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Cash for Clunkers - Good or Bad Idea?



  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    Remember valve jobs at 50,000 miles? Ring Jobs at 70,000 miles?

    I remember my Granddad bitching, because he had to do a valve job on his '72 Impala around the 70,000 mile mark. I don't think he was impressed by that. But then it was a Chevy engine. :P

    People are griping because they need to overhaul their transmission after 100,000 miles! In the "old days" people would have been bragging that they made it that long!

    This is only personal experience, and not scientific I know, but I've seen more trannies make it beyond 100K miles than not. Among the "nots" that come to mind...well, my great-uncle had a 1957-58 Ford. He got it stuck in the snow and tried to rock it out, and burnt it up. It was only 1-2 years old, but I'd classify that as abuse. My grandparents had a 1977 Granada that had the tranny fail under warranty, within a year. My Mom & stepdad's '91 Stanza's tranny started getting weak around 90K, but did make it to around 110-120K, when they sold it. Their '99 Altima's crapped out at 35K. My '82 Cutlass Supreme got rebuilt at 62K. My buddy's '98 Tracker got an "overhaul" at around 20K, 40K, 60K (luckily these were all under warranty), then died at 86K. Transmission shop got it running for 60 bucks, but said it probably wouldn't hold, and sure enough, around 92K it went again. However, we threw in a used unit from a '95 or so model with 55K on it, and it never gave any trouble for the 42K more miles he had it.

    Oh, and a guy at work bought a 2000 Lincoln LS. Tranny failed immediately. So did a few other things.

    So, my experience has been that it's the newer cars, not the older ones, that are seeing the early tranny failures. However, what could be going on is that all the older cars that already had the tranny failures have long since been taken off the some cases before I was even born. So the ones that are left are the "cream of the crop". And in all honesty, I have no way of knowing if the tranny in my 230K 1979 Newport hadn't been replaced at some point before. Ditto my '68 Dart. I DO know it was replaced (but with a used unit) at 242,000 miles. Had 338,000 miles on it when I quit driving it, and the only time I had transmission trouble was when one of the cooling tubes got crimped, pressure built up, and fluid started spitting out of a seal. I remember the transmission guy said that if I kept driving it like that, I *might* need a rebuild, but if it had been a modern car, it probably would've been dead by now!
  • 100chuck100chuck Posts: 145
    Yes it would be but I don't know if my clunker would like a nice road trip :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    A person who trades in a clunker for a 2009 car, is going to greatly improve their chances of survival in a crash IMO.

    Alas, the statistics prove the point decisively. Traffic deaths are going down year after year while and miles driven going up and up.

    There is no logical explanation for this except safer cars on the road. Old cars are simply not defensible statistically. I don't think teenagers should even be *allowed* to drive cars without air bags.

    The "weight" argument is specious as well IMO. The safest cars in the world today are also the lightest (race cars). Who wants to crash at 200 mph in a 1950 Packard?

    It's all about design, and in 1956, "safety" wasn't even a consideration 50s cars. With no seat belts and nice pointy dashboard objects to imbed in the human head, the car is obviously a death trap. When it hits something head on at 50 mph, it will stop, but the driver will keep on going straight into paradise.
  • stephen987stephen987 Posts: 1,994
    Shifty, I would agree with your point about race cars being the safest, but I'd add two points that the relatively sanitized racing environment doesn't account for:

    1. Driver inattention. Race cars don't operate in an environment full of distracted drivers. A smaller, lighter car can be a safer car, in that it has the innate ability to respond more quickly to changing driver inputs. But that only applies if it is helmed by an alert driver. US drivers are notoriously inattentive, undertrained, and distracted, compared to their European counterparts.

    2. Unlike race cars, road cars face the prospect of colliding with moving vehicles of radically different mass. This is a factor, and it can offset the inherent responsiveness of the smaller car, particularly in light of #1 above.

    I would argue that the safest car in the world is one that balances mass with agility, and provides the driver with as few distractions from the task of driving as possible. It must provide the driver with all of the necessary feedback, without making him/her uncomfortable in the process.

    So, from the point of view of maximizing safety, I would rather be in an E-Class Mercedes than any of the above. Unfortunately, the E-Class starts at $53,200, so I couldn't buy one using my C4C voucher.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Vehicle collisions are incredibly complex. You can't count on one 2009 car being intrinsically better than another in an accident I don't think. If you ran 100 E Class Benzes into 100 Camrys, I doubt very much you would come out with any "pattern" of safety at all or any indication that a few 100 lbs. of weight made a difference.

    In fact, both cars would fold up nicely and be scrapped most likely. Which is the whole point in their design.

    If a train hits a Honda Civic, do we ban the Civic 'dangerous'? Of course not. We fix the railroad crossings. :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    The "weight" argument is specious as well IMO. The safest cars in the world today are also the lightest (race cars). Who wants to crash at 200 mph in a 1950 Packard?

    Well, it's not all about weight, but weight is certainly a factor. And I stand by my statement that if I'm in my '85 Silverado, I'd rather hit a 2009 CamCord head-on than another '85 Silverado! Granted, I don't want to hit either one, but I'd still come off better (or, less worse, at least) hitting the Camry.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Man you are dumb sometimes. Like everyone else said I will give you an extra 1,000 lbs of mass for the Packard and take any car built in the last couple of years for my vehicle of choice.

    My modern unibody structure absorbs all the energy of the crash, the airbags deploy saving me and lastly the seat belts with pre-tensioners just give me some bruises on my chest.

    The paramedics have to scrape your body off the dash of the Packard.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I don't think so. Statistically, air bag deployment decreases your chance of injury considerably. Even if your Silverado had an air bag, it doesn't have side air bags, it might also catch fire, (no fuel shut-off), it won't stop as well (no ABS) and if you were T-boned, you might easy be flipped over (high center of gravity). Given say 100 separate Camry-Silverado collisions, the odds would be on your side in a Camry---not 100%, but substantially tilted I think in your favor.

    Saving "clunkers" based on safety arguments won't hold water I don't think.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    You're just wrong here for two reasons and you're being disingenious in your posts.

    First you mention an 85 pickup being better than a modern CamCord. This simply is not correct. If both vehicles get hit by the same force of a modern SUV the CamCord occupants will do better overall.

    Yes there is no doubt about a Fit hitting an Accord they are vehicles of different sizes and weights knocking against each other. This creates differing forces between the vehicles. But that's not the subject you first brought up.

    You mentioned an 85 pickup being hit vs a new CamCord being hit.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Also the majority of fatal car accidents are caused by single vehicle crashes. One car loses control and hits a tree, dirt berm or in a worst case scenario hits multiple objects.

    In that case weight works against you. All that extra weight doesn't do any good when you hit something that will never be moved like large tree.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I think that a totally unintended benefit of C4C program will be some lives saved.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Yes, most likely I think you are right. My old Bonneville was a great car, pretty reliable OK mileage but I am sure it would have been a disaster in a wreck. No airbags, no side impact protection beams AFAIK and that chassis was designed in the mid 80s to early 80s so metallurgical advancements have been incredible since then.

    That same basic H-Body chassis was used up through 1998. I know because that is where I got all of my improved suspension components. I got them off a 1998 Bonneville SSEI.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    In that case weight works against you. All that extra weight doesn't do any good when you hit something that will never be moved like large tree.

    On the flip side of that, back in 1987, a drunk in an early 70's Ford pickup hit the telephone pole out in front of my house. Hit it so hard he knocked a chunk out of it and the pole fell down. Also pulled down the pole behind it, which fell into the neighbor's tree and caught on fire. The truck ended up about 20-30 feet beyond the pole, and the driver was more shook up than really hurt.

    Try that stunt in a modern car. Now some sturdy body-on-frame vehicle might do it, but I'd guess most untized cars would just stop dead in their tracks and fold up around the pole. So in this one rare instant, the beefy old truck actually had the longer deceleration zone...20-30 feet since the pole snapped, versus the 3-4 feet that a modern car might give you as it's stopped dead and crumples up.

    And of course yes, I realize, this was a one-time fluke, and would NOT care to try re-creating the accident! But, "will never be moved" is somewhat of a sliding scale, and the heavier your car is, the more potential targets there are that become "moveable"

    As for weight working against you, I think a major factor is where the weight is distributed. In something like a pickup truck or van, where you sit towards the front and a great deal of the weight is still behind you, you're going to be more screwed. But in something like a big 70's coupe where you sit further back, the majority of the weight is in front of you. So, as long as the hood doesn't come through the windshield, or the engine doesn't end up in your lap, you might not be too bad off.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    That same basic H-Body chassis was used up through 199. I know because that is where I got all of my improved suspension components. I got them off a 1998 Bonneville SSEI.

    A lot of stuff might have been interchangeable, but those cars were beefed up a bit in the restyle...1991 for the C-body, and 1992 for the H-body. They did gain a few hundred pounds in the process, IIRC.

    The G-body, which we first saw as the 1995 Aurora, 1997 Park Ave, and 2000 Bonneville/LeSabre (can't remember now when the Seville and Deville joined it), was supposed to be damn near vault-like...but again, gained weight. One thing I really noticed about the G, especially the later ones, is when you open the door, how big the sill area is, and how sturdy the base of the B-pillar looks. I'm sure these things were definitely designed with safety in mind.

    In contrast, when the FWD big cars first came out, the main focus was on fuel economy, and shaving weight everywhere they could. These cars were designed in mind for a future with gasoline that was $3.00 per gallon...when you could find it. And also, no doubt, designed to help beat CAFE fines, where every 1/10 of an MPG counts.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    If anecdotes were evidence, Aunt Maude's recent big hit on the slots in Vegas proves that everybody who pulls the handle wins.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    it won't stop as well (no ABS)

    Well, it stopped better than the 2000 Infiniti that rear-ended me did! ;)
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Well they probably added side impact door beams and the sub-frames looked beefed up on those too. I bet most of the added weight was fancier electronics, more options and sound deadening.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I've also found that if a person is asleep at the wheel, braking distance increases significantly. :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    Well honestly, this situation happened so fast that the girl behind me didn't have a chance. I was in a pack of traffic, moving around 45-50 mph, and honestly, everybody was too close together. There were two lanes in each direction, but no center median or turn lane. Well, this old geeze in a Grand Marquis suddenly slams on the brakes to make a left turn, from the lane. Oncoming traffic, so they had to stop dead. There was another car in front of me, that was able to swerve over into the right lane, almost getting hit itself. I didn't have that option, so I just hit my brakes and prayed for the best. I KNEW I was getting hit, and sure enough, it happened. The Infiniti I30 behind me had tried to swerve around me, but still hit me with the full front of her car, just at a slight angle. That impact launched me towards the center lane, oncoming traffic, but fortunately I was able to steer back into my lane, and stop just short of where that Grand Marquis had been, as it was now slowly wallowing off to the port side, its driver oblivious to the carnage piling up behind it.

    An evil side of me almost wishes I had managed to tag that Grand Marquis in the process, just so they could get a little taste of the damage and inconvenience they had caused. But, all it would have done was make the insurance go up on the poor girl who rear-ended me by adding a third car into the mix, and since my truck would then be getting it from both ends, who knows how much damage it might've taken on?

    Scary thing is, as much damage as that I30 took on, it wasn't enough to deploy the airbags, so I guess in the overall scheme of things, the impact wasn't THAT hard. I guess if it had been bumper-to-bumper, rather than fascia-to-bumper, things would have been much worse...for both of us!

    The very next day, I took my '76 LeMans to a classic car show, and I got paranoid whenever anyone got anywhere NEAR my rear bumper!
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    This is a hoot but absolutely true.

    Mid-90's I'm driving home from Home Depot in our Olds 98 and as I turn to talk to my son I clip the right rearend of a Mercedes that had suddenly stopped to make a left turn. My fault.

    The other driver was the Asst DA of our town...nice choice of targets says I.

    No blood or injuries as far as I can see. My insurance company takes care of everything and I don't get a ticket or summons or anything.

    However.............6 months later I get sued. By the ADA's ...wife!!!! :surprise: Huh??? She was NOT even in the car! .... HUH???

    The amount of the suit was $12000. And what was I being sued for? She lost the use of his **** for 3 months while he was recovering from being smacked in the back. Not a joke..I was sued for her loss of his sexual services. I thought a friend was yanking my chain over this and had me served with bogus papers.

    I called my insurance agent and asked 'Is this for real?'
    They said..'How much were you sued for ..$12000?'
    'Yeah, how did you know that amount?'
    'Oh that's the normal amount we end up paying for this type of claim. Your ADA victim and his wife knew that. If it had been $20000 or more then we would have contested it.' 'Essentially you've just paid for the 1st year of his son's college expenses.'

    You have been forewarned..or you might see this as an opportunity if you're so inclined.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Whoa wait seriously????

    Come on Seriously???? :confuse:

    12,000 for three months hmhh I guess it depends on the frequency but that could be really cheap or really expensive. :surprise:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,899
    Lawyers....can't live with em, can't shoot em :sick: :shades:
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,523
    Well you can, just make sure there aren't any witnesses around and you have a place to stash the body. :P

    And seriously, come on, three months?! As Vicki Lawrence once said on "Mama's Family"...that's not called being out of commission, that's called being married!

    And if she wanted it that bad, c'mon...there ARE other positions. If they bilked your insurance company for $12K, it's obvious they know of many ways to screw someone. :mad:
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Y'all want to get back to clunkers before we have to throw cold water on this thread? :D
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    the CamCord occupants will do better overall.

    You are not keeping up with the debate. The issue is vehicle durability. Here is my statement.

    I don't buy that for a minute. Run into a 1985 PU truck with a 2009 CamCord and chances are the new car will be totaled and the PU truck have minimal damage.

    Other posters changed the issue to passenger safety from vehicle durability. As far as living through a crash the poster wanting a MB E class would be about the safest in class. The large SUVs and PUs are still the champs for survival according to IIHS.

    All said. I stand with my initial statement. A 1956 Packard is more durable in a crash than a new crumple car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Are we trying to save the car or the driver in a crash?

    Personally, I've made my choice.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Then you must have bought a Large SUV like I did. :shades:

    I think you would love the BMW X5 diesel. It handles very well, is roomy and you can probably squeeze 30 MPG on the highway. Plus an $1800 tax credit. I don't think $45k MSRP is possible. So you may not be able to cash in a clunker on one. They must be selling well. Only one out of the 5 dealers in San Diego has any in stock.

    I think the only high mileage diesel SUV that will get under that $45k limit is the new Touareg TDI. It has a great safety rating including rollover.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Umhh wait so you want the car to survive but so you can give it to your heirs?

    I wanna live don't care much about the car.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    That is still off the original debate. It was vehicle durability. Not personal safety. I would say an original land rover is more durable than the current crop of Range Rovers, especially off road.

    I am concerned with my personal safety. I will not own a little death trap econobox at least for driving on the Interstate. I go with a large car, PU or SUV. I consider our LS400 marginal for my personal safety.
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