the economics of continually buying worn out, old beater cars

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My neighbor keeps buying these old, worn out beaters. He's been through about 5 or 6 in the past 2 years. They're always FWD GM cars, usually with the 3100, 3300, or 3400 V6 engines. They always have like at least
120K or up to 170K miles, are at least 10 years old, and they always cost around $1500-$2000 (he doesn't negogiate well). The pattern is always the same. After he buys it, a month or so goes by, and then something major happens to it (because of its age and because he's hard on cars). And it costs $500 to fix it. Then another few months goes by, and then something else major happens to his car, another $500 -- maybe more or less. Then the car invariably blows up totally and becomes a 3000 pound paperweight. Then other expenses occur -- several towing bills at about $100 a pop per year (he doesn't believe in AAA), missing work a few days per year, gas to drive his huge gas guzzling old GMC truck for a week or so before buying another car or fixing the present one. It costs him $150/week in gas to commute with his old GMC truck (he works far away). Plus, he's stressed and has almost gotten into some accidents over mechanical problems -- slipping trannies, bad brakes, etc.. So I figure he's out about $6000-$8000/annually on these clunkers and their repair, about $600 per month, averaged out. I suggested that he go down and finance himself a nice new car or nearly new car for $200/month. His credit is good. "I can't afford it", he said!!!!!!!! Then you try to tell him, he's already out more than that per month on the clunkers, but his eyes glaze over. Then I say no more, not wanting to pry into his personal matters too much more than I have already done so.
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Different side of the coin. If you can find a 100K-150K mileage vehicle that gets good gas mileage, small (definitely not a truck) that's had regular maintenance through its life, it can be more economical in fuel costs/maintenance/repairs/collision and comprehensive and liability insurance combined costs vice a current vehicle. These are not usually domestic vehicles, and repair costs do hurt alot because of parts costs. Overall, its less expensive. Sometimes, very much so. It is a bigger gamble in any respect with a used vehicle. Takes some shopping and mechanical knowledge to get a good one, and some luck not knowing how the vehicle was driven in the past.
--
Jonny



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I have had relatively good luck buying late model high mileage cars, my latest being a 00 Grand Voyager with 177k. I have found that a car does not get that kind of mileage without being maintained regularly. Befor that was a 98 Lumina that had 267k when I got it, and 315k when I sold it (it's still being driven)
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Plus racking up that many miles so quickly means most of the miles were highway miles, which are very easy on a car, relative to city miles. Plus, it's also a function of how the previous owner maintained and operated the car. I know people who can put a car in the junkyard in 60K miles, and others who can drive it to 300K.
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Perhaps he likes working on the cars . It beats hanging out in bars. Cheaper too.

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Maybe on a 1970's car with a straight 6, before cars had ecm's, fuel injection, 30 sensors, etc.. But on the newer cars, unless you have scanning equipment, you could simply be swapping out parts until you find the cause, which is expensive. Nah, he doesn't like working on cars, anyway. He's out there cursing, and 9 times out of 10, he can't even fix it. People who like working on cars usually work on a classic or old car, not their daily driver cars and only work on their daily driver cars when they need repair.
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There are a lot of people in this newsgroup who work on their own cars on a regular basis with nothing much more than a scanner (a $250 item if you go deluxe) and the same old tools we've been using for decades. We don't swap out a lot of parts in attempt to shotgun fix a problem. There's much more that can be known and understood about today's cars than you might think if you don't actually do any of the work yourself. We save tons of money every year over what others pay for repairs at dealerships or shops.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
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Mike,
I agree with you, and you don't even need a scanner. If you have even a half-ways decent PC you can get an OBDII to serial adaptor and the necessary software for under $200. The PC has one big advantage over a standalone scanner - storage.
In some ways I find the newer electronic control autos to be easier to work on, especially as my eyes get older (try fiddling with the small parts in a carb with bifocals and you'll know what I mean). Of course since I have a computer and electronics background, I have a bit of an advantage. I approach troubleshooting a car now days from the vantage point that I'm working on a computer that just happens to have wheels attached.
Regards, Bill Bowen Sacramento, CA
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So you can hook the OBDII device to the car, then take the device into your house and hook to your PC? Doesn't the OBDII device itself have a display, eliminating the need to even hook to your PC? So storage is a concern? So the OBDII device you're talking about stores more codes over a longer period? as opposed to one you merely hook to your car and retrieves whatever code happens to be on at that moment? Does the OBDII device read most of the car's possible error codes?
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Usually you hook to a laptop, or put an old pc in your garage.
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On Fri, 28 Jul 2006 23:41:58 -0500, grappletech

I think your last sentence sums up my opinion. If he can't learn a lesson the hard way, what makes you think he'll take advice?
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On Fri, 28 Jul 2006 23:41:58 -0500, grappletech

Never argue with an idiot. He'll defeat you every time by sheer weight of experience.
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Gee I buy a new vehicles every two years for $6,000 or less. My 2007 only cost me $3,500 ;)
mike hunt
wrote:

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How does that work?
wrote:

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I run two cars and buy a new car every year, trading or selling the one that is two years old. The trick is to buy as soon as the new model is available to order and sell or trade you car while its value is high. The value of my trade is thousands of dollars higher than it will be in just six months. For example I trade or sell the 2003 car I bought in 2002, on a 2005 in 2004, my trade still looks like a one year old car to a dealer or buyer. My 2005 had a NADA trade value of $27,500 and a retail value of $30,500. I sold it for $29,500, to one of the folks that are always looking to buy my used cars. I only paid $28,200 for the 2005 My 2007 had a MSRP of $32,500. I bought it, no trade for, $30,500.
Many think they can buy for less at the end of the model year. That is true BUT only if you don't have a trade or have a vehicle to trade that is old. If you did that every two years it will cost you MORE. Your two year old trade will have depreciated more from September to April than the discounts that are available. I it is three years old, the difference in the trade and the discounts will balance out but you will have last years model and when you go to trade it in three years you will be trading a FOUR old car, not a three year old car, and lose more money on your trade. :)
mike hunt

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That sounds complicated. Do you usually get the same kind of car or try different manufactures?

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grappletech wrote:

I don't know where you can get a decent car for $200 a month without a big ol' down payment... but anyway tell him to stop buying POS cars and if he really likes GM to look for something with a 3800.
nate
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75g2000cwc.googlegroups.com:

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Even a $15,000 car is only $290/month with just a measly $500/down payment. A $12,000 Cavalier or nearly new Malibu would be about $220/month. Much cheaper than what he's out now, after adding up all the expenses and such, averaged out.
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grappletech wrote:

Maybe I have more in common with your, um, frugal neighbor than with you... :) I just don't see the advantages; a friend of mine just sold an old 16V GTI for $500 (really!) that used to be my car years ago, I'd rather have that than a new Malibu anyway, and when you factor in the price difference the choice is clear. But I would stay away from the 2.8 based engines for "frugal" transportation.
nate
(now only if my old Scirocco would come up for sale...)
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My brother loves old VW's. He has a '65 bug, a squareback, and a '80 Vanagon. He wrenches on them hinself, except for engine overhauls, which are cheap on VW's. The older VW's have a reputation for not being reliable or durable. You just have to learn how to keep the valves adjusted and the engine tuned up. The engines last a long time (like 70k miles or so), if maintained and not abused. And then when you do need an overhaul, it's just $700. That's less pricey than a valve job on most cars. The newer VW's like the GTI are good for 200K miles or so if taken care of. I saw a VW bug with a Toyota 1600cc 4aGe 16V DOHC engine in it. My father is a pro mechanic/tinkerer. My brother and I helped him put a Toyota 22R into his friend's Volkswagen Vanagon Westphalia. Ok, I need a VW now to cure my VW fix.
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