Author Topic: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?  (Read 1724 times)

MoStache

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What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« on: March 26, 2018, 09:07:24 PM »
So I'm bringing my car in to my favorite mechanic next week and I want to be prepared to make a decision when he gets back to me with an estimate for repairs.  I really like the car and it still runs pretty well but I want to have a number in mind as to whether I should fix it up or sell it for cheap and get something else.

Pertinent details...
 - The vehicle is a 2006 Toyota Highlander with 255k miles. 
 - I bought the car new and I've been pretty good with regular maintenance (oil changes, etc) over the years. 
 - I have about $3,000 available to fix this car or put towards purchasing a "new to me" vehicle along with whatever I can get for the Highlander.
 - The issues with the Highlander are 1) very bouncy suspension.  likely needs at least new rear struts. 2) feels like the tail end is fishtailing back and forth on the highway 3) very difficult to turn sometimes when just starting out when it's wet. 4) sometimes there a clattering noise when I turn 90 degrees.
 
It seems like 250k miles is a lot but I've heard so many stories about Toyota's "running forever", and my Highlander has given me so few problems, I wouldn't be surprised if it went another 100k.

I would love to get feedback as to the max you would spend for repairs given my situation...

Thanks in advance!

sokoloff

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2018, 09:17:47 PM »
1 and 2 may be related/the same thing, and 3 & 4 are hard to understand from just your text.

Looking on rockauto, the struts are around $100ea, and it's probably 2-3 hours labor to change a pair on the rear, so that's likely a $500 job. If it's just that, I think it's a no brainer to fix and keep. I'd be hard-pressed to spend over $4000 on the car, as that's about half of what it's worth, but if you really like it and think the rest of the car is in good shape, I'd have no qualms spending that much. (I'm also the guy who keeps my own cars sometimes one repair too long, which isn't disastrous as I do my own work, so the labor is "free", but even with that, you can take it too far.)

Lmoot

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2018, 03:00:19 AM »
Holy moly 250k miles seems like a lot for a 2006. I have around 150k on a 2003 Accord, and I plan on getting a new vehicle when I hit 250k  or when major fixes Iíve previously done, start coming back around for round 2.

I am all down for driving cars into the ground, but it sounds like this vehicle has been driven hard in its 12 year life.

Gone Fishing

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2018, 04:45:38 AM »
Unless you can get it fixed for less than $500-$700, which I doubt, I'd put the money towards a new (used) car.  Mid 200k miles is about my limit for a Honda or Toyota, before they start to eat you up with miscellaneous repairs. 

If all you use it for is a short commute/errands, you might hang in there a little longer, but we put on a lot of highway, out of town miles, and road trip breakdowns are very inconvenient.

Your $3000 could get you 30-40% of the way to a very decent used car.  Add in the $1-2k of salvage value on the Highlander and you are halfway there.  Something that gets better gas milage would be great.  Only downsides are higher insurance and taxes on the higher value replacement.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2018, 05:12:58 AM »
At over 250k miles, even a Toyota's engine, transmission, and other drive train parts are living on borrowed time.  So in the near future you could be looking at another $3k or so to replace the engine and $2k or so to replace the transmission. 

That said, it is almost always less expensive to replace parts on an old car than to buy another car, as long as the body and frame are still in good shape.  But the hassle factor associated with major breakdowns and frequent repairs is not something I would want to deal with on my main car.  I have an old truck that is in the replacing things a piece at a time stage, but I only drive it about 1,000 miles a year, so it's not a big deal if it is out of commission for a few weeks at a time.  But our main car is our daily transportation, and that sort of situation would be untenable with it.

BuildingmyFIRE

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2018, 07:03:12 AM »
I have a 2008 Highlander with 120K miles on it and I love it to death.  If I were to get a new-to-me Highlander, even one that was a few years old, it would still cost upwards of $20K+.  I don't know if you would replace it with another SUV or a more compact vehicle, but if you need the capacity that a Highlander provides, you're looking at a big money sink (not just on the purchase, but also on taxes and insurance).

If you love your 2006 Highlander and its not giving you major problems, I am inclined to tell you to keep it for now and see how it does after the repairs.  I'm also of the opinion that internal combustion vehicles will almost certainly become largely obsolete technology in the next ten years or so, but there aren't enough economical electric options just yet, so if you can hold out a little longer without buying a new gas powered vehicle that would be optimal.

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2018, 02:57:50 PM »
Unless you can get it fixed for less than $500-$700, which I doubt, I'd put the money towards a new (used) car.  Mid 200k miles is about my limit for a Honda or Toyota, before they start to eat you up with miscellaneous repairs. 

If all you use it for is a short commute/errands, you might hang in there a little longer, but we put on a lot of highway, out of town miles, and road trip breakdowns are very inconvenient.

Your $3000 could get you 30-40% of the way to a very decent used car.  Add in the $1-2k of salvage value on the Highlander and you are halfway there.  Something that gets better gas milage would be great.  Only downsides are higher insurance and taxes on the higher value replacement.

Just waiting until I have enough saved for a "decent used car" isn't an option.  The Highlander feels rather unsafe to drive as it is and my income situation is volatile (it may take me 6-12 months or more to save that money).

That said, part of the reason for fixing the car at all right now would be to go on a road trip.  Nothing too crazy, just 500 miles round trip.  What do you do when your car breaks down on a road trip?

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2018, 03:06:55 PM »
I don't know if you would replace it with another SUV or a more compact vehicle, but if you need the capacity that a Highlander provides, you're looking at a big money sink (not just on the purchase, but also on taxes and insurance).

I don't really need an SUV.  I would probably be just as happy with a Prius (with hatchback).  I could even do a Corolla if I had to.

My main goal is to get the most reliable vehicle I can with the $3k + current condition of my Highlander.  Going above that budget isn't a reality.

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2018, 03:10:01 PM »
Perhaps another option...  Sell the Highlander as is and buy an old Corolla with the money I get from it.  Rent a car when I want to take the occasional road trip.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2018, 06:38:36 PM »
According to Edmunds, your highlander is worth about $1,000 - $1,500, so you have about $4k to play with.  That will buy you another worn out beater.  Maybe it would be best to pay for the minimum amount of repairs it takes to keep the Highlander safe and roadworthy, then save like hell so you can buy a less worn out car (hopefully before the Highlander needs more expensive repairs).

Monkey Uncle

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2018, 06:41:19 PM »
What do you do when your car breaks down on a road trip?

You suck it up and pay whatever it takes to get it fixed well enough to get it home.  If you think that's a good possibility, you might want to rent for road trips.

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2018, 04:33:50 PM »
So...  this might make the decision for me.  I slid on a patch of ice last night and clipped a car from behind.  Any thoughts on if this is worth fixing now?  If not, how can I get SOME money for it?

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2018, 05:37:46 PM »

Reynolds531

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2018, 05:40:56 PM »
Your insurance may write off the Toyota and cut you a fat cheque. Don't mention suspension issues, they wouldn't like you driving like that.

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2018, 07:55:46 PM »
Your insurance may write off the Toyota and cut you a fat cheque. Don't mention suspension issues, they wouldn't like you driving like that.

I wish!  I switched to only liability a few months ago.


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Monkey Uncle

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2018, 04:46:09 AM »
So...  this might make the decision for me.  I slid on a patch of ice last night and clipped a car from behind.  Any thoughts on if this is worth fixing now?  If not, how can I get SOME money for it?

Unless you're capable of doing the body work yourself, my opinion is that it is not worth fixing.  Body work is crazy expensive.

You could try selling it on Craigslist to someone who is looking for a parts car or a fixer upper.

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2018, 07:31:23 PM »
Unless you're capable of doing the body work yourself, my opinion is that it is not worth fixing.  Body work is crazy expensive.

You could try selling it on Craigslist to someone who is looking for a parts car or a fixer upper.

Will I get anything for it at a scrap/junk yard?

sokoloff

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2018, 07:36:38 PM »
Will I get anything for it at a scrap/junk yard?
Sure, but you'll almost surely do better on craigslist or a local pennysaver-type car ad magazine. The fender, bumper, and headlamp assembly are bolt ons. That doesn't look like that much work for a skilled bodyworker to put right. Paint is expensive because paint is a lot of labor hours. Someone just looking for a cheap, reliable car might be willing to drive around with the bumper cut and a primered fender (or a used fender).\

You could also try a classified listing on Ebay.

Rule of thumb: the easier is it for you, the less money you're going to get.

MoStache

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2018, 04:57:56 PM »
Sure, but you'll almost surely do better on craigslist or a local pennysaver-type car ad magazine. The fender, bumper, and headlamp assembly are bolt ons. That doesn't look like that much work for a skilled bodyworker to put right. Paint is expensive because paint is a lot of labor hours. Someone just looking for a cheap, reliable car might be willing to drive around with the bumper cut and a primered fender (or a used fender).\

You could also try a classified listing on Ebay.

Rule of thumb: the easier is it for you, the less money you're going to get.

Suggestions on what I should list this for on Craigslist?

Monkey Uncle

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Re: What's the max I should invest in my 2006 Highlander?
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2018, 06:38:18 PM »
Use the calculators on Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and NADA, and pick the worst condition category available.  That probably won't be quite accurate, because those sites don't quote cars that are not drivable, but it should give you an general starting point.