Reader Question: Extend the Nav’s Certification?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Bryan asks: I enjoy your site and currently have a 2016 Navigator L with 108,000. I have it certified to 2027 and 140,000. The amount of maintenance that this car has required has been extraordinary and similar to what you would expect from a Range Rover of similar vintage. Fortunately, most of my expenses have been covered by the certification with a $100 deductible. I’ve probably had $10,000 worth of work since extending the certification several years ago and it only cost me about $3,000. So well worth it. I even had the cam phasers expire and that is basically a top end rebuild that cost me $100. So I’m a Realtor and I’ll hit the 140,000 well before 2027 since I drive a lot into East Texas to show property. I’m debating to extend the certification yet again, at a likely similar expense for a shorter term, or purchase something older and reliable. I don’t want a modern car. They are too expensive, too many gizmos and gadgets that I either don’t want or I find frustrating for daily use, plus I don’t like all the spying they are doing. So I’m thinking of a W124 or W126 or W140 or a low mileage Lexus LS of some vintage. I loved my old E39 528 with the comfort seats and the manual and the 540 rims, however, I had to sell it after the insurance company totaled it from a bent strut from hitting a curb. I would buy another but I’m too well aware of the constant maintenance of those E39’s and the every increasing expense. I’m feeling that I would bond with the Merc’s like I did with my E39 where as the Lexus would be very boring but reliable and comfortable. I was wondering your thoughts on the matter.

My reply: If you decide to keep the Navigator, I think buying the extended (again) warranty coverage is essential. You have seen how much it would have cost to repair what’s already gone wrong with it. Imagine what is likely to go wrong going forward – as it ages. Your 2016 Nav is already nearly eight years old; that is ancient – for a a car made since the widespread adoption of electronic controls for essentially everything that functions and for very elaborate mechanical things, such as engines with multiple turbos, direct injection, cylinder deactivation and so on.

Extending the warranty will at least help defray some of those costs – but not for free, as you already know.

I amen your thoughts re an older Lexus. The RX 350 (with the V6) is a brilliant and extremely reliable vehicle. Another fine choice that’s closer to your current Nav is an older LX460 or LandCruiser. Either would be a great choice. They’re not boring, either!

I like the Mercs as well – but look out (OJ voice)  as far as what it will likely cost to maintain and repair one, unless you go really old and get a 300D or similar.

. . .

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  1. Overall, I agree with Eric (no surprise there). Here’s some additional thoughts:

    1. What is the reason for trying to extend the life of the Navigator? I can see an argument for saving money as the primary reason, but other than that, I suspect it’s well past its sell-by date and you will only see accelerating failures and more frequent repairs as you move forward. Still, though, it may make financial sense if you have an alternative vehicle to fall back on when the Nav fails. Parts availability will be more problematic in the near future, making it harder and harder to repair. A Land Rover would have been far worse, by this mileage, and far harder to repair, but at least a little bit more interesting.

    2. If an emotional connection to the vehicle is a consideration, having owned both a Navigator and two Lexus vehicles, the Lexus is far more engaging than a Nav. There’s something to be said for just being able to trust you can get in the vehicle and it will run every time, all day long, with nothing more than basic maintenance. The LX is among the most reliable vehicles ever made, with 300k miles just starting to get it broken in. A million miles should be easily achievable with good maintenance and care. It is also the most similar in size to the Navigator, though still substantially smaller, especially on the interior. It’s the most expensive, even used, but may very well be the last vehicle you ever need to buy. The RX is a much smaller crossover that will easily make it 300k miles or more and has easy parts availability. There’s a reason so many realtors use them. Comfort, luxury, ease of entry/exit, relative efficiency, it has a lot of pluses. The GX may be the perfect compromise between the two. It’s a midsize, body on frame, ultra/reliable SUV. Roomier than an RX but not as big as an LX, it is sold internationally as a Land Cruiser Prado and is prized for its rugged reliability. And do you need any rough road capability (e.g., to show a house down a poorly maintained dirt road in the country).

    3. Since this is a work vehicle, you should consider the lost business because of breakdowns while trying to make it to a property to show it, the embarrassment of breakdowns if transporting clients, and the hit to professional reputation such failures may mean. This is in opposition to being smart with your money. An older Mercedes or BMW may have more driving engagement, but repairs, maintenance, and reliability are all big problems. The Germans haven’t made reliable vehicles in over 20 years, getting too caught up in the electronics and horsepower races to the detriment of engineering and reliability. Toyota/Lexus has supplanted them in that regard.

    4. Also consider Honda/Acura. The MDX is a solid alternative, as is the Passport, that are both reliable and usually a little more engaging than a Lexus.


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