A Reader Writes . . .

  • July 8, 2024

James writes – response to my recent column about the End of Car Buying:

The kids at my gym, all in new camaros and chargers.  Or the young girls in new honda accords.  They are, likely, all making payments.   which means, they always have to work.  They won’t be able to start a business, they will always be w-2 employees in the system.
I guess they plan on being working slaves the rest of their lives.
My most recent purchase was a 2005 Econoline extended van. With a v10 and torqueshift transmission.   The transmission comes with a factory external bypass filter, which is a longevity feature, like a bypass oil filter would be on an engine. 113k on the clock I got it for under $4K.  Will need tires (good treads but old), some roof work, a rear bumper and a/c service.  But I easily afforded the purchase price by driving to the bank, withdrawing the cash, paying the previous owner, we then drove my van and my car home.   Yes, the van needs some more work, but I factored that into my purchase.
I didn’t need to finance, or pay a huge ridiculous sum of cash ( a new transit or sprinter van is 8 to 20 times as much money in cash, or ridiculous monthly payments).  I can do the maintenance and any upgrades as I have the cash available. In the meantime, this van can just sit there without me incurring too many expenses (except insurance, opportunity costs).   For the work I need to do or parts I need to purchase, I am looking at something of about $6k in new tires, shocks, the cooling stuff, and some other things. Without driving like an idiot the van gets about 17 mpg at 60 mph freeway. That’s fine.  It’s a V10 and when called upon it can either drive unloaded completely unstressed, or tow 10,000 plus pounds or more  plus 3,000 loaded on the inside.  Yes, new transits and sprinter vans get great mpg, but at what cost? Diesel maintenance, diesel fuel prices, DEF system, multiple failure points in computers, expensive financing arrangements or I am out tens of thousands in capital. I have now an old giant massive van and think that I am way ahead of the other options I had. If maintained with fluid changes and clean oil/trans fluid this drivetrain hopefully the Big Van will rival the Camry’s longevity.
1998 Camry, as my main daily driver, has 401000 miles on it; the a/c still works perfectly, and obviously I need to keep replacing worn out stuff (just did shocks, control arms, tie rods and ends, alignment, evap canister, replace worn out door lock and window regulator).  I installed a bypass oil filter system at 150,000 miles (Frantz style, determined efficacy with oil analysis), and run the same base oil by changing the bypass filter and adding 1 quart about every 5000 miles. Cost and time $5.00 for oil and filter, 30 minutes of labor, shop towels, cleanup.    Have changed a few radiators (the plastic tops crack), and a few timing belts. I paid one time for the radiator (Autozone replacements) and replace it with labor whever they crack..   $ 4500 in 2006 purchased as a used car with 65,000 miles.  So I have put about 340,000 miles on this little car.
When I started my businesses I purchased mostly used (except one 1998 eurovan camper with a $600 payment new) because I just didn’t have the money to spend, but wanted that van. Now that I have figured out how to make the money, I still don’t want to finance or give up my extra capital. I could lease and take that out of business gross and taxes, but still haven’t warmed up to that idea mainly because the newer cars are loaded with computers and that means multiple expensive failure points that I cannot remedy on my own. They are designed to be too expensive or too failure prone.  Not for me. The new cars look like either money headaches, time at the shop headaches, or worse.
I value time so much, and not paying out so much money for cars and trucks lets me keep more of my money and gives me more choices with my time.  In the 1990s to early 2000s they made cars so well people just kept them running and still do.  Manufacturers now have to dumb down the longevity on purpose in order to keep selling cars.  They need stupid computer screen and cameras, gimmicks, in order for people to buy them.   Bluetooth in exchange for 12 years of huge payments and a crappy mechanical vehicle.
My reply: I hardly need to reply as you’ve said it all! Res ipsa loquitur. It speaks for itself!

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