07 November 2011

Making Do

Use it up. Wear it out.
This economy is forcing a lot more people into this mode of thinking, isn't it? One of the things I will proudly tell others is, "That butt you see hanging outside the dumpster is probably mine!" I NEVER go to a dumpster without checking to see what perfectly usable item others have thrown away. (And wonder, why didn't they consider giving it to the Salvation Army or Goodwill?)

But this attitude can result in the kind of trouble we face right now...
The lowest mileage automobile we own now has 152,000 miles on it. Last week Sara Jean had just left home when she came back through the door...
"The steering is locked up on the car!" She had driven about half a block, then parked the car alongside the road. We walked back to the car and I jumped behind the wheel, started it, and experienced something I'd never had happen before-

From the neutral point, (driving straight ahead), to the right steering lock, everything worked fine. Moving the steering wheel from the right lock to the neutral point... fine.
But from the neutral point to the left steering lock, it was like there was no power assist at all. (And obviously, to the weaker sex that felt like the steering was locked up.)

I drove the car the short distance back home and SJ grabbed the keys to our second car, (238,000 miles) and headed off to work.
Our mechanic says the rack and pinion has failed on the newer car and the repair will be $700+.
So we're keeping our fingers crossed the older car will continue to motivate until the new car is repaired.

Buying most any new car would entail taking on the payment for the car loan... probably somewhere in the vicinity of $5- $800 per month. The cheap voice in me shouts that so long as the cars we drive are safe and are not costing us anything close to what a new car payment would be, we should just continue to drive our perfectly nice driving older cars. But just over the horizon we can see the time coming when our high-mileage cars will no longer be "nice driving" OR "safe". Were it just me, I'd just drive 'em 'til the wheels fall off and take out some roadside billboard. But I'm not willing to take that risk with my bride.

Got a better formula for when to trade?
Share it, please.


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Craigslist. Price point,say $2,500.

Look for lower mileage. Know if the engine is zero clearance. If so, and the seller can't produce a receipt for a recent timing belt, have it replaced immediately. Spend $130-150 on a transmission flush.

Use your "pilot" eyes to "preflight".

Code scanners can be had for under $100. They plug into the OBS socket under the dashboard bottom left side.

I avoid vehicles where the seller has a long list of items they have fixed. Tells me it is a lemon and will need more fixes. I like it when the seller tells me, "We've changed the oil, done the brakes a couple of times, and that's it."

CnC said...

You sound like me G.B. I drive em till they are all done in. I have a 2000 Jimmy that still looks pretty good but needs some engine work, I am just too incompetent to work on it anymore. My wife has a 2001 Lexus that still runs and looks great. it will be a contest to see which one gives up the ghost first.

Timothy Frazier said...

New cars are pure luxury items, no matter what kind of warranty comes with them. I've bought my last new car...from now on it's used all the way for me.

Buy a low mileage used vehicle and an OBD II reader (make sure the vehicle you buy has a port) and save yourself half the dough. and a ton on future repair diagnostics.