Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
John asks: You just continue to justify repairing my 2004 Explorer with 420,000 miles on it. I’m starting to replace factory installed parts. I have replaced ball joints, tie rod ends, sway bar links; I get about 200,000 miles out of brake pads. I’m now replacing the factory rotors. It uses 1quart of oil between oil changes. I still have the factory transmission and I change the fluid every 30,000 miles. I checked out the cost of a new SUV that would do the things this one does . . . dam near $50 grand. A brand new Jasper engine installed is $4,000. A brand new Jasper transmission is $2,500. That makes it pretty close to a new car.
My reply: My bet is more and more people will be doing similar “math” – and not just because they can’t afford to spend $50k for a new vehicle. They don’t want a new vehicle because of all the big brothery surveillance, “assistance” and just annoying (e.g., ASS) features they’re forced to buy.
I love cars – and find myself liking new cars less and less. Chiefly because they’re becoming electronic devices – 4,000 pound cell phones – rather than machines. Of course, I’m an aging Gen X’er and so am not obsessed with “apps” and touchscreens. I’d prefer not to have to buy either – but this is all but impossible if you want to buy a new car.
But the financial angle is persuasive. Combine high cost and rapid depreciation with outrageous peripheral costs (e.g., insurance and taxes) and hugely expensive maintenance and repair costs that accelerate disposability on economic grounds and making a case for a new vehicle is very hard unless you have money to burn and don’t mind burning it.
Like you, I could return my vehicle – an ’02 Nissan Frontier – to functionally new condition for less than $10,000 (when it becomes necessary; the truck still has its original engine, transmission and clutch) which is about a third the cost of a new base-trim pickup saddled with “features” I’m not interested in, that would cost me three times as much to insure and hit me with five times as much in property taxes (VA) based on the “book value.”
No thanks. I may be an idiot at times – but I’m not stupid!
And neither are you!
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Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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