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Tempted by a new car
Old 03-24-2011, 09:04 AM   #1
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Tempted by a new car

Current car (mazda) is 8 years old with 80k miles. Generally its mechanically sound but a couple of things have popped up that are getting to about $1000 to repair. Also the suspension has gotten really noisy and the dealer says there's not much they can do about it. I can certainly drive this car another 1-2 years but don't feel like I'm going to keep it past 100k. Carmax offered to buy the mazda for $5,500.

I drove the Accord and CR-V but I have to admit I like the Acura TSX the best, at under $30k (similar offerings from Lexus are over $35k). No question that I can afford it, but I also know that new cars are just holes in the ground you throw money into. Like the Accord, the TSX holds its value too well so buying used doesn't make sense.

There's no question that paying $1000 to fix the mazda and driving it for another year is cheaper than buying a luxury car. But I'm getting to the point where additional investments in the mazda feel like throwing money away. Would be nice to have the additional safety features (6 airbags vs. 2) and other comforts from the newer car.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:52 AM   #2
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I say take the Mazda in and have everything fixed, have it detailed inside and out and have some new car smell air fresheners hung from the rear view mirror.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:52 AM   #3
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The last car I bought was a "program" car. The local dealer picked it up for me at the Ford company auction. It had been used by a Ford Motor Credit employee who put 6,000 miles on it. I saved about $5,000 that way.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:57 AM   #4
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I just went over to the Acura site to check it out - nice looking car. Just before I closed the page DW walked into my office and asked me what heck was I doing looking at new cars....doh!

My honda has 100k miles and it's still going strong, I just repair it as needed, hoping to get 150k+.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:13 AM   #5
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We bought a new 2009 Acura TSX for my wife, replacing her 96 Camry which had 145k miles on it. The Acura is very nice. We got the Tech Package...everything total was $32k with NYS taxes, plates, etc. We paid cash. I highly recommend the car.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:21 AM   #6
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You know you want this car, and if you don't buy it this year, you'll buy it in the next year or two. It seems to me that the only decision here is not IF you should buy it, but when.

Your repair bills will vanish if you are driving a new car. Also, with inflation on the horizon, and with Toyota's quake-related problems, prices of all cars may increase in the next few years.

I think you should go for it. You can afford it, you want it, and it's time.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:26 AM   #7
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The key here is understanding that if you can afford it and you want it, you are purchasing pleasure.

Last year I also replaced an aging but functional vehicle with a more expensive one. It has all kinds of bells and whistles. I could have either fixed the old rig or purchased a cheaper replacement; either solution would have solved my transportation issues.

I still smile when I settle into my comfortable heated seats and turn on the fancy radio. I bought a little personal pleasure. I worked hard for it and this is how I choose to spend my dough... no guilt. Ok... not much, anyway.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:45 AM   #8
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I know a couple mechanics, they are not very high on Mazdas at all, lost of "little things" that cost lots of money. One thing about Acura, they are reliable as heck, look good and not dated over time, and you can drive them forever..........

My next car is the TSX wagon, but not for a few years..........
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:01 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by soupcxan View Post
Current car (mazda) is 8 years old with 80k miles. Generally its mechanically sound but a couple of things have popped up that are getting to about $1000 to repair. Also the suspension has gotten really noisy and the dealer says there's not much they can do about it. I can certainly drive this car another 1-2 years but don't feel like I'm going to keep it past 100k. Carmax offered to buy the mazda for $5,500.
Without a car crisis driving the agenda, you have the perfect opportunity to stalk Craigslist & AutoTrader for a few months and pick up a real score. Nothing moves the negotiations along faster than a diffident attitude of "Well, thanks, I think I'll just keep driving my beater Mazda for a few more months and see what else comes along."

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I still smile when I settle into my comfortable heated seats...
The only flaw in that image is living in a climate that makes heated seats a good thing...
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:26 AM   #10
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My honda has 100k miles and it's still going strong, I just repair it as needed, hoping to get 150k+.

And that is a low estimate
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:59 AM   #11
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My next car is the TSX wagon, but not for a few years..........
That is a good point, if we decide to start a family in the next year or two I don't know if I would regret this...on the other hand, it's not like buying a coupe that is totally impractical, and DW's car is also going to be due for a replacement.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:10 PM   #12
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Current car (mazda) Also the suspension has gotten really noisy and the dealer says there's not much they can do about it.
I think the dealership is trying to sell you a new car. Apart from the frame, essentially all parts on a vehicle can be replaced. It's a question of "cost", not a question of "can". If you want to get an idea of the cost to fix (i.e. quiet) your suspension, you should consult an independent mechanic (perhaps even several, to get multiple bids). The fix could be as simple as a little grease placed in/around a few bushings, or as complicated as rebuilding the front-end. FWIW, I recently had a reputable mechanic rebuild my '00 dodge pickup's front end for around $1500 (parts + labor).
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:20 PM   #13
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A few points for discussion.

1) Just the interest on the difference between a new Acura ($30k) and the existing Mazda ($5.5k) @ 4% is around $1000 per year. It's more if you consider the opportunity cost on the long term (investment) growth of that money.

2) The sales tax on the new car alone would pay for any needed repairs on the Mazda.

3) The choice is not only between the old Mazda and the new Acura. There are a whole spectra of new and used cars between the existing Mazda and the new Acura. Each new or used car fits particular price points and quality levels.

4) Cars don't quit at any particular mileage level. Engines and transmissions can be rebuilt. Pretty much everything can be repaired.

5) Buying a new car is almost always an emotional or personal decision. It almost never makes economic sense to buy a new car.

6) But Oh that new car smell !
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:24 PM   #14
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I try to have DW buy a new car after 8 years simply to avoid the hassle of a car that is getting less dependable rather quickly as it ages. I'm willing to spend something for that benefit, though in my experience 8 years seems more like a break-even cost point for our cars than a lifestyle choice. If you can afford the TSX and feel it's worth the money, go for it.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:07 PM   #15
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Acura has .9% factory financing right now on new cars. My daughter just bought one last weekend. .9% APR is pretty sweet--it doesn't make sense to put your cash into it, unless you are making less than .9%.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:10 PM   #16
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The last car I bought was a "program" car. The local dealer picked it up for me at the Ford company auction. It had been used by a Ford Motor Credit employee who put 6,000 miles on it. I saved about $5,000 that way.
Ditto...however that car might have been a rental. That's not always a bad thing, but might lower your warranty. But to me it was worth the big price discount for an essentially new car with lots of warranty.

The TSX is based on the euro Accord and is very well rated. I have owned a TL a couple of model types ago and it was a good car and Honda/Accura stood by it, but then I didn't have any problems to 100k miles when I sold it. I still see it from time to time 6 years later with the same person I sold it to driving it to work.

My wife also just returned a Lexus IS250 AWD. Very nice looking car, but overall we were disappointed and not likely to buy a Lexus again. After owning a few german cars (BMW/Audi), I'm partial to the germans.

But in the case of the TSX, I believe it is good value for the money. However, keeping the Mazda would be the cheaper route to take...but its not all about money and a TSX is certainly not an extravagant car.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:22 PM   #17
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Part of the irritation factor with the mazda are things like this - one headlight starts working intermittently. If you bang on it, it works for a while. I replaced the bulb but the short seems to be inside the headlight assembly which can only be replaced as a whole unit (which is a couple hundred bucks just for the part, and to replace it you have to take the bumper off, which adds more labor, etc.). Now it's totally dead and driving with one headlight is just not safe. So we could be talking about $750 all-in just to fix the light. Even at an independent shop it seems like it could cost close to $500 for parts and labor.

I think I could accept the cost better if it were a wear and tear item (a water pump, a timing belt, etc.) but the light just sits there. Why is it shorting out? I don't live in a damp climate!
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:28 PM   #18
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That is a good point, if we decide to start a family in the next year or two I don't know if I would regret this...on the other hand, it's not like buying a coupe that is totally impractical, and DW's car is also going to be due for a replacement.

If you are getting ready to start a family I would buy a slightly larger car .
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:34 PM   #19
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Are you FIREd? If not, I would fix up the car and drive it until repairs become no longer cost-effective. $1,000 (even a year!) is a drop in the bucket compared to buying a new car.

If you are FIREd and it fits in your annual spending budget, go for it!

That's the mantra of this board, isn't it?

There are lots of things I can think of that are "nicer" than what I currently have, but none are worth postponing my FIRE schedule. You have to make your own choice.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:36 PM   #20
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Are you FIREd?
I'm approaching 30. If I were FIRE'd I wouldn't care about the suspension noises because I wouldn't be driving anywhere, and I'd have the time to fix the dang headlight myself.
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