New Cars or Used Car?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:00 pm
gregster wrote:Excellent post!

In the end, it is almost always less expensive to hang on to your current car than to buy a new one. Even the most-expensive repair bills for an old car can't outweigh the cost of depreciation on a new one.


I agree. But when buying a used car, the operating costs are always rising, so buying a newer used car seems comparably better then buying a older used car. The trick is to buy one new enough that no major repairs are likely for several years. A six year old car is much more likely to need a major repair than a two year old car. That is what I am trying to avoid. I like Clark Howard's advice that when any repair costs more then the value of the car at the time, it's time to get rid of the vehicle. Or, looked at another way, when the vehicles worth gets down to about two grand, it's time to trade it in. That's my view anyway.


I somewhat agree, but not completely. A 6 year old car might be more likely to need a major repair than a 2 year old car, but the carrying costs will outweigh the operating costs. Not to mention I haven't met hardly anybody who owns a 6 year old car that needs to a major repair, unless it's a teenager tearing up a transmission.

According to the numbers from that article, comparing a 2 year old vehicle to a 6 year old vehicle, the difference in carrying costs is about $2,500 more for the 2 year old vehicle. The difference in operating costs is about $500 more for the 6 year old vehicle. These are based on the averages of actual numbers recorded. I'll take what's actual any day over what could happen on rare occasions. It's a game of averages in the long run. Basically, you'll be paying $2,000 more a year for a 2 year old vehicle compared to a 6 year old vehicle (on average) with maintenance and repair factored in.

I disagree with getting rid of a vehicle just because a repair may cost more than the value of the vehicle. You're still saving a ridiculous amount of money on depreciation, interest, and insurance by keeping the vehicle. The major repair is going to be much cheaper than buying a vehicle younger than 5 years old. In some cases it might be better to get a more reliable vehicle, but not if it's younger than 5 years old. Well, unless you disregard the findings in the consumer reports article. After all, maintenance costs only go up about 17% in the first 5 years, and mostly maintains that rate even after 5 years. I personally think the sweet spot starts at 5 years, but if you want to push it to starting at 2 years, it will still be much cheaper than a brand new vehicle, but you also will still have some depreciation, interest, and insurance costs that may be substantial.

For me, what matters more than the cost of maintenance and repair is how much down time there is each year to get my vehicle repaired. Taking off work to have my truck worked on is what gets expensive. That is when I decide whether or not it's time to switch vehicles. The actual repair cost is negligible on a long term basis, but missing work gets costly. As long as I can keep my vehicle out of the shop as long as possible, I'll drive it until the axle falls off (Okay, I probably won't push it that far).

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:58 pm
I drive a 1990 Honda Civic
It cost me $400
engine 550
trans upgrade 6 months later 125. +35 for 1 year warranty (just wanted to switch to a 5 speed transmission)
I spend less than $500 a year on maintenance of the vehicle. What is that 2 regular car payments.
If this car happens to break down I have a 1965 VW Bug or a 1958 Karmman Ghia to drive as well.
It has broken down on me a few times but I will keep the money I would have spent on car payments (250 * 12 = $3000) in my pocket for the most part. So far I have replaced the entire front suspension of my car this year. Early next year I will do the same to the rear. These items won't need to be done again for several years.

For the most part this depends on how comfortable you are with fixing it your self.
New or old there are certain maintenance tasks you should be able to do yourself.
Brakes are easy, it takes me about an hour to replace the pads on just about any vehicle.
Starters are just as easy as brakes and need about an hour or 2 depending on the vehicle.
Suspension work is a step up from brakes but just search the intertubes and you will most likely be able to find a video that shows step by step exactly how to fix it.


STAY AWAY FROM AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS
They typically break down more often and are more expensive to repair when they do.
Stick shifts are more fuel efficient and funner to drive anyway.

But for the most part I enjoy working on my car, I get great satisfaction from doing the work my self and even more satisfaction from using the money saved to do something with my brats.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:15 pm
David_S wrote:Stick shifts are more fuel efficient and funner to drive anyway.


Not if you have to sit in stop and go traffic everyday!
"If you ain't on the road, you ain't makin' money!" - gregster

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:26 am
gregster wrote:Not if you have to sit in stop and go traffic everyday!


I work the night shift :)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:39 pm
This is an issue I am facing.

Some background: My current delivery car (03 Ford Escort ZX2, 276k miles) is broke down. It first went down in July of '12. Simple enough thing, the tensioner pully shredded. Total cost to fix, $96 (part only, did the work myself) took me about 3-4 months to save up the $$. Shortly thereafter, the water pump needed to be replaced. This was not a repair I could do myself (didn't have the appropriate tools/equipment nor did I know anyone who did), so ended up costing me $264. Had to wait until taxes came (march 2013) to pay for this. About a month later, give or take, there was an issue with the clutch and it needed to be replaced. This will be at least as expensive a repair as the water pump, if I do it myself (again, need the tools) and best quote I've gotten from a mechanic shop is 750ish.

I have been looking at EV's, hybrids, other fuel efficient ICE's. If I get a newer car, I'll be using most of my delivery reimbursement to make the payment, but I'm looking at around 2k a year increase in insurance vs about 600 if I get my current car fixed.

Fixing my car seems the best plan, but i worry that I will get my car fixed and something else will break requiring more repairs that I cannot afford out of pocket right now.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:17 pm
Been there, done that many times.

Consumer advocate Clark Howard recommends that once the cost to repair a vehicle is greater than half the value of the vehicle it's time to trade that vehicle in for something newer. I agree with him.

More than just the cost of repairs, you also have to consider how much lost work time on the broken vehicle is costing you.

If the cost of all the repairs and lost time in one year is more than the value of the vehicle, I'd say let it go and replace it.

The only other option I see is to rebuild or replace the entire engine so you know there is nothing else left to break very soon. I would only do that if you know the entire suspension and drivetrain is in good shape and the vehicle as a whole will still last you at least 5 more years. If you have to replace all the suspension components in the next year or two it might not be a good idea.
"If you ain't on the road, you ain't makin' money!" - gregster

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:59 am
DjH wrote:IMHO the absolute best place to get a used car is going to be from a rental company.

Yes, rentals are sometimes abused. However, they are also meticulously maintained. You have a far better chance of getting a very good vehicle that has had spotless maintenance history through a rental company. Enterprise, Hertz, Alamo, etc. are always selling cars after a few years of use.


I bought a 6 year old former enterprise rental with 100k miles for $2,500. It now has a half million miles and has never broken down. It has needed an alternator and other basics but otherwise has been rock solid. Changed the oil once a month and transmission fluid and filter every 15k.
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