When do you give up on a old car?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Michael Silla, May 9, 2003.

  1. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    At what point do you consider giving up on an old(er) car? I haven't really been in this situation until recently. I have owned my '97 Nissan 200 SX SE-R since it was new. Taken care of it well (oil changes every 3000 miles + regular maintenance).

    In return it has given me mostly trouble free motoring, never leaving me stranded until yesterday. That is when the envitable happened. My clutch failed. In a big way. 96,430 miles were on the odometer.

    The amazing thing is that the clutch plate still has grab to it. I'm getting the whole assembly replaced, plus the starter and a unrelated problem with the emergency brake cable fixed all for about $1000 (plus the rental).

    What got me posting this thread is that although this bill seems "reasonable" I can see myself perhaps having to replace the shocks/struts in the future too although they seem to be holding up well considering the cars age. I don't even know how much that bill would be.

    My long term goal is to not have a car payment for awhile (read: 3 years) so that I can get some furniture and take care of some other bills.

    What I'd like to know is what makes more financial sense to you? Minimally fix the car and trade it into the dealer, take a loss and get something new or newer? Or swallow the bill and move on and hope no more major bills come in the next 3 years?

    I probably put nearly 25-30,000 miles on my car each year, most of it highway driving (My commute is 67 miles round trip).

    Michael.
     
  2. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    You have to figure that a new $20,000 car is going to cost you $300+ per month (at 0% financing) so chances are that you'd be better off keeping your old car for a while. I'd say replace it if you end up with a repair bill over $3,000.
     
  3. Jeff Hoak

    Jeff Hoak Stunt Coordinator

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    First of all, I'm a Nissan fan and driver (95 Pathfinder 141K miles). I'd have to do a count but I think the Pathfinder is my 5th 6th Nissan (Datsun).

    Most Nissans run for 150K to 200K with very little service needed. This assumes good care and regular maintenance. There are however things that wear out. Clutch's are one of those things. They also seem to eat water pumps about every 100K miles.

    If you figure a new $25K car at 0% with 10% down you're looking at a payment of ~$375 per month. Even if you budget 4 of those payments to be spent every year on your old car (a total of $1500) that's still $3000 a year you've got to spend on paying bills and buying furniture. Over the course of 3 years... $9000.

    At my house we make payments on 2 paid for cars (the Pathfinder and a 90 Miata). The payments go into the savings account. On the rare occasions that we do need service beyond my mechanical abilities the money is there without blowing a giant hole in the budget. If either one of them should die or we should stumble accross the "deal od a lifetime" we've got the funds to jump on it. Both of our cars were just such deals.

    Keep the Nissan and drive it till it drops dead.
     
  4. Bill Wise

    Bill Wise Agent

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    Michael,

    I'm with Brian and Jeff. While I'm no particular fan of Nissan, I always try to look at it from the standpoint of, "What can I get that I'll like as much for the same money?" I say drive it 'til the wheels fall off. [​IMG]

    Regards,

    Bill
     
  5. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Fix it and keep motorin'. If you've taken that good care of it with regular maintenance, and most of your miles are highway, there's still a lot of life in 'er. [​IMG]
     
  6. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    I agree with the others with one caveat: You should probably replace the water pump and timing belt at 100K miles (meaning NOW). This isn't cheap, but amortized over the length of time you'd like to go without a payment, it's still a bargain. If you decide to keep the car without replacing the water pump and timing belts, I think you're asking for trouble.

    My car is 15 years old (had it since new), and I just can't imagine not fixing whatever goes wrong with it. Buying a new (or even used) car would be WAY more expensive than fixing my old one. I've saved so much in car payments that the occasional (and thankfully rare) $1700 repair bill doesn't bother me in the slightest.
     
  7. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  8. Dave Gorman

    Dave Gorman Supporting Actor

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    I gave up on the old one after 6 months averaging $250/mo in repairs. I suppose the $250/mo itself isn't bad, but having a vehicle that could break down at the drop of a hat, having to get rides from & to the shop, having to have the beast towed, etc. etc., was all enough for me to call it quits.
     
  9. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    Thanks guys!

    Dave:

    My SE-R hasn't reached that point yet. I'm trying thinking *positive* thoughts here [​IMG]

    Ryan,

    Thanks for your candor. it really is that simple. Thinking about it this afternoon I realize how much money I could waste going the new car route - especially considering that it probably isn't needed. It's true that I am partially sick of the car and would greatly enjoy a new Maxima (I can dream [​IMG] ) but alas those payments would bust my ass and for what?

    Brian,

    The SR20DE has a chain driven timing belt that *should* never need replacement. The other belts in there that are rubber will be replaced shortly. I never thought about the water pump though - I investigate that further.

    Jeff,

    That is an awesome plan! I have been "meaning" to do the same thing but after buying my home a couple of years ago I have had a harder time "getting ahead." One of my solutions was to hold onto this car for a lot longer than I expected. I hope that they 2007 model lineup with have something exciting (Read Mits Lancer Evo exciting [​IMG] ) in it.

    Make mine Yellow.

    Michael.
     
  10. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Good news about the chain-drive timing. The main thing is to avoid having the timing belt break while the engine is running. That ruins most engines, but it sounds like you don't have to worry about that.

    The water pump isn't nearly as critical. As long as you shut off the engine before it melts, having the water pump go out while you're driving does not harm the car. It will leave you stranded, though.

    Most engines are built so that the water pump must be removed to access the timing belt, so replacing both at once - even though only one may need replacing - is generally a good, cost-consolidating, peace-of-mind-enhancing thing to do.
     
  11. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    hehe...good advice Brian. I have a love/hate relationship with my car. I have those "in love" moments when I keep a plethora of Saturns and other sundry vehicles [​IMG] at bay during my drive to work.

    I have those hate filled moments when Acura RSX's, Impreza WRX's etc have there way with me on the way home from work [​IMG]. Either way I guess you have to take the good WITH the bad - that's life I suppose [​IMG]


    Michael.
     
  12. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    You consider '97 old? :b

    Keep your hopes high Mike, I was about to junk my 1990 Maxima when it started giving me MAJOR transmission problems (auto, 175k). I took it to Cottman's and they couldn't find a thing wrong with it, then magically it started to drive fine again (and now even better that winter's gone).

    If you drive it "till the wheels fall off" it will be a while since your car has a Nissan engine and you have a manual. Only sensible reason to give up on an old car is because there's a major problem and the repair cost is worth more than the car itself.

    Ps- If you want to have fun with those WRX/RSX's throw a turbo in your car for much less than it costs to buy a new one. I'm not gonna make it sound easy, there are other variables to think about but maybe Stillen or some other company has a pre-made turbo kit for you car.
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    I have friends with Nissans. One of them is a late '80s 200SX with over 200K on the clock. If you take care of the car, it will take care of you. Clutch failure is really an expected failure. They wear out. Same with shocks/struts- and they aren't something that surprise you, so budgeting for them is easy.

    I have a '95 Accord EX with 119K on the clock. I've put one set of brake pads, three batteries, three sets of tires, and a cooling fan motor in it. It's just getting warmed up. I fully expect to be able to get to 250K without any major issues. I'll be surprised if I don't. I'd expect about the same from your car.

    Financially speaking, until you get to where Dave is/was with repairs, you will be better off keeping it.

    Todd
     
  14. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    IMO the only practicle reason to replace your car with a new one is if yours is a LEMON. Otherwise, no way are the repairs you describe gonna cost more than a new car.

    BTW your used car also saves you money in lower insurance rates. I have a Honda Accord with over 250,000 miles on the original engine and clutch.
     
  15. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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  16. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    One more thing: Dave, although I think that keeping a car running forever is generally a good thing to do, I'd definitely dump the car you describe as soon as I could afford to do so. Like I said, there's no reason owning a car can't be affordable and fun - or if not fun, at least not depressing.
     
  17. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    that SE-R is a good car. the SR20DE is a good engine, def. keep it.
     
  18. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Sorry Brian edit that statement to include Mike's current situation. I'd also get the most out of that car before trading it in. If he gets a promotion or robs a bank he should sell the Sentra & go for that 350Z!

    And Mike just between us I felt the same way about getting rid of my car when the tranny started acting up. I wanted to trade it in asap and was also calling up people selling their cars. Even sold my car stereo on ebay. [​IMG] Now that I drive it to my college everyday which is 45 min both ways I'm kicking myself for getting rid of the stereo.
     
  19. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    Scott,

    The car has a few modest Stillen parts in it:

    Short throw shifter ( a must for the 200 SX )
    Stillen "Anti-sway" bar kit (makes a difference with even stock suspension setup)
    Stillen Strut brace (oooohhh pretty aluminum billet look that doesn't get seen 99% of the time - I could slap myself)

    And the best part? The JWT Pop charger. Another absolute must. Under heavy acceleration in second gear the car sounds absolutely wonderful - always makes old grannies get out of the way....[​IMG]

    I really used to be much more active with our local Utah chapter of the SCCA. I really have lost touch with all of that the past fews years which is kind of a shame. The car comes alive on the short courses. It pretty much becomes too "fast" of a car to handle sometimes. It takes alot of skill to hustle neatly around some of those courses.

    I guess I have come around a bit. I can't tell you how many clutch drops the car has endured earlier in it's lifetime when I was a stupid yout'. I wince when I remember some of the 5000 RPM clutch slips/drops (but smile when I think about the resultant wheelspin [​IMG] ).

    I guess the SE-R deserves some new parts eh? :b

    Michael.
     
  20. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    I have a friend who put over 300,000 miles on a Honda Prelude. On the original engine and transmission. Now I feel guilty selling my car at "just" 150,000 miles.

    If you buy a new car, a couple of thousand dollars (at least) will go toward sales tax of the car, which you will never ever get back no matter what the car's resale value is going to be. Why don't you just use that money for repairs on the old car instead??

    I recommend you drive that Nissan of yours til it dies....[​IMG]
     

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