Beaters Out Of Choice, Not Necessity

hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
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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  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    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 Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    Gee, I might have something for you....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,248
    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. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Interesting! Which model is it, and how many miles are on the odometer?
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 15,109
    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

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2018 330i xDrive

  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,248
    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. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    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 Member Posts: 24,648
    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 NHMember Posts: 22,121
    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.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 53,947
    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 Member Posts: 24,648
    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 Member Posts: 53,947
    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 Member Posts: 24,648
    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 Member Posts: 53,947
    I am pretty sure the old beast will last that long ;)
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,248
    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. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    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 Guest Posts: 52,457
    "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)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,648
    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_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
    Not exactly "beaters", but good buys if you can find them.

    Edmunds Used Car Best Bets for 2012
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    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. ;)
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    edited August 2012
    Do you treat your Quest to synthetic?
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    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.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    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 Guest Posts: 52,457
    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:
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,648
    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 Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    edited August 2012
    image

    Here's my 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis LS on May 4, 2012.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Member Posts: 18,692
    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.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    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 Member Posts: 18,692
    "...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.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • henry_nhenry_n Member 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.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    Oh, I KNOW the Northstar is a lot of fun as I've had two Northstar-equipped Cadillacs - a 2002 Seville STS and a 2007 DTS Performance. I think the issues are with earlier Northstars. I recall there was a lower block seal that would go bad and cause oil leaks ranging from a little seepage to gushing out. The part cost about $44, but the labor would be about $2K as the engine had to be pulled and taken apart to replace it. I believe the seal and head gasket issues were resolved in later cars.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited September 2012
    Drove down to Lower Michigan a week ago and it rained most of the day. Stopped to get gas and noticed that the driver's side floorboard was soaking wet and water was dripping down around the brake pedal. Told my wife this may be it - heater cores are expensive to replace.

    The water didn't feel oily and my wife is sensitive to smells and she would have noticed long before the carpet got soaked if the coolant was leaking into the car.

    I think stopping to get gas moved water in the cowl over to a low spot or something. Got to the campground and borrowed a fan and the carpet was dry by the morning.

    Rained again last Friday heading back north and got a couple of ounces on the floor. Guess I'll try to find the clog this week. The in-cabin filter is relatively new so will be surprised if it's clogged. It's also odd since the van is parked in the garage most of the time. We do have chipmunks.... :confuse:

    Rolled over 179,000 miles and really want to see 200k, but the years are taking their toll at this point. The move to salt country isn't helping.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Let us know what happens next.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited September 2012
    No hurry; it's a beater and not a commuter, after all. Plus we hit a cold snap and my garage isn't heated. Maybe next week. ;)
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Had that happen in a 2000 Taurus. Ended up that the technician who replaced the cabin filter screwed up the outside air cabin intake in front of the windshield while removing and replacing the filter. Once they fixed that cowling or whatever it was called, it was fine.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    Well, the last tech who replaced the in-cabin filter was me. :blush: I've had the cowl off several times but I bet I did mess something up. That should be easier to fix that trying to find a clogged drain hole.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    "Rolled over 179,000 miles and really want to see 200k, but the years are taking their toll at this point."

    Of course age matters, but 200,000 is the new 100,000. In the spirit of beaters by choice, your van can do it.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited September 2012
    Yeah, but I think the odds would be better if the van still lived in the high desert, not in the salt flats of Michigan. :)

    Ruking1 is right in there with me with 178k on his VW Jetta TDi. He drives more than we do so he'll get to 200k a year earlier that we will. And his mpg is twice as good as ours too.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    My daughter's Celica has 178K on it so we have a race going...... I just spent a fortune on brake work for it but where else I'm gonna find a basically good car for $1,000? She's back on the road.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    "...where else I'm gonna find a basically good car for $1,000?"

    image

    These guys can send you back in time about 30-35 years and you'll find one! :P
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    Perfect!
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    Beats me. :D

    Took the cowl off and there wasn't much of anything in the way of debris in there. Didn't pull out the in-cabin filter but it looked like it was fitting well and didn't look particularly dirty. Plus it's all the way to the passenger side and my leak is right at the brake pedal.

    I poured a couple of cups of water into the area while the cowl was off and the water drained out quickly through the front fender area.

    So, I screwed everything back together and in keeping with my long maintenance tradition, I'm going to ignore it until I can't.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    That's a comment from a WSJ article titled For Some of Us, We Are What We Drive.

    Another commenter talked about falling out of his chair after totaling up ten years of driving expenses.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,648
    A little over 3 weeks ago, I bought a new Dodge Ram. We used my uncle's '97 Silverado, which was fast becoming a beater itself, as a trade-in, so it hasn't replaced any of my vehicles. Yet, at least. Eventually I think my '85 Silverado will succumb to something, but it seems to be holding on. And I'm holding onto it as a work truck, because, well, the new one is too purty to dirty up! :blush:

    Originally, I thought about just driving it till it drops, but then the more I thought about it, as little as I drive these days, it probably won't have 35,000 miles on it by the time the 5 year powertrain warranty is up Heck, it might not even need any maintenance in that time, other than oil changes and a couple air filters and, at the worst, front brake pads. So, I wonder if it might be a good idea to trade it around that time, and get into something brand-new again, with a warranty? With only around 35K on it, it should have pretty good trade-in value, even for a Dodge! :P So, that'll be a bigger down payment, so that whatever replaces it won't cost all that much.

    But, I'll just see what happens when the time comes. A lot can happen between now and then.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    "Whenever a new part—like that gas-pedal hinge—is designed, the first question an engineer must ask is, how long does it need to last? Ford’s standard warranty guarantees all parts for three years and engines and transmissions for six. But Ford wants to be sure its products last longer than this. To ensure that parts easily surpass warranty claims (and hopefully ensure that buyers feel they own a reliable product), Ford aims to have everything last 10 years. Upholstery, transmissions, paint—all of it is built to last at least a decade. Ford has not only constructed nearly all of its elaborate lab testing around the 10-year mark, it has also built tracks that are designed to, over a number of runs, roughly simulate a decade of regular driving."

    Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually (Wired)
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    "People who keep a vehicle for more than 10 years tend to value comfort, reliability and security. "They're more likely to garden and go to coffee shops," he says, "and do home DIY projects." They're more likely than the average consumer to have libertarian political views, he says, and have little interest in luxury features—unless they have a practical purpose."

    Breaking Up With a Broken-Down Car Is Hard to Do (WSJ)
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,121
    Except for the part about coffee shops (espresso Junkie) none of that description fits me nor does it make sense, if comfort reliability and security is that important why would you drive a ten y/o car, shouldn't you be in something new?

    For the record I have two cars, one is 13 the other is 12, I'm a liberal, don't garden or DIY much and value performance style and bang for the buck more than comfort or security.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited March 2013
    Well, if your current ride never breaks down, why take a risk on a new lemon?

    I love coffee shops - not the Starbucks kind of places as much as the diners though. Around here I can get a good breakfast for what a triple shot caramel macchiato would cost at 'bucks.

    Liberals don't like cars and certainly wouldn't have more than one (remember your slotting LOL).
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    I mean jeeze, only 13 years old and 182,000 miles. Just quit without warning. Who do I sue?

    image
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,693
    Oh, man. I bet you never buy nissan again! What a POS!

    ;)

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

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