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Buying American Cars What Does It Mean?



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    I was kinda shocked that my uncle was able to get $2000 in trade for his '03 Corolla, which had about 240K on it, and was pretty beat. Of course, being a trade, sometimes they'll fudge the numbers. But he got (I thought, at least) a pretty good deal on the 2013 Camry he traded on. It was at CarMax.

    For comparison, one of my friends traded an '04 Crown Vic with about 232K on it last year, at CarMax. He traded for an '09 Grand Marquis, and they only gave him $300! And his Crown Vic was in a LOT better shape than my uncle's Corolla was.

    Now, I just wish I could get my mother to realize that nobody in their right mind would pay the ~$2,000 that KBB says her 340K 1999 Altima is worth. :-P
  • ohenryxohenryx Posts: 285
    I've always thought the online pricing guides (or, in the old days, the NADA Blue Book) were too lenient when it came to high miles. The "standard" is supposed to be 12k miles per year, if memory serves, and anything over that is to be penalized. But the deduct for 150k miles on a 5 or 6 year old used car is not nearly as high in the books as what it should be in my mind.

    It's getting harder and harder to find a used car with no more than 12 to 15k per year on the clock. I have been reading that Americans are driving less the last few years, but you couldn't prove it by me. My experience used car shopping would indicate the opposite.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,010
    The "standard" here has been 15,000 miles for many years. We use that number for TCO as well as TMV.

    Got new tires for my '99 van a few month back, which tripled its value. But I probably would just keep it instead of selling it for the ~$500 TMV.

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  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Not so. The Honda had mainly highway, interstate miles. Drove very well. Was very tight and rattle free, good paint, very little rust, excellent shape interior. This in contrast to my Chevrolet Suburban of the exact same vintage year as the Honda. The quality, reliability, body integrity, engine, interior of the two was light years apart. And, the Chevrolet had one-third the overall miles being it was used mainly for utility, was garage kept. Chevrolet of that vintage year was far inferior to the Honda in every regard. Of course, hauling capacity not included here.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    edited September 2013
    I've always heard that the standard is 10-12,000 per year when you're trading a used car to the dealer, but when you're buying one from the dealer, suddenly it's 15,000.

    Regardless, once a car gets to a certain mileage, I don't think it deserves a low-mileage credit. For instance, my '68 Dart was 42 model years old when I got rid of it, and had 338,000 miles on it. That may only be 8,047 miles per year, but that car was NOT low mileage! :P
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    The most expensive part of keeping vehicles you don't drive much is the insurance and license. This year on the 24 year old LS400 smog and license $188. Liability insurance $320. New battery was $124 as the 6 year battery went bad at 4 years just sitting in the garage most of the time. Add a $70 synthetic oil change. I would sell it and save us $58 a month. Its the wife's baby. So it gets a spot in our 3 car garage.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    The above mentioned 24 year old Lexus has 105K miles on the odo. That is low mileage. I don't think anyone would pay much attention. As it would take someone that wants a first year LS400 in primo condition. They seem to be going around $5000.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    edited September 2013
    How many miles per year does that Lexus get driven? Even if the wife loves it, does it get used enough to keep it around? Also, with it taking up garage space, does that force another car to sit out in the elements?

    BTW, what would the going rate be for a garage space these days, I wonder, if you had to rent one? I wonder if that should be factored into the cost of the car?

    I had a 4-car garage built back in late 2005, and it was finished up in early 2006. I'm probably in that garage about $33,000 at this point, and had full use of it for about 7 1/4 years. I figure that works out to around $95 per month, per space. Not too expensive, I guess. But, if I didn't have the old cars, I never would have had to build it!

    ** Gagrice, you must have been reading my mind!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    high miles is not only about how the car looks and drives, but it's about statistics.

    At 250,000 miles, a car could look and drive fine, and just let loose in one catastrophic moment, and nobody would say "Gee, only 250,000 miles and your transmission burned up..."


  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    Most of the miles this year were put on by my wife's niece and family. They were here for 3 weeks in June. They did leave it spotless full of gas and a $30 gift certificate for Phil's BBQ. Best experience yet lending a car. Just looking at the spreadsheet. It had 106,805 when I got it smogged a week ago. All original exhaust and emissions. And it was way below the max on all the tests. It had 96k when I first added it to my spreadsheet in January 2009. Less than 3000 a year. We drive it to the zoo or downtown. Just to keep it charged up. I don't like the low slung tuna boat ride. Not bad as cars go. A heck of a lot better than the Accord we rented in Indiana. I did put a new set of Michelins on it back in 2009. She had some nearly new off brand tires a friend sold her. One had a bubble that caused the car to shimmy. Needless to say the friend and tire shop was gone. I don't buy cheap tires even for a parked car. And yes it takes a space in the garage. I don't think I would put the PU in there anyway.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    "Buying a car, and driving it well past the last payment provides the most cost effective ownership experience. I maintain my vehicles, and I try to be proactive with repairs."

    I agree totally. From a pure $$$ standpoint, unless there are unusual circumstances, the average modern production car could probably be kept and driven indefinitely (and maintained properly) cheaper than buying multiple cars over the same time period. That's the reason manufacturers spend so much money on marketing, so the public will feel the need to trade cars often. And, its difficult to factor in enhanced safety features into the costs equation.

    " for "American Cars" are cheap and readily available."

    That's certainly been true in the past, but as car production continues its progression into parts from worldwide suppliers, I'm not so sure that trend will continue. That's why I think the primary limiting factor in the longevity of cars purchased today will be much more electrical/electronic related .vs. mechanical/body panel related.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    That's the reason manufacturers spend so much money on marketing, so the public will feel the need to trade cars often. And, its difficult to factor in enhanced safety features into the costs equation.

    I wonder how often, on average, people trade nowadays versus back in the old days? Once upon a time, the styles changed so fast that people were encouraged to trade every few years, whether the old ride was still running strong or not. In 1957, nobody wanted a car if it didn't have fins, but by 1960 or so, nobody really wanted a car with those towering monstrosities.

    And once upon a time, a new style could come out that made the previous look downright ancient...for instance, every time GM downsized something in the late 1970's. Or the 1986 Taurus versus the LTD. Heck, even when Ford redid the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis for 1992, they seemed to make the old models seem ancient.

    I'd guess people don't trade nearly as often as they used to, so sometimes I wonder how the auto makers stay profitable? They also don't restyle as often as they used to, or offer as many choices, so that might be part of it.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    "I wonder how often, on average, people trade nowadays versus back in the old days?"

    The main difference between then and now is that no one leased cars in the 50-60's, but leasing is incredibly common today.

    Leasing effectively changed the way cars were, and are, marketed.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,850
    I was astounded to find that my VW dealer leases 70% of the vehicles they move. And sell the rest with 0% financing? Hard to imagine. I think some automakers are just floating in cash.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,010
    Some of it was style and planned obsolescence, but cars really didn't last all that long either. Once you hit 50,000 miles you were living on borrowed time. Three year trade-ins were the norm in the 50s and 60s if you could afford it.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I suspect the premium Germans are the same way. The profit margins on these vehicles are huge, they aren't losing money at it.
  • and increasingly integrated systems might determine the end of life for vehicles today. At some point, the repair cost exceeds the comfort level of the owner. It is not just the cost of a replacement engine or tranny any more.
    As an example the charging issue with my car could have been the alternator, a wiring harness or even the engine ECM. The ECM would have cost me 300-400.
    There are countless parts whose failure would result in an check engine or ABS light-even though the car could still drive it would no longer pass the state inspection without repair.....
    And bad advice/repairs by unskilled, uninformed "pros" can cost 1000s.
    Those old cars that went miles and lasted decades had something modern cars lack-metal parts.
    But I am not complaining about modern comfort/safety/reliability or fuel economy either.
  • Compressor-$125
    expansion valve-$20
    another $50 or so for cleaner, oil and R134
    I borrowed a friends a/c machine. Bought parts on e-bay.
    I went in from the top-pulled the top radiator support, removed the cooling fan and then removal was easy.
    This one was my fault as well. Note to self-if you have to add freon there is a leak. And if the gas gets out the oil does as well. It all made perfect sense after the compressor seized on me. It was last winter too-I was running the defroster. The leak is the evaporator-I hope the a/c sealer works. I do not want to deal with removing that.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    I was watching a "How Its Made" program last nite on the Bentley currently in production (they're doing a series on exotic performance, high $$$ cars).

    According to the show, the Bentley has 8 MILES of wiring inside a single car.

    That's a lot of conductive material to keep in conductive shape. Maine tracking down a wiring problem in that vehicle...

    At least, I understand one reason the car cost so much...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Most modern cars have about 5 miles of wiring says Todd H. Hubing,
    Michelin Professor of Vehicular Electronics, Clemson University.

    And most new cars contain about 100 microprocessors and that is expected to double by 2018.

    The big bugaboo, I'm told, is worrying about electromagnetic compatibility.


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