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Retirement Cars
Old 05-24-2008, 09:18 PM   #1
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Retirement Cars

I own a 1994 chevy cavalier with 100k that the transmission is going out on. The engine is good and does not burn any oil. Should I have the transmission rebuilt or should I get another used car? Which used cars are cheap to run in retirement? What have you had good luck with that is cheap?
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Old 05-24-2008, 09:42 PM   #2
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I've been a fan of Consumer Reports for decades. They do a survey of subscribers every year about car reliability.

$20 gets you the info online, or the April issue at the library is free.

ConsumerReports.org - Find Product Reviews and Ratings from Consumer Reports

If it was me, I'd junk the Cavalier. Overhauling/replacing the transmission (if that's what it needs) will almost certainly cost more than the car is worth. It might be worth doing a fluid change if it hasn't been done yet (assuming automatic transmission) and see what happens. Automatics generally call for a fluid change and filter cleaning at 100k miles so if you're lucky that might be all that ails it.
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Old 05-24-2008, 09:45 PM   #3
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Nords had/has a Taurus station wagon, maybe he'll see this and chine in.

I'd recommend you get a copy of the Consumer Reports Auto Issue (April? It will be in the library) and look for reliable used cars.

The cars that are cheap to run in retirement are the same ones that are cheap to run when you are working. The only difference might be the amount of driving you'll be doing. To me, because I do so little driving and spend so little time in the car, it makes little sense to spend a lot of money to get a nice one. I'm very happy with my '86 Toyota Camry (32 MPG, mid-grade gas).

You Cavalier isn't going to bring much when you sell it, especially with a bad transmission. It is a run of the mill American car, and will have more maintenance issues than the typical used Honda or Toyota of the same age. Now, if it is in good shape (otherwise), and if you like the car, and you won't be driving very much, it actually might make sense to fix the transmission. Either go to a place that offers a very long warranty and get the tranny rebuilt or consider getting a used transmission from a junkyard (this will be a lot cheaper, but you'll have no warranty).
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Old 05-24-2008, 09:50 PM   #4
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Consumer reports is great.

I bought my Camry Solara new eight years ago and it hasn't ever needed any repairs. Just gas, oil, tires, battery, brake pads, and scheduled maintenance, all of which add up to very little. I plan to drive it in retirement and to replace it with another new Solara when I feel like it. I have no reason to think a used Camry or Camry Solara wouldn't be just as reliable if you prefer (but I prefer buying new).
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Old 05-25-2008, 02:49 AM   #5
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I would say the car is a throw away.... don't put much money into it...

Have the fluid changed and see if they can 'tighten' what needs to be tightened... then drive it until it won't go anymore....

Sell or donate what is left....

Even if it was a Honda or Toyota, I would give the same advice, but a Chevy Not a chance....

BTW, if you do want to do it... call around... I had one done on a 85 Cougar awhile back... most people quoted me in the $1500 range to rebuild it... but I called and found a place that rebuilds off junked cars and then installs them... so you car is not 'down' while it is being rebuilt and they could do it as an assembly line.... cost me $750.... installed, with a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty
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Old 05-25-2008, 02:59 AM   #6
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I would not spend much on an old car with over 100k miles on it.

I would likely replace it. Using Consumer Reports is a good idea. You can usually go to a book store and get the latest car guide.

I am in the same situation. I have a car that is 97, that has 120k on it. THe maintenance costs are a little high, but not so much that I am going to dump it just yet.

I am going to try to wait for another year or two to see how the new hybrids work out.
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:03 AM   #7
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Was in a similar situation like yours. Mine was blown head gasket instead of transmission, car was in good shape otherwise. Very iffy if putting any money in it at all was the right thing to do. IIRC it was around 125k miles.

Bottom line: Sold it on Ebay to highest bidder at $800 with the auction stating it needed a head gasket at a minimum, however, one could come view as needed before auction closed. Guy bought it, fixed it and emailed me later saying what a deal he got. So, it was a win-win.

Just another path to think about......

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Old 05-25-2008, 11:08 AM   #8
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I am going to try to wait for another year or two to see how the new hybrids work out.
While the OP does not have the option of waiting that long, I agree with Chinaco. I would love a hybrid, and I would love a Honda.....

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUST14865920080525?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChann el=0&sp=true
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Old 05-25-2008, 12:22 PM   #9
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I'm not in the market for a hybrid, nor will I be anytime soon (since I only fill my gas tank every month and a half due to not driving much). But if I needed a hybrid, I'd be pretty alert these days.

I noticed that Nords said the Prius is hard to find in Honolulu, and on the news last night a local Toyota dealer said they have to put them on backorder since they have none on the lots here, either.

I am thinking that if oil continues to spiral upwards in price, hybrids may become more difficult to find and more expensive to purchase than they are today.
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Old 05-25-2008, 01:05 PM   #10
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I own a 1994 chevy cavalier with 100k that the transmission is going out on.
First off, 100k is not very many miles on a vehicle today. I have two vehicles, a 1992 Caravan with 156k miles and a 1999 Town & Country (that I just drove over 6,000 miles from Denver to Fort Lauderdale and back) with 120k on the odometer. I fully expect to put many more miles on each of these vehicles -- the Caravan in town and the Town & Country for out-of-town trips. (On the other hand, we just ordered a new Roadtek 210V to be delivered in a couple weeks so the T & C may be dispensable.)

Anyway, I have these two vehicles serviced every 3,000 mile and have had no break downs on either -- the fuel pump did need replaced on the Caravan at 100k, however. On the other hand, the Caravan is starting to show some wear & tear on the interior and I do miss modern conveniences but it gets close to 30 MPG so I am of mixed emotions about keeping it. The T & C (which cost over $35,000 new), by the way, has averaged 21 MPG over the 120, 000 miles -- according to the on-board computer.

Like a couple of others have suggested, I suspect, at 100k, your vehicle has gone too far past the recommended Transmission Filter change -- see your owner's manual. If the vehicle is in, all other respects, good shape and you don't mind the trade-off of "old car/new money," then I say do what you can to rescue it.
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Old 05-25-2008, 01:22 PM   #11
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Picked up an '05 Caddy SRX with 35K on eBay a few months ago.

Original list at $55k. I got it at bid $20k.

Was purchased from a Caddy dealer (off lease, at 35k) with a 6 year bumper to bumper warranty (till Nov 2010).

Of course, I could not "afford to drive it" if I was still work*ing, but I'm retired, drive less than 200 miles/month. It has the Northstar engine and mileage around town is only 13.5.

However, it's a great car and I enjoy it, regardless of if it makes "sense" to own ...

Oh, BTW my "other car" is an '02 Mustang GT convertable. Purchased it new (custom ordered from the factory) and currently have 16k on it. When I worked, I used it on a "sunday" (e.g. a day that the sun was shining ). However, since last year's inspection (I retired last year) I only put on 950 miles.

No, I won't get rid of it (till I can't depress the clutch anymore). It represented what I "gave up" in my earlier life. It stays in the garage (my DW can't drive standard shift) and will probably be sold with the estate.

- Ron
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Old 05-25-2008, 03:26 PM   #12
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My opinion:

(1) If you want to buy new look at something like a Civic or Corolla, but

(2) If you want used and want to optimize the overall cost look at something 2-4 years old from the big 3.

My feeling is that Japanese cars still have less maintenance issues on average that those from the big 3 but the quality gap has narrowed. Both Japanese cars and US cars have steadily improved over the last 20 years but the current cost difference between used Japanese and US cars reflects the quality differences of 10-20 years ago not today.

For example you can get a used Taurus at the local Hertz rental place for less than $10k whereeas a Camry may cost $14-15k. I think that difference favors the Taurus. Kind of like a value stock.

Of course you have to take this with a grain of salt because except for a Ford that I got from FIL just a couple of months ago I haven't owned a big 3 car since 1979.

MB
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Old 05-25-2008, 03:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rec7 View Post
I own a 1994 chevy cavalier with 100k that the transmission is going out on. The engine is good and does not burn any oil. Should I have the transmission rebuilt or should I get another used car? Which used cars are cheap to run in retirement? What have you had good luck with that is cheap?
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Nords had/has a Taurus station wagon, maybe he'll see this and chine in.
We rebuilt what was left of our transmission at 60K and it cost almost $3500 three years ago. Great work and it's been trouble-free, but I wouldn't spend that money on a car with that mileage. If you know how to rebuild a transmission you might get that price down to a few hundred $$, but you may also prefer to have a life.

Automotive technology has also taken a huge step forward since 1994. OBDII is far more common, almost everybody gets ABS, traction control, and better brake pads as standard equipment, engine control with electronic fuel injection & variable valve timing is much more automated, and there are more/better safety features. Paint jobs and plastic trim last longer, even with Fords.

I think the weakest component of a modern car is the air conditioning.

We love our Prius but it's hard to go wrong with any Nissan, Honda, or Toyota sedan.
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Old 05-25-2008, 04:05 PM   #14
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I bet you could get an incredible deal on a new car today....
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Old 05-25-2008, 04:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rec7 View Post
I own a 1994 chevy cavalier with 100k that the transmission is going out on. The engine is good and does not burn any oil. Should I have the transmission rebuilt or should I get another used car? Which used cars are cheap to run in retirement? What have you had good luck with that is cheap?
In my neck of the woods a 94 Cavalier would sell for 1-3K and a transmission rebuild from a good shop would cost 2 - 3K. If you want to drive a 94 Cavalier, it's a toss up, otherwise..........

Here, if you are mechanically inclined and can do it yourself, you can buy a guaranteed good used trans for a Cavalier for $50 - $200. Add some miscellaneous parts and the job <$500, worth doing.
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Old 05-25-2008, 05:30 PM   #16
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As others have mentioned you should check out Consumers Report. You will want the Used Car Buying Guide which covers 266 cars & SUVs. Cost is only $10 and they have a copy of it in our library. The frequency of repair information is really important and better then asking individuals.

We're giving an '02 Camry to our son and buying a new Camry Hybrid in color red . He's going to sell his '94 Camry after that. He's getting a good deal.
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Old 05-27-2008, 05:36 AM   #17
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I bet you could get an incredible deal on a new car today....
Yes, it is a "buyer's market" for a lot of things today... especially houses and vehicles.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/27/bu...pagewanted=all

"The first car up for sale was a 2007 Lincoln MKZ luxury sedan with leather seats, which had been repossessed by a local credit union. But there were no bids. So Mr. Dunn lowered the starting price again and again.
At long last, somebody bid $13,200 for the car. Sold? Sure. But at roughly $10,000 below its Kelley Blue Book value. "

There was also an article I read a couple days ago about (for example) $150k RVs being reduced to $120k in order to move them.
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:24 AM   #18
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I think the used car "bargains" may be better right now with institutional sellers (esp crediti unions/banks, but possibly even dealers/rental fleets) than with individual sellers. Joe Sixpack seems to have an emotional attachment to that 2002 Suburban and believes he'll find a buyer to eek out that extra $500 in sale price. The institutional sellers "get it": they know the gas hogs are a PITA to sell and have aggressively cut prices to move them.

No stats to back that up, just based on looking at the newspaper ads.
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Old 05-27-2008, 11:42 AM   #19
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If you want a large SUV or large truck,you have the best buyers market maybe EVER. You WILL PAY for a fuel efficient car, but if you are trading in, they will give you stupid money for your fuel efficient car no matter what you're buying.......
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Old 05-27-2008, 08:05 PM   #20
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Buy a used Toyota, they have & are serving us well.2000Sienna at 165K, 1999Corolla at 103K, 2002Camry at 106K. Use Amsoil of 25yrs, it runs & makes the Engine a Lot longer.Goog Luck
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