, the rest is either cheap to replace or bullet proof.

JLee

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2017, 06:14:44 PM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

Tires don't count - any car will need tires replaced. CV axles are highly unusual at that mileage - what happened? Why do you say that the AC will need to be fixed at some point?

My first car was a 1998 Corolla. I had to replace the clutch and outer tie rod ends in the several years that I had it (as well as brakes/tires). Learning to do your own work will save you thousands. Suspension is one of the easiest things to replace on most cars.

use2betrix

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2017, 07:33:05 PM »
Struts and most those other items are wear and tear that will happen over time due to age and/or mileage on all cars, unfortunately.

In January 2013 I bought my wife a 1999 Camry with 88k miles for around $5k. 12 of its 14 year life it had one owner and is in great condition.

That being said, it was still a 14 year old, and now 17 year old car. Due to its age, things like suspension items are being replaced due to their failure with age.

It now has around 120k miles on it, and we have honestly put another 5k into it. The vast majority of that has all been wear and tear items though. Front/rear struts/suspension components, starter, alternator, timing belt. Some of the non wear and tear items have been a gasket, battery gremlins, and this steering wheel column joint.

Wear and tear items aside, it's realistically only had about $1500 in "repairs."

All the other stuff sucks, but it's going to need to be replaced on most any higher mileage vehicle, so you just have to ask.. replace these items or buy a new car every 100k-150k miles?

With everything we've replaced, I literally cannot think of any more wear and tear items needed to be done for 50k+ miles other than oil and tires. These next few years will decide whether I ever decide to buy something "more used" again. Fingers crossed.

Txtriathlete

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2017, 07:58:10 PM »
With older cars, history matters. Car fax is a great resource as is the consumer reports annual auto report for understanding both the individual car's history as well as the performance of a specific year/make/model. I don't buy used cars with more than 3 previous owners, ever. I don't buy cars that were only owned for a year or two (carfax). Nothing modified, nothing with missing/broken parts (to include bad tires). The last two had complete maintenance records from the previous owners.

Every car will require periodic major maintenance if it stays on the road.  Parts wear out. Not all cars have the same replacement schedule however.  It pays to do research on which cars can go without major repairs the longest (if you expect to trade cars every few years). 

Sounds like yours was ridden hard by the PO.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2017, 09:09:15 PM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

Congratulations! You've already saved thousands owning that car. The cost to own your old 2014 Altima for a year would be around $6,800*. So go to the bank, withdraw $4,000 and "pay" it to yourself for the inconveniences. Not so bad in that light, is it?

*Source: https://www.edmunds.com/nissan/altima/2014/st-200485038/cost-to-own/
*actually more than that, because we are talking last year, and Edmunds TCO is talking next year when depreciation is lower.

As others have pointed out, ownership of a 15-20 year old car differs from ownership of a late model car. You ignore many things. You never take it to the dealer - you find a good mechanic with a grungy shop in a rough neighborhood. And then only when you absolutely can't fix it yourself. You have a garage, a Climber manual, a decent set of tools, and a bike for backup transportation. You buy liability-only insurance. You keep your mileage down.

You've made a drastic change, going from an almost-new luxury car to a beater. Perhaps something between these extremes might have been less of an adjustment. Nonetheless, I think you're doing fine. If you can keep up the beater car lifestyle for a few years, and invest the savings, you WILL end up with an extra year of early retirement.

MayDay

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2017, 05:20:52 AM »
Our 99 corolla also had a door handle break off.

We currently own older cars (2003, 2004). So far the repairs haven't been too frequent or annoying. When I was a SAHM I drove 20 minutes to a cheap, bare bones shop (no loaner cars) and Sat there while they did the work. Now I don't have time for that and getting it repaired is either much more annoying, or we have to take it to the $$$ local shop. It changes the calculation a bit.

Old cars suck, but dang they're cheap!

chasesfish

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2017, 05:43:36 AM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

You made the right decision to rid yourself of the Altima, but maybe the Corolla ends up being a lemon.  One of the benefits of an older, cheaper car is its easier to get another one, especially when you have time to look.   A few other answers/ideas:

- I decided "its time" the last time when the car stranded me more than twice per year, especially when I drive it to numerous work appointments.   I won't have to have this same test when I'm retired, but the job provides a firehose of cash today and it comes with the requirement of being at this place at this time and missing more than one a year for a car excuse becomes a pattern instead of a "it could happen to anyone".

- I've also seen better luck with the 4-5 year old cars with 120,000 to 150,000 miles.  These are usually driven by business road warriors and don't take the same stop/start beating that a 10 year old car with 120,000 miles on it takes.  You pay up some for it, but it still works.

I helped find my sister a 1998 Accord 5 years ago, 220,000 miles from a family friend/road warrior.  Its required $4k over the past five years, but that plus the original cost over 5 years wasn't bad.

ltt

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2017, 06:34:07 AM »
Oh gosh, stop.  We had a 1993 Toyota Corolla with 160k to 170k miles on it.  It was really starting to need repairs.  All the repairs start to add up.  Replacing tires is normal.  Then it wouldn't start; we looked under the hood and it looked like wires had been cut or chewed.  At some point, all the minor repairs, maintenance, annoyances add up to one giant headache.  And climbing over the seat to get out of the passenger side would do it for me.

I'm also assuming that most of the comments here are from guys who do their own maintenance on their vehicles.   Maybe the OP does not have the "expertise" to do the repairs/work, etc. 

I say upgrade to a newer Corolla.  You can find a 3-4 year old one with low mileage that is going to cost more, but will be pretty reliable.

tarheeldan

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aprilm

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2017, 07:50:17 AM »
CV axles are highly unusual at that mileage - what happened? Why do you say that the AC will need to be fixed at some point?

It started shaking badly at 50+ mph, and was getting to the point where I didn't feel safe driving it. Replaced the CV axles, and that took care of it. As far as the AC goes, it isn't working. I had it recharged, and it worked for a couple weeks, then stopped working again. I can deal with it for now because it's winter, but in a few months, it will be miserable again in Texas, and I'll need to get it fixed. AC is non-negotiable for me. ;)

ltt, you're right! I don't have the expertise, and I'm not really sure it's something I want to learn at this point--maybe when I'm retired. I'm okay with fixing minor things like a door handle, but shocks? Strut mounts? I can't imagine the amount of time it would take me or my boyfriend to fix that kind of thing. Not to mention many times I don't even KNOW what's wrong with the car, so I wouldn't know what to fix. We don't have a garage either, so we don't really have the space to store tools aside from hammers, screwdrivers, etc. So for now... to the shop it goes.

Thanks for all the replies! Glad to know I'm not the only one who's had issues with reliable brands.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 07:53:20 AM by aprilm »

ketchup

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2017, 08:34:37 AM »
Every car of that age (or older) has stupid stuff happen every so often.

As someone else said, you pay for old cars differently than new cars.  New cars you pay a shitload in depreciation and very little in repairs.  On older cars, you pay a bit more for repairs and near-zero depreciation.  You still win with the old car most of the time.

I owned a $700 1992 car from 158k to 200k, and in that time it needed about $1471 total in repairs and maintenance.  Of that, $909 could be considered non-routine (stupid stuff like a fuel line that rusted out, mirror that fell off, oil pressure sensor replacement, belt tensioner replacement, fuel tank getting a 3in hole blown in it, etc.)

I also owned a $1000 1999 car from 146k to 183k, and in that time it needed about $1587 total in repairs and maintenance.  Of that, $815 of it was non-routine (rusty exhaust problems, and the clutch went out).

I'm not including things that any car needs like oil/fluid changes, filters, belts, tires, batteries, bulbs, etc.

So on the 1992, that was $909/42,000 miles or 2.2cents/mile.  On the 1999 it was $815/36,000 miles or 2.3cents/mile.

Depreciation on the 1992 (sold for scrap: $150) was $550/42,000 miles or 1.3cents/mile.  On the 1999 (sold for scrap: $40, yes really) it was $960/36,000 or 2.7cents/mile.

So non-routine maintenance/repairs plus depreciation on each of the cars was 3.5cents/mile and 4.0cents/mile.  Not bad.  The numbers upfront for repairs can sound scary, but over the lifetime of the car, it all evens out.

rtrnow

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2017, 08:35:47 AM »
I've had bettter  luck with newer relatively high mileage cars. After 15 years the plastic and glue start going bad and the interior falls apart. I like b spending 3-4k for a 7 or 8 year old car with less than 140k. I figure a car should cost 1k a year to be drive including depreciation. So if you buy a car for 3k and  put 300 per year in non routine maintenance it should last you 4 years. Anything else is gravy.

so much this. Many things especially plastics and rubber will fail on older cars regardless of miles. IMO 5 years old with 100K miles is a nice sweet spot. I also want a new enough car to have side airbags and some other more modern safety features, but that may or may not matter to others.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2017, 08:40:34 AM »
I wouldn't call a still-on-the-road 17 year old car a "lemon".

However, it appears you are catching up on deferred maintenance, just like if you bought a house with a 25 year old roof, a 12 year old water heater, and a 25 year old HVAC system. If you bought such a house, it would seem like all those things were hitting at once, and you might even start to expect similar expenses in future years. No, actually you just bought a used-up roof, water heater, and HVAC. Hopefully, the price of the house reflected these deferred maintenance items. Next house, you'll pay close attention to what was recently replaced and not, and budget accordingly.

The failure points on your Corolla are all related to deterioration of rubber/plastic on stress/flex areas. I bet the CV's went bad because the rubber boots around the "gears" rotted off and exposed the parts to road grit. The door handles are just plastic deterioration. The AC is leaking from the rubber hoses.

With this in mind, you now know the next failure points: radiator hoses, vacuum lines, brake hoses near each wheel, maybe even windshield fluid hoses.

Factories have predictive models to anticipate parts failures and replace working parts before they are likely to fail. It's how they reduce downtime, despite often working with complex assemblies of 30-40 year old equipment 24/7. If "downtime" is what you want to avoid, while still enjoying the low costs of an older car, you should do preventative maintenance too. So, while you are replacing the A/C hoses, replace the nearby radiator hoses too. While you are doing a brake job, replace the rubber brake fluid hoses. Put in new wheel bearings and grease any time you get the chance (e.g. if you're replacing rotors) - they're cheap until they fail. While replacing spark plug wires, consider also replacing vacuum lines.

If you're doing your own work, the added costs of such PM is negligible - your hands are already dirty, might as well replace 2 parts instead of 1. If you are hiring a mechanic, you can use PM as a negotiation point. "So front rotor replacement will cost $350... would you throw in new bearings for another $30 plus cost of parts?"  The mechanic knows s/he will already be looking at the bearings when he takes the rotor off, so s/he is likely to take this offer. Then you just prevented what recently happened to my buddy when one of his front wheels ground to a halt on the interstate.

Shop for parts on the internet. If you can score a fuel pump for $35, grab it! Then you'll have one less thing to worry about.

JLee

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2017, 10:54:49 AM »
Oh gosh, stop.  We had a 1993 Toyota Corolla with 160k to 170k miles on it.  It was really starting to need repairs.  All the repairs start to add up.  Replacing tires is normal.  Then it wouldn't start; we looked under the hood and it looked like wires had been cut or chewed.  At some point, all the minor repairs, maintenance, annoyances add up to one giant headache.  And climbing over the seat to get out of the passenger side would do it for me.

I'm also assuming that most of the comments here are from guys who do their own maintenance on their vehicles.   Maybe the OP does not have the "expertise" to do the repairs/work, etc. 

I say upgrade to a newer Corolla.  You can find a 3-4 year old one with low mileage that is going to cost more, but will be pretty reliable.

I do, yes. I also wasn't born with this knowledge. I learned just like everybody else.

CV axles are highly unusual at that mileage - what happened? Why do you say that the AC will need to be fixed at some point?

It started shaking badly at 50+ mph, and was getting to the point where I didn't feel safe driving it. Replaced the CV axles, and that took care of it. As far as the AC goes, it isn't working. I had it recharged, and it worked for a couple weeks, then stopped working again. I can deal with it for now because it's winter, but in a few months, it will be miserable again in Texas, and I'll need to get it fixed. AC is non-negotiable for me. ;)

ltt, you're right! I don't have the expertise, and I'm not really sure it's something I want to learn at this point--maybe when I'm retired. I'm okay with fixing minor things like a door handle, but shocks? Strut mounts? I can't imagine the amount of time it would take me or my boyfriend to fix that kind of thing. Not to mention many times I don't even KNOW what's wrong with the car, so I wouldn't know what to fix. We don't have a garage either, so we don't really have the space to store tools aside from hammers, screwdrivers, etc. So for now... to the shop it goes.

Thanks for all the replies! Glad to know I'm not the only one who's had issues with reliable brands.

I think some people forget that reliable brands are not magically excused from the laws of physics.  Stuff wears out - it's the nature of stuff!

Replacing a front strut/spring assembly on a Corolla involves removing the wheel, removing two bolts from the lower strut mount, removing three nuts from the upper strut mount, and detaching the brake line from the tab on the strut. The whole assembly comes out and the new one goes in. It's intimidating if you've never worked on a car, but it's not hard to learn.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2017, 12:55:55 PM »
ltt, you're right! I don't have the expertise, and I'm not really sure it's something I want to learn at this point--maybe when I'm retired. I'm okay with fixing minor things like a door handle, but shocks? Strut mounts? I can't imagine the amount of time it would take me or my boyfriend to fix that kind of thing. Not to mention many times I don't even KNOW what's wrong with the car, so I wouldn't know what to fix. We don't have a garage either, so we don't really have the space to store tools aside from hammers, screwdrivers, etc. So for now... to the shop it goes.

All the tools I use to work on my car require very little space.  Other than the jack, oil collection pan, and jack stands, all my car-fixin' tools fit in a 12x12x16" cardboard box.  And I have some duplicate tools.  Also, Autozone will let you borrow tools for free.
Replacing a front strut/spring assembly on a Corolla involves removing the wheel, removing two bolts from the lower strut mount, removing three nuts from the upper strut mount, and detaching the brake line from the tab on the strut. The whole assembly comes out and the new one goes in. It's intimidating if you've never worked on a car, but it's not hard to learn.
Quoting this for emphasis.  If you can operate a wrench and a screwdriver, you have the expertise to perform most repairs.  Seriously.  All the part names may sound mysterious and intimidating, but the fact of the matter is that most maintenance and repairs consist of "use wrench to take thing off" and "use wrench to put replacement part on."  When I graduated from college, I didn't even know how to change my own oil.  Now, I do everything I possibly can myself, because 1) I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, and 2) it saves boatloads of money.

Oh, and buy your parts from RockAuto.com rather than your local parts store--it'll be tons cheaper.

AZDude

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2017, 10:52:54 AM »
I've put at least $2350 into it for various things since I bought it--shocks, tires, CV axles, strut mounts, etc. There's more that I've done, I just can't remember. I know most of this can be considered maintenance, but at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? At some point, the AC will need to be fixed, and there's yet another rattle coming from the front end somewhere. The daytime running lights aren't working, so the thing makes this annoying, constant clicking--but something I've more or less learned to live with.

I know, a door handle is pretty minor. It's just pushed me to my limit. I can't even get out of my car in a normal, civilized manner. ;)

Sounds like you just got unlucky with the car you bought. I drove a Mazda 3 well past 120,000 miles with no major repairs. Would still be driving it today except for the idiot teenager who ran into me and totaled it.

JAYSLOL

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2017, 01:10:23 PM »
A few things that stand out to me. 

#1 Modifications.  When looking at a used car to buy, aftermarket rims and "some modifications" are a HUGE red flag to me.  To me, most people that do that kind of thing (at least to a Toyota Corolla) are immature and it tells me this car may not have been taken "seriously", and not maintained with care (or at all).  And by putting larger rims and low profile tires on a car, you are going to wear out suspension parts faster and are more likely to jar loose other things that can rattle on the car, as the suspension wasn't designed to be used with those unforgivingly hard tires. 

#2 Tires.  You would have to pay for tires on a brand new car too (plus interest!), they just happen to be included in the financing.  Sell the aftermarket wheels and tires and get some good steel wheels from a junkyard or parts shop that are the same size as what came on the car originally. Also, if you need summers and winter tires, get two sets of wheels and change them back and forth yourself.  You will save a couple hundred bucks a year and pay off the extra set of rims in no time. 

#3  Door handles and other small repairs and maintenance.  Yeah those door handles suck, I had the outside door handle go on my old Toyota, but replaced it myself pretty quick and for almost nothing.  Youtube for these kinds of small repairs.  Seriously.  Do you like the idea of being paid $100 an hour?  Well, you can pay yourself that kind of rate if you buy parts and install them yourself over paying a mechanic, even after spending some time on the internet learning.   This includes oil and other fluid changes, spark plugs and brake pad replacement and a long list of other things you don't need much in the way of tools for, and can learn to do in 15 - 30 min.  I drive 10 year old and 23 year old cars and now do pretty much everything myself.  I saved at least $2000 in 2016 by spending around 20 hours working on the two cars, including changing lots of fluids (engine oil, transmission and coolant), a starter rebuild, brake pads, battery, a cv shaft replacement and a few other small things.  So i paid myself around $100/h for all the work i did.

#4 AC, okay if you got your AC charged and it doesn't work after a few weeks, take it back to where you got the work done, they should at least inspect it for you for free because they did the work.  If you have a leak, shop around and get it fixed. 


marielle

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2017, 01:26:17 PM »
I'm going to echo what everyone is saying. Start with easy repairs like brake pads, flushing your coolant, changing your oil (especially if you get synthetic), etc. I know very little about car maintenance but have learned a lot just by trying a few small things myself. It could be a fun hobby for you and your SO. I live in a 810 sqft apartment with a roommate and I still find space for a jack, jack stands, socket set, oil pan, and three various assorted toolboxes. You can do it. If you have to, keep some stuff in your car (surely you don't carry 4 passengers all the time?) This stuff was not inexpensive but it is invaluable. The socket set was only $20 from Aldi and is more than enough for my occasional needs. It has already paid for itself many times over.

I still took it to a mechanic to get major work done, like the timing belt/water pump, stuff like that. It sounds like you paid a LOT for labor. Try asking around or finding a mechanic that just operates out of the backyard or something like that. I found one through word of mouth and he charged less for labor than for parts. If nothing else, bring your own parts and you can save money there too by buying parts online or pulling them from a Pull-a-Part junkyard.

Jakejake

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2017, 02:28:05 PM »
My 99 Camry's gas latch is broken so I fixed it with a binder clip. However, it pops out of place every 3 months or so and gets lost so I have to redo it.
I have a broken gas latch on my 2003 Saturn. My husband used my old broken laptop to fix it - he pulled the magnet from the hard drive and slapped it inside the latch - that's worked for years. It's the bright silver backwards C shape in the photo.

ketchup

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2017, 02:40:34 PM »
My 99 Camry's gas latch is broken so I fixed it with a binder clip. However, it pops out of place every 3 months or so and gets lost so I have to redo it.
I have a broken gas latch on my 2003 Saturn. My husband used my old broken laptop to fix it - he pulled the magnet from the hard drive and slapped it inside the latch - that's worked for years. It's the bright silver backwards C shape in the photo.
Brilliant!  My car's gas latch is broken too and I'll have to give that tactic a whirl!  I actually have a few busted old hard drives lying around too...

WranglerBowman

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2017, 11:37:24 AM »
I really think the only way to effectively beat a car payment and save money is to not have a car, or make your own repairs to an older car.  I would not buy an older car unless your willing to learn to work on them.  I wouldn't call my vehicles a "piece of crap", because 98% of the time they get me where I need to go, but most other people call them a piece.  I've been driving older vehicles my whole driving life and they always need some type of repairs.  Some need to be performed immediately (thermostat) and some can wait for a while (O2 sensors), but something always needs to be fixed.  The best part about driving older vehicles is after 10 years of doing so you become a pretty good mechanic and you've added a lot to your stache not having a car payment for that long.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2017, 07:58:32 PM »
I still don't know what everybody is so gloomy about.

The OP saved about $4,000 in automotive expenses his first year, even after an unexpected bunch of stuff went wrong. He could replace both the engine and the transmission next year and still save thousands compared with that Altima. As another poster pointed out, he made more than $100/hour for any time spent fussing with the thing.

This is a win story folks! It only feels like a loss because these little expenses were paid out multiple times in cash, whereas the depreciation, interest, opportunity cost, and insurance for the fancy car were relatively invisible. Same reason a lot of people think they spend a quarter of their income on gas, when in fact it's like 2% - the price is highly visible on huge signs and it is paid often.

Yes, to play this game and save these thousands, you really should get good with a wrench. Mustachianism is a "skills-based lifestyle". Anybody can learn this stuff. Most people refuse to. Keep in mind though, frustration is the emotion of not knowing what to do next. Once you know what to do, it becomes as natural as using a computer to look at the MMM forum!

Buy the Clymer manual for your car and read the first couple chapters. Then go step-by-step with any repairs. Watch the frustration evaporate and the skillset build. Watch your bank account grow, as well as your other asset base, your skills!

Cowardly Toaster

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2017, 10:36:22 AM »

Yes, to play this game and save these thousands, you really should get good with a wrench. Mustachianism is a "skills-based lifestyle". Anybody can learn this stuff. Most people refuse to. Keep in mind though, frustration is the emotion of not knowing what to do next. Once you know what to do, it becomes as natural as using a computer to look at the MMM forum!

Buy the Clymer manual for your car and read the first couple chapters. Then go step-by-step with any repairs. Watch the frustration evaporate and the skillset build. Watch your bank account grow, as well as your other asset base, your skills!

I've made it through a car repair (including oil changes) without swearing like wounded pirate exactly once. Frustration is normal when fixing cars, just let it happen.

To figure out a repair, it usually goes something like this A) Ask knowledgeable friend to help diagnose the problem, in person, if possible. B) Have knowledgable friend describe repair process and clue me in to tricks C) Refer to Haynes and Chilton manuals. I like to have both around. D) Look on the internet for videos and discussion on the repair. E) Talk to the auto store folks when I go in, but be careful because they steer you wrong sometimes.

If I do all 5 of those things, I know I can effect a repair on my own most times.

cantgrowone

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #39 on: January 11, 2017, 12:19:47 PM »
. . . at what point do you say, "Okay this car needs too much maintenance too often" and give up? . . .

I feel your pain. I have 2 cars. When one breaks I drive the other until I fix the problem. This cycle has gone on for 3.5 years and I'm sick of it.

I'm seriously considering spending $10k (cash) on a 2009 Civic with 90k miles. The thing is, every used car I've bought something broke, big. This will be the newest of the 2 used cars I've bought.

FIRE me

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #40 on: January 11, 2017, 01:09:46 PM »
Last January, I sold my 2014 Altima to get out from under the payments. I bought a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 128k miles. I figured a Toyota Corolla would be pretty freaking reliable, and although I knew it would need some work, I'm getting sick of something always breaking and needing to be back in the shop. Is this something I'm just always going to need to deal with? My driver's side door handle just broke, so I had to crawl over to the passenger side to get out of my car. That sort of put me over the edge, and I'm at my wit's end with this thing.

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this. Venting? Commiseration? Does anybody else deal with constant issues with older cars? Every little noise makes me tense up and wonder if something else is about to break.

Used cars break, no doubt about it. But, even hiring the repairs out, you should come out way ahead over a new car, especially considering the cost of insurance.

Even better, learn to DIY and save a ton of money.

I have a 2002 Ford Taurus with 110k miles that I've now had for two and a half years. I've put about 10,000 miles on the car since I bought it. I think reliability has been worse than average. Here's what has broke on the Taurus in the past two years:

$266 Rear Strut + Sway Bar end link (passenger side) (hired job)
$102 Air Conditioner recharge and leak test (hired job)
$  12  Second Air Conditioner recharge (DIY, shop was unable to find the very slow leak)
$200 Fuel pump replacement (DIY, would have been $700)
$ 20 Rear Sway Bar end link (driver's side) replacement (DIY)
-------
$600   Total

$600  @ 30 months of ownership comes out to $20 per month for repairs (normal maintenance like oil changes not included).

researcher1

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #41 on: January 11, 2017, 02:02:06 PM »
Last January, I sold my 2014 Altima to get out from under the payments. I bought a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 128k miles... and although I knew it would need some work, I'm getting sick of something always breaking and needing to be back in the shop...and I'm at my wit's end with this thing.

This isn't very mustachian, but buying an old beater vehicle instead of a new/newer model just doesn't make sense for many people, including Aprilm. 
I personally would rather buy a new car and keep it for 12 years.

There are many advantages to buying new(er):
 - Longer period with warranty coverage
 - Lower maintenance/repair costs (the 'earliest' miles are the cheapest)
 - Less personal/professional downtime when something breaks (missed work, time with family, ect)
 - Less time & energy spent dealing with repairs (diagnosing, finding parts, getting it fixed, ect)
 - Less wear & tear (dents, scratches, stains)
 - Potential for more safety features
 - Unknown driving patterns & care of the used vehicle

In addition, you have the hassle of churning through cars more frequently when buying used:
 - Selling your old beater car when time comes
 - Searching for a new used car that hasn't been abused
 - The administrative effort of these transactions (tags/title/registration/insurance transfers)

afuera

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #42 on: January 11, 2017, 02:37:00 PM »
I have had my '99 Toyota Corolla since 2007 (looks exactly like this except for more dents: http://www.s2cars.com/toyota/corolla/4821996).  In the decade that I have owned it, the only repairs it has needed beyond regular maintenance is a new starter ($250 at some local garage close to my college) and for the headlights/battery to be rewired (Hubs did this last year when my battery started dying unexpectedly and the lights started flickering, <$100 for parts).  I have had to replace 3 different interior handles after they broke (driver, front passenger, rear passenger) which was inconvenient but inexpenisve.  Its has about 180K miles on it now and runs perfectly without any issues.  Despite its age, it still gets ~35 mpg which I calculated on a few recent fill-ups.
I love this little car and plan on keeping it as long as it keeps running.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 03:23:10 PM by afuera »

JLee

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #43 on: January 11, 2017, 03:05:40 PM »
Last January, I sold my 2014 Altima to get out from under the payments. I bought a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 128k miles... and although I knew it would need some work, I'm getting sick of something always breaking and needing to be back in the shop...and I'm at my wit's end with this thing.

This isn't very mustachian, but buying an old beater vehicle instead of a new/newer model just doesn't make sense for many people, including Aprilm. 
I personally would rather buy a new car and keep it for 12 years.

There are many advantages to buying new(er):
 - Longer period with warranty coverage
 - Lower maintenance/repair costs (the 'earliest' miles are the cheapest)
 - Less personal/professional downtime when something breaks (missed work, time with family, ect)
 - Less time & energy spent dealing with repairs (diagnosing, finding parts, getting it fixed, ect)
 - Less wear & tear (dents, scratches, stains)
 - Potential for more safety features
 - Unknown driving patterns & care of the used vehicle

In addition, you have the hassle of churning through cars more frequently when buying used:
 - Selling your old beater car when time comes
 - Searching for a new used car that hasn't been abused
 - The administrative effort of these transactions (tags/title/registration/insurance transfers)

You say that...But I have a former roommate who had Subaru buy his car back after it spent an extraordinary amount of time at the dealer (lemon law), and my current roommate's CPO Ford spent 5.5 months straight at a dealer.

Meanwhile, we drove my $6000 10yo Mazda. :)

ketchup

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Re: Piece of crap older cars
« Reply #44 on: January 11, 2017, 03:30:19 PM »
Last January, I sold my 2014 Altima to get out from under the payments. I bought a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 128k miles... and although I knew it would need some work, I'm getting sick of something always breaking and needing to be back in the shop...and I'm at my wit's end with this thing.

This isn't very mustachian, but buying an old beater vehicle instead of a new/newer model just doesn't make sense for many people, including Aprilm. 
I personally would rather buy a new car and keep it for 12 years.

There are many advantages to buying new(er):
 - Longer period with warranty coverage
 - Lower maintenance/repair costs (the 'earliest' miles are the cheapest)
 - Less personal/professional downtime when something breaks (missed work, time with family, ect)
 - Less time & energy spent dealing with repairs (diagnosing, finding parts, getting it fixed, ect)
 - Less wear & tear (dents, scratches, stains)
 - Potential for more safety features
 - Unknown driving patterns & care of the used vehicle

In addition, you have the hassle of churning through cars more frequently when buying used:
 - Selling your old beater car when time comes
 - Searching for a new used car that hasn't been abused
 - The administrative effort of these transactions (tags/title/registration/insurance transfers)

You say that...But I have a former roommate who had Subaru buy his car back after it spent an extraordinary amount of time at the dealer (lemon law), and my current roommate's CPO Ford spent 5.5 months straight at a dealer.

Meanwhile, we drove my $6000 10yo Mazda. :)
Due to the bathtub curve, very-slightly-used (~2yo ~40,000 miles) cars are probably the most reliable in absolute terms as they are past the "infant mortality" stage with a long life ahead.

Granted, I say that as someone that's never spent more than a paycheck on a car (and that's not a brag on my salary).