# When to Buy a "New" Car if Driving a High Mileage Old One?

1. Jul 8, 2017

### kyphysics

My 2004 Honda Civic has 208,000 miles on it.

No major repairs on it are needed at the moment. But just curious if there is some formula for determining when it's best to buy a "new" (really I mean "newer," since I'm open to used cars too) car when your current old one has gotten up in age and/or mileage?

2. Jul 8, 2017

### DaveC426913

The formula is:
n = DxM / O
where
D= How badly I want a different car
M = how much money I have
O = How well my old car is doing

If n is large, buy another car.

BTW, Hondas - especially Civics - last, like cockroaches after a nuclear war. And they retain their value.

3. Jul 16, 2017

### jim hardy

Only 208 K ?
A friend has 450,000 miles on his old Toyota station wagon.
I put 280,000 on a Dodge Caravan and gave it to a neighbor. He put on another 40,000 on before wrecking it.

My advice -
build a carport to keep the dew from starting rust and the sun from wrecking the plastic
attend to lubrication, oil changes(including automatic transmission every few years)
fix things as they break or wear out
keep it until enough of the 'gadgets' don't work anymore that it's just too much frustration.

The time to replace yours is when a neighbor decides to part with a "Garage Queen" low mileage car that you know is a good one .

4. Jul 16, 2017

### OCR

... I'll buy that.[COLOR=#black]..[/COLOR]

5. Jul 18, 2017

### kyphysics

Interesting.

6. Jul 18, 2017

### kyphysics

Not sure where I had heard it in the past, but I seemed to read/hear that 200,000 to 250,000 is sort of the "breaking point" for many cars where things really start to break down and the cost of repairs is often worth more than the car.

Although, I guess if the "outer shell" of a car is in good condition, then it can in theory last "forever," no? All one would have to do is replace the engine stuff.

I think I also read that most of the high costs of repair post-200K-250K miles is due to high labor costs, so if you're a mechanic or someone who knows his/her way aorund cars and can do the labor yourself, then it's just the cost of parts, which isn't that bad. I, too, read cars can get up to 300,000 (and maybe more) in miles and be still fine.

I looked my car up and if assuming "good condition" it can take in $1,200 trade-in value and$2-3,000 in owner sale value. Not bad. I thought it was closer to $1,000 owner sale value, since I figured after 200K miles that it's likely to fall apart soon and only be good for junk yard parts salvage value (usually around$1,000 for a car like mine I think).

Only gripe I have is that my car smells bad. Lots of food stains soaked into the carpet over years of eating fast food in there. I'm a slob who doesn't vacuum it either, nor do much of any other interior cleaning. I stopped caring around the 11 year mark, lol. I WOULD, however, take good care of a new car and never eat in there again. Just had some bad habits back in the day and got lazy with cleaning over time.

7. Jul 18, 2017

### jim hardy

I've seen two Escorts just like mine in the junkyard recently. Both had broken timing belts. That's a $150 DIY job probably$600 outsourced.
Since they took the lead out of gasoline engines seem to go forever.

I think the tipping point has to be when monthly cost of repairs (plus aggravation) exceeds the depreciation (and interest) on a newer one.

8. Jul 19, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

Quite a few cars aren't engineered to last 200,000+ miles. The ones that last that long have to be maintained well, with regular oil and oil filter changes, and keeping the other fluids fresh. There's a lot more than "engine stuff." Besides the engine, there's a transmission and differential or transaxle, brakes, suspension, exhaust system, charging system, and electrical system, including numerous computers in modern cars to control the fuel injection and other components. All of these parts can wear out or stop working.

Repair parts aren't cheap. Sure, you can save the cost of labor if you can install them yourself, but only a small minority of people have the skill, tools, and inclination to do anything more complicated than changing wiper blades. A couple of years ago the voltage regulator on my '07 Ford Focus went out. In the olden days, the voltage regulator was a separate component, but these days, it's integrated with the alternator, so that meant I need to get a new alternator. An alternator is pretty simple to install, but because of the placement on my car, I would have needed to take a lot of other stuff off just to get at the thing, so I opted to take it into a nearby Ford dealer. The alternator was about $350 and the labor was about the same. There's also the issue of being able to diagnose a problem and know which part has failed. It's easy to throw parts at a problem, and hope that one of them fixes the problem, but that's a very expensive way to solve the problem. When cars had carburetors, it was a simple matter to rebuild a carb, but with fuel injection, and all of the related electronics that go with it, this is way beyond the competency of the average car owner. Maybe some cars can theoretically last 300,000 miles, if they are scrupulously maintained, but for the vast majority of cars, I doubt that they last half this long. 9. Jul 19, 2017 ### Mark44 ### Staff: Mentor I don't think the absence of lead has anything to do with it. Probably more significant, I believe, are the closer tolerance of parts, fuel injection, which meters the fuel better (so excess fuel doesn't strip oil from the cylinder walls, and better engine oils, particularly the synthetic oils.There might be some other factors I haven't considered. 10. Jul 19, 2017 ### OCR ... The caveat... possible bent valve stems and piston dings... ? 11. Jul 19, 2017 ### kyphysics Our family gets about a 15% discount on car-related repairs, due to a close friend of the family being a mechanic. He does most of our work for us at a cheaper labor rate to make some side money for himself. re: depreciation of a new car - That's why, for me, I'm sold on buying a used car. I'm looking into these so-called brokers, who buy them off of auction. Supposedly, that's where you can make the most bang for your buck with really only one risk (you have to trust the broker, b/c you don't get to see the car first). We have a friend of the family who's a broker, coincidentally. ....choices, choices....new car using trustworthy broker friend or old car using trustworthy mechanic friend. I honestly feel pretty fortunate my dad knows all these guys. If there's not a "car" thread already at PF, I hereby recommend one be made. It's a topic I don't mind spending time learning about (for fun and practical purposes like this). 12. Jul 19, 2017 ### kyphysics Yeah, I think my conception of a car was just that it's: a.) an outer shell (which is no joke, as even a bumper can cost$1,000 to replace!)
b.) mechanical inside

If you keep the outer shell well maintained, then it's just about fixing the machinery inside. And that, in turn, is a function:

a.) quality of parts
b.) design
c.) user/owner/mechanic maintenance and care for the vehicle

I think what my uncle was saying to me was that if your outer shell is in good condition, then you can in theory just replace all the machinery inside (with new parts) and that cost would be cheaper than buying a brand new or used car (which also has new parts, a new shell, and just more advanced technology).

I think he was saying that even if it costs thousands to get new stuff "inside" your old car, that's probably still much cheaper (by the thousands) than getting a new car. Or, could he also be missing something?

13. Jul 19, 2017

### Vanadium 50

Staff Emeritus
It depends on how many thousands and how much stuff. And how many things you need to replace before you get to the root of the problem.

It's not the belt replacement that costs money. It's fixing what is left of the engine when one goes.

14. Jul 19, 2017

### jim hardy

You must not have been changing your own oil before mid 1980's... It no longer comes out with that gray metal powder in it.

That's an issue. I won't own anything with an "Interference engine" where loss of a timing belt wrecks them.

Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
15. Jul 19, 2017

### Vanadium 50

Staff Emeritus
That excludes you from a large number of engines - some of which get great fuel economy for the horsepower. Personally, my strategy is to change the timing belt/chain when recommended instead.

16. Jul 19, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

I've been changing my own oil since the '60s. The presence of metal particles (or lack of) is probably more a function of the formulation of the oil rather than the presence or absence of lead in the fuel. Removing lead (tetraethyl lead) from gasoline did have an effect on engines of that period, as the lead cushioned the impact of valves on valve seats. Since then, valve seats have been made harder to withstand the pounding. The gray metal powder you were seeing might have been aluminum from pistons or iron from the rings or cylinder walls. A significant amount of wear comes right when the engine is first started, when the cylinder walls aren't well lubricated. Newer oil formulations help alleviate this problem at startup.

17. Jul 19, 2017

### jim hardy

Good Man ! That sure beats getting towed home ......

18. Jul 20, 2017

### kyphysics

Right. Logically, that's true.

I would want to look into the cost of total replacement (not just partial stuff) of the interior, as that would be the upper range and worst case scenario projection and I could use that to compare it with the cost of a new/used car.

There might be some other factors I'm missing like warranties that come with new vehicles, the availability of parts of older cars (both the outer shell and interior machinery), and trade-in/owner sale value of the older car that could decrease the value of an interior remake of my car.

re: the last point - It's one of those things where even if you can get a totally new replacement of parts inside and you have a well-maintained outer shell, a used car buyer may simply shake their head at the age of your car and not trust you if you ever wanted to or needed to sell it. You could be trying around a 15 y/o car with a brand new engine/interior that's better running than an 8 year old car and a non-car person wouldn't believe you.

Edit: Mark44 makes a good point, too, about the wear and tear and durability of the outer shell. I currently don't know much about that, but will look into it. The worst case scenario is that you replace the interior machinery only to have the outer shell fall apart due to age.

19. Jul 20, 2017

### DaveC426913

Yep. Just this spring. Mechanic said 'timing belt blew', so I just left it in his back lot till the wreckers came for it.
I really liked that car.

20. Jul 21, 2017

### jim hardy

On my Dodge Caravan with 3.0 engine replacing the belt was about a four hour job.
On my Ford Escort it was better part of two days because of all the stuff that has to be removed to get access. Engine is really shoe-horned in there.
Both are non-interference so if doesn't hurt if the belt breaks , but since having got stranded once i do them preemptively..

Why do i put up with old cars and the grease and skinned knuckles, i often wonder ?
It's kinda fun fixing things. Must be some sort of psychological satisfaction, not unlike solving crossword puzzles . . .

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