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

Joined
Dec 26, 2007
Messages
2,242
Location
NC
Car repairs are no fun. New car payments get old quick. New cars need new tires just as fast as used cars with fresh tires. Insurance costs, convenience, fears over door dings, depreciations, one new vs multiple beaters, risks with buying old lemon vs new with warranty, inconveniences of breakdowns, etc etc etc…

This is really a personal decision. There is no blanket one size fits all approach to driving new cars, leasing, beaters, etc. I’ve flip flopped myself over my almost 20yrs of driving - although I’ve only owned 2 vehicles in that time, one bought used and one new.

Ultimately do what you want to do.

There is absolutely no doubt that vehicle repairs and downtime are inconvenient - nobody argues that. At the same time, a new car doesn’t always mean you won’t have problems. Plenty of lemons out there and with the new vehicle parts shortage there are plenty of horror stories to go around.

Driving any vehicle costs more money than anyone realistically wants to spend (especially these days). Cars are horrible decisions financially, but they are super convenient, useful and help keep us employed. Don’t forget that maintenance/fuel/insurance will end up being a larger expense overall of vehicle ownership than the purchase price of the vehicle if you keep it long enough.

One of the best things about buying used that I like is that there is generally plenty of data out there on how reliable that particular make and mode vehicle is likely to be, and with things like carfax you can do your best to avoid buying abused vehicles. This helps swing “luck” in your favor of avoiding a heap of junk money pit.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
138
Location
Avondale
Got lucky on a 900 dollar Saturn SL2 that would run and drive but it would slam into forward and reverse gear and limp around. Put a junkyard valve body on it and it drove great afterwards. Kept it for a while and then sold it because it was just too small for me.
 

wtd

Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Messages
3,093
Location
southwest Mo.
Both my fiancé and I both still drive beaters even though we have newer vehicles to drive and can afford to buy new vehicles. She drives a 94 Cavalier daily to work 30 miles one way and my 92 Cavalier was my work daily until I retired five years ago but I still drive it most of the time since it still gets around 30 mpg. I drive way less these days and have no desire to buy a new car at these current prices. My 14 Mustang GT only has 34,000 miles on it and my 98 1/2 ton chevy truck only has 142,000 miles. The 98 1 ton has 122,000 miles on it. These will probably last me the rest of my life if I wanted them to. I can still do most of the repairs and maintenance on them so it's not as costly to keep them on the road when they do need repairs.

My fiancé has a 2017 F150 with 38,000 miles and a 2007 Mustang GT with 26,000 miles if she wants to drive something newer.
 

AZjeff

$50 Site Donor 2022
Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
6,650
Location
northern Az where the Antelope play
Back to the original question, we stopped driving older cars that were/could be needy when we had 2 small kids and a new business 25 miles away that had to open on time every day. We had to have 2 reliable cars and I had no time for DIY repairs.

Interesting that modern safe features aren't mentioned at all. The older the car no matter it's condition the greater the chance of serious injury in a crash. Commute in a small 90s car, no thanks.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2018
Messages
1,947
Location
south dakota
I purchased my 2012 Honda Civic lx sedan for $11,000 in 2015 and considered it a beater. It had full warranty and 34,000 miles. I now have 117,500 miles on it and only replaced the battery, tires, and brakes. I spent $1000 to repair light hail damage on the car when I purchased it. I use the car as a daily driver and due to the extremely high prices of new and used cars I will continue to drive it as a DD. I believe the old saying "buy a three year old Buick" is still the best bet as far as stretching your dollars. In other words buy a 3 year old vehicle that has a great track record for reliability, safety and mileage.
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2014
Messages
2,095
It depends on where you are in life. Do you drive a lot and can you afford something new/newer? If so then go for the new car and avoid the beater.

I prefer a slightly used vehicle at this point in my life because I drive a ton. I tried doing that in a beater in the past when I was younger and this is what it was like (for me). First off, if you have kids, it’s a little embarrassing to be driving them to baseball practice in a junker, while half the parents are in BMW’s and Mercedes. I realized that after I started to get some looks (and sympathy). And I realized...hey, is this what I want? And for me, personally, it wasn’t.

And then there was the flat out safety factor...as I’m on a 200 mile trip with my kids and the right front caliper locks up in rush hour traffic on the highway. Car starts pulling to the right real hard. I can smell burning rubber, see smoke. I’m 80 miles from home. I get it home. I’m changing out a caliper with my daughter helping me bleed the brakes. I’m 42 years old at the time...do I want that? Then i have to throw a radiator in it. A few other things. I’m an adult and I’m driving around in my 280,000 plus mile Honda Accord. So, I went out and bought a Lexus LS 460 (I usually overcompensate). And I was good for five years or so. Then a brand new 2018 Silverado. And now a 2016 Avalon. Reliability is no longer an issue, but as I see my neighbors driving around in Audi’s and brand new Escalades...esteem is taking a hit once again.

It’s where you are in life (in my opinion). I love cars, I love longevity. But at some point you get tired of fixing them over and over. And the costs outweigh the benefits. Find a happy medium and buy a 2-3 year old car and keep it ten years. Just my opinion.
 
Joined
May 7, 2020
Messages
398
Location
Ames, IA
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
View attachment 100839

View attachment 100840

View attachment 100841

View attachment 100842

View attachment 100843

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:
View attachment 100846
My wife pointed out the other day that in our neighborhood, no one drives cars as old as ours…. But we aren’t stressed with debt like they are since mine are all paid for and are kept more shiny and clean than theirs.

I hate getting compared to others.

Rust is why I get rid of a car. Our minivan has a couple bubbles in the passenger dogleg that will open up by next Spring. That is a sign of an impending replacement. This market may case one or two years of “sand and paint” cover until it settles, but the van will need to be replaced. Only 100k miles too, so it’s a real bummer. My 02 minivan made it 150k before rust made it too ugly to keep. The kids drove it another 10,000 miles before I dumped it.
 
Joined
Sep 20, 2002
Messages
730
Location
New York, NY
My wife pointed out the other day that in our neighborhood, no one drives cars as old as ours…. But we aren’t stressed with debt like they are since mine are all paid for and are kept more shiny and clean than theirs.

I hate getting compared to others.

Rust is why I get rid of a car. Our minivan has a couple bubbles in the passenger dogleg that will open up by next Spring. That is a sign of an impending replacement. This market may case one or two years of “sand and paint” cover until it settles, but the van will need to be replaced. Only 100k miles too, so it’s a real bummer. My 02 minivan made it 150k before rust made it too ugly to keep. The kids drove it another 10,000 miles before I dumped it.
My 2008 Pathfinder had some rust.
After months of looking found a shop that took care of it for me for a reasonable price (most shops around here don't want to do rust)
Hopefully that will last, since the replacement cost for a mid size 4x4 SUV with leather heated seats, Bose, sunroof, advanced system that can switch from AWD to 4WD, V8 engine, etc etc is astronomical.
 
Joined
May 25, 2005
Messages
14,587
Location
ROCHESTER, NY
1995 OBD II.
That I am older now and want to drive in better vehicles as does my family.
We always used beater cars for the winter here in the northeast so we could keep our better car(s) for the non salty winters. Since it is more difficult to pass state inspection on a reasonable budget, OBD II has caused many to drive better vehicles.
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2014
Messages
2,095
1995 OBD II.
That I am older now and want to drive in better vehicles as does my family.
We always used beater cars for the winter here in the northeast so we could keep our better car(s) for the non salty winters. Since it is more difficult to pass state inspection on a reasonable budget, OBD II has caused many to drive better vehicles.
You bring up a good point. State inspections. Nothing worse than being a month away from an inspection in your beater car and seeing that check engine line go on. And then it’s something leaking because of rust in the EVAP system. Or it’s a misfire (random). And you have to get that fixed $$$$$. Kind of ruins the whole premise of keeping a beater to save $$$.

I can’t tell you how many times this^^^ has happened to me.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2022
Messages
169
I've got a few neighbors that have one vehicle they regularly drive and one or more 'beaters' in the backyard or garages. I never see them actually drive the 'beaters' though, but they hoard old, spare vehicles. Makes no sense to me as you still have to insure them and get them registered/inspected annually. (it's impossible in Texas to renew the annual registration without getting the annual inspection first.) Vehicles still deteriorate, even if rarely or never driven, tires rot/dry out, fluids go bad, batteries die if not regularly recharged. I'd much rather own a couple of recent/new models that can be counted upon than have a 'Ghost Fleet' of non-deployable untrustworthy phantom paperweights.
 
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
15,498
Location
Canada
I absolutely drive a beater, my 2009 G5 has Bedliner coated bottom half that is starting to rust through, and an interior where almost every panel is broken or stained.
Has been fairly reliable, starts right up, does not burn oil, air blows cold, and gets decent mileage for my 75-mile round trip commute everyday.
I manage a small retail garage, so it is relatively easy to get it fixed when stuff comes up, and it’s a cheap model to fix. With the current market the way it is, it will be driven to complete failure, hoping for another couple of years.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
925
Location
Massachusetts
I agree but to a certain point. Things change a bit when you live in the salt belt, where all vehicles start to become trash after 5 years old. I've seen 5 year old 80k dollar pickups that are literally falling apart from rust. Sure, fluid film and other treatments slow down the rust, but they won't stop it. One could argue that buying a slightly used vehicle from a rust-free climate and driving it for about the same time before it rusts out is a better value.

To me it all depends on a person's needs and preferences. I have family who lease vehicles and want nothing to do with owning them, and I also have family who are currently stuck in rentals for several months because their new vehicles they bought to avoid potential breakdowns have been stuck at the dealer waiting on parts. It's really a toss up, people should just focus on buying what they want and can afford over what might potentially be a better value 10 years down the road. I wouldn't recommend many used vehicles to people who don't have the ability to work on their own cars, or ability to know if a shop is taking advantage of them.

If you aren't car savvy, and buy a beater that needs to go to the mechanic every time something breaks, you'll be ahead buying something else.
Just washing it goes a long way, I see all kinds of cars come in to the shop and the rusted out ones also usually have years of dirt caked into them. My Accent is 5 years old and the underside is spotless.
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
1,913
Location
Southwest
The best beaters are homemade beaters. Ones bought new and driven into the ground.

Net capital cost on the no frills pickup I bought in 2012 is about $90 a month. (Distorted I know by high used car prices, but even with normalcy, a little over a hundred bucks per month.)
 
Joined
Nov 9, 2008
Messages
19,943
Location
NH
My wife pointed out the other day that in our neighborhood, no one drives cars as old as ours…. But we aren’t stressed with debt like they are since mine are all paid for and are kept more shiny and clean than theirs.

I hate getting compared to others.
Where I live, there's a few older than my daily, but not many. At work it's me competing with the guy who drives muscle cars in the summer.

I usually don't care (much) but as I go through the motions of hiring at work, I do sometimes wonder. If I have to take someone out to lunch... in my 20+ year old car, with shot paint... what are they going to think? Recent college grad or someone with 20+ years experience. I guess I could watch their reaction and use that to guide how I think of them. :)

The wife doesn't care what I drive, I usually do ok on my decisions for cars. She will even (grudgingly) drive mine on occasion. Although the last time she griped about how the headlights didn't work, and she likes to tease me about how the car meows (there is a seal around the steering column that squeaks, keeps drying out, so I ignore it).
 
Joined
Feb 26, 2005
Messages
3,487
Location
Kansas, USA
I guess I'm lucky to live where everyone drives what most would consider at "beater". Very few new cars unless you cross the Johnson County line. We don't drive that much so our older cars are doing fine, just waiting to pass them to the boys in a few years and might get something newer. If something major like a wreck or engine/trans that would be my line. Now the RV is another story, I don't want to be the ugliest one at the campground. The exterior is getting rough but still keep it shined up. Also with all the long trips it has to be reliable, too many hiccups in a row it'll be replaced.
 

Nick1994

$100 site donor 2022
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
14,973
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Where I live, there's a few older than my daily, but not many. At work it's me competing with the guy who drives muscle cars in the summer.

I usually don't care (much) but as I go through the motions of hiring at work, I do sometimes wonder. If I have to take someone out to lunch... in my 20+ year old car, with shot paint... what are they going to think? Recent college grad or someone with 20+ years experience. I guess I could watch their reaction and use that to guide how I think of them. :)

The wife doesn't care what I drive, I usually do ok on my decisions for cars. She will even (grudgingly) drive mine on occasion. Although the last time she griped about how the headlights didn't work, and she likes to tease me about how the car meows (there is a seal around the steering column that squeaks, keeps drying out, so I ignore it).
I got teased in my Camry a couple months ago when I drove 3 coworkers to lunch, it was hilarious. "Nick, how did you go from driving a Tesla to this?" "Why doesn't the seat belt work?" (Turns out one doesn't work), "My window doesn't go down", and I've had the same steering column meow since I bought the car almost 7 years ago. Another time we went to lunch in it, 25 miles one way, I got asked "Are we gonna make it?" :ROFLMAO:

I now try to guess which days we go to lunch together and drive the Grand Cherokee on those days.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2008
Messages
842
Location
Long Island,nassau county NY
I did the car rotation twice. Bought a new cheap four door car when my beater was getting near the end. My wife would drive the new car until the beater collapsed then new car for her and drive the cheap four door to it was near death then repeat. So far I did it twice getting close for a third time. I like it because I'm the original owner I know what I got
 
Top