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Car repair philosophy. Anyone think like this?
Old 01-04-2018, 11:57 AM   #1
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Car repair philosophy. Anyone think like this?

My everyday car is a 2003 Subaru with 158,000 miles. I want one of those new $35,000 Subaru's. To keep myself from buying that new car, I spend way more than most would on maintaining the old beauty. In 2016, I spent $950 on new tires and brakes. Most would say that with a blue book of $2,000 it did not make sense to spend that much on repairs.

In 2011, I paid $200 for a Pioneer stereo to replace the original still working Subaru radio. Now in 2018, I am going to pay $200 for a new Kenwood stereo to replace the 6 1/2 year old Pioneer, even though it still works. It just doesn't do as much as the new stereos.

I am also going to have a dent repaired for perhaps a few hundred.

But here is the key: If I spend $500 a year on non-essential things to keep the old car pretty and fun to drive, it will save me $35,000 which may be about $400 or more per month.

Anyone do this?
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:03 PM   #2
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But here is the key: If I spend $500 a year on non-essential things to keep the old car pretty and fun to drive, it will save me $35,000 which may be about $400 or more per month.

Anyone do this?
I spend a lot more than that each year on several cars that are a lot older than yours.

Why, because they look pretty and are fun to drive.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:09 PM   #3
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To each his own, but I gave our 2004 Jeep to our daughter and my wife has kicked me ever since. Even though she gets to dominate the 2014 Jeep with all the bells. Personally, I really like the new technologies on the newer cars. The adaptive cruise control with collision avoidance is worth a lot more than the cost of the vehicle. I am even considering upgrading our 2014 Ram 3500 dually to the new model if it has this feature, even though we love our Jake brake and torque on the newer 2014, they just keep getting better.

But then again, they are just vehicles.....
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:11 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Z3Dreamer View Post

But here is the key: If I spend $500 a year on non-essential things to keep the old car pretty and fun to drive, it will save me $35,000 which may be about $400 or more per month.

Anyone do this?
I don't really spend much on non-essentials, but I do to tend to look at cars as an operating expense. So annually, I'd like to keep that expense down to something reasonable. On older cars I have no problem spending one or two thousand a year on maintenance, since they really aren't costing me that much overall for annual operation. If a big repair comes up, I try to project how much longer I will have the car and how many other big repairs may be coming to decide it is worthwhile.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:16 PM   #5
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You presently have a car that runs, however you may have to cough up some dough for some repair in the future. With a new car, you have to cough up a lot more dough.
I buy gently used, used cars and drive them til the wheels fall off. (Not really.) My best car was a 1984 Blazer that had 454,000 miles on it, and the speedometer cable was broken for a year when I disposed of it.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:21 PM   #6
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Rather than using blue book or whatever, I use the cost of a replacement vehicle to justify expenses to maintain/improve older vehicles. My old beater pickup only has value of $2500 but it would cost me $10k or more for a satisfactory replacement vehicle, so I'll spend about 100% of blue book for maintenance, cosmetic repair and to improve towing capacity. The cosmetic repair is covered by insurance reimbursement, but I could just pocket the check. This approach works better for a utility vehicle.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:23 PM   #7
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I figure that you should base your maximum repair/maintenance cost not on the value of the vehicle you're fixing but on the cost of the vehicle you'd replace it with.

That said, IMO recent technological advances are making the expense of a new car worthwhile.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:23 PM   #8
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I pretty much limit myself to fixing things for safety and reliability on old cars. Kind of wish I had replaced the stereo on my 97 Miata to at least play CDs, but I didn't. I'm afraid if I did something now that'd doom the car.


Newer cars have a lot more safety features like better air bags, blind spot detection, back up mirrors, and more in some cars. I don't like to stay too old with my daily driver. 7-10 years seems to be about my limit.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:24 PM   #9
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My everyday car is a 2003 Subaru with 158,000 miles. I want one of those new $35,000 Subaru's. To keep myself from buying that new car, I spend way more than most would on maintaining the old beauty. In 2016, I spent $950 on new tires and brakes. Most would say that with a blue book of $2,000 it did not make sense to spend that much on repairs.
I wouldn't say that it did not make sense.

You are spending $950 on new tires and brakes (that seems low to me, but whatever), because you need new tires and new brakes, but don't need a new car. That makes perfect sense to me! The blue book value is a sunk cost. The replacement cost is what really matters.

Quote:
In 2011, I paid $200 for a Pioneer stereo to replace the original still working Subaru radio. Now in 2018, I am going to pay $200 for a new Kenwood stereo to replace the 6 1/2 year old Pioneer, even though it still works. It just doesn't do as much as the new stereos.
That might be where our senses diverge.

I tend not to replace things that still work. I would be very unlikely to consider a new stereo as $200 better than a still-working stereo. Your mileage may vary.

Quote:
I am also going to have a dent repaired for perhaps a few hundred.
Most dents I've lived with. Others I have repaired. I'm okay driving a less than pristine car.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:26 PM   #10
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From a strictly dollars and cents perspective, it is almost always better to fix your current car vs buying a new one (or, recent-model used one). But at some point one may want the newer creature comforts, or more importantly the ever changing safety technology.
I sometimes go on relatively long drives just to try out a new bike path. I can do that because I can reasonably trust my car will get me there and back. When a car gets too old that it loses that trust, that would certainly be a deciding factor to get a replacement car, at least for me.
Cars are not investments. They lose value from the get-go. As long as I get reasonable use over a reasonable timeframe, then I'm satisfied. When my roll of toilet paper gets used up, I replace it. I don't think about the cost of the old roll.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:30 PM   #11
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I believe that a new car is generally safer than one 10+ years and therefore the cost of keeping it is much more than $$$$ unless you can not afford a newer one
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:35 PM   #12
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If my car is not reliable. Time to replace. If only used for local errands, and I have a
newer backup vehicle. Will keep.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:35 PM   #13
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I can sympathize. I have an '09 Infiniti that has about 105K miles on it and has given me very little trouble. Over the last year, I have spent about $1,500 on some extensive preventive maintenance, new tires and higher-performance brakes. I would like to keep the car for an extended period of time but recently, some reading on a Infiniti forum gave me pause. (It should be noted that I am retired and drive around 5000 miles a year...the car is NOT a necessity).

Long story short, the engine has a couple of gaskets that are paper. If they fail, the car will report a multitude of check engine codes that would be a dead giveaway of the problem. The gasket(s) are NOT easy to change and even the most seasoned shade tree mechanics suggest "not trying this at home". The cost to have this fixed at a reputable shop is in the neighborhood of $2000-3500 (cost seems highly depended on the shop). The failure rate is unknown and there are no signs of failure until it throws codes. I have talked to my local Infiniti service guy about it and he told me that he is familiar with the issue but hasn't seen it very often. Is he lying to me? I don't really know. At any rate, it forced me to sit down and run some numbers...and they told me that it would it would STILL be cheaper to keep the car. The problem may or may not surface, and if it does, I will have to fork out a good chuck of change to fix it. BUT...it would not be a catastrophic failure and I could be without the car for however long it would take to fix it. The costs of a newer car would still exceed the cost of the repair in a short period of time. So, for me...the math tells me to keep it.

As far as the new technology goes, I am not a fan of it (in my car but for idiot drivers who can't/won't pay attention, I love it!). The last time I had the oil changed, the shop thought I had a coolant leak (I didn't) and gave me a brand new Inifiniti Q60 coupe as a loaner (with an MSRP of $40K+). At first I was very excited to get this sporty car out on the road...but 10 minutes into it...I hated it and wanted my old car back. It had WAY TOO many bells and whistles and just changing the radio station was a pain in the arse. I see why new cars have to have the collision avoidance technology and why I constantly see people "bouncing between the lines" when they drive. They are doing everything but DRIVING THE CAR! So, I am happy to have all the safety stuff in my '09 but I will rely on me paying attention for the collision avoidance.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:47 PM   #14
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I drive a 1976 Monte Carlo, a 1993 F150 and a 2004 Honda CRv. All over 100k miles. I'd say, yes, my philosophy is similar to yours. New cars are ALWAYS more expensive than paying for some repairs.

Full disclosure, my wife does prefer a newer vehicle under 10 years old. She likes having the newer features, whereas I'm fine with a more basic car.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:55 PM   #15
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To me new technology in a car is just more stuff to brake down. I do most of my own maintenance. Unless you are buying crazy expensive tires, $450-500 max, especially if you are driving on crappy roads. Changing a set of brake pads shouldn't cost more than $50 bucks, and the key to all machines is to examine their wear and tear, especially brakes. If you get a soft pad you are going to have more wear, but you are not going to eat up rotors. If you buy the harder pads, you'll get more wear but it's hard on rotors.

As an aside, the independent garage I took my truck for inspection told me a story about a new Ford pickup. It was in for inspection and a turn signal lamp was out. The mechanic changed the bulb, but the light remained out. He changed the bulb several times with the same result. He then called his Ford Factory Service Rep and he laughed, and said he would be over with his laptop to correct the problem. Here, the computer saw a burned out lamp, and the onboard computer sensed it, and shut that circuit off. The rep had to turn it back on via the laptop. Not for me.
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:35 PM   #16
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When did you have the timing belt changed? i have a 2006 forester with 72,000 miles...thinking about having that changed...12 years old even though maintenance for timing belt is 105,000.
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:55 PM   #17
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Our Pickup truck is a 2003 model and the car is a 2006 model, both with just under 100,000 miles. My philosophy is so long as vehicles are well maintained there is no need to trade to new vehicles. I would not be afraid to jump into either vehicle right now and do a cross country trip. When it gets to the point that I question their road-worthiness, or they reach about 15 years of age, it is time to get something newer.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:01 PM   #18
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Between 4/1/1999 and 12/4/2017 I was driving a 1997 f-150. It ran good and was garage kept so it looked good, too. I allocated $1000 a year for maintenance. This November the heater coil went out and my mechanic refused to work on it as the entire dash had to be taken out. If I had someone fix it the cost to repair, ,$1000, mostly for labor.

So I bought a new Honda CRV. This is the first time I haven't owned a truck since 1983. The SUV has all the electronic bells and whistles on it, and I have to remind myself to focus on driving. I do like it.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:08 PM   #19
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When did you have the timing belt changed? i have a 2006 forester with 72,000 miles...thinking about having that changed...12 years old even though maintenance for timing belt is 105,000.
better change it - if it skips a tooth you will be looking for a new one
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:10 PM   #20
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It's not unreasonable, IMO. I held onto my previous car longer than I planned (it turned 16 when it was traded in). It kept running, and I saw that some advanced features I wanted were pretty quickly working their way down to the more mid-priced cars I would buy.

Had I bought 3 years ago, I would not have got a lot of those features, and I'd probably keep that car 10+ years, so that's another 7 years w/o those features.

But also weigh that against getting probably better safety features now, instead of later.

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