Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

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AugustPlace
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:27 pm

Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by AugustPlace »

Here is my car situation. My vehicle is a 1998 Jeep Cherokee Classic, that I bought in August 2004 for $6000. It had about 101,000 miles on the odometer when I bought it. There was no car loan, I paid cash.

Now ten years later, the Jeep has 172,500 miles on it, and according to Edmunds it's worth $1400 in a private sale.

I made one modification to it - I'm tall and wasn't comfortable with the legroom. I bought a kit that extends the seat tracks, letting me put the driver seat back another 2 inches. I would estimate the gas mileage at around 17 mpg, although I stopped keeping track of it years ago.

I posted my annual car expenses in my journal, but I'll repost them with more detail here:

Gasoline 160/month = 1,920/yr
Registration 40/yr (required by the state)
Inspection 20/yr (required by the state)
Insurance 420/yr (required by the state)
Oil changes 60/yr - I pay someone to do this twice a year. I used to change my own but currently don't have the tools and it's a hassle to get rid of the old oil in a legal manner. It's worth it for me to pay for convenience on the oil.
AAA membership 95/yr - this is mainly for the national emergency roadside service. Members also get discounts on travel related costs like hotel, train fares, UPS shipments, so the net cost can be less.
Repair fund 50/month = 600/yr - this is a wild guess. Sometimes I pay nothing in a year, last year it was over $800. With a 16 year old car things are likely to break but it's hard to predict.
Total $3,155/year cost to drive and own the car. Adding depreciation makes it about $3,600.

As I explained elsewhere, I do need a car because of where I live, and I currently do not have the option of moving. In the future I'd like to move to a place where I can walk or bike everywhere, but for now a personal car is required.

I am happy to continue driving the jeep, but lately have started to worry about it. There are rust holes growing in the sides under the rear doors. I live where they salt the roads in the winter, and salt eats cars. The gas mileage is bad, but I rationalize this saying that overall I'm saving more by keeping an old car than I would by buying a new car with 35 mpg. The rear gate won't stay open by itself, you have to hold it up to access the cargo area. There really aren't any other issues, other than the advanced age and increasing probability of breakdown and repair.

If there were a major problem that required say $2000 to fix, would I do it? That's more than the car is worth. But it's less money than buying a newer car for $6000.

What do you think, would it be more frugal to replace it with something newer that has a higher life expectancy?

JL13
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:47 am

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by JL13 »

You can keep any car going indefinitely for $1200 per year. You know the history of your jeep which is worth something (though intangible). Any car you find on the private market of similar age is more likely to be abused. In this price range (7-14 years old) the best buy is from a friend/relative who you know has taken care of their car.

A 2-5 year old econobox will pay for itself in a number of years, you should be able to calculate this yourself.

dot_com_vet
Posts: 603
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:07 am

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by dot_com_vet »

My rule: If repairs are averaging < $100/month/keep it.

I bought a new Honda in 2009. Cost of the car + maintenance to date is $294/month. In fifteen more years that will drop to $75/month over the vehicle's lifetime.

If you're consistently spending more than $100/month to repair on a clunker, you could probably buy a reasonable new car, keep it long-term, and be better off. Vehicles depreciate for a reason, there's a point when a vehicle needs scrapped.

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Sclass
Posts: 1927
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:15 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Sclass »

Hi,

You remind me of my partner who worries about the things that could happen that haven't happened yet to her car. My suggestion is go to jeep forum where enthusiasts put lots of miles on your model and see what problems they post. If they are easy patches preemptively patch them. The forum can probably provide a lot of DIY advice. It gets a lot easier if experts are guiding you...even via the net.

Electrical? Head gaskets? Starting issues? Thrown rods/engine self destruct? Depending on the severity of the risks in your particular model you can make an intelligent decision. Asking the same question among the jeep guys may get some great advice.

Jeep guys (cj) put a lot of diamond plate on the rust areas. They sell cheap kits at 4x4 websites. Do they have the same for Cherokees? I'm a dumb CA mechanic...forgive me if I don't understand the real issues of rust. If the car is going to structurally Fail ignore me.

I basically do this for my old Mercedes cars. They are 30 yrs old with 175k and 320k miles. Nothing ever surprises me because others warn me about and issue and I check it. 9/10 if others have dealt with a reliability or wear issue it is becoming an issue on my car. Beauty of good manufacturing...everything including failure is the same.

Like previews I guess. I'm going to get out of bed and have coffee with the in-laws. Previews.

USAF Sgt
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon May 05, 2014 11:17 pm

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by USAF Sgt »

I have a 93 Jeep Cherokee, with just over 260k on it, and I plan to keep it running indefinitely. Older Jeeps are tough vehicles, and most parts are easy to find. They're the sort of cars that are easy to keep going and going. My grandpa had a CJ with over a million miles on it. He drove it for close to 40 years.

Basic maintenance will go quite far. Staying on top of your fluids, belts, and hoses will keep most systems healthy.

George the original one
Posts: 5335
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by George the original one »

Cherokee's failings are mainly electrical. Cruise control dies first, followed by anything like power windows/locks and lighting circuits. Cast iron exhaust manifold has a bad habit of cracking before 200k miles. Transmissions are bullet-proof provided they aren't leaking. Main required engine care, apart from changing oil & filter at proper intervals, is adjusting valve clearance and replacing timing chain.

Rust is no worse than other vehicles in the same locale.

Fuel mileage. Cherokee sucks, but not as bad as other vehicles with their towing capacity. If you're not towing with the vehicle, I'd opt for a vehicle with better fuel economy (but then I'm average height and have few problems fitting any vehicle).

AugustPlace
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:27 pm

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by AugustPlace »

One of the reasons I chose the Cherokee was the reputation for long term reliability, and ready availability of cheap parts. I had most of the hoses on the engine and the serpentine belt replaced about 2 years ago. I will probably keep on driving it for the forseeable future, unless a problem develops that gives me a reason to replace it. The rust holes really should be patched though, I'll see if I can do something about that before winter hits.

It would be cool if I could get over 200K on the meter. It would be cool if this was the last car I own.

How does my figure of $3600 a year in total ownership/driving costs compare to others I wonder? Is that reasonable?

JL13
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 7:47 am

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by JL13 »

According to KBB, a brand new mid size SUV 5-year cost is $38,000, or $7,600 per year. So you're about 50% of the typical consumer. I do about $2400 per year driving 10-20 year old sports cars and that includes reimbursed mileage for work.

You could buy a brand new econobox, finance it and drive it 15000 miles a year and only spend $5000/year according to kbb. $3600 annually for a rust bucket is better, but i doesnt seem like a very big achievement on the ere scale. We're looking at living for 1/4 of the typical consumer in general.

Colibri
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:26 am
Location: Northern Canada

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Colibri »

Hello,

Although I don't have a jeep, I am faced with a similar dilema with my present car :
I bought an used 2000 subaru outback in 2010 and still driving the car. I paid $7500 in 2010 and put about the same amount in repairs in my 10 years of ownership, one big item was replacing the head gasket in 2014 which is a common problem with this car model.
The automatic transmission has started to slip and the gear box is really stiff and acting up sometimes. I also just discovered an oil leak at the very same spot that prompted the head gasket fix. I believe I will be good for another $3000-$4000 of repair to keep it going. The car has 230 000km and could easily go for another 100 000km if fixed. I drive about 6000km/year. So this would be many more years of driving ! I love that car but it is slowly falling apart ; loose joint around doors, broken door handle, rust spots, paint is going. So far it is all cosmetic, the frame is still strong.

On the other hand, I have an opportunity to buy from a friend a well maintened 2014 dodge caravan with 200 000km for about the same amount than the repair on the subaru. I really like those dodge caravan, so versatile and cheaper to fix than the subaru. The dodge caravan could also easily go for another 100 000km and I can use it for camping and hauling bigger stuff (which I do )than the subaru. One down side is that I would need to switch winter/summer tires on the dodge caravan instead of keeping year long good quality all season tires on the AWD subaru.
Please note that I am very bad with car maintenance, I have zero desire to do any of the work myself. I have other areas in my life that I master very well but this is just not one of it and never will.

What to do, what to do ?

Loner
Posts: 142
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:26 pm

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Loner »

Get the van, sell the outback!

Well, that's what I'd do, for all the reasons you mentioned (versatility, cheaper to fix, hauling stuff, the Outback is falling apart, etc.). It's nice that the car is from a friend. You have an idea of how it was driven and maintained.

Also I'm not sure I got what kind of tires are on the van. Winter? Summer? Is it sold with both tire sets? Because you drive very little, and your winter are long anyways. You could leave your winter tires on the van all year long. They'll get used up a bit faster, but they'll probably last for longer than the car, and it'll save you the trouble of changing tires every season (and storing the other set) as well as the cost of buying another tire set.

Alphaville
Posts: 811
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Walkscore 92, Bikescore 93

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Alphaville »

If you don’t like doing repairs, maintaining a disintegrating clunker is just too pricey. Get the minivan and it can double as sleeping quarters when traveling.

Me I’d get the Outback because a) I appreciate offroad capabilities and b) I don’t mind repairing/refurbishing a keeper.

But we’re different people, so get the minivan. Also the minivan should have better safety tech on it most likely—cameras, airbags, sensors, etc.

flying_pan
Posts: 100
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:06 am
Location: USA, Oregon

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by flying_pan »

Colibri wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 3:44 pm
Hello,

Although I don't have a jeep, I am faced with a similar dilema with my present car :
I bought an used 2000 subaru outback in 2010 and still driving the car. I paid $7500 in 2010 and put about the same amount in repairs in my 10 years of ownership, one big item was replacing the head gasket in 2014 which is a common problem with this car model.
The automatic transmission has started to slip and the gear box is really stiff and acting up sometimes. I also just discovered an oil leak at the very same spot that prompted the head gasket fix. I believe I will be good for another $3000-$4000 of repair to keep it going. The car has 230 000km and could easily go for another 100 000km if fixed. I drive about 6000km/year. So this would be many more years of driving ! I love that car but it is slowly falling apart ; loose joint around doors, broken door handle, rust spots, paint is going. So far it is all cosmetic, the frame is still strong.

On the other hand, I have an opportunity to buy from a friend a well maintened 2014 dodge caravan with 200 000km for about the same amount than the repair on the subaru. I really like those dodge caravan, so versatile and cheaper to fix than the subaru. The dodge caravan could also easily go for another 100 000km and I can use it for camping and hauling bigger stuff (which I do )than the subaru. One down side is that I would need to switch winter/summer tires on the dodge caravan instead of keeping year long good quality all season tires on the AWD subaru.
Please note that I am very bad with car maintenance, I have zero desire to do any of the work myself. I have other areas in my life that I master very well but this is just not one of it and never will.

What to do, what to do ?
If another head gasket fails and transmission starts to fail, it is more than $4000 (in the US at least), dump it while you can get something for it. Minivan seems a better deal, and it is a newer car, so many items should not fail yet (like sensors), although they could.

> One down side is that I would need to switch winter/summer tires on the dodge caravan instead of keeping year long good quality all season tires on the AWD subaru.

It is a big debate, but it is better to have summer/winter tires on AWD as well; AWD helps to start in slippery conditions, but it does not really help to stop.

Colibri
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:26 am
Location: Northern Canada

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Colibri »

Hello again,

Sorry for the late reply, life got busy.
The dodge caravan deal didn't happen so I started to look at used car ads. In the meantime, a friend of mine shown interest to buy the subaru clunker for $1000.

So I am the new owner of a toyota corolla 2007 with 110k. Small world, the guy selling it was the same guy I bought a canoe from 10 years ago. All the regular maintenance on the car was done at the dealer. This family only used the car as a spare for grocery shopping and what not. I got a roof rack, bicycle rack and a set of 4 winter tires on rims as extras. I got it for $6,500 - $1,000 for the subaru.
Not bad.

Hopefully I can keep that car for the next 15 years.
It won't be a minivan but I will get creative when I need more cargo space with the corolla.

Alphaville
Posts: 811
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Walkscore 92, Bikescore 93

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Alphaville »

Colibri wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 11:15 pm
It won't be a minivan but I will get creative when I need more cargo space with the corolla.
money moustache i believe has an article about turning a little car into a big car or something... i forget how it goes, it’s been ages since i read it.

let me suggest however that depending on where you live you can rent a pickup truck or van for $20/day plus insurance, and your credit card and/or regular car insurance should cover property damage + liability (but you need to ask to make sure, big trucks are not covered).

see: home depot, uhaul, etc., and your local equivalents.

with cheap rentals there’s no need to ruin a small car or get into an accident by towing a heavy load (towing has restrictions due to physics). roof rack and bike rack are nice though!

congrats.

Loner
Posts: 142
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:26 pm

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Loner »

Glad to see you found something that suits your needs. With a good maintenance, you should be able to keep it for a long while. I'm not sure about this specific model, but I still often see 1990's Corolla on the road, and those were built like tanks. Just about indestructible. Some of them have upwards of 350 000 kms on the odometer. The problem is always rust. It eats through the car before it can die from another cause. Happy driving.

Colibri
Posts: 66
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:26 am
Location: Northern Canada

Re: Keep repairing old Jeep or replace?

Post by Colibri »

Yes, MMM has a great blog post about it.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12 ... a-big-one/

The corolla came with a hitch so I could possibly get a large cargo box attached on it. But I will not tow a trailer, would be too risky to wreck the transmission. The back seats fold down, I measured about 6 feet from the trunk to the front seat, enough for my x-c skis and I could also sleep in it if I am motivated.

Renting a vehicle here is not cheap. We only have one major player and they know it. I do have friends with pick up trucks and trailers so I can also barter services if I really need something big to be moved. And I have the roof rack. Just saw someone with the same car with a gigantic canoe on the roof rack.

We don't have much problem with rust here. It is a dry climate, the roads are not salted in winter, instead they use sand and rock chips. The Subaru only started to rust about 3 years ago (17 years old) and it is just superficial rust. The frame is still strong.

One of my regret is that I am no longer part of the friendly competition I had with 3 other friends about who will keep their old car the longest. The four of us all had 20 years old car with an average of 250k each. My one friend lost the competition last year when she traded her 1997 toyota corolla for a brand new... Subaru !
I am the next one. The last two contestants are a 1998 Jeep Cherokee with 230k and a 2001 Chevrolet Tracker with 310k. I am betting on the Cherokee.

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