A Metric of the Disaster

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How bad are things? Let’s count one of the ways. 

My sister owns an early-mid 2000s Honda Element with nearly 200,000 miles. It cost about $20,000 when it was new, all those years ago. I scanned used car listings to see what one of these might cost today, used.

How about $15,995 for an ’08 with just under 75,000 miles? 

In case you’re counting, 2008 was 14 (almost 15) years ago. So, this aged Element is worth – is being sold for – only about $5k less than what it listed for when it had zero miles, 14 (almost 15) years ago. But this didn’t surprise me too much given it only has about 75,000 miles on it and so probably has at least another 150,000 miles of life left in it.

This latter being one of the chief reasons why the cars of that era – as opposed to the cars of the current era – are so valuable, notwithstanding how long ago that era was.

In fact, precisely on account of it. 

After about 100 years of working at it, cars achieved a degree of near-perfection by the mid-late 1990s and into the early mid-2000s, at least insofar as anything mechanical can come close to achieving that. In spite of myriad moving parts and (in most cases) regular use and (in many cases) even hard use, they kept working. And then they worked some more. Regular maintenance – aside from the most basic things, such as fluid and filter changes – had become as rare an occurrence as a Bigfoot sighting, almost. It became routine for cars – almost any car, irrespective of make/model – to run reliably for hundreds of thousands of miles. And to run like new for most of those miles, irrespective of the years.

I myself have one of these, though it’s not a car. But the fact that it’s a truck – a 2000 Nissan Frontier – doesn’t change the essential point. These things lasted. And they continue to last.

That is how you save money. Not by replacing something that works and needlessly buying something newer that doesn’t run any better but merely costs you more.

We never had it so good – though many people didn’t realize it, at the time. Those who did realize it  and held onto what they had – now find that that their 15-even-20-year-old car (or truck) is worth not far from what it was worth when it was new. In part because of how desirable such cars (and trucks) are – and on account of the awakening realization of that fact by those who don’t own one and now wish they did.

There is also the dawning realization of the fact that new cars – and trucks – are less desirable because they aren’t any better.

Just a lot more expensive.

And – almost certainly – a lot les likely to be still running reliably when they get to be 15-20 years old. Assuming they ever get there. It is not a safe assumption to make, as more and people begin to realize. For many sound reasons to make that assumption, including the built-in Longevity Bomb of partially “electrified” (i.e., hybrid) drivetrains, as for instance in the case of one of the new trucks, Ford’s Maverick.

It is a neat little truck and otherwise appealing, particularly because of its advertised just-under $20k base price (assuming you can find one for that price). But – unlike my truck – this truck has a battery and not just the one that starts the engine. Like the battery that starts the engine, the other battery – the one that powers the motors – will eventually need to be replaced in order for the truck to run. But unlike the battery that starts my ’02 Frontier’s engine, that battery will cost thousands rather than about a hundred.

There is also the Maverick hybrid’s continuously variable (CVT) automatic, a type of transmission that doesn’t shift – in order to save gas. These CVTs vary ranges, using a metal belt/band that expands and contracts – and eventually, inevitably, fatigues for just that reason. And then breaks.

Which costs.

CVTs are becoming ubiquitous in new cars, as are partially-electrified drivetrains as well as fully electrified ones. They are not long-haul rides. And they are layered with “technology” that peremptorily corrects your driving, which isn’t appealing to lots of drivers.

Hence the appeal – and the prices – of those prior-era cars.

They run better, even though much older.  Unlike all the new stuff, which stops running at every red light, courtesy of automatic stop-start “technology,” another Longevity Bomb built into new cars. How much less-long will a battery that is tasked with dozens of engine re-starts every time you go for a drive last? How about the starter motor? This latter is being addressed in more and more new cars via belt-driven starters and flywheel starter-generators, paired with 48 volt electric systems and a big (expensive) battery in addition to the usual little (and cheap) one.

It is just possible that one of the reasons all the news cars have such “features” is so as to assure they do not last 15-20 years without costing their owners more than the cost of oil and filters. The car industry may have done too good of a job for its own good. After all, GM can’t make money if it can’t sell you a new car. And if you don’t need a new car but once every 15-20 years rather than the previously usual five or seven . . .

This might explain why the industry has been not merely submissive as regards the plethora of regulations issuing from the federal apparat practically requiring that new cars be designed for the short-haul, but enthusiastically “embraces” (the term favored by apparatchiks) them, even anticipating them.

Back to my sister’s ancient Element, with 200,000 miles on it.

A scan of the classifieds and used vehicle pricing guides gives it a market value of between $5k and $8k. This is even more astounding – if such a thing is possible – than the fact that a 14-nearly-15-year-old example of the same thing with about 75,000 miles on it is going for (and likely to get) almost $16k.

But then, anything from that era is valuable and will probably always be so in a way nothing from this era will ever be – because what was made back then will never be made again.

At least not until we “transition” from this era to another and better one.

. . .

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83 COMMENTS

  1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the 2016-2019 Honda Pilot earlier this month after more than 200 reports from owners that their auto stop/start feature left them stranded after failing to restart the engine. According to Honda, the issue may also impact other models equipped with the Pilot’s 3.5-liter V6 and nine-speed automatic transmission, including the Honda Odyssey, Acura TLX & Acura MDX.

  2. The “transition” is already running into massive headwinds. We are going to continue to get poorer. We will begin to fix things like washing machines and refrigerators. We will see a massive industry pop up to do just that. Rebuilding/remanufacturing whole vehicles will become much more commonplace than it is.

    • Me also, Michael!

      The good news is, we can have it right now – among ourselves. And the more of us who do, the more civilization we’ll enjoy!

  3. The hybrid Maverick uses a planetary gearset-type CVT, identical in design to the proven Toyota transmission and the units used in Escape and Fusion hybrids. it is much simpler than an automatic that shifts by fluid pressure (particularly the newer 8 and 10 speed units).

    The Nissan CVT uses the metal belt, those were known to have issues. But if Ford executed the planetary technology properly during manufacturing, the Maverick CVT should be bulletproof.

    As far as the battery is concerned, it has an eight year, 100,000 mile warranty, and a 10-year, 150,000 mile warranty if sold in California. That’s not “forever” but it is pretty good, and 8-10 years from now there will presumably be a number of refurb batteries available for reasonable prices.

  4. Took your advice Eric, picked up a cheap motorcycle, should definitely save me some money on gas, couldn’t pass it up even though its a little bigger then I’d prefer. Its a ’89 Yamaha Venture 1300, near mint original 1 owner, 89k miles on bike with less then 10k on motor, came with a whole box of specialty tools to work on the motor and a factory service manual to boot, gave $800 for it. Once I put it on a 2-300 lb diet it should be a good daily rider

    • Hi Rusty,

      This is excellent news! Your ’89 is free of any electronic folderol; the only “diagnostic” equipment you’ll need to service it being a vacuum gauge and maybe a compression tester. The rest entails screwdrivers and wrenches. I would advise getting a spare carb rebuild kit and other basic necessaries, such as fork seals, to have on hand for whenever you need ’em.

      This bike is also fully road-trip capable, as you already know – and has ample cargo-capacity, too. You scored!

      • I think my winter project for it will be to eliminate the factory carbs completely, and fab an intake manifold for a Holley 390 mechanical 2bbl carb. I’ve read a few articles on guys doing that to the venture and vmax with good success

        • Hi Rusty,

          That sounds like an interesting project! And no syncing the carbs, either… Speaking of the latter. You probably already know this, but – those factory carbs were likely jetted way lean back in ’89 and that’s even worse with today’s lean gas. Probably want to go up at least one size until you get the Holley fabbed together!

          • Boy, I’d like to see that conversion. Please share.
            I have the more modern version of that bike with a twist towards sport, the FJR, probably the same basic engine (1300), but it comes with all the E-stuff Eric doesn’t like, like f-injection and even E-suspension, where it adjusts preload and stiffness. I can say it is wonderful, but it can and will break eventually costing lots (if even avail when it does break).
            As you mentioned, it is a heavy pig, but sooooo nice on the road. Wife and I are thinking of doing a cross-country on it.
            Best of luck.

  5. Also the wonderful lack of annoying mother-in-law beeps and intrusions at every level of these newer atrocities… nagging you for everything from keeping the radio on while backing up to beeping when you ‘cross’ a yellow line without signaling.

    Who would possibly want such a thing except for a geriatric Karen bureaucrat mask wearer?

    • Amen, Rodrigo –

      I especially hate the muting of the radio when you put the (new) vehicle in reverse. I can effing back the car up competently. Then there is the peremptory putting the transmission (automatic) in park if you try to back up with the door open, so as to see the curb or whatever’s behind you using your eyes rather than back-up camera.

      I want no part of any of this stuff.

  6. Just checked out the value for my 2015 Civic with manual transmission- $14000. I think I paid about $18k for it new. It’s a great car that requires little to no maintenance other than tires and yearly oil changes.

    • Hi Honda,

      Incredible, isn’t it? I also expect older Accords (and Toyota Camrys) with the V6 or manuals to accrue in value, too. For once, cars – some cars – are an “investment”!

      • I got a 2012 Acura TL, basically a more competently designed Accord V6 without the requisite tire noise. I paid $8500, though it had 176000 miles on it when I bought it. Other units were selling for well north of 15k with less than 100k miles. I figured I’d just pay less. All I have done so far is change the transmission fluid. Love it. Will drive it for as long as I can. They don’t make cars like this anymore.

  7. A metric of the disaster in Idaho(some of the most ridiculous in the country over the past 3-4 years)real estate: In march, 3 short months ago, there were around 40 homes for sale in Idaho Falls. The average house wouldn’t last a week on the market. Fast forward to June. Nearly 400 single family homes on the market, several for over 50 days.

    It’s getting ugly fast, but that doesn’t stop the builders from throwing up $450,000–to start–cookie cutters on .25 lots. I wonder how many bank owned units will need to be on the market before they stop throwing them up?

    • Hi ancap

      is blackrock waiting for a bit lower prices?….lol

      Inflation Will Price Many Americans Out Of Housing And Into Homelessness

      Massive conglomerates like Blackstone and Blackrock have been increasingly involved in the housing market since the crash of 2008.

      While Blackrock claims it has no involvement with the single-family housing market, it works closely with companies that are involved, buying up multiple houses and bundles of distressed mortgages.

      Blackstone has continued to buy houses in bulk for the past decade, removing properties from the market for a time. These mass purchases give the public the impression that local sales are “hot” and that the market is thriving. As you might expect, these actions force prices up even further to meet this artificial demand.

      One solution to the housing problem would be a moratorium on corporate purchases of homes. That would limit hedge funds and investment banks to speculating on industrial and retail properties.

      Banks have been stuffing MBS into CMBS for years.With Blackrock,Blackstone and others buying up whole neighborhoods.These homes were packaged into MBS then stuffed into CMBS and sold. The MBS stuffed CMBS are called Private Label CMBS. And the CMBS market is sick

      https://alt-market.us/inflation-will-price-many-americans-out-of-housing-and-into-homelessness/

      homeless = easier to control…..get a 200 sq ft. dump subject to weapon confiscation and getting nine demon shots, plus monthly boosters…..

      • I actually haven’t seen any neighborhoods bought up by any groups here. People fleeing California and to a lesser extent, Washington and Oregon have been moving in here. Also the houses being sold have been getting purchased by 20 and 30 somethings. Housing was also affordable here until about 2019. From 2019 to now it basically doubled. Houses went from $250-300,000 to $450-$600,000 in less than 36 months. How do 20 and 30 year old’s making under $100,000 per year pay $3000 a month or more for housing? They were buying those houses when mortgages were 3.75 or so. Now at 5.25 or more, no one is buying.

        It appears that now is the time that I thought was coming back in 2019.

        • Your comment reminded me of the strawberry pickers buying $450,000 houses in the last run-up as described on TheHousingBubbleBlog.

          Anyway, it kind of amazes me you call $250-300,000 houses “affordable”.

          • Sorry, prior to 2019, houses were affordable. They were $150,000 to $200,000 for 3000 square foot houses, new to 5 years old, on 1 acre. Older homes on small lots could be purchased for $100,000 or less. 250-300 isn’t affordable. They went from affordable to ridiculous in a few short years, then two years later, they went from ridiculous to uber ridiculous.

            • Hi Ancap,

              In my area (rural SW Virginia) homes that were selling – after a long time trying to sell them – for $150,000 or so suddenly began selling for $250-plus, beginning about a year ago. What’s even stranger is that many of these homes that sold don’t appear to be occupied. There are two such on my road. I never see any signs of people living there. No cars in the driveway; none of the usual indicators that the homes are being lived in.

              • Hi Eric

                might be blackrock buying more inventory….
                force prices up, squeeze people out of housing, then you rent from blackrock/government/globalists….controlled by them……

          • Hi Helot,

            in re “affordable” houses:

            Back in the mid-’90s, I bought a small (1,200 square feet) ’70s-era house on a 1/4 acre lot just a few miles from Dulles Airport, in Loudoun County – which for those not hip is one of the “DC Beltway” outlying counties of Northern Virginia. It cost me $150k. That same house, today, is “worth” – or rather, sells – for around $500k.

            The house I grew up in – in Fairfax County, a little closer to DC – is now a $2 million property.

            • Eric,

              Peter Schiff once raised an interesting point about DC property. It makes sense say that property in LA is expensive because they produce movies. Or around SF / silicone valley because they produce tech. Or areas in Texas because they do oil, same with NY and its Financial industry.

              What does DC produce, and why does it have some of the most expensive properties in the country !!!

    • I have a 2000 Toyota 4Runner, 240k+ miles.
      Basic maintenance, plus repairs as needed. Tastes great, lasts a long time. I expect to keep it for at least another 240k+ miles, before passing it on to a g’grand child.

      • Hi President,

        You own one of the all-time greats; the 4Runner (and its Lexus sibling, the GX) are anvils – as you know. They just go, rarely needing more than the usual basic maintenance. I’d cling to it for as long as you can!

  8. Took The Commander out for a milkshake date yesterday in the 91 Silverado, we’re in year 10 of the rebuilt trans (her towing horses years ago took its toll) but no motor work other than intake gaskets and a starter, two water pumps, gaskets for the throttle body. Interior and the exterior have held up great, no rust.

    It runs great, dead smooth idle, very comfortable bench seat. I’ll never part with it.

    • Exactly, I have an ’88 with 350k miles, and a ’92 with 300k, both drive as good as new. it is my opinion that the C/K is the finest example of a Chevrolet truck ever built

    • Sparkey,
      Being one with back problems for much of my adult life, I consider “comfortable bench seat” an oxymoron. I spent much of that time riding/driving pickups with bench seats. My back problems largely disappeared when I started riding bucket seats.

  9. Buying used:

    I like the old analog collectable cars, you have a possibility of appreciation, this will offset the cost of the maintenance which is higher then a new car.

    An example is the Porsche 924 Turbo, it is underpriced (but that is changing now). This is a very strong, well engineered, perfectly balanced car, built like a tank, with very simple technology, with only one computer for the fuel injection. This is a very high quality car, in today’s dollars the msrp was around $85,000, so you get an $85,000 car for far less and it is far better then any new car made today (because it is analog) and it is very fun to drive.

    911 vs 924 turbo
    buy the other Turbo Porsche the 931, 924 turbo, it handles better, it is lighter, it is the best handling car ever built, build quality is the same, the intake, exhaust, turbo are all Porsche design, it has the 930 wastegate, the 1980 931 had the Porsche G31 transaxle, the 931 has the 911 clutch, 911 brakes, the whole car was designed from a blank sheet by Porsche, the best engineers on the planet. it is way underpriced, ……..

    Air cooled Porsches have great sound but transaxle 924/944/968 are better in every other way, better handling, 911 understeers 924/944 doesn’t, 911 snap oversteers, 924/944 doesn’t, 924/944 turns in better, 911 wanders around at high speed, 924/944 is planted, very stable at high speed, doesn’t wander around, transaxle is better then midengine because it doesn’t snap oversteer.

    In 1981 the quickest car sold by Porsche was a 924 GTR

    The 924 had a great history in racing, in race trim the maximum power they got from the Audi block engine was 550 hp, later on using the new 2.5 turbo 944 engine they got 750 hp from that engine.
    At Le Mans the Porsche 924 GTR Carrera Turbo with the 2.0 lt engine was quicker then the 944 turbo race car with the new 2.5 lt. engine when restricted to Le Mans engine power restrictions.

    1980 Le Mans 24 hour race,

    Porsche brought a handful of 924 Carrera GTRs to compete in the GTP class in the 1980 Le Mans 24 hour race, with the best car finishing sixth overall

    After 24 hours laps completed:
    924 Carrera GTR 317
    Porsche 935/77A 314
    Porsche 935-JLP2 313
    Ferrari 512BB/LM 313
    BMW M1 294
    Porsche 911 SC 281
    Lancia Monte Carlo Turbo 273
    Porsche 934/5 272
    Mazda RX-7 267
    Chevron B36 277
    Lola T298 273
    Porsche 934 249
    Dome Zero RL80 247
    Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro with 7.0 litre V8’s did not qualify.
    In 24 hours the 924 GTR lapped the 911SC 33 times
    In 24 hours the 924 GTR lapped the RX-7 50 times

    Trans-Am Sears Point 1985 Sears Point International Raceway
    #36 Paul Miller (USA) Porsche 924 GTR Carrera Turbo, in practice set a new lap record 1:34,234 this record wasn’t broken till 1995.
    550 hp 2050 pounds, faster then the American 650 hp V8’s it was racing against.

    https://www.thedrive.com/news/30473/texas-porsche-dealership-asking-925000-for-1981-porsche-924-carrera-gtr

  10. I guess this is why I just spend $2,600 straightening the frame of my ’98 Ford Ranger after some broad ran a red light and wrecked it.

    They got it pretty straight, too.

    I do have a question for all knowledgeable: Should I try to reinforce the frame where it was bent by welding on angle iron or something? Or should it probably be fine. It was bent in front of where the stabilizer bar attaches, both sides; basically broke the trucks “nose”.

    • Should be fine*, BadAnOn. IF you’re saying it bent in front of the front wheels and in front of the sway bar? If it needed reinforcement, angle iron wouldn’t do it. Maybe I’m understanding you wrong though, as $2600 seems awful high if it was just the ‘horns’ of the frame. And even if it is just the horns….the thing you have to watch out for, is that the frame rails aren’t “off” relative to front and back- think parallelogram(bad) vs. rectangle(way it should be)- or as far as being out of parallel relative to the other side. Just being a little off can really screw the suspension as well as many other things.

      My neighbor hit a tree with his dually 4×4 (Sailfawn…ran right out in front of him, apparently 😀 )- Damage appeared to be just sheet metal and the very tip on the frame. Had the frame ‘straightened’, and all seemed well….but the tranny blew shortly after he got it back on the road…and he can’t keep a transfer case in it now. (Never had a problem before the accident). Very tricky business pulling frames….even on what should be an easy uncomplicated job sometimes.

      • Hey Nunzio,

        Actually that cost also included straightening the frame at the rear passenger side, which was bent previously from being rear-ended (they hit the tow-hitch attachment, which leveraged the frame on that side). It ran and drove fine after that.

        Also, they gracefully added $250 in tow charges because the frame shop was actually in a different city, haha.

        Anyway, what I saw was that they squared things up nicely, any way you want to think of it. I was a bit surprised they were able to do that well. I’m just a little worried that a weakened frame might cause a catastrophic failure at some point. To be expected because I’m pretty paranoid.

        I might have just bought a new (old) Ranger and just used this one for parts, but 4×4 versions of that vintage are averaging about $6k right now.

    • It will be fine as it is. Rangers can take a good hit. Slap a new bumper and the rest of the stuff back on there. And you’re good to go.

      • Thanks, Ticky!

        I hope you’re right. It took that hit like a champ actually. My GF started it right back up and was able to drive it off the road and then onto the tow truck. Problem was it was leaking coolant and the engine fan had been trapped behind the radiator. 🙂

    • Depends on the exact alloy of steel and the heat treatment if any.
      Odds are you don’t need to do anything, but I don’t know how bent it was and what you have after it was straightened. Did the sides of U of the frame pieces buckle? If so then it may be weaker. I am no expert in fixing truck frames.

      If I suspected the area was weaker and didn’t care if it looked stock or not I would ‘box’ the U by adding a plate to close it in across the area where the bend was. That would change the section modulus and make it stiffer in that area. Of course there’s then how the frame reacts to loads too… so many variables if something to strengthen it is a good idea. Thinking of this, people who off road or race those Rangers might have some known good practices for the abuse they do to the trucks that you could use just as added strength.

      Note if the frame is heat treated the welding will anneal it. But I doubt a ranger would have a heat treated frame. If it did odds are the straightening would crack it.

      • Welding structural members is tricky. Easy to make them WEAKER than they were. Never weld across the stress line. While the weld may be stronger than the surrounding metal, the heat of welding can cause excessive weakness to surrounding metal. Typically, the weakest point in a weld is right next to it.

        • Hey John,

          Thanks for the input. All good considerations. I think I’ll leave it as it is. Still have to see how it drives, whenever I can get to that.

    • Nah I wouldn’t worry about it, from that point forward is just to support the bumper, plus any welding up there could make the frame “draw” with the heat and shift, then the bumper might not line up.

      • Good point, Rusty. Welding definitely isn’t my strength, and I have concerns over inducing heat-stress. It was worth a little inquiry, though.

  11. Eric, you’re over-thinking this. Although what you say about the older vehicles being much more desirable than new[er] ones is spot-on, the fact is, the vast majority of consumers are clueless about such things, and are just buying the better (i.e. older) vehicles because new ones which fit their needs are either unobtanium, and or not affordable.

    Proof?: People paying CRAZY prices for many 15-20+ year-old vehicles- like $20K or more for a 3/4 or 1-ton pick-up, or $40-$50K (or MORE) for a diesel Excursion are proving that they are absolutely clueless about the realities of how vehicles age- e.g. they don’t consider that although such vehicles may be in good mechanical condition and still look good, the paint (and more so, clear coat) does not last forever, and is nearing the end of it’s life; ditto things like weather stripping, rubber/plastic bushings- and all plastic parts, for that matter- which are quite ubiquitous even on 20 year-old vehicles.

    They’re paying these huge sums, without realizing that even if all seems well at the moment, many of these vehicles will need some restoration very soon- and not to mention that if it has an automatic tranny, that automatics don’t last very long…and thus a many thousands-of-dollars repair will be forthcoming sooner or later (likely sooner)- and the more so, seeing that someone who already owns one of these vehicles has decided to part with it, usually for a very good reason, since to buy a new or another used vehicle right now puts them at the same disadvantage as the person to whom they are selling their jalopy.

    Of course, one can minimize risks if they are careful (But such is not the case for the average consumer toddling on down to the used car lot, or scanning the CL ads). I recently picked up another (i.e. in addition to my old one) V-10 Excursion out of Montana for $8500 + $2K to ship it. 20 years old, and 200K miles…but all Montana highway miles and scrupulously maintained…so drives like new, is virtually rust free, and needed nothing (First vehicle I’ve ever owned which I can say that about). I still consider the price ludicrous…yet in today’s market I guess it is reasonable, and I got a good example- especially considering that I’ve been offered $9K for my old rusty Excursion (from the rusty state of MA.!)…which I have no intention of selling. But at least I can understand the high prices pertaining to Excursions- as they simply aren’t making anything comparable anymore…and if they did, they’d cost in the neighborhood of $100K. But I know darn well the deterioration to be expected, and am prepared to deal with it- and it’s only worth it because I got a relatively good deal, which will likely hold it’s value..and because it’s not just a run-of-the-mill car.

    • Nunz, congratulations on your additional V10 Excursion. Show off. You just like saying V10, don’t you?

      And I think the idea with buying cars from this era is that, yeah, they’ll still have problems, but at least they can still be repaired. It’s probably more economical to change the engine and transmission in a 20 year old car than it is to change a headlight bulb in a new car.

      • Aww, thanks, Brandon!
        V-10! V-10! V-10! V-10! I make the Prius drivers CRINGE! BWAHAHAHAHAHahaha!!!!

        https://www.halloweenforum.com/attachments/ac1an8w-gif.750855/

        Yeah, you know I’m a big advocate of old vehicles (Maybe one day we’ll have our own bathrooms!) but when ya start paying big bucks for ’em, it kinda defeats the purpose. ‘Specially with post-’00 ones, which, while being better than newer ones, still have lots of electronics…and as mentioned, all of the other things which can deteriorate, like paint and seals and bushings, etc. can all cost thousands of dollars each to rectify. If you know what to expect, and such things are reflected in the price ya pay, then it can be a great thing….but with the prices that some of these vehicles are going for, a lot of these people are never going to see a benefit. Not to mention what happens when the used car bubble bursts. I’m trying to sell my old F250 while prices are still high…maybe I can replace it when prices come down to earth- but this is a rusty vehicle that I don’t want to keep putting money into maintaining…and I already own it- so imagine someone paying more for it now than what I paid for it a dozen years ago when it was in much better shape….. Yet what option does one have if they need a good-working pick-up and don’t want to spend $70K for a new one, or $30-40K for a newer used one which will cost even more to maintain and repair? (Oh…I just refuted my own argument…. Why did you make me do that?!)

        Brandon: “V-10, V-10….10MPG, BWAHAHA!, dumb Dago!”

        Ouch!

        • Why do you think the used car bubble will burst? The general consensus here is that used cars are generally only going to become more desirable.

          All the bubbles are worse and worse each year and yet they don’t burst.

          • Ah, all bubbles burst, young master Jin. Reality hits…or the money (which everyone seems to be flush with) dries up….or the new supply chains get established and they start turning out zillions of $20K Mavericks (or $10K Chinky EVs…)- but the bubble’ll burst. Heck, I’m wishing I would’ve tried selling my F250 sooner, as it looks like a few pricks may be buffeting that bubble as we speak. Look! There’s Pedo Joe and Plastered Pelosi!

    • What has kept new car markets lucrative is the fact you can borrow as much as you please to purchase one, credit rating withstanding. Not so with nearly all used. By the time one forks over cash for one, there may be little left to affect any significant repair.

  12. One big problem in the used car market vs. the dealer new car market are the different priorities of those who buy a used vs. new car. New car buyers have a different calculus than used car buyers.

    The new car buyer, say, has a good job and wage and doesn’t really care that much about the cost or longevity, as that person plans on selling the car in a few years and will have manufacturer warranty coverage the short time they have it.

    Many high powered executives and professionals are looking at the tax write offs more than anything else. They buy new cars on a regular basis, and thus marketing must be tuned to their equation.

    The used car buyer can be far more critical of what car to buy because they will have to fix it out of warranty. So what they used car buyer wants in a car is not the same criteria as a new car buyer.

    So the reality is that what I want in a car – exceptional fuel economy in a non-hybrid – is not available because those who can afford new sticker prices don’t really care about that metric to the degree I care about it. Thus how many non-hybrid cars get over 50 mpg? Almost none.

    The auto company only really cares about the initial sale. So the marketing department knows all about the initial new buyer and really couldn’t care about downstream used buyer demands.

    Thus we have the Prius, which was one of the first ultra virtue signalling cars. At my local organic Coop natural foods store the Prius used to dominate the parking lot. Not one Cadillac or Hummer.

    The initial buyer wants to show they care about the environment, they are going to sell this Prius with it’s expensive main battery long before that battery needs to be replaced. But the used Prius buyer can not have that attitude or they will be stuck with a many thousand dollar repair bill.

    So in the used car market the Prius stands out as the Toyota that sells cheaper than a Corolla or Yaris. Thus the Priuses are going to be retired faster than other non-hybrid Toyotas and thus the argument that hybrid is more eco-friendly is bullshit.

    • Hi YJ

      There was lots of high mpg non hybrids available……

      Banning ice powered vehicles to be replaced with EV’s that use twice as much fuel (25 mpg), = insanity.

      travelling 100 miles in an average EV uses 1.03 gallons equivalent of fuel = 34.7 kwh of electricity that is the net amount, but….at the power plant 4 gallons of fuel were burnt to get a net 1 gallon of fuel equivalent 34.7 kwh used by the EV.

      travelling 100 miles in an average EV uses 1.03 gallons equivalent of fuel = 34.7 kwh of electricity @ $0.40 per kwh = $13.88, back at the power plant 4 gallons were burnt to get the net 34.7 kwh of electricity. NOTE: 4 gallons were burnt to go 100 miles.

      EV owner uses 4 gallons to go 100 miles, that is 25 mpg, lots of ice cars get better fuel economy.

      Should be still selling these:
      the all-new 2014 Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion diesel, capable of a claimed 88.3 mpg imperial, or 73.5 mpg U.S.

      https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1079454_vw-unveils-high-mileage-diesel-golf-in-paris-that-the-u-s-wont-get

      should be driving these cars:

      Model HP Avg. cons l/100km mpg U.S.

      Fiat 500 1.3 JTD Multijet 16V Pop DPF 75 4.2 56
      VW Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion DPF 105 4.1 57
      Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI GreenLine DPF 80 4.1 57
      Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTI ecoFlex CO2 Pack DPF 75 4.1 57
      Audi A3 1.6 TDI Attraction DPF 105 4.1 57
      Toyota iQ 1.4 D-4D DPF 90 4.0 59
      Renault Twingo 1.5 dCi Rip Curl 84 4.0 59
      Volvo S40 / V50 1.6D DRIVe Start/Stop DPF 109 3.9 60
      Volvo C30 1.6D DRIVe Start/Stop DPF 109 3.9 60
      Toyota Prius 1.8 Hybrid 136 3.9 60
      Mini One D DPF 90 3.9 60
      VW Polo 1.6 TDI BlueMotion 90 3.7 64
      Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive DPF 80 3.7 64
      Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic DPF 90 3.7 64
      smart fortwo coupé 0.8 cdi pure softip DPF 54 3.4 69

      https://www.autoblog.com/2009/10/02/report-all-of-europes-15-most-fuel-efficient-cars-get-better-t/

  13. Another metric of the disaster: average California retail gasoline price reaches a record $6.24 a gallon, per AAA.

    ‘According to JPM, unless refineries immediately halt most exports and shift towards domestic gasoline production, US consumers should not expect relief.’ — ZH

    An America First president would ban refined product exports right now.

    But instead, ‘Biden’ forces us to share Europe’s pain, as the EU suicidally shuts down pipelines and tanker deliveries from Russia. Germany (pop. 83 million), the eurozone’s largest economy, is the poster child for this self-mutilating madness.

    Every well-heeled Democrat I know is touring the Old Continent this month to experience what may be Europe’s last normal summer … sorta like 1914 deja vu:

    Bitte, Kellner, noch eine Flasche Champagner!

    We were soldiers once … and young.

    Printing new bumper stickers for the coming winter: Drive 90, freeze a German! (nothing against Germans, but Heinz needs a wake-up call).

    • Should also ban natural gas exports (via LNG), my gas company just notified me that my bill going forward will be about double what it was last year. Why should we bail out the Eurozone for choosing to not buy gas from Russia? An old saying comes to mind – you made your bed, now sleep in it!

      • ‘Should also ban natural gas exports’ — M+i+B

        For sure … electric utilities burn natgas too. So power prices are headed up.

        Shouldn’t we start a pool on which grid blacks out first this summer:

        1. Commiefornia (always a good bet, since they DELIBERATELY shut it down)
        2. Texas
        3. New England
        4. Other

        Just so ‘Joe’ knows, you don’t fix the grid in a few months by throwing money at it.

        Capital projects take years. Some will be blocked by the fedgov’s own regs, or local opposition.

        Electric power is just not an attractive business in a third world country.

  14. As someone pointed out in the past; Buy a $5,000 car instead of a $50,000 dollar car and you’ll have $45,000 available to pay for gas and repairs. That’s what I do. Before I really start looking I go to my local u-pull it yard and sit in all the available candidates I’m looking at and reject the ones with excessive blind spots or lack of legroom, etc.

  15. Eric,

    Is it possible that the Maverick is being sold in Mexico and points south under another name with a non-turbo engine and the non-CVT transmission that accompanies the EcoBoost-ed model in the US?

    Dare I say it, maybe a *standard* transmission?

    • 2022 Ford Maverick in Mexico is only offered in 2 trims:

      XLT – FWD, 2.0t Ecoboost, 8spd AT, $661,800 MXN
      Lariat – AWD, 2.0t Ecoboost, 8spd AT, $776,800 MXN

      No manual transmission. No naturally aspirated motor.

  16. In an effort to clear the order backlog, Ford has apparently been offering some buyers $50 credits to accept delivery on 2022 F150s without the A.S.S. “feature” enabled since it involves chips which are in short supply

    When I heard this come up yesterday afternoon on the national radio show offering car buying advice … sponsored by Blue Advantage … cough … there was an uncomfortable silence in the air when someone responded “I’d pay *them* $500 to take that out”.

  17. ‘industry … enthusiastically “embraces” (the term favored by apparatchiks) [regulations], even anticipating them.’ — eric

    This is what our avuncular investment sage Warren Buffett calls a moat. When an auto maker needs vast in-house and supplier resources devoted to ‘compliance,’ the regulatory moat enforces a de facto oligopoly.

    New players can’t enter when stifling regulations allow only a homogenized product to be offered. SUV, crossover or pickup? Hamburger, hot dog or taco? It’s a limited diet.

    Tesla broke into the auto market with EVs, subsidized by taxing existing manufacturers. Not the same as starting Apple or Hewlett Packard in your garage.

    Regulators have painted themselves into a corner. Aggressive goals to sell EVs only by 2030 aren’t doable: buyer resistance, chip shortages, rising material costs, and a recessionary slump in sales will put the kibosh on that pipe dream (talkin’ to you, Gavin).

    Open question is whether Big Gov will admit ‘we goofed’ (fat chance), or double down (standard procedure). It’s going to take a disrupter — not the Gipper or the Orange Man, but someone like them — to set a new course.

    Fourth Turning is here! Where’s the outsider candidate bent on smashing crystal in the government china shop?

    • Hi Jim,
      Jessie Ventura could be that person, just saw an interview he did with Matt Taibi about how he was silenced (cancelled?) on most media after he let it be known he was opposed to the Chimp’s invasion of Iraq. He had signed a three year contract with msnbc which forbade him from going anywhere else so they paid him his full salary for those three years to keep him silenced. Freedom of speech in the USSA.

  18. Debt is a chain around your neck. Which is why I have always avoided it like a plague, a real one. Even when there was a tad bit of sanity in the car market, you paid a $5000 dollar or so premium for the privilege of driving a “new” car off the lot. Nearly all car loans were under water in just a year or two. The only disadvantage in used cars was you might not get the color you want.
    How can you describe a product that has to compete with similar product that is 10+ years older? I would call it a failure. Car makers are paying the price for kneeling to the FedGov. They’re all circling the drain.

      • Chris,
        Speaking of color, back when I was driving pickup trucks for a living, in construction, I did spring for a couple of new trucks. The last one I bought in 1989, at night. I had no idea exactly what color it was until I picked it up. It was a tool, and as with my pipe wrenches, I was little concerned what color it was.

  19. We have three vehicles: a 1995 Dodge/Cummins pickup, a 2009 Ford Focus, and a 2015 Focus.
    I’ve had lots of unsolicited offers for the pickup, but I will not part with it. The only thing the engine needs electricity for once it’s started is the fuel shutoff solenoid.
    The old Focus is approaching 200,000 miles and doesn’t use a drop of oil between changes, which I can easily do myself. We hardly ever clean it as it’s our beater for everyday running around. Now I’m wondering if we should be nicer to it and maybe even get the minor rust repaired to keep it presentable.
    The newer Focus is a completely different car. Bigger and heavier, and with the stupid cover under the engine compartment that compels me to pay to get the oil changed. It also has Ford’s disastrous “automatic manual” transmission that has been trouble from the start. We’ve had clutches replaced under warranty, but it still jerks and hesitates at very low speed, like it can’t make up its mind which gear it wants to be in. It has been reliable, however, and we probably couldn’t get much for it because of the transmission’s reputation.
    No plans for any new licensable vehicle in my lifetime. If only I could reincarnate my ’83 Jetta turbodiesel.

    • See what Ford will do for you with regard to the transmission in the Focus if you are the original owner. Dearborn lost a class action lawsuit over that design which had the potential to bankrupt the company, but, fortunately, the rules for the settlement were very narrow and mitigated the potential losses.

      Still some cars were either fixed or bought back.

      • Yes, Roscoe, I need to check into that. I’ve received emails about the lawsuit but haven’t followed up. I could put up with the minor jerking if I just knew it wasn’t going to fail altogether.

    • Roland,

      Have you checked your air filter lately? Is it clean? If not, has it been replaced? How about your tires? Are they at the recommended pressures? I had a dirty filter in my 2015 Focus, and it started having issues. I also saw minor tranny issues when my tires’ pressures weren’t all equal, particularly on the front, i.e. drive, wheels. I noticed that my Focus is very sensitive to out of spec tire pressures.

      Over the years, I’d rented out a few Foci. One of them had the tranny issues you cited; it didn’t seem to know what gear it wanted to be in. The others had posed no problems. The one rented Focus with tranny issues had them right from the start; they were present when I picked up the car. When I took my Focus on a test drive (very gently used with 3,176 miles on the clock), I made it a point to drive it in the city, just to make sure. It shifted fine, so I got the car over 3.5 years ago.

      I’m lucky in that my 2015 Focus has been very good. It gets low 20s in town, 40+ highway, and about 30 combined mpg. I wanted a practical, economical, and fun to drive car. The Focus has been all that and more. The only time the tranny has hinted at issues was with a dirty filter and/or tire pressures out of spec. Check those first, and see how you do. Good luck!

  20. Although the numbers are indeed shocking, Eric, I can think of a few factors for that seemingly “inflated” price of your sis’ 2008 Honda Element:

    (1) LITERAL inflation, especially in past two years, skews the actual numbers. Even IF the real inflation rate has been what the “Gubmint” says that it’s been, that $20K from 2008 would be about $30K in today’s “funny money”.

    (2) So that VERY low mileage (75K miles in 14 years is just slightly over 5,000 miles/year, about what ‘Granny’ uses for going to church on Sundays and those occasional drives to the next county to visit) Honda is still worth about HALF in terms of approximate purchasing power, which IS quite high.

    (3) Beyond that your 2000 Nissan and your sis’ 2008 Honda were just about that “sweet spot” of mechanical reliability, low-maintenance, and SIMPLICITY (oh, but how the old-timers bitched about their ‘complexity’ back then!), there’s enough of an AFTERMARKET to keep the parts/service of same somewhat competitive. Car makers have wised up and have made their rides more “proprietary” these days, which, with computer components going into everything, even an adjustable seat, is more readily facilitated.

    (4) Whether it’s by conspiratorial design or simply an unfortunate chain of events, there’s simply not enough replacement vehicles being made to satisfy current demand, which has had its “ripple effect” all the way down to vehicles that once a new-car dealer would, at one time, offer nothing as trade, as the old ride, even if in perfect condition, was typically a nuisance, to be wholesaled off for cheap and it ended up on some marginal, seedy lot, sold to the poor and ignorant for outrageous prices and financing terms, often repossessed several times before the thing finally met its merciful demise.

    I will admit that I almost fell into this trap recently. I got suckered in by an offer to offer “top dollar’ for my 2020 Fusion, and for once, it wasn’t just pure bullshit. EXCEPT…with what would I replace it with? I did have my eye on a Ford Escape, a mid-size crossover, and, considering the market, I could have either done a new 2022 version, or, there was this rather sweet 2020 with but 7,300 miles on it. But I looked at what the finances involved were, and when I saw that it was adding 10K more in debt, I just pushed the worksheet back, got up, and left. I went through with refinancing what’s left on my Fusion with a local credit union, and, not surprisingly, not only is the loan value just about what the thing stickered for when I bought it in October 2019, that was about $6K MORE than what the Ford dealer had offered in trade! Of course, it’s how they make their money. And they’re welcome to do so…off SOMEONE ELSE. I’ll just “stay the course”, as the interest rate now is practically “zilch”, and I’ve other things to do with my money, but am in a position to retire the debt when I choose…now, or over the next three years.

    I liked the “solution” to high used car prices as mentioned in this early Robert Zemeckis film, 1980’s “Used Cars”…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ip8gspFaH8

    • **”VERY low mileage (75K miles in 14 years is just slightly over 5,000 miles/year, about what ‘Granny’ uses for going to church on Sundays and those occasional drives to the next county to visit) “**

      The irony is that older vehicles that spend most of their time sitting and or aren’t driven very far are the WORST possible candidates for continued reliability and durability (And they’re usually not maintained very either, because “I hardly ever even use it, and it has such low mileage!”). But to the average CONsumer, low-miles=good/worth twice as much money.

      I’ve told this before, but allow me to boreentertain newcomers: One of the best vehicles I’ve ever owned was an Econoline van I bought when it was 3 years old, with 240K miles it- fleet maintained. $4500. Drove that van from NY to KY when I moved, and continued driving it for 15 years, and other than a fuel pump and heater core, never had to do a thing to it- and it was still running like a top when I sold it.

      Meanwhile, my best friend’s mother, c. ’99 or ’00, wanted to buy a Bubble Caprice. She found one for $7500 with only 50K miles on it, being sold by a real legitimate old granny- That was twice the price of what a Bubble Caprice was going for at the time. I never laid eyes on the car before she bought it, but told her NOT to buy it, as it would be a POS- having spent most of it’s life parked and being used for very short jaunts to the store.

      Sure enough…she disregarded my advice and bought it. Nice looking car…but what a PIRECE OF CRAP! As expected, rust manifesting in all of the ‘hidden’ spots; leaks quickly developed, and when she started driving it back and forth every day the few miles to work, it was just one problem after another. She put it up, hoping to recoup most of her money…LOL…it sat in her driveway, until she finally got disgusted and let it go for $1500. Should’ve listened to the junk man…he knows junk when he sees it (or even just hears about it!). Between the purchase price, expensive NY registration and taxes, initial repairs she did…she losyt close to $10K on that deal. (And sadly, never bought another Bubble Caprice).

      • Hi Nunzio

        That is a common mistake, people think a car is worth far more because it is low mileage, it really only effects the value by maybe 20%, not 100%. high mileage the same thing -20% maybe…

        The downside is if it wasn’t driven rodents might have chewed up the wiring and seals dry up from just sitting.

        there is an exception, collector cars, if they are low mileage, like 3,000 miles, 40 years old, they are worth more to collectors….

        • Hi, Anon,
          Yeah, in a sane world, low-mileage old cars would be worth LESS! If you have a 20 year-old vehicle and it’s proven it’s durability by racking up 200K-300K miles and still is in good shape, it also proves that it has been well taken care of…and like ya say, not rodent bait, or a chance for the seals to dry out….no rust from sitting unused/no condensation or carbon build-up from short occasional low-speed trips, etc. They were meant to be driven…not to sit.

          Now a late model vehicle is a different story- Low mileage means it hasn’t been overly driven, and should still have a lot of potential life left before things start breaking…and thus retains a higher value as it has a longer expected life. (Which is why I only paid $4500 for my then 3 year-old 240K Econoline, at a time when similar ones with say 40K miles were going for, IIRC, $14K. (Ironically, I don’t drive much…so while I had it, a rodent DID chew one of the vacuum lines for the A/C! -Now I have outside cats…so that’s no longer an issue)

      • Don’t tell me, let me guess…that Econoline Van came with the 300 cubic in Six, right? If faithfully maintained (regular oil changes and tune-ups when needed), it will NOT die. Along with Mopar’s famed Slant Six engine, that mill will truly run (ala “the Sandlot”)…”FOUR-EV-UHR!”

        Yes, a car can and will “rot”, the key is, was it GARAGED? Makes a hell of a difference! And were the oil changes done at least every six months, even if the car was getting but 1,500 miles in between them? Just b/c it sez “low miles”, assuming that’s not the work of a crook that can expertly roll back the odometer, doesn’t mean it hasn’t DETERIORATED. And SOME things you can’t hold back Father Time no matter what you do. For example, let’s say you did find some pristine Camry, faithfully maintained and garaged, 10 years old, with but 35K miles…a real DEAL, right? Well, if it has the ORIGINAL tires on it, they’re DONE, as tires will chemically degrade over time just due to OZONE. One COULD, in theory, vacuum seal them, but who does that, especially when they’re ALREADY mounted on the vehicle? So even if the owner was conscientious as to time as well as mileage demands for maintenance, there are going to be things you’ll have to account for. The other, of course, is that, did that thing make but short trips…just to Church and the grocery store, right? Well, unless those “low miles” included, say, a twice-a-month trip to the little old lady’s daughter some 125 miles away, at FREEWAY speeds, that engine and drivetrain will actually have significant wear as it was mostly operated before it got to operating temperature! Maybe nowadays there might be a way to scan the engine module and download the engine starting and driving history, but I guaren-damn-tee you couldn’t on, say, a 2012 Camry or Honda Accord (or Chevy Malibu). Just ASSUME it’s had a lot of cold starts and factor accordingly in your bid. If you get outbid, oh well, let THAT buyer be the “chump” who’s disappointed when his ride inexplicably falls apart.

        • Oh, no Doug- that Econoline had the 4.6 Triton (I have owned NOTHING but Tritons for the last 25 years)- the good 2Vs- not the crappy 3Vs. BUT, those 300 sixes are probably my favorite engines of all time!!!! Gee, the torque of a diesel (and the MPGs of a 73 Hemi 🙁 ) and will do half a million miles with minimal care….. When they killed the 300 six, the auto industry officially died!

          Talk about an EMF-proof bug-out vehicle….anything with a 300 six and a T4 Warner tranny…UNSTOPPABLE!

        • Hi SDL

          A vehicle with high mileage that was driven a lot on the freeway is often better then a lower mileage vehicle driven only short distances in town.

          If driven only in town the engine may never get to proper operating temperature, causing wear, there could be condensation in the sump that would evaporate if driven at speed on the freeway, this is even worse for diesels.

          Engine wear: If driven on the highway some cars are only turning over at 2000 rpm, in the city they might be revving between 2000 and 6000 rpm, in start and stop driving, causing more engine wear.

          Re: very low mileage cars….If they have been sitting a lot, condensation can get into relays and fuse panels causing problems.

          In very cold climates cars left outside might have less rodent problems then indoor cars. part of the problem with rodents is the wiring on some newer cars was made of/with soya, attracting rodents, rabbits are also bad for chewing up wiring.

          • Indeed Anon, in a perfect world one would never start a car unless it was going to run AT LEAST fifteen minutes, preferably at highway speeds.
            There’s a reason that many heavy equipment operators leave their diesels running through the lunch break. Starting cold is a more than significant source of wear on an engine. Especially if it’s cold out, and you park outdoors.

      • And Debra Harmon may have had average looks in the face, but a damned nice body, especially when she’s riding with Kurt Russel on the back of that pickup, directing the student drivers to deliver those rather questionable vehicles so there’s LITERALLY a “mile of cars”.

        BTW, that the Judge felt that, upon seeing the rather impressive (well, for count, anyway) volume of vehicles for sale at “New Deal” Motors, that indeed Barbara Fuchs wasn’t falsely advertising (it’s considered acceptable to employ hyperbole as long as it’s not outright misleading), he wouldn’t have bothered to go through the exercise of measuring all the cars; his summary judgement and granting of the motion to dismiss the charge against her would have sufficed. But the hilarity would have stopped right there, especially with Jeff sliding the “red” car at the last moment to bring the tally in at exactly 5,280 feet (with a few inches to spare).

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