When and why did you decide to be done with beater cars?

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Nov 8, 2016
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New is never worth the price. When it comes to used cars, it's partially luck, and partially knowing what to look for. If you buy a POS that's known to have problems, you'll have problems. If you buy a well maintained used Corolla or Camry you'll get many years of trouble free use without the $600 a month payment.

Just wait a little while for this market to take a nosedive, then start looking. In our current market, you will get screwed. I can't believe what I see going for $20k right now.
 
Joined
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I must be the luckiest SOB alive buying used vehicles, I've never had one cost me $500 a month for 5 or 6 years in repairs/maintenance.
Same here. With doing most of my own work with maintenance/repairs on the '88 Escort that I drove to 518K miles I was well under $100. a month average, probably even under $50. a month average. When something wore out if it was available with a lifetime warranty that was what I replaced it with. Things I can think of that were lifetime on it were front/rear brake pads/shoes, water pump, front/rear struts, ball joints, tie rod ends, steering rack, fuel pump, clutch, ignition module and spark plug wires. Lifetime warranty cost a few extra dollars initially but every time they were replaced afterward all that it cost me was my time to replace them except for the clutch which I let someone else do that was better equipped for the job but it was only replaced 1 time and a friend that was a mechanic for a Ford dealer did it cheap as a side job From about 1994-2005 when I had to go on disability it was my work car and usually got 25-45K miles per year. Best part of it all is when I bought it in 1993 with 146K miles I gave $500. for it. All it needed was a couple tires and a good cleaning up.
 
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I bought a $900 1995 Camry that had a good service record with it… it lasted 3 weeks before catastrophically overheating and losing compression (not blaming the car, it had 200,000 miles on it and was $900). Wasn’t worth fixing. First and last beater.
 
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My current fleet consists of two nicer cars, one for the wife and I. One cheap commuter car (so I don't pile miles onto the nicer ones driving 75 miles each day for work) and a project car. I don't consider any of them "beaters." Once they become a beater, I get rid of them, frankly, because I don't want to ride in one.

That's why I take care of my vehicles, and do the best I can researching reliability/potential issues before buying one.

Some things you don't have control over, like crappy paint (I've let go of good running vehicles for that reason, Honda I'm looking at you) which quickly turns a car into a beater even though it still runs great.

Basically it's a math equation for me... If the car is in reasonably good shape and I'm not embarrassed to drive in the thing (i.e it still looks good for its age), all but the most major repairs are worth fixing. Take care of problems as they arise and do not let them pile up! Once they pile up, you have a beater.

If you get into a certain system (like suspension) to replace a part, replace other parts around it that can be done economically. If you plan ahead, you can get parts super cheap online at places like Rockauto, instead of paying top dollar at your local parts store chain.

I'll end by saying that if you are unable / unwilling to do some mechanic work yourself, an older / heavily used vehicle is probably not for you (unless you specifically search for something known to be ultra-reliable), because mechanic shops will eat you alive. And because mechanics are so expensive, there's very little incentive (or it's cost prohibitive) to replace parts nearby that MIGHT fail soon. For example, if I have to replace a strut, I refresh the whole suspension because I'm in there and parts are cheap when you don't have a car payment-- then I won't have to go back in there for another 5 years. It would be impossible for me to afford that if I was paying a mechanic, I'd simply replace the strut, then likely have to make a repeat trip 8 months later to replace a sway bar link or something. That money and inconvenience adds up.
 
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Joined
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I wouldn't own a beater. Too much to deal with and usually problems around the corner. I have bought several cars new and a few low mileage newer cars. It has served me well and saved me money in the long run. Too bad all cars are so expensive right now. But so are car parts.
 
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I have had beaters and to some people I still have some. My 1990 Ranger with 97K is closet to a beater. My others are old but restored and reliable. Newest we have is a 2012 Mazda 5 that we plan to keep a long time.
 
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I had plenty of new company cars and they smell nice but are not any nicer to drive when you travel over 30k per year when you are doing service calls all over the south east
 
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I do all the repair work on a 2000 NIssan Maxima with faded paint (Phoenix, AZ). Registration costs $33.10 for two years and insurance is also very inexpensive. Installed 4 new shocks and sway bar links last month. Motor mounts are loose but still serviceable. I'm hoping to drive it another 2-3 years as long as repair parts cost less than $600/year and I can defer a repair to the cooler times of the year (Sept 15 to May 15). Cost of ownership averages under $100/month not including the cost of fuel for many years.
 
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I had a 2005 prius that I got my wife for $750, played whack-a-mole with the HV battery modules. She drove it for 2 years and it still had life so I drove it 2 more. Sold it with 303k miles for more than I paid for it. I drive 60 miles one way to work and it was just starting to make me nervous.

It was February 2021 and new Prius Primes were give-away priced. The idea of adding 25 miles of battery capacity was appealing, and I got like 12 grand off with all the rebates and tax incentives. So my daily is, for once, something nice, and/because the new tech was something I wanted that I couldn't get in a 15 year old car.

I still have a beater 2008 silverado, 1985 dodge plow truck, 1999 Camry, and 1992 Ford/Fleetwood RV so I can still have "children" that need my attention.
 
Joined
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fixed that for you
.
No it's never worth it for anyone. Not saying it's not ok to buy new, but it's literally never worth it. It's one of the quickest depreciating assets next to boats. Economically speaking, it will always be more advantageous to buy used, with the rare exception of certain Ferraris and ultra low production supercars that will actually appreciate in value.

Also, it's not cool misquoting someone. If you want to "fix it" add your two cents as a reply.
 
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No it's never worth it for anyone. .....
Also, it's not cool misquoting someone. If you want to "fix it" add your two cents as a reply.

So that's what we learned today: . It isn't cool even if I made clear for
everyone what I fixed (for you), but it's cool to speak for everyone. Got it.
.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Messages
13,213
Location
MA
My current fleet consists of two nicer cars, one for the wife and I. One cheap commuter car (so I don't pile miles onto the nicer ones driving 75 miles each day for work) and a project car. I don't consider any of them "beaters." Once they become a beater, I get rid of them, frankly, because I don't want to ride in one.

That's why I take care of my vehicles, and do the best I can researching reliability/potential issues before buying one.

Some things you don't have control over, like crappy paint (I've let go of good running vehicles for that reason, Honda I'm looking at you) which quickly turns a car into a beater even though it still runs great.

Basically it's a math equation for me... If the car is in reasonably good shape and I'm not embarrassed to drive in the thing (i.e it still looks good for its age), all but the most major repairs are worth fixing. Take care of problems as they arise and do not let them pile up! Once they pile up, you have a beater.

If you get into a certain system (like suspension) to replace a part, replace other parts around it that can be done economically. If you plan ahead, you can get parts super cheap online at places like Rockauto, instead of paying top dollar at your local parts store chain.

I'll end by saying that if you are unable / unwilling to do some mechanic work yourself, an older / heavily used vehicle is probably not for you (unless you specifically search for something known to be ultra-reliable), because mechanic shops will eat you alive. And because mechanics are so expensive, there's very little incentive (or it's cost prohibitive) to replace parts nearby that MIGHT fail soon. For example, if I have to replace a strut, I refresh the whole suspension because I'm in there and parts are cheap when you don't have a car payment-- then I won't have to go back in there for another 5 years. It would be impossible for me to afford that if I was paying a mechanic, I'd simply replace the strut, then likely have to make a repeat trip 8 months later to replace a sway bar link or something. That money and inconvenience adds up.
I think a lot of people think this, but you can search around. I've found some decent indys on craigslist, I've searched for ASE mechanics and found them that way, then there's always word of mouth and then there's a few places like repairpal.com and yourmechanic.com and a few other online places that will give you a quote on a job from various mechanics in the area. I don't really have a place to do the repairs and some repairs that I know how to do like brakes, I'm sometimes just too lazy to do it when the indy I have will do it for $50-$100 if I bring him the parts. Easier to just hand him the parts and just watch.
 
Joined
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So that's what we learned today: . It isn't cool even if I made clear for
everyone what I fixed (for you), but it's cool to speak for everyone. Got it.
.
Are you here to argue or add something of substance related to the topic?

I believe I gave my opinion to the OP. First you misquote me, then you fail at reading comprehension.

Is it a good idea to buy an item that loses 60% or more of its value in 5 years? Is that ever a good idea? Do people do it? Yes. I have many times.

A new car is not guaranteed to have no problems. A warranty is good, if the parts are available. Check on that and get back with me on backordered parts.

The average car payment is somewhere around $550 a month for 72 months. That is ridiculous. You can spend $40k on a brand new car and that will buy you how many good used cars? How many decent ones? How many parts can you replace on your current vehicle to equal the sum of the new car? Replace that $40k with $30k or $25k and it still works out to be a bad deal.

There are people who can pay cash for a new car. This doesn't pertain to them, as they have the financial stability to not have a worry about value being lost while still making payments on an item with planned obsolescence. This pertains to the vast majority of car buyers in America who are taking out a loan for a car.

Go ahead with your snarky remark, 930.engineering, if you feel the need. But try to have a little more class and quote me correctly in your reply. By the time you reply, it WILL fall on deaf ears though, as I will have you on my ignore list.
 
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Joined
Sep 20, 2002
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730
Location
New York, NY
Ever since getting burned as a younger man when purchasing a new car I been frugal.
Maybe perhaps too frugal, I dont know anyone at my income level who drives vehicles over a decade old as I do.

I still think buying new is too much $$.
So I try to get a good used and then do remedial maintenance bumper to bumper all at once at a shop that will give me a volume discount.
As a result it leaves me vulnerable with insurance though.
I may have 16+k in a vehicle that books for 7k tops.
But you will not find another that year/milage in the near new condition I have it in.
This is my 14 year old 177,000 mile V8, 4x4 pathfinder, pics from today after I had some scratches taken care of.
Prophylactically replaced a lot of stuff to achieve near new reliability.
It has ALL fluids done in past year, ENTIRE (and I do mean entire) suspension replaced, all brakes within last year, new radiator (this model year did not have good ones), new belts, hoses, lots of other prophylactic stuff.
Bose system rocks as ever. Leather is nice and soft.
Sunroof+windows works 100%. No drop of oil used between changes.
Gets driven hard every day; handles, brakes, accelerates as new.
Springs are a very very mild lift (Moog) to make the slightly taller tires look OEM.
Tires one step (from 265-60R18) oversize 265-65R18 Yoko Geolandar G015 (one of the few AT tires that is H rated)
Headlight and foglight. bulbs replaced with Phillips Xtremevision
IMG_0902.JPG


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IMG_0911.JPG


IMG_0600.JPG


IMG_0906.JPG


PS: I also have a 2011 Xterra PRO4X in similar condition.
But I did not have to do any rehab to speak of, with it. Then again it cost twice to buy what the pathy did. But thy pathy needed a lot more TLC to get to my standards.
But I admit all this does take effort on my part, finding the right shop that is good enough I like the work, but affordable enough make economic sense, to catch up the typically deferred maintenance.
I think if either of these vehicles get stolen/totaled, I will buy a new, Armada or Altima to replace to avoid the time spent chasing down perfection in an older vehicle.

PS: This is the Xterra:
IMG_0594b.jpg
 
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Joined
Nov 9, 2008
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NH
You can spend $40k on a brand new car and that will buy you how many good used cars? How many decent ones?
In today’s market?

Although to make it fair, shouldn’t the expected repairs on the older car be somehow accounted for? Used is that much closer to xyz wearout. And the associated downtime, etc.Or the cost of running two vehicles per year so that downtime can be accommodated for. I agree, used will be cheaper, but for many folk I don’t think it will be wildly so.

Ive still yet to cross 30k for new, although I think the payments were solidly past $300 last time. 20k financed over 5 years, its in the region of 333 or so.
 
Joined
Nov 8, 2016
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In today’s market?

Although to make it fair, shouldn’t the expected repairs on the older car be somehow accounted for? Used is that much closer to xyz wearout. And the associated downtime, etc.Or the cost of running two vehicles per year so that downtime can be accommodated for. I agree, used will be cheaper, but for many folk I don’t think it will be wildly so.

Ive still yet to cross 30k for new, although I think the payments were solidly past $300 last time. 20k financed over 5 years, its in the region of 333 or so.
No, in a previous reply I said to hold out a little longer for the market to nosedive. The used car market is stupid at the moment. That's pushing people to make a bad decision in buying an overpriced new car because it's a "better value." They're both bad values at the moment. The market will stabilize. When both are bad deals, you don't go for the least bad. You hold out. Holding out and fixing what you have is the better economic choice.
 
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CA
It’s cheaper to keep her, usually. It’s much more convenient to have a new car that doesn’t require the same amount of up keep.
 
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