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Using a car until it 'dies' Login/Join 
Do---or do not.
There is no try.
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I decided on a simple formula to determine when to replace an aging vehicle:

1. Find the kind of vehicle you’d buy as a replacement.
2. Determine the maximum monthly payment you would be shelling out for the new car.
3. If you incur repair costs during the next six months that total approximately four months’ worth of new car payments, fix the current vehicle and then watch and wait. If at any time during the next six months something happens to the current vehicle that will cost at least two more months’ worth of new car payments, dump it.
Posts: 3537 | Registered: January 01, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can't directly answer, since I've never done it.

I do wonder about the wisdom of doing so. We have pages of threads about various pistols that members would not "trust with their life". That is often based on someone else's report of a failure. Running a vehicle until it dies introduces the very real possibility that it will leave you stranded in harsh conditions (perhaps deadly in some parts of the country) or a major component failure at high speed or in heavy traffic. IMO, those risks are far more real threats to our lives and safety than anything that is going to occur to us due to a gunfight.
Posts: 7782 | Location: The Red part of Minnesota | Registered: October 06, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of 71 TRUCK
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My father taught me the best thing to do is drive it till it is not worth fixing it any more.
We usually will do this and most dealers will give around $1000 as a trade value in my experience. Most of the time the car will be over 10 years old.
I will never tell the dealer I have a trade till I get the new car down to the price I want first.

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State

NRA Life Member
Posts: 1354 | Location: Central Florida, south of the mouse | Registered: March 08, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of muddle_mann
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I really think this will be different for everyone. I've learned a few lessons over the years. I bought a 95 integra from carmax back in the day. Drove it for 10 years. It had a genetic problem of warping rotors and my guess is that it'd been in an unreported accident because the right axle joint kept going bad (a geometry issue?). When the transmission started shifting rough I made a huge mistake; I sold some guns and paid $3k for a replacement transmission. I only drove it for another 3 years (I had ideas of driving forever, but really should have faced facts and not done that since I was constantly replacing rotors and that axle) when I decided to get into another car. Heck the only reason I did that was because my Dad said he'd throw some $$ at me to get into a different car. I never really complained about my Integra but I guess he figured it'd been a decade I might want to get out of it. That car was an 06 Avalon. I drove it for 7 1/2 years then gave it to my wife. It now has 220k and working like a champ. So, long story short, if you like the car and as long as the repairs are not worth more than the car, then keep driving it. Yes, as cars get older there is a possibility they will "nickel and dime" you to death but I avoid a lot of that by buying Toyotas (with J vin numbers). Been driving an '08 Yaris since December. It's got 178k on the clock and runs like new. 37.6 average MPG since December. Not bad for a 10yr old car...

Originally posted by konata88:
For those of you who use a car until it's basically 'dead' what is your trigger to replace? In the past, I would change cars while the car was still in good shape (< 10 years old, < 100K miles, etc).

When we bought our current cars, we decided we would use them until they 'died' as they were expensive (for us). The ES is 19 years old now - body, interior are still in great shape. Car seems to be operating fine. But having to replace the alternator now when the car has a 'worth' of about $3000 is getting me to think.

I'm fixing this. But wondering what is the typical trigger to just buy new? Keep fixing things until something major breaks (piston rings, transmission, head gasket, etc)?

The alternative is to buy another car but that costs $25K. On one hand, NPV seems better to keep fixing. But then at some point the car will 'die' and I'm spending part of the $25K to keep fixing the car.

Do you guys use some criteria to decide?


Time has little to do with infinity and jelly donuts...
Posts: 3645 | Location: MD | Registered: March 03, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of muddle_mann
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Originally posted by Beanhead:
So I got a 2017 Toyota Avalon. Read on Forbes that the car should be good for at least 200,000 miles without a problem. I am going to put that theory to test.

You will LOVE that car! My 06 has 220k on it. One of the lowest cost maint cars I've ever owned. I drove it for 7 1/2 years and only spent about a $1k total for repairs. The wife drives it now. The power plant in that car is really, really awesome. It drives like it has more than 268 horse power. That engine has oodles of power all throughout the rev range. I miss that power a lot!

My next car will likely be a used Camry XSE with that same V6.


Time has little to do with infinity and jelly donuts...
Posts: 3645 | Location: MD | Registered: March 03, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For me it depends on the cost of the repair and the value of the car. I had a 2000 Camry with 244,000 miles that developed a bad oil leak, my mechanic quoted me a price around a grand to fix it. I opted to donate the car instead since the car was probably only worth a grand and I had just purchased a new 2015 Camry. For me it made more sense to put a grand towards paying off the new Camry than fixing the old one. If I could have fixed the oil leak on the old Camry for less than 500 I would have had the car repaired.
Posts: 1048 | Location: USA | Registered: December 11, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nature is full of
magnificent creatures
Picture of deepocean
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Originally posted by 220-9er:
Most car replacements are because you want it, not need it.

This sums it up for me. I would not sell a vehicle because of an alternator. I've seen a lot of people who basically do not want to deal with normal maintenance, so they buy a new vehicle every two years and "keep the payment the same." I think it never occurs to them they will always be working to pay for depreciation.

I prefer not to have car payments.
Posts: 6067 | Registered: March 24, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I usually give it ten years or so, then donate the car to a charitable organization for the tax write off. The exceptions to that were when each of my daughters hit 14 or so, I kept the older car (8 years old), and when they hit 16 I had them worked over until fully reliable. The insurance on the older car was significantly lower. I also don't buy new anymore; either Carmax or Enterprise Sales gets me a fine late model car at a bargain price.
Posts: 14503 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: October 15, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The older I get, the more I don't want to fuck with car problems. I need it to work.

I traded my 11 year old Touareg when the dealership wanted $8000 to replace timing belt, hatch struts, etc. I knew the auto leveling air suspension, dual speed axle, auto leveling headlights, all wheel drive, & all the other expensive to repair shit was coming due. I was cured of owning $60,000 autos!


If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit!

Sigs Owned - A Bunch
Posts: 3540 | Location: Nashville, Tennessee | Registered: December 16, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Ironmike57
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This for me too. My 06 Element's engine blew at 274,000 miles. 4k to replace it. I had just replaced the transmission. Time to stop the bleeding.

Originally posted by Anush:
The older I get, the more I don't want to fuck with car problems. I need it to work.

Posts: 1210 | Location: Stepped up to Delray Beach | Registered: July 26, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of cparktd
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That I remember off the top of my head...

'41 Ford
'63 Impala
'66 F250
'78 F150
'73 AMC
'85 Cherokee
'85 Astro Van
'00 Grand Prix
'00 Miata

EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Was worth / sold for less than $500.

Yes, pretty much use them up!

When to buy a replacement? Usually, when I find myself walking!

Deplorable before deplorable was cool!
Posts: 2209 | Location: Middle Tennessee | Registered: February 07, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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When the cost to repair is greater than that to replace it. A couple examples;

'96 Explorer lost a transmission, estimated cost to repair was $3600. When it was up and running it would be a 19 year old SUV with 245,000 miles. It had rust on every body panel. The engine, transfer case, and differentials, catalytic converters, and electronics had never been repaired or replaced. Salvage yard wrote me a check for $600 because all those systems still worked, the tires were great motor appeared sound etc. I bought that Explorer for $4000 with 140,000 miles 6 years prior.

At the same time I owned a '96 Mustang convertible. Again I was about $4500 into that car. Over the years it accumulated 190,000 miles, 70,000 we put on it. In its final days it needed an exhaust, another new top, the engine consumed coolant, all four corners needed major brake work, and most importantly the frame was well and truely worn out (the doors were quite difficult to close). I only got $400 from the salvage yard for the Mustang. I could not in clear conscience sell it too some poor SOB who might think it could be revived.

Both of the above vehicles were "sound" work cars. From 50' they looked pretty nice actually, I got offers from co-workers to buy them, but they were done. I got all the good out of them there was to get.

I've been driving 40 years, I've only sold/traded 4 cars in those years. In late 2014 I was the proud owner of 3 vehicles that between them had very nearly 670,000 miles and were 50 years old between them. None of them were ever towed home, none left me to walk for any reason. I feel like I get the good out of my cars and trucks.

----------The weather is here I wish you were beautiful----------
Posts: 4518 | Location: southern Mn | Registered: February 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Muzzle flash
Picture of flashguy
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I drove my 1986 Mustang GT for 20 years, at which time it had 182,000 miles on it. The dealer I bought it from had said that it would easily go 200,000 miles if I did the routine maintenance, and I think he was right. After 20 years I was ready for a new car, so I bought a 2006 Mustang GT, which I am still driving. I have averaged more than 9 years with my cars, and none were replaced for repair issues.


Texan by choice, not accident of birth

When they ask me, "Paper or plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual."
Posts: 21439 | Location: Dallas, TX | Registered: May 08, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of SigSentry
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Originally posted by RHINOWSO:
To me it has to be some relatively catastrophic issue that rivals what the car is worth.

It also depends how badly you need a reliable car for work or other purposes. For me, I rarely leave 15 miles from home, so if I break down it’s really no big deal - at the same time I rent a car for long work or personal trips.

Exhibit A. Hail and insurance are probably the reason we aren't driving 20 year old cars. Both my cars were likely totalled on 7/29. Hail sucks.

From Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on 8/6

Posts: 2269 | Registered: May 30, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of wrightd
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Originally posted by Mars_Attacks:
My Frontier has 300,000 on it and still going strong.

Only thing I have done is maintain it.

Filters, plugs, wires, brakes, oil, coolant, belts, bulbs, tires.

Here are the majors

200,000 - Timing Belt, water pump

225,000 - Starter, valve cover gaskets

250,000 - Clutch

275,000 - Replace rotors, shocks

300,000 - AC compressor, all coolant hoses

That's impressive. Normal high-mileage maintenance pays in the long run. This is how I do it too.

Lover of the US Constitution
Wile E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing
Posts: 6494 | Location: Nowhere the constitution is not honored | Registered: February 01, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of wrightd
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I gave my 98 Ranger to my daughter, and I do the maintenance on it. It's got I'm guessing 200K+ miles on it. I replaced the auto tranny a couple years ago, it cost much more than the vehicle was worth, but buying a car for the amount the transmission cost, the risk of replacing an old vehicle with a known history with another old vehicle of unknown history, was not worth it. I take good care of the truck, most normal maint I do myself, and hire out stuff like suspension work etc. The truck runs smoothly, she drives it everywhere, recently taking a multi-state trip.

Lover of the US Constitution
Wile E. Coyote School of Gunsmithing
Posts: 6494 | Location: Nowhere the constitution is not honored | Registered: February 01, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I drove a 1994 Toyota v6 pickup until it had 350k miles on it. I just got a “new” 03 Tacoma.
Posts: 4830 | Location: Alaska | Registered: June 12, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Team Apathy
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Last year my 2002 F150 developed a terminal engine knock. It sounded like a diesal, but it’s not.

I had a couple choices:

1) junkyard engine for $800 + $1000 to install. No warranty.

2) reman engine for $2000 + $1000 too ibstall. 3 year warranty including labor to fix covered issues.

3) replace with something that met our needs.

It was an easy choice. No way could we get a replacement that would be as reliable for $3000. Or probably even triple that.

I chose option 2 after having a trans shop evaluate the condition of the trans. At this stage I simply will not agree to a car payment while I could get $3000, I couldn’t get enough for a suitable replacement.

I’ll be driving the f150 into the ground, probably until transmission failure. And then that might be fixed.
Posts: 5231 | Location: Modesto, CA | Registered: January 27, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Bunch of savages
in this town
Picture of ASKSmith
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I'm in the "drive it until it dies" camp. My car is a commuter car, for trips we use my wife's car.

Generally for her, we keep 10yrs, and trade in. We are on our second Hyundai, and it has a 10yr powertrain warranty, so getting rid of it, while the warranty remains, just didn't make financial sense. This year is different, my son will be turning 16, and he will get her car. We already upgraded her car to a Toyota Highlander. She received a nice raise at work, so that was more of a celebration vehicle.

I have a 2009 Subaru Legacy with 65k on it. It will be my other son's car when he turns 16. He just turned 12.

Another factor is we have state inspections. For my wife's car, if I know there will be a significant issue for it to pass, we will drive it up until the month of the inspection. Her last car we traded in needed brakes all around, tires, and the gas gauge was on E.

I have a mechanic friend in Ohio. I told him to keep an eye out for an older truck in good shape. He found one, a 1997 Ford Ranger, original owner with 52,000 on it. I was seriously interested in it, but couldn't get the nagging "what if it doesn't pass the PA state inspection" part out of my head. It was in excellent shape, but it was +20yrs old. I regret not getting it for my son, but I was concerned about reliability. It had sat for quite some time, the owner had passed away, and his wife drove it occasionally. And it would have needed new tires almost immediately, the current ones were showing signs of dry rot.

I apologize now...
Posts: 10034 | Registered: December 30, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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