New Or Used? : A Mitzvah For The Mazda

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
new or used a mitzvah for the mazda

I have a 10 year old Mazda Protege which I have loved ever since new.

There is just one small problem.

Rust. This car rusts like Dolly Parton sings. There is rust on the frame. Rust on the rear wheel wells which I have steadfastly removed ever single year. Rust on various parts of the powertrain. All the wheel bearings have been replaced, twice, and after yet another near dire prediction of expensive rust related maintenance, I’ve decided to sell the Protege.

I put it only at around $5000 and it finally managed to sell at the $4100. Right around where you said it would when I emailed you a few weeks ago.

Except now, I have a bit of a problem. I promised the car, but the guy I promised it to had a bit of a problem getting his finances in order. A little over a week ago we agreed to put off the final sale of the Protege until Friday.

So I decided to just do some detailed inspection of the rear of the vehicle a couple of days ago and I found my decade old nightmare. A huge swash of rust on the rear of the frame that has been untreated since new.

I decided to get that entire area treated and rustproofed. Total cost was around $400.

I then let the fellow know about the treatment and asked if he would split the bill with me. He gave me a firm and unfriendly no as the answer. I was a bit pissed off because, yeah, I didn’t have a green light from him. But at the same time, he hasn’t given me the green light either now for quite a while.

Part of me (a big one) wants to drive it to Asheville, give it a last go on Tale of the Dragon, then sell it down there.

What do you think?

Steve Says:

This is why all of my holding of vehicles come with non-refundable deposits.

You want a car? Great! Two weeks. $500 deposit. No exceptions.

This is what you should have done in the first place because it discourages future window shopping and keeps the buyer focused on his obligations in the deal. Nickelshiters stop nickel and dimeing you when they have enough skin in the game for there to be a major downside to their flakiness.

As for the repair work, stuff like that you don’t do as a favor until the buyer is on board with it. Life is short. If you were afraid that this guy was going to bite the big one if he got in a rear impact, then you were obligated by a higher authority to do the right thing.

You did half the right thing, and the funny thing is you did the tougher half. You paid for a somewhat expensive repair that you were under no obligation to do. That fellow though owes you nothing but gratitude. You should have put him in the loop. Even if that meant eventually losing the deal on the car.

What I would do is honor the trade. The financial hit sucks, but you know what? You are a person with integrity and honor, and that is something that money can never bestow upon you.

So honor the deal and if he doesn’t have the money by Friday do the second most honorable thing and offer to split the repair costs on Saturday. If he doesn’t bite, take it to Asheville but don’t sell it. I’m begging you. I already see enough rolling rustbuckets at the auctions from you damn Yankees.

Author’s Note: Steve has a short memory that comes and goes with his once thick New Jersey accent. You can always reach him directly at

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  • 3Deuce27 3Deuce27 on Jun 11, 2014

    @ 'Carlson Fan' Apparently your comprehension is limited. Reread my comment, on second thought, never mind. Your too invested in your staked out position. The NW is comprised of more areas then the big metro areas West of the Cascade Range. You also probably believe it rains here all the time, us North Westerns love that, keeps people from moving here. A good deal(60%) of Washington and Oregon is desert with very little rainfall. I will grant you that the Great Lakes area and other areas in the Northeast do get severe Winters, but that is an urban human problem of your own making. Don't like it... get the hell out. Just don't come here, we already have our share of numskulls.

  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on Jun 11, 2014

    Years ago i spend 1-2 months in Norway every year calling on customers that imported from the USA. My counter part in Norway always went with me on sales calls and we used a small Toyota corolla forget the year. Every morning we would have 2 inches of frozen water on top of the floor mats. My first week there on Friday we stopped in a gas station for gas and they put the car on a lift and sprayed it with used motor oil. Backed in out of the bay and let it drip dry. They told me that the station charged about $5.00 for that service and they did it every Friday during the winter. I think that car lasted them for about 6 years. They also had a 1974 Ford station wagon that was 10 years old used by a sales man that was 6'5" tall that could not use the Toyota. I will never forget the feeling of cold feet every morning and a heater blowing cold air. Good times!

  • Vap65689119 Nice car, I think I'd rather have an SC430
  • Theflyersfan They might not be convertible friendly, but if they work on getting the last of the winter crud off of the car during the first spring wash, it's worth its weight in gold. So many of the self-serve car washes seem to have some kind of mechanical problem with one of the nozzles, or out of some chemicals - want to do that at home.
  • Bill Wade It's worked perfectly for me. Google maps is quite good and music streaming is flawless.
  • TheEndlessEnigma How much is TTAC getting from the Amazon referral links? Once again, nice ads camouflaged as an article.
  • Prabirmehta Great review! Brought back memories of my 2005 Z4 - loved it! I recently drove the 2023 Z4 and it felt similar in many ways to my 2005 (despite the much nicer and updated interior). Now your review has me rethinking whether to buy another one? :)