Author Topic: Driving Car "Until it Dies"  (Read 12150 times)

Kiwi Mustache

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Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« on: September 01, 2016, 05:18:31 PM »
What does it mean to drive a car until it "dies"?

What is the definition of a dead car and when does it make sense to keep it or replace it?

Capsu78

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2016, 05:24:25 PM »
I have driven a number of cars "last miles".  For me, I make a decision that the next time a vehicle needs $XXX to repair or maintain, I am going to scrap it.  Sometimes its obvious- the timing belt needs replaced and it needs to be towed.
Other times it might be replacing all 4 tires on a car that is living "1000 miles at a time".

Choices

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2016, 05:56:47 PM »
+1 to Capsu78.
I put my last car on hospice--comfort care only--and it lasted another year. Gas, oil changes, and a new battery were okay. When it still wouldn't start after the new battery, I let it go.

I donated it to Cars 4 Kids with full disclosure of its problems, though there are tons of organizations that accept cars even when they don't run. They auction the cars and send you a receipt so you can deduct it from your taxes.


Cassie

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2016, 06:17:59 PM »
When my Volvo that was only worth 2k needed 6k of repairs and was 14yo. Time to let it go:))

MayDay

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2016, 06:42:57 PM »
H had his car towed from his apartment parking lot. I can't remember what needed fixed, but the car was worth maaaaaybe 1000$ when functional. Which it was not. So off it went to the junkyard.

Our other near death car was still running but had a long list of problems. We fully disclosed them all, and sold it for $1000. I still can't believe someone paid for it!

Now we might be getting there with our van. The transmission seems to be slipping. I would really rather have a few months to car shop, but I have a feeling it will fail suddenly. Oh well, I'm not willing to buy a new car now when it might last a year or more!

Rural

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2016, 07:18:38 PM »
 We actually traded in our last vehicle at a little local dealership for a used vehicle. At one point during the negotiations, my husband looked at me and whispered "I'm not sure the car will make it back home!"


 It was worth $500 to $800 that point, we got $1200 on the trade-in (hey, I can look like I'm willing to walk, even if I'm not sure I won't have to actually walk) and we were not willing to spend another $200 to fix the latest problem (a wheel bearing that had just gone bad for the second time in as many months).

ketchup

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2016, 07:53:23 PM »
I recently drove two cars "until they died."  I define car death as catastrophic failure (would require a replacement or rebuild) of engine or transmission, or non-repairable death by collision.

In May, my 1999 Metro died on the highway.  Engine suddenly quit, wouldn't restart no matter what I did (had spark and fuel, starter was clearly trying).  Towed it home.  Turned out something horrible broke internally in the engine, the crank was locked up, and a spark plug was split in half.  Definitely dead. 182,xxx miles.  Sold it for $40.

About a week ago, my 1992 Buick Roadmaster wagon died on a different highway.  Engine started "acting funny" and then promptly overheated.  Oil was full of metal, bearings were essentially gone, really bad knock: engine was toast.  Also definitely dead.  Shop it was towed to quoted $2,600 for a new engine installed.  No thanks.  Definitely dead.  Sold for scrap.  200,775 miles.

Neither car ever left me stranded except for when they died.  We hit a deer in the Buick a year and a half ago at 65mph, but it was "fine" (looked crappy but drove fine) and we kept driving it after replacing a headlight and door glass.  The clutch went out in the Metro last year too (was still driveable but had to start it in gear), but I took care of that myself.  Many would consider either of those events "death," but we paid them no heed and got another year out of each.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2016, 08:25:27 AM »
I recently drove two cars "until they died."  I define car death as catastrophic failure (would require a replacement or rebuild) of engine or transmission, or non-repairable death by collision.
That's about how I see it.  Since I do all my own work, anything less than these three cases is no big deal.  Well, I'll add one more thing to that list:  extensive rust.  I haven't learned how to take care of that yet.

Spork

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2016, 08:56:07 AM »
Short answer:  It costs more to repair than the damn thing is worth. 

Snidely answer: You fill the gas tank to the top and it makes you think you need to re-check the blue book value.

My last auto death was a full on death.  It was a POS truck that I literally traded for a large pizza.  (Honest, I really did.)  I drove it as a farm truck for 8 years.  I even did things that really cost more than the truck was worth.  I put tires on it.  I put a new clutch in it.  At some point it just started declining really fast.  I could start it but I just couldn't get it to drive for crap.  It felt like the timing was off... but it checked out... and no amount of fiddling with the timing made it better.  Whether it jumped time or needed a distributor or ... god knows what.  My last trip home it was crawling... and bucking.   I pulled it into the driveway, walked to the computer and googled "how to donate my car to charity."  The next day it was on the back of a tow truck waving goodbye to me.

dougules

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2016, 11:26:20 AM »
My frivolous answer is that I drive it until the repairs start to mount up to annoyance.  My last car worked just fine, but the door handles broke multiple times, the windshield wipers broke, the upholstery was getting old and starting to tear, and the back door didn't work very well after being backed into.  I got fed and up went out for a new car.  I've had my new car now for just 14 years (and counting).   I'll get rid of it when it becomes a hassle...  or when we hit FIRE and go down to being a 1 car household.   

Mac_MacGyver

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2016, 11:33:46 AM »
I took my car in for its yearly state inspection last week, the repair cost was going to determine if I got rid of the car or not. Its an 02 with 200,000 miles on it. Somehow my car passed inspection so I have perhaps another year unless my car stops working before I need to once again contemplate getting rid of the car.

infogoon

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2016, 11:44:51 AM »
Snidely answer: You fill the gas tank to the top and it makes you think you need to re-check the blue book value.

I used to joke with my wife that I doubled the value of her POS Saturn every time I put my bike in the trunk.

Those Saturns were nice cars, up until GM started playing their stupid badge engineering tricks with the brand. They really were Toyotaesque in both their boring nature and their reliability.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2016, 12:32:24 PM »
I am loving these stories of truly dead cars.

It was a POS truck that I literally traded for a large pizza.  (Honest, I really did.)

This made me laugh out loud.

mwulff

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2016, 12:58:56 PM »
I guess I have several ways of thinking about a dead car.

In my opinion a car dies when (this is with regard to old paid off cars):

1. A catastrophic failure of an expensive component and repairs/replacements costs more than the resale value of the car. Action taken: Sell as parts (or to a junkyard)

2. Fails its inspection and the cost to repair it exceeds the resale value. If DIY is feasible attempt that first otherwise directly to the scrapper

Also accidents and rust can kill them.

Basically when it takes too much money and effort to keep them running. This will vary from person to person. I can personally DIY most repairs on cars, so I can keep them going for much longer than most people.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2016, 02:22:11 PM »
Short answer:  It costs more to repair than the damn thing is worth. 
I'm not sure that I totally agree with that.  I'd consider an expensive repair to a car that was in otherwise good condition if it was cheaper than buying another car.

Spork

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2016, 03:07:03 PM »
Short answer:  It costs more to repair than the damn thing is worth. 
I'm not sure that I totally agree with that.  I'd consider an expensive repair to a car that was in otherwise good condition if it was cheaper than buying another car.

I put a $3000 transmission rebuild into a car that was worth about $3000.  It was a mistake.  I probably wouldn't do it again.  It wasn't cataclysmic, but the rebuild just wasn't "good as new".  I sold it about a year later, both as a trade up for more MPG and because the rebuild warranty was about to go out.   Had it been a manual tranny and had I been FIRE at the time, I might have considered rebuilding it myself.

crazy jane

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2016, 07:21:06 PM »
When the car started on fire in our driveway I knew it was time.

Spork

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2016, 07:24:59 PM »
When the car started on fire in our driveway I knew it was time.

Fun fact:  Mine was in the garage.  I still have it.  I think that was about 1984. 

BrickByBrick

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2016, 08:18:41 PM »
I've currently put about $950 into my car this year, mostly in terms of part replacements/repairs.  It's a 2004 Ford Taurus and it's only worth about $2K at most, but it also only has 166K miles on it.  I'm hoping to get to at least 200K, but the repairs are becoming increasingly frequent (it's actually been a very good car with few issues until recently, and I've had it for over a decade).  At this point though, if I get lucky and $950 is all I have to spend for another year,  that's a pretty cheap way to own a vehicle.

As others have suggested though, it's a throw away car at this point - and if I have an engine issue or some other fix that costs more than $2K in one go I'm probably donating it to charity for the tax write-off and getting a new (used) vehicle.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2016, 08:35:01 PM »
I've currently put about $950 into my car this year, mostly in terms of part replacements/repairs.  It's a 2004 Ford Taurus and it's only worth about $2K at most, but it also only has 166K miles on it.  I'm hoping to get to at least 200K, but the repairs are becoming increasingly frequent (it's actually been a very good car with few issues until recently, and I've had it for over a decade).  At this point though, if I get lucky and $950 is all I have to spend for another year,  that's a pretty cheap way to own a vehicle.

As others have suggested though, it's a throw away car at this point - and if I have an engine issue or some other fix that costs more than $2K in one go I'm probably donating it to charity for the tax write-off and getting a new (used) vehicle.
Out of curiosity, what have you needed to repair on it, and did you DIY or pay a shop to do it?

Mongoose

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2016, 09:30:47 PM »
I recently drove two cars "until they died."  I define car death as catastrophic failure (would require a replacement or rebuild) of engine or transmission, or non-repairable death by collision.
That's about how I see it.  Since I do all my own work, anything less than these three cases is no big deal.  Well, I'll add one more thing to that list:  extensive rust.  I haven't learned how to take care of that yet.

Us too. Except we will make allowances for major engine OR transmission work if we think it is likely to pay off in terms of getting a significant amount of additional miles. Our two daily drivers each currently have over 300k on them. Both have had major engine work to the tune of $3k each once. But, that was at around 100k miles ago and we calculated that we couldn't get a car that wouldn't be likely to need work for ~120k miles for much less than the 3 grand. It's a calculated risk but we got lucky both times. Neither has required much additional work. One however has developed a major problem recently that will likely mean we will not be making any additional repairs on it. We will drive it until it doesn't work well enough to be usable and then sell/donate it.

Our previous car was a Ford Tempo that I picked up with 120k miles on it. We traded it in for around $1000 (paid $850 for it) at 345k miles because it simultaneously had a significantly rusted frame and electric shorts that caused the headlights to work intermittently and occasional random accelerations. Plus the car shut off if you turned left. Once it developed what we considered unacceptably dangerous quirks, it was dumped fast.

SwordGuy

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2016, 09:56:31 PM »
We had a 2006 car with 100,000 miles on it.  It was a salvage title because of hail damage.   

The car was covered with hail pockmarks and one side was also crumpled in a bit.  Various minor stuff not working right.

It needed work (I forget what now) that was going to cost about $4000.   It would soon need another $3000+ work in it just from the mileage and age.

I traded it in for $200.   

I couldn't see pumping $7000 into a car that would be worth less than $1000.


BrickByBrick

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #22 on: September 03, 2016, 04:16:21 PM »
I've currently put about $950 into my car this year, mostly in terms of part replacements/repairs.  It's a 2004 Ford Taurus and it's only worth about $2K at most, but it also only has 166K miles on it.  I'm hoping to get to at least 200K, but the repairs are becoming increasingly frequent (it's actually been a very good car with few issues until recently, and I've had it for over a decade).  At this point though, if I get lucky and $950 is all I have to spend for another year,  that's a pretty cheap way to own a vehicle.

As others have suggested though, it's a throw away car at this point - and if I have an engine issue or some other fix that costs more than $2K in one go I'm probably donating it to charity for the tax write-off and getting a new (used) vehicle.
Out of curiosity, what have you needed to repair on it, and did you DIY or pay a shop to do it?

Mostly I paid a shop, all but one of the issues (replacing the starter, + buying 4 "new" lightly used tires) were out of my wheelhouse (some arcing issue with the spark plugs that destroyed my ignition coil, and trial and error to find two bad sensors that were causing performance issues) and I have been very lucky to find a shop right next to my work that is surprisingly reasonable if not cheap in their labor costs, and they don't mark up part costs (they literally charge maybe a buck or two on top of their cost of parts).  Now that I think about it, were it not for that shop I might be singing a different tune on my car repair costs.

Syonyk

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #23 on: September 03, 2016, 08:11:52 PM »
I used to joke with my wife that I doubled the value of her POS Saturn every time I put my bike in the trunk.

I've driven more than a few vehicles where putting a laptop in them adds a zero to their total value.  And not one of them fancy laptops!  I think I've made grocery runs that were worth more than some of the cars...

Fun fact:  Mine was in the garage.  I still have it.  I think that was about 1984.

RX-7, by chance?

============

I would consider "it dies" being either a catastrophic failure of multiple critical systems, a major engine/transmission problem on a low value vehicle, or severe enough rust that it's becoming a dangerous structural issue.

I've had one car towed to the junkyard because I couldn't get it there under its own power.  The head gaskets had been shot for a few years, the power steering had quit, the brake booster had quit, it had a flat tire (the fix-a-flat I'd had in it for the past 2 years didn't do it anymore), and I think there might have been something else wrong.  This on a car I paid $250 for and drive for quite a few years, turned into an art car, loaned to a friend, got back, worked on... it was well and truly done.  I think the transmission still worked, though!

Otherwise, everything else I've sold off in running condition to other people. :)

ketchup

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2016, 08:22:48 PM »
I used to joke with my wife that I doubled the value of her POS Saturn every time I put my bike in the trunk.

I've driven more than a few vehicles where putting a laptop in them adds a zero to their total value.  And not one of them fancy laptops!  I think I've made grocery runs that were worth more than some of the cars...

I knew a guy a with a really old beater Jeep in terrible condition.  He'd never put in more than $20 in gas, because he'd be upset if it finally died with more than $20 in the tank.  It ended up lasting about a year after he started doing that.

My maximum disparity between a vehicle value and vehicle cargo I estimate at about $4,000.  Two cameras, one fancy lens, and one less fancy lens, in a $700 car.


Syonyk

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2016, 08:32:06 PM »
If it dies with gas in the tank, you drain that stuff before you get it towed!  Seriously.

... I've drained gas out of a car before it went to the junkyard before.  A friend bought a car from me, didn't take care of it, and offered me parts stripping rights before it went to the junkyard.  I pulled almost everything of value out of that car (I had a fleet of nearly identical Subarus at the time), to include nearly 10 gallons of gas.  I got at least 9 of them in my tank (pouring out of a 5 gallon bucket into a funnel is hard).

slowsynapse

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2016, 08:43:01 PM »
I think the death equation of costs more for repairs than car is worth is a good guide.  Unless you think that one repair will make the car last another year, which of course it won't usually.

I also have a "this car makes me sad to get into" definition of auto death.  This rule is harder to define.  It is kind of like the definition of pornography; I cannot always explain it but I know it when I see it.

Spork

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2016, 06:23:21 AM »
Fun fact:  Mine was in the garage.  I still have it.  I think that was about 1984.

RX-7, by chance?



TR6.  A combination of one of the carbs leaking gas and a starter that arced between two parts of the housing.  It didn't get too far before I got the fire out.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2016, 07:01:42 AM »
Needing to replace the engine is not definitely a death sentence - depends on the value of the car.  My 2010 Mazda3's engine self-destructed, and I was offered $12,000 trade-in at the dealer.  Nope, their service department* found me a nearly new engine and the car is going fine 2 years later.

If the car had been ancient, it would have been a different story.


*Small town dealer, great service department, reasonable prices.

MrsPete

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2016, 11:04:24 AM »
I put my last car on hospice--comfort care only--and it lasted another year. Gas, oil changes, and a new battery were okay. When it still wouldn't start after the new battery, I let it go.
That's a great phrase! 

Our last two cars have lasted a full two years more than we expected -- two years more without paying.  We've driven them until they encountered an expense that just didn't make sense; for one, for example, it was a cracked engine block.  You don't pay for a cracked engine block in a car that is literally worth zero.

Rubic

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Re: Driving Car "Until it Dies"
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2016, 06:51:42 AM »
I purchased a 1994 Saturn for $200.  Had the shop replace the transmission with a
rebuilt one for $700, and drove it for 5 years (last 4 with no A/C).  When the engine
finally died, I sold it for scrape + towing out of my driveway for $25.

I'm currently driving a Chevy Malibu with 260K miles that I purchased for $500.  If I'm
lucky, I may get another 6 months of life out of it and will have owned the car for
about 2 years.  I'm hoping to go car-free afterwards for a while.