Car Strategy

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Sclass
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Car Strategy

Post by Sclass » Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:25 am

I think the po’s strategy is sound. Depending on your willingness to work on the car you may be able to turn the fairly new knob down a bit. I have a 2011 accord that has needed nothing but oil changes, tires and brake pads...and changing brakes on this car is easier than changing a dust filter on a furnace. This is a seven year old car and it has depreciated a lot. The funny thing is the known good used cars sell for more.

One has to consider in the first few years of owning new, maintenance is low and depreciation is high. If you can find a good independent mechanic you can win by buying a ten year old known good car and paying for repairs that come up. All goes wonky if you get a cheat mechanic, low quality car etc.

For a lot of folks just buying a good inexpensive car new then focusing all your attention on working and growing money is the optimal path. It really depends on you.

Me personally, I can make anything run if I have air and fuel. I’ve always bought what other people threw away as junk and done simple repairs to get it going again. It is kind of like investing you need to be able to see hidden residual value in the old jalopy somebody is dying to dispose of. Then you take it off their hands, perform the easy fix and kazam - cheap transportation. Not for those who don’t want to get into fixing.

In August i bought another 1980s Mercedes diesel. No smog check required. Owner neglected and totaled by deferred maintenance. The thing needed $12000 of labor and $2000 of parts. For me - $1500 for the car. $1000 in parts since I don’t pay shop markup. I did the work. Now I have another car. So that’s how I do it since you asked. Not for everyone.

I feel guilty about getting an extra vehicle but I’m still way ahead of my neighbors and their nice new cars. My neighbors on all sides drive $75,000 + cars leased or financed.

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CS
Posts: 340
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Re: Car Strategy

Post by CS » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:58 am

@sclass
You are a miracle. I think you did mention somewhere else that for this strategy it is good to stick with one brand/type of car (or someone you know did). That way you get to know the car itself and repairs are even quicker/easier.

UK-with-kids
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:55 am
Location: Oxbridge, UK

Re: Car Strategy

Post by UK-with-kids » Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:41 am

Interesting thread. I'd always bought very old and cheap (under £500) cars until they didn't work any more, then simply bought a replacement. After having kids we wanted something bigger and safer. We opted for a 10 year old car with about 75,000 miles on the clock and it cost us £1,200. That was over 6 years ago and it's still running fine. I was quite careful in checking it out and judging the seller, but maybe we've also got lucky. Having said that, we've tilted the odds in our favour by arranging a life that requires very little driving, and using a back street mechanic. Although we've had maintenance issues, these have cost far less to fix than all the problems my colleagues seem to have with brand new vehicles. It sounds like leased cars always have to have the gold plated parts fitted at the franchise dealers as well. I recently had all 4 tyres replaced for the same cost as just buying 1 tyre for a top end car.

Just recently I've partially escaped the rat race by becoming a part-time contractor, but this unfortunately means I've been driving more and putting more mileage on the car. After weighing up the pros and cons I've decided to take trains wherever possible (I'll cycle as soon as I can find clients closer to home). Those comments rejecting public transport as terrible in the UK don't ring true for me. Sure, there are problems, but unlike sitting in a stressful traffic jam, at least I can be working on my laptop or just relaxing. I'm writing this on a train right now!

Sclass
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Car Strategy

Post by Sclass » Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:58 pm

CS wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:58 am
I think you did mention somewhere else that for this strategy it is good to stick with one brand/type of car (or someone you know did). That way you get to know the car itself and repairs are even quicker/easier.
Yeah, I did mention this. I first did this as a kid when my college roommate wore out a car he bought new. After I saw all the failure modes from 0-200,000 miles on his, I bought the same car second hand but with low miles. I’d determined the transmission, engine and chassis were good by design. The car just had some well documented electrical bugs that drove people nuts and killed its second hand value. Since it was well manufactured my car broke in exactly the same ways as my roommate’s car. As I began to notice this I preemptively replaced all the parts I suspected would fail. The car was a cheap solid daily driver.

Now, in the Internet age you don’t need a roommate to be your guinea pig. Just go out online and find a car that has had a good history that people had good luck with and buy the same thing with low miles. Then use the plethora of online info on the car (because it is a popular model) to fix it.

I didn’t mention this strategy because it requires fixing and the op wanted to avoid the wrench so to speak.

It’s one thing to buy a particular make because it has a good reputation. It’s quite another to research a particular model and year(s) to see how they stand the test of say five years and 500,000 units of production. This cannot be done on a new car.

Standardizing on a model is the next level but only if you intend to build a fleet. I currently have the problem that I’ve hoarded up a lifetime supply of Mercedes diesels and I may never own something else.

Farm_or
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Re: Car Strategy

Post by Farm_or » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:35 am

Jason makes me laugh out loud.

I'm aligned with sclass again, but I think that guys like us find joy in wrenching that others see as terrible work and suffering. It's another version of Renaissance man.

I always chuckle to myself when I hear the complaint that computers and technology in cars are bad. If you really know and understand the evolution of design, the truth is that technology has made it probable for an automobile to last twice as long for half the cost. (Provided that you let someone else pay the bulk of depreciation.)

That said, I've recently reviewed my books to compare my cost per mile to what I charge customers for delivery. My +20 year old American made hard working machine has stayed below .06¢ / mile... (removing fuel costs). Probably the biggest reason for that is that I enjoy turning wrenches and I am a stickler for preventive and predictive maintenance?

Jason
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Re: Car Strategy

Post by Jason » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:33 pm

IMHO - self-driving cars will be I-Phones with wheels. "Your car is in excellent condition unfortunately it is not compatible with the 2056 global infrastructure grid update. I mean you can still use it but the experience will be like being chauffeured by Elon Musk after he drops acid after a particularly contentious board meeting. However, you can either purchase the 2056 global infrastructure grid update download for $65,000.00 or you can just trade in and get a brand new car for the low price of $64,000.00."

Kriegsspiel
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Re: Car Strategy

Post by Kriegsspiel » Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:50 pm

I am tempted to buy a (functioning?) 1981 Mercedes 240D off craigslist. Listed for $1,500 or so. They are good looking cars.

Sclass
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Car Strategy

Post by Sclass » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:15 pm

Kriegsspiel wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:50 pm
I am tempted to buy a (functioning?) 1981 Mercedes 240D off craigslist. Listed for $1,500 or so. They are good looking cars.
I owned an 82 240d. Drive it first. You may not know but they were the slowest car made at that time. 0-60 in 30 seconds. I had a manual. It makes a world of difference. It was a real test of how good a driver you are because the low power makes it very unforgiving. Like if you miss a shift you might as well pull over and let everyone pass you. And you have to plan all lane changes blocks in advance. Hills? Forget about it. Short on ramps? Forget about it. I swore off 240Ds after I started driving 300D turbos.

Ok, that being said, it is a wonderful car for getting around town. I got 30 mpg. It was solid like any other w123. Very reliable once sorted out. It rarely broke and when it did, it is such a simple design (one less cylinder, no turbo, no delicate 722.3 tranny, fully manual climate control no vacuum pods, crank windows) you could fix it very easily. Cheap to own if you know how to fix it yourself with parts from Pick and Pull.

Also, the way it fails, the engineering philosophy was it failed in running mode...so you could get home. More specifically the HVAC system fails with the heat blowing on the window so you can see, the vacuum system fails so the car cannot be shut down so you can drive to a safe place to fix it, or the power locks fail and unlock so you don’t get locked out. I think there’s a word in German for this engineering philosophy. So I never really got into much trouble when it broke.

I put 150,000 miles on mine commuting in Silicon Valley on waste vegetable oil for many years. Funny, mine cost me $1500 too, in 2004. You won’t lose on depreciation.

Do not buy this thinking you’ll take it in to be repaired. You’ll total it like I’ve said above. Every Mercedes diesel I’ve owned has been acquired from a person with ambitions of owning a low cost rugged Mercedes that they could maintain themselves - but they wimped out and took it to an Independent mechanic. And that doesn’t last too long at MB prices.

Good luck!

UK-with-kids
Posts: 25
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Location: Oxbridge, UK

Re: Car Strategy

Post by UK-with-kids » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:52 am

Another factor to consider in the UK is that fuel costs (as of this morning) are £1.33 per litre. That's £6.04 per gallon, which at the current exchange rate of 1.3 works out at $7.85 per gallon.

I've heard of people using vegetable oil to run old diesels. I don't know about the US, but in the UK this is deemed to be tax evasion (not paying any duty on car fuel) and people have received a criminal conviction for doing it!

tonyedgecombe
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Re: Car Strategy

Post by tonyedgecombe » Tue Oct 23, 2018 5:22 am

I think it's an offence to use red diesel which is supposed to be for agricultural and marine use in a car, I'm not sure about vegetable oil though.

Sclass
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Car Strategy

Post by Sclass » Tue Oct 23, 2018 6:32 am

It’s technically illegal in California but seldom enforced. We supposedly need to estimate road tax and remit it to the state. There are a bunch of other laws like its illegal to carry more than 5 gallons of used vegetable oil (called hazardous waste by the rendering lobby) and illegal to burn homemade fuel.

I no longer do it. I did for ten years but gave it up when I moved and lost my sources of free waste oil. Given the *hassle factor it isn’t worth the $1000-$2000 I saved on fuel annually.

*skirting the law, disposing of waste fats, dealing with chefs who expect you to collect inconsistent feed stock, meth bums in alleys behind restaurants, maintaining a converted car, maintaining a processing machine.

vexed87
Posts: 1471
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Location: Yorkshire, UK

Re: Car Strategy

Post by vexed87 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:49 am

IIRC, vegetable oil is OK in the UK, providing you use less than 2500, otherwise you have to pay fuel duty.

I would do my research though before taking the plunge!

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