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BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
12/20/19 4:26 p.m.

I, like many others here, am quite frugal and I can exist just fine with mediocre transportation. I don't need the latest and greatest, and I understand that a daily driver is a tool, and that a Harbor Freight hammer works just as well as an Estwing (for a while, anyway.)

I've shared a few threads on here about my situation, about the ticking time bomb that a 200k+ mile 4L60E is. After much deliberation and thought, I've decided I'm going to hang on to my TrailBlazer a little while longer. However, I couldn't stop thinking about what the costs would be if I were to replace it with a like vehicle, and the cost of my repairs and operating costs for that hypothetical replacement vs. what it will actually cost for my TrailBlazer.

The link to the SUV that I'll be comparing to is here. For those who prefer TL;DRs, that can be found below.

2012 Toyota 4Runner SR5. 4WD, 116K miles, and the asking price is $18,499. It's even the same color as mine. Using the online payment estimator, they're saying with my actual credit score, an accurate average APR, and a term of 60 months, has our fictional payment at $357 per month. For simplicity's sake, our car note is due on the 1st of every month.

Along the way I'll be fixing some issues that my TrailBlazer has now, and documenting every penny spent on it. I'll keep a running total of repairs, maintenance and operating costs for my actual truck, and compare them to our pretend costs on our imaginary 4Runner.

This won't be very exciting or all that interesting, but I'm doing this mostly out of my own curiousity. I know I'm commiting a cardinal sin of build thread laws by not sharing a photo in the first post. However, I want you to close your eyes and imagine a white Chevrolet TrailBlazer. One that hasn't been washed in probably two years. That's what mine looks like.

I know at the end of the day I'll still have a white Chevrolet from the second Bush administration that has almost made it to the moon one way. I know that a 2012 4Runner would be much nicer riding, driving and so much easier to live with. I'm well aware of that. I understand that this is a metric that cannot be measured. However I'm just not willing to shell out that kind of money every month.

So if you've ever been curious about matters such as this, follow along.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/20/19 4:42 p.m.

In reply to BoostedBrandon :

Following. I live a similar life. Current fleet is  2010 Odyssey at 170k, 2001 Sonoma at 197k, and 2007 525xi at 210k.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
12/20/19 4:51 p.m.

In reply to BoostedBrandon :

I'm at least as frugal as you are. I think more.  My last vehicle I kept for 20 years and worked it hard every one of its'371,000 + miles. 
in the end it cost me about $1000 a year all in ( well plus gas oil and normal maintenance.). 
All in over those 20 years I spent $1000 on repairs.  
not once did  it ever breakdown on me and leave me stranded. 
I massively overworked it, hauled heavy trailers up and down mountains. It carried my whole house home (that is not an exaggeration). 
The trick is you must buy new and properly maintain it.  You will need transportation the rest of your life.  Accept that and plan properly   

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
12/20/19 4:58 p.m.

I bought the $5,000 Mazda 6 instead of putting another engine in my last Neon on. I seriously wonder if I made the right financial decision and will be following along to see your results

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
12/20/19 5:25 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

What was the vehicle of choice?

Floating Doc
Floating Doc GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
12/20/19 5:29 p.m.

I've got the same mind-set. You can do a lot of repairs for $350 a month.

I've been driving my 04 Ralliart wagon for ten years this month, it's still quite reliable and I still enjoy driving it.

My 88 Silverado has been fully functional for all of my truck needs for about as long. Now it's now in repair shop purgatory (intermittent problem, haven't been able to reproduce it to diagnose it). Fortunately, I'm not dependent on it for transportation, and I haven't bought the trailer I want for my autocross car.

Biggest factor for me is that I pay cash for everything, not financing cars.

Subscriber-unavailabile
Subscriber-unavailabile Reader
12/20/19 6:14 p.m.

I fall into cheap but fun category. 
Ive financed 2 vehicles, one was brand new which I got rid of due to payments, other I was able to pay off in a year. My main car is parked majority of the time, and cheap DD is used much more. 

Current DD is a 99 escort zx2 , after one year in I'm all in for around $1200, and has been dead reliable. And that's after few upgrades too.

Over the years I've owned severeal sub $1000 cars that have lasted couple years. 86 sunbird turbo GT, 1990 240sx, 2001 maxima , and now the zx2.

Usually once something catastrophic happens I sell cheap and buy the next one!

 

SkinnyG
SkinnyG UltraDork
12/20/19 6:55 p.m.

I'm a BIG fan of $1000 per year (though I do Canadian, so that'd be like $750 per year for you fellers down south).

A $1000 car has to last at least a year.  If it lasts two - bonus!

A $5000 has to last five years.

A $65,000 truck isn't going to last sixty-five years, I don't care what it is.

If a $1000 repair will make it last another year, give'er.  If it's $5000 to fix, it needs to be kept another five years.

I have my bank set up to plunk $85 a month into a "new car fund." so that I can have $1000 ready to go each year.  If it doesn't get used for two years, I now have $2000 saved up for the next car.

No Time
No Time Dork
12/20/19 7:24 p.m.

You also need to keep in mind the cost of your time to make the repairs. 

Not just the time spent working on it, but what you missed doing because you were working on the vehicle. 

Did you miss work?

Or miss a kids baseball game,  or school concert?

Did you have to call in sick to make a major repair during the week?  

Do you avoid long trips, or rent a car because you don't trust yours?

These are some of the costs that aren't easily quantified, but may have a bigger impact on quality of life than a monthly car payment. 

Both our vehicles are older and high mileage, 2010 Sedona with >125k, and a 2011 Elantra approaching 160k. Both were bought new and we were making  monthly payments from 2010 through 2016.

The peace of mind and time freed up to spend time with the family and not keeping the car running was worth the cost. 

Eventually both will be replaced with new vehicles, but not for 3-4 more years. Then those will carry us through for another ten or more years, and one or both may be replaced one last time so they get paid off before retirement. 

That will allow us to enter retirement with vehicles that are at 5-6 years old, plenty of life left in them and  no car payments or mortgage payments. 

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/20/19 7:58 p.m.

My 300k plus neon cost me around $100 a month in maintance including consumables excluding gas. Car gets driven around 30-40k a year. 

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/20/19 8:23 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

If it makes this discussion worse... That Neon has the same engine in it and doesnt burn a drop of oil between oil changes. 

Agent98
Agent98 Reader
12/20/19 8:41 p.m.

JMO: $18 grand is too much for a 7 year old vehicle with 116K. Don't care if its a Toyota. There are new cars you can snag for $18,000- 0 miles.

I boil everything down to a cents/mile calculation.

5 cents/mile is the Gold Standard, 10 cents/mile is OK , 15 cents/mile is Meh.

Example --Car costs $4000.....I drive it 50,000 miles, sell it for $2000, but had to put $1000 of repairs.

$4000+ $1000 -$2000 = $3000/50,000 = 6 cents per mile. That was a good car.

---tires, insurance, oil/gas ---are neutral to me so I leave that out. Every car I drive gets about 20 mpg/25 hwy. (I hate dinky tin cans)

Every $1000 car I buy seems to turn into a $4500 car by the time I fix what's worn out, ugly and needed for inspection.

So I'd look around the $4500 -6000 range.

 

 

Toyman01
Toyman01 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/20/19 9:15 p.m.

Having done the math, keeping the older vehicle running is cheaper. Even if you have to pay someone else to do the repairs. 

I have 5 company vehicles. 07 Tahoe 186k, 07 Silverado 200k, 05 Colorado 240k, 05 Colorado 270k. 03 Ranger 240k. They replaced a fleet of full size vans that all had well over 400k miles on them. The vans were replace for fuel economy when gas went over $4/gal. 

I average about $4500 a year in repairs on the 5 company vehicles, excluding oil changes, tires and brakes. Simple repairs we do in house if we have time. If not it goes in the shop. Down time costs nothing because the Ranger is the shop truck that can be pressed into service while another truck is in for repairs. The payment on the vehicle you are using as a comparator is $4200 a year, so on 5 vehicles I'm already $16500.00 in the positive. 

As a FYI, I had a 4L60E rebuilt a month ago. They are $1200 installed, with a 24k mile warranty. Don't be scared of them, they are dirt cheap. Take that $357 payment and put it in the bank until you have a decent repair fund.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
12/20/19 9:39 p.m.
BoostedBrandon said:

In reply to frenchyd :

What was the vehicle of choice?

1997 K1500 Chevy pickup with taxes etc I was out the door for  a shade  less than $20,000. Regular cab 4x4 V8 automatic, the sport package.  Averaged 17 mpg in urban areas. 19 on the road.  
to be fair my company required new but paid me for its use. That paid for, maintained it, insured it, has etc. 

Second company 4 years later paid me for its use. The same amount so now without payments I was putting over $500 into my pocket a month. 

Third company paid me even more , so more went into my pocket. 
 

It's replacement is on track to repeat. Zero defects in the first nearly 50,000 but better fuel mileage plus Flex fuel which saves me an average of 50 cents a gallon. Even adjusted for 2 less mpg I save about $5 a tankful. 

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory PowerDork
12/21/19 7:51 a.m.

It makes very little sense to me to get rid of a 200,000 mile car/truck that needs a few repairs only to help finance a less-old car with say 90,000 miles.

You'd have to buy brand new with a good warranty to make that make sense.

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
12/21/19 10:52 a.m.

Everyone has their opinions, and I'm okay with that.

This is me volunteering my truck as an experiment.

The example I used, I chose because that's something I would purchase. I can't fathom the depreciation hit you take with a new car when you drive it off the lot. My original plan was to have a comparable of a used car, and of a new car. But when I saw the estimated payments, I fell out of my chair.

And that was a 2019, SR5 4runner. Not fancy at all.

Normally these discussions are 100% hypothetical, this is my attempt at putting some real life numbers into it.

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
12/21/19 10:56 a.m.
No Time said:

You also need to keep in mind the cost of your time to make the repairs. 

Not just the time spent working on it, but what you missed doing because you were working on the vehicle. 

Did you miss work?

Or miss a kids baseball game,  or school concert?

Did you have to call in sick to make a major repair during the week?  

Do you avoid long trips, or rent a car because you don't trust yours?

These are some of the costs that aren't easily quantified, but may have a bigger impact on quality of life than a monthly car payment. 

Both our vehicles are older and high mileage, 2010 Sedona with >125k, and a 2011 Elantra approaching 160k. Both were bought new and we were making  monthly payments from 2010 through 2016.

The peace of mind and time freed up to spend time with the family and not keeping the car running was worth the cost. 

Eventually both will be replaced with new vehicles, but not for 3-4 more years. Then those will carry us through for another ten or more years, and one or both may be replaced one last time so they get paid off before retirement. 

That will allow us to enter retirement with vehicles that are at 5-6 years old, plenty of life left in them and  no car payments or mortgage payments. 

All valid points and they all have already been considered. I'm going to document what I do myself, the time it takes and every cost.

I'm 32 with four kids, so I'm always running somewhere doing something. The wife had a 2011 Odyssey, and that's the primary kid hauler. I wound up with a TrailBlazer because it fell in my lap. It was supposed to be what I drove while I looked for something else. I've been driving it for three years now.

It's paid for, why not keep it around?

No Time
No Time Dork
12/21/19 11:06 a.m.

In reply to BoostedBrandon :

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that approach. Depending on the situation, it can definitely be the better approach, and I am interested to see how it works out in the long run.

My post was more a general statement to counter some of the financial points made by other posters. 

I was just pointing out that it isn't always the dollars and cents that need to be considered. The intangibles can be just as important, or more important in many cases. 

Recon1342
Recon1342 Reader
12/21/19 11:54 a.m.
No Time said:

In reply to BoostedBrandon :

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that approach. Depending on the situation, it can definitely be the better approach, and I am interested to see how it works out in the long run.

My post was more a general statement to counter some of the financial points made by other posters. 

I was just pointing out that it isn't always the dollars and cents that need to be considered. The intangibles can be just as important, or more important in many cases. 

The intangibles can go both ways, though. I am incapable of driving around a new vehicle in perfect shape; it drive me bonkers. I’ve got to have a vehicle that’s a little, shall we say needy? I love the tinkering aspect of older vehicles, because tinkering helps me relax...

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
12/23/19 1:41 p.m.

Well, the ole truck decided it wasn't going to waste any time on giving be repairs it needed, and this morning at 3:30am it refused to start. The battery gave me a slow crank, so that was a hint that I ignored. It was also 18 degrees that morning. I had to wake my wife up and have her bring me to work, and she picked me up after and took me to a local battery store (support your local small businesses!)

20 minutes and $115.42 later, we're back in business.

Running total: $115.42

dculberson
dculberson MegaDork
12/23/19 1:53 p.m.

This should be fun; I'm always on board with double checking assumptions with lots of tracking of numbers.

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
12/31/19 6:46 p.m.

So, first off, happy new year everyone. Hope you have a great time tonight while I'm sleeping.

Since tomorrow is the first of the month, and our imaginary payment is due, it's high time we get this party started. However, besides just racking up a stretch of payments and pointing to the total, I figure I might as well go ahead and take care of some much needed repairs to the ole girl.

I used a RockAuto discount code (thanks, guys!) No matter where I looked, RA was far and away cheaper than my brick and mortar stores, event with shipping. In my order I have:

  • Rear wiper arm
  • Rear wiper blade
  • (2) quick struts
  • (2) rear shocks
  • (2) rear coil springs
  • (2) front brake rotors
  • Front brake pads

I added a wiper arm tool, but I am not including tools or shipping costs

All this totals to: $399.98 including tax.

So, our total cost of repairs and maintenance on my TrailBlazer currently stands at $515.40

Car payment total: 1 at $357

Car repair total: $515.40

The replacement car is ahead, but unless something happens next month, it'll be behind come February.

irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
12/31/19 9:16 p.m.

As someone with a mix of new and old vehicles (I have three cars from the 80s, one from the 00s, and two from the teens), i do find this to be an interesting case study.

That said, a '12 4Runner is not a comparable vehicle to a trailblazer. The 4Runner is far superior is pretty much every way, frankly.  If you're being realistic, probably more accurate to compare to a domestic SUV from that era (which would cost a lot less than a 4Runner).  Just a thought. 

 

BoostedBrandon
BoostedBrandon SuperDork
1/1/20 3:10 a.m.

In reply to irish44j :

I agree completely, but my thought was to compare it to something I would actually purchase. A domestic SUV of the same era would have the same problems, same age etc as this one does. The idea is to compare to a move up in car, instead of a lateral move.

I agree 1000% the 4runner is a better vehicle and would be in much better shape at 205k than this thing is.

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
1/1/20 12:58 p.m.

In reply to BoostedBrandon :

Still have too many variables. 
First depreciation doesn't happen until you sell it.  Not the moment you drive it off the lot.  

Second how well did you maintain it? Whenever it broke down? Occasionally,   Minimum called for? Better than minimum? As well as possible? 
 
I buy new and drive until the repairs exceed payments 3 months in a row.  Maintenance doesn't count. I maintain vehicles as well as Possible. Best tires, best brakes, best oil etc. 
My last truck went 371,XXX miles and 20 years.  That's less than $1000 a year depreciation. Or $83 a month. If I add all the maintenance and repairs it's still about $100 a month. 
Without the serious rust issue I'd still be driving it because it never  broke down, or left me stranded. It was running perfectly averaging 19 mpg,  using one quart between oil changes every 5000 miles. Transmission was still perfect. Etc. The rotor on the distributor lost a rivet and it started misfiring on the way home.  A new rotor was probably less than $10. But I'd replaced 2 brake lines already the rest needed replacement. The door skins  flapped, and fenders were very religious ( Hole-y  ) worst off all the frame was starting to flake apart.  
It's replacement cost 34K  but the insurance was $80 a month less because of added safety gear.  Plus it gets 5 mpg better fuel mileage and I flex fuel it a lot which saves me an additional $10 a tank. 
It's now near 50,000 miles since I got it. Flawless!  the payments are interest free, and it's nice to drive a pretty, rust free truck once again. 
 

 

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