I picked up a Forester for a song and a dance ($500) this past summer, and did brakes and an oxygen sensor. We have less than $750, total, into it. It presently has 256K miles (another reason I don’t really want to use it as a daily driver!) I’ve had my 1999 Saab 9-5 wagon for about two and a half years, from 160K miles to 197K miles.
I bought it for $1,000 and other than rebuilding the brakes (and doing a very thorough detailing when I first got it) haven’t done anything other than routine maintenance.
My wife has a 20-minute highway commute with her 2003 Subaru Baja, about 25 miles round trip, with heavy traffic. I have a 110-mile per day round trip commute, mostly highway cruising, although there is some gridlock in the mornings.
Most of the repairs and maintenance I do myself. But the CEL codes on the Saab have me and my indy mechanic stumped. So – I am thinking about replacing the Saab.
Having an extra car as a daily driver has proven to be very convenient and very cheap thus far. So it’s a hard decision. The $600 or so in insurance (per year) on the Forester has paid for itself in using the thing like a truck, avoiding rentals, etc. But I don’t want to drive it every day.
So do I try to cash in two beaters and buy a nicer vehicle? We’re paying down student loan debt, saving for a house, and generally live pretty simply. I’ll consider all comers. But Panthers are not practical for my commute! Your thoughts?
A lot of folks get past the emissions issue by registering their vehicle in an area that doesn’t require them.
That’s the first thing I would do if emissions are a long term concern with either of the cars.
Alternatively, since this is a third car, you can add another family member or close friend to the title who may sometimes require an extra car in a pinch. It would provide both of you with a nice hedge in the event of the unexpected. If the CEL on the Saab bothers you, take it to a Swede specialist or start drilling hard at finding the fault at the enthusiast sites.
With specialists you do pay more. But you also save yourself the trauma of a catastrophic financial event which, given your commute, is quite important.
I would keep both cars. Just parlay out some of the issues and realize that every once in a while you will have to pay a ‘price premium’ to keep them in good running order.
If push ever comes to shove, you can always sell both and move onto something else. But I see no sense in getting another ride at this point.
For right now you have two good solutions, one minor annoyance with the Saab CEL, and zero terminal problems. Keep them.
Sir, how dare you suggest that a Panther is not suitable for your needs!
You haven’t even given it a chance! But honestly, you need a less charismatic vehicle. Singular. This should be something without the charms of a SAAB or a Subie. Panther no, but something boring from Japan or the USA. No complex SAAB electrics, no difficult Subie labor rates…a big concern at that mileage!
So set a budget and stick to it. Maybe $5000 for a decent Corolla, Civic, Focus, Cobalt, Malibu, Camry, Sentra, Accord, etc. Get something with better-than-subie fuel mileage and bulletproof components.
If you find it boring, drive the wife’s Baja a few times. Save your cash for a home, or maybe another weird third car that might float your boat. Or maybe a little truck with a stick.
But right now, the smart money is on you consolidating and simplifying.