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Beaters Out Of Choice, Not Necessity

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
edited December 2013 in Yugo
Many Americans buy the nicest vehicle they can afford, because it makes them feel good, or to impress others. Some stretch to own something beyond their means, for similar reasons, and have trouble making payments. A few, on the other hand, maybe you, drive something considerably below what they can comfortably afford.

Tell us about people you know who, for whatever reasons, drive a car that's below their financial circumstances. Do they suffer from low self esteem, do they want to be inconspicuous, are they just plain cheap, or do they enjoy the freedom that comes from driving something they don't need to worry about?
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Comments

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,186
    I had a 1988 Buick Park Avenue that I drove to 186K miles. The car was a a bit banged-up and the paint was badly fading, but I miss that car. It was extremely reliable, got fantastic fuel economy, and I could drive into the worst neighborhood in the city and not worry about the criminal element messing with it. If it got a dent or a scratch or a bird crapped on it, I wasn't about to have an aneurism. Insurance was dirt cheap and I wasn't paranoid around other drivers as I am with both my Cadillacs. Heck, I aspire to own a hooptie as my next ride!
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,359
    Gee, I might have something for you....
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,357
    Well, my wife and I have a '85 Mercedes that we bought in '91. At the time we bought it, it just about fit into our budgeted amount for a new car. It has, by a large margin, been the best car we ever owned. For that reason, and because we still enjoy the old crock, we drive it regularly and in fact choose it over our other cars with fair frequency. That is why we drive a car below our financial circumstances.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    Interesting! Which model is it, and how many miles are on the odometer?
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 6,571
    I have a ratty 1975 2002 that my wife and I drive quite a bit. It's a decent ten-footer, saddled with a slushbox. However, unlike a pristine 1973 2002 tii, I can drive it anywhere without the fear of risking a true classic. And it's still fun -and dead cheap- to drive... :D

    2009 328i / 2004 X3 2.5/ 1995 318ti Club Sport/ 1975 2002A/ 2007 Mazdaspeed 3/ 1999 Wrangler/ 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica

  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,357
    Interesting! Which model is it, and how many miles are on the odometer?

    It is a 380SE, and is just ready to turn 260K. It needs a paint job and some 'freshening up', but still runs like a top and tries to get me speeding tickets.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    edited September 2011
    Has it been relatively low maintenance, or have the maintenance and repair expenses been sufficiently high to largely offset the relatively low average annual depreciation associated with keeping an older car?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,001
    the other week it started to pee all over the driveway. I was hoping it was just the lower radiator hose, but turned out to be the water pump. When I crawled under there, I could see that the suspension was really getting worn and some of the parts pretty rusty.

    Initially, I thought the water pump would be the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. But, in talking to the mechanic today, he said that, while the suspension needs work and the truck is getting rusty, as little as it gets driven, it should last indefinitely. It currently has about 137,000 miles on it, and these days, might see 2800-3000 miles per year.

    I figure if it lasts through the winter and into the spring before anything else major goes wrong with it, I'll be ahead. And the engine, transmission, and driveline, are still nice and solid the mechanic said, and will most likely outlive the body. So, I hope I'm making the right choice in keeping this aging relic around. I guess time will tell!
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,634
    edited September 2011
    Since we spend winter-Spring in Arizona and summer-fall in NH, I operate two vehicles that could be considered beaters, they're both eleven years old.

    Our Arizona car actually belongs to my MIL but at 94 she no longer drives her 2000 Buick LeSabre which has relatively low miles at just under 50K. It's cosmetically okay, needing just a good wax/polish but shows signs of it's age in several ways. The right rear window motor has failed for the second time in two years, the cruise control is erratic, the tranny doesn't shift as smoothly as it should and the fuel pump was replaced last year. I don't much care for driving it but a free car is a free car.

    In New Hampshire we have a 2000 BMW 528iA which was my sales sled for a couple of years when I was working and now has close to 140K on it. It's in better shape than the Buick, everything works except the gear indicator lights on the console (there's a working indicator in the dash display). Cosmetically it's in good shape give or take a few dents and scratches.

    I really like the Bimmer; owning it has taught me that there's a reason why it costs twice what a LeSabre or Malibu does. IMO it's at least twice the car.

    In a few years we'll buy some newer cars, perhaps even brand new but I might hang on to the BMW just to see how long it'll go.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,791
    I think you are making the right choice. Mechanicals are still there, body isn't gone yet...drive it til it becomes a ghost.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,001
    I think you are making the right choice. Mechanicals are still there, body isn't gone yet...drive it til it becomes a ghost.

    I hope I'm making the right choice. I think I'll feel better about it a couple months down the road, provided nothing else has gone wrong with the truck by then.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,791
    Whatever goes wrong will likely cost no more than a payment or two on a new rig. I think you'll save money in the long run. Draw it out a year and think of the savings, then try it again.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,001
    I know this is gonna sound cheap, but I'm hoping to at least run it long enough to use up the $40 worth of gasoline I put in it last week! :shades:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,791
    I am pretty sure the old beast will last that long ;)
  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,357
    Has it been relatively low maintenance, or have the maintenance and repair expenses been sufficiently high to largely offset the relatively low average annual depreciation associated with keeping an older car?

    We have been very fortunate. In both of the places that we've lived since we bought it, we've found a terrific private mechanic who has maintained it at moderate cost. The parts are relatively expensive, but it hasn't asked for a lot of them. Other than replacing the A/C system with an R134 unit (the compressor had gone out on the original system) and replacing the transmission with a rebuilt unit because the engine was out to replace the rear seal anyway, the costs have been for routine maintenance and the expected replacements (e.g. the rear seal). In short, keeping the old dear has saved us a moderate fortune over replacing it (probably several times) with another vehicle. It is, of course, at the place where if it needs a major repair we will probably have to just shoot it. If that happens I will mourn.

    I will mention one other major expense, but I can't hold it against the car because it was my own damned fault; I stupidly did not realize that timing chains are mortal. One of the chains slipped an unknown number of links and the valves tap danced on the pistons, much to their detriment. A word to the wise; you don't want to make that mistake.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,186
    Why not, unless you can siphon it and use it in any of your other vehicles. Reminds me of the Jeff Foxworthy joke, "If the value of your vehicle goes up or down depending on how much gas is in it, you might be a redneck."
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,805
    "Used cars have outsold new models for years. But new-vehicle sales took an especially hard hit as the economy soured, plunging 21 percent in 2009 compared with less than a 3 percent decline for used vehicles, which spiked in value as their supply dropped.

    New cars have started bouncing back but are "increasingly skewed to high-income households," said Tom Webb, an economist with Manheim Consulting, which does research on the automobile market. And "all dealers are much more attuned to their used-vehicle operations," he said."

    Older cars keep their shine as drivers pinch pennies (Detroit News)

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,001
    Wasn't 2009 when the "Cash for Clunkers" program was going on? I guess if it wasn't for that, new car sales would've taken an even bigger dive.

    Oh, on the subject of beaters, it was almost 9 months ago now that I had my water pump issue with my '85 Silverado. Other than a flat tire that wasn't the truck's fault, is hasn't cost me anything at all, other than gasoline, since then. That's not to say it's been perfect, though. The power window in the driver's door quit working. Motor still runs, so I'm guessing something came loose, or off its track. And then, about a month or so ago, the parking brake broke.

    So, there are a few inconveniences here and there. But I think it's worth it, for the money I've been saving. I imagine anything new I bought would be at least $2000 down and around $300+ per month.
  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,018
    Not exactly "beaters", but good buys if you can find them.

    Edmunds Used Car Best Bets for 2012

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email, karen@edmunds.com, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,805
    I love odometer milestones. Didn't have the camera.

    As a treat, I changed the oil on the '99 Quest when we got home from blueberry picking.

    Last change was 11,760 miles ago. Even sprung for a new oil filter. ;)

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    edited August 2012
    Do you treat your Quest to synthetic?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,805
    edited August 2012
    lol, you haven't followed my posts over the years eh?

    I use good ol' dead dino - got SuperTech from Walmart today, which is what I usually get unless I stumble on a sale somewhere.

    Put a nice ol' Fram filter on it too. :D

    Oil changes have been running me about $17 each the last couple of years.

    I don't think this engine came with a crush washer. If it did, it hasn't seen one for a decade or more.

    Would be fun to see what an oil analysis says but I'm too cheap to spend the $20 bucks on one.

    Around here the van is more likely to either rust away or get totaled by a deer than suffer catastrophic engine failure. I do check the oil level every fill up, but it never uses any. Still on the original timing belt as well.

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,205
    Yeah, dumb of me, your Quest would be more likely to ultimately succumb to rust than engine wear in the, um, Rustbelt, where you live. How's your Quest doing in terms of rust?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 40,805
    It was pristine until we left Idaho in 2010. Now it's got some spots. Nothing bad yet (it certainly doesn't look like the typical ten year old Michigan car) but it's starting. The amount of salt they use up here is obscene (probably why the deer like to hang out along the highways).

    The Subaru's rear hatch catches, well inside the door, are pretty rusty. That's an odd one.

    I have some rattle cans from Ace Hardware but the silver on the van is turning out to be hard to match. :shades:

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,001
    I love odometer milestones. Didn't have the camera.

    It's kind of a dumb milestone, but I took this pic of the Buick's odometer back in November 2010...

    image

    Here's when my 2000 Intrepid hit 100,000 miles, back on Christmas Eve, 2004...
    image

    Other than these two, I can't think of any significant odometer milestones in recent memory. My '85 Silverado had 109,000 miles on it when Mom sold it to me, and now has around 138,500. As gas has gotten more expensive, it's been getting driven less and less, and these days might be good for around 2000-2500 per year. So the 150K mark is probably about 5 years away...if the truck lasts that long. The powertrain's still strong, but rust is really starting to get to the body...mainly in the rockers and lower door panels.

    The Park Ave has about 85,000 miles on it now. At the rate I'm going, I think 100,000 will come up in about a year and a half. My '79 5th Ave, the only other car that gets driven fairly regularly, has about 97,000 miles on it. 100K might come up within the next two years.

    As for my other cars, my '67 Catalina has about 59,000 miles on the odometer (probably 159,000), '76 LeMans has about 81,000, and my other '79 NYer, the base model, has about 62,000. None of them will be hitting the magical 100,000 mile rollover anytime soon.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,186
    edited August 2012
    image

    Here's my 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis LS on May 4, 2012.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 6,550
    edited August 2012
    Just inherited a 1993 caddy Deville from my younger son ( he needed money) with about 89,000 miles. Rides like a big couch. Has the older (and better) 4.9L V-8. I don't think I would have given him 2 cents for a Northstar equipped car.

    I have a 1988 GMC van which I use on the farm. Bought it from a neighbor for $900 3 years ago. I used it as my winter beater for my other job but the road salt has taken it toll. I've replaced a fuel pump, gas tank, tie rod, e-brake cable and lower control arms. All rust related items. It is a true hooptie. It has about 129,000 miles.

    Finally I have a 1984 Corvette that I bought from my older son ( he needed money too). It's not exactly a beater but it's no show car. It has 133,000 miles and various quirks you'd expect from a 29 yo car. Nothing serious. It could use a new interior or at least new seat covers but it drives OK and is kind of fun with the roof removed. I've driven it about 2000 miles since I got it and I'm surprised to see it doesn't burn or leak a bit of oil.

    I also have a couple of new cars which I like but there's a feeling of freedom driving a bunch of vehicles which if they were totaled tomorrow wouldn't be much more than a $5k loss. Every time they start and go where I point them I feel like I've got my money's worth.

    2009 PT Cruiser, 2008 Eclipse, 1995 Mark VIII, 1988 GMC Van

  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,186
    I had a 1994 Cadillac DeVille with the 4.9 V-8. Despite being rated at only 200 hp, the car was no slouch and could effortlessly hit 100 mph. Decent fuel economy was also a bonus. The Northstar is kind of a gas hog.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 6,550
    "...the Northstar is kind of a gas hog..."

    I'd be less worried about gas milage than the Northstar's habit of blowing the head bolts out of the block at odd moments. Usually totals the car as the repair is super expensive.

    My 4.9L can get a solid 28mpg on the highway. Of course if you stomp on it it gets 6.

    2009 PT Cruiser, 2008 Eclipse, 1995 Mark VIII, 1988 GMC Van

  • henry_nhenry_n Posts: 33
    "The Northstar is kind of a gas hog."

    I have to disagree, and disagree strongly. Years ago, I went directly from a 92 Deville to a 98 Deville. Making the same commute, my average gas mileage went up from 16 mpg to 21 mpg. I am one of those people who keep a notebook in the glove compartment, and record every fill up, with miles driven, number of gallons, and mpg.

    The Northstar is NOT a gas hog. Yes, it does blow head gaskets. And I can testify to that from direct experience. But until / unless the head gaskets go, the mpg is decidedly better, and the horsepower / performance is dramatically better. A Northstar equipped Cadillac is a fun ride.
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