By on January 11, 2019

question

Naseem writes:

Sajeev,

I read TTAC every day but have never commented. I’m not as witty as most of your readers. (Don’t sell yourself short! – SM)

Here’s my problem: I have my head screwed on too tight. I have always loved cars and am always shopping for my next car, but I rarely pull the trigger. My wife has a ‘12 Sienna with 40K miles that serves our family (three young kids) well. I drive an ‘04 MDX with 171K miles and I honestly love it. I really want a new car, maybe another MDX, maybe an F-150, but my MDX keeps going and going with little more than routine maintenance. I’m 41, have a good job, am on track for solid retirement savings, college savings and could afford whatever I want but I’m too financially responsible. Why buy a new car if the one I have is just fine — I should just continue to save, right?

So, I need a reason to be irresponsible and buy a new(er) car. Should I get rid of the MDX before it requires a major repair? What other reasons do you have to justify buying a newer vehicle?

Sajeev answers:

For someone in your sane, rational, fiscally-responsible life?  You’ve got to ask yourself one question: do I like making bank or do I want a new ride? 

I mean, you could sell it now before a busted transaxle turns it into a $500-1,000 pile of junk … but that figure is the monthly note on a new/new-ish vehicle of the same caliber. The big problem for your situation is thinking that buying a new(er) car is somehow “irresponsible.”

Nothing could be further from the case:

  1. You are fiscally conservative and/or savvy with your finances
  2. It’s okay to want a significantly more reliable vehicle for years to come
  3. Safety features have come a long way in the last 15 years
    1. Ditto the Ride/Handling/Performance
    2. Ditto the in-car technology

Go sit in, test drive, etc. every new vehicle you’d possibly want to experience. Narrow it down to one make/model, pick your ideal color/options, and wait for the right pre-owned example to hit the ground. Or for the new vehicle factory incentives to ratchet up one month.

What say you, Best and Brightest?

[Image: Shutterstock user Brian A. Jackson]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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92 Comments on “Piston Slap: You’ve Got to Ask Yourself One Question...”


  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Not sure how often the kids are in your vehicle versus the Sienna, but you could make a good argument for wanting something safe and reliable for when you do have the kids with you. As Sajeev said earlier, safety and comfort have come quiet a ways since 2004. Also, sometimes you want what you want. And there is nothing wrong with that, especially given the situation you are in.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “three young kids”
    “an ‘04 MDX”
    “What other reasons do you have to justify buying a newer vehicle?”

    Safety advancements sound like your best justification.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    It will be hard or impossible to ever make the case for a new vehicle on a pure financial basis. There will always be something used, or some repairs that can be done to keep the old one running that save money on a spreadsheet.

    The thing is though, there’s more to life than money and retirement savings. If you have ‘always loved cars’, then that is something worth spending some money on. Some people travel, or collect things, or eat out every night, or have season tickets to sports events, and so on. All worthwhile passions that cost money. If cars are your passion, then live a little. Nothing is promised to any of us. I know too many people who were financially responsible all their life, then had it cut short before they could enjoy any of the rewards they spent their life earning.

    I bought a Viper at 30 years old. By no stretch of the imagination was that a wise financial decision. Putting that money away for retirement instead would have made a difference of hundreds of thousands in my IRA by age 65. I don’t regret anything, because the smile it puts on my face every time I drive it is worth working a couple extra years, or spending less on other things, or whatever.

    Just my 2c. But a lot of people on supposedly enthusiast sites preach at the temple of buying cheap used cars forever. Which is fine, if that’s your thing. But the other way is OK too.

    • 0 avatar
      trackratmk1

      ^^^ This comment needed to be said. I agree that there’s more to life than scrooge mcduck diving into a pile of money.

      I financed a used Aston Martin before I was 30. It was not a smart financial decision because it cost me a lot of money per month that I *should* have put into retirement savings. But you know what? I loved that car, and it was a fricken blast and I have great stories to tell now. And I damn well intend to have many more.

      I work so I can enjoy myself. I spend as much on cars as I do on my house and that’s FINE because even if I had millions more 30 years from now, I’d still spend it on cars but I’d have a lot less time to enjoy them.

      And FWIW, I still sold that Aston for $2k more than I paid for it.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Can I say that it’s rather refreshing to read about somebody who works to live instead of living to work?

        My dad has always been the type who makes (well made before he retired) a modest income and banked it. He never did anything with it, and then my brother found out. All gone.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        @trackratmk1: “I financed a used Aston Martin…”

        the absolute scariest 6 words in the English language.

        The only way to say that is to OWN IT and SAY IT LOUD.

        Sounds like a hoot and a half, but then, it’s your money not mine (says the guy who thinks it’s not at all unreasonable to buy a Stelvio QF).

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The key points are that trackrat did it at age 30, and probably didn’t have a wife and young kids.

          I was the same way as Naseem, and ended up keeping an old car for way too long – 22 years – for the same reasons. It wasn’t until an accident that caused some (fortunately) minor injuries that would have been avoided with a newer car. It could have been much worse.

          I strongly urge Naseem to take Sajeev’s advice.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      @jack4x: bravo. Bravo.

      100% correct.

      A year ago I was in Naseem’s shoes. I’m about 15 years older than he is, though, so that colored my decision even more: I’m gonna die one day, and dammit, it’s my turn. I’ve never had a German car, I know it’s a stupid move to buy a GTI brand new, but after wrestling the decision in my mind the exact same way Naseem did, I pulled the trigger.

      The mortgage is still getting paid, we’re still eating, and we’re warm and clothed. And retirement savings are on course. And I’m glad I pulled that trigger, as financially irresponsible as it was when looked at in a vacuum.

      Booger said it best in Risky Business:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geDCtBQeN8c

      (I have a serious jones for a Mk8 Golf R now…)

      • 0 avatar
        trackratmk1

        “And I’m glad I pulled that trigger, as financially irresponsible as it was when looked at in a vacuum.”

        Exactly.

        Jalop, skip the R and get the GTI with the LSD and throw a good set of summer tires and snows on it, and flash with an APR tune. Save the $10k on AWD. It’s not like the old R32 where you got upgraded to the glorious VR6 and other unique bells and whistles. The new cars feel 90% the same under most conditions.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Perfect response. This is an SUV buyer so only safety and reliability talk will register at all.

  • avatar
    mechimike

    I recently went through a similar exercise. I was pounding 90+ miles per day on a thoroughly depreciated older car, though in my case the repairs were starting to get irritating. I’m 41 as well, have 2 kids and a steady, good job- with plenty in the retirement. I like working on cars, but didn’t want to have to work on the car I needed to depend on.

    New cars always seemed like a luxury to me, but after 5 months and 7,000 miles sitting behind the wheel of my 2018 Mazda 3 hatch, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. (It didn’t hurt that the dealer knocked about 4 thou off the MSRP, either). Shop carefully, find a deal- but be ready to pull the trigger when the right deal presents itself.

    Just think of the next 200,000 miles you’ll be able to put in those seats that nobody else has ever farted in. If you buy a good car and treat it well, this might be the last car you need to buy before retirement.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I can’t be of any help, I’m exactly the same, I’m always shopping new cars, but have a car that I’m perfectly happy with. It’s always been kind of a goal of mine to have a car that’s paid for that still looks good and suits my needs, but they always wore out long before attaining my goal. Now that I’m in a position that I don’t have to drive so much I’ve discovered that a well maintained car can last indefinitely

    My solution has been to just become a procrastinator on the idea of getting a new car. I find one I really like, but decide to put off buying it until I have more time, which never happens. Also, the look of a healthy bank balance helps putting off the hassle of buying a new car

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I fall into this camp. With three young kids, you can’t have too much money, you never know what’s coming down the pike. A 2004 MDX might not be up to modern standards but it’s no death trap. If you still like it, I’d drive it until maintenance becomes a headache, then pull the trigger on a new ride.

      A major repair will run you what, a couple grand? A Sajeev notes, that’s just a few payments on a new ride. If you get two more years out of it you’re thousands ahead, which can cover a few sports camps or sets of braces for the spawn.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      While in a different position from you, I think I’ve finally found a car that I truly like and see no need to replace. I get the marketing emails from dealers saying “give is your car, we’re desperately low on inventory,” go in for a giggle, and drive their wares. I walk away thinking to myself, “you want me to trade my car for this AND pay more for the privlige. No thanks!” It helps that the numbers never quite work right.

      I’d spent quite a few years building a negative equity balance that I’m just now getting myself out of. It was a hard lesson to learn, but most people need to at some point.

  • avatar
    burnbomber

    Sajeev is wrong, and Naseem has answered his own question. Naseem, you should continue to save; you have a pair of reliable, responsive vehicles already. Both will last longer; keep them well maintained. Don’t be premature in the expectation that a major repair will be forthcoming. Wait for that to happen, then pull the trigger on your acquisition impulses. And, count your blessings with what live has provided you.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    The best time to shop for a new vehicle is when you can afford it, but don’t really need one. Then you can wait for the right deal either new or previously owned.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    I really tend to disagree with the “new car offers more reliability, safety” etc.

    What is reliability? It’s only having to replace wear items: tires, breaks, battery, belts, lights, oil, diff/tranny fluid, wipers,and windshield washer fluid. Unless I missed an item, that’s it. That’s all a car should need. ANYTHING ELSE that fails and needs replacing is a mark against reliability.

    Modern cars have LOADS more tech, and as has been reported on TTAC extensively, are vastly more expensive to repair when things go wrong because of it. If you have an old vehicle you love DON’T get rid of it!

    As for safety, riddle me this: If new cars are safer, why do fatal accidents continue to rise? Physics is physics. We’ve long since passed the 80/20 rule for safety. Cars from 15 years ago were pretty damn safe, modern ones are nipping at the edges of what physics allows for. Really all that’s been significantly updated is edge cases in collisions and a myriad of driver assistance features. We still don’t know if those help or hurt yet though.

    Now take into consideration costs. You want a new MDX? That’s a $45k vehicle. Assuming a 60 month loan at 0% interest you are looking at $750/m in payments. Think about that! That’s like buying a brand new stove or washing machine EVERY MONTH!!

    You have a perfectly usable vehicle you love. Lets say the worst happens and the tranny blows up. That will set you back $2-3k getting a used replacement. That’s ONLY 4 months of payments on the new one. Why through away the money when you like what you have?

    I have this same problem. I have a 14 year old Accord. But it runs, everything works, and all it needs is standard maintenance. I want a performance car, but it sickens me when I look at even the cost of used cars these days. Stick with what you have, put that money into a hobby, or start taking awesome vacations every year. Do something else other than buy an overly expensive new vehicle that won’t make you any happier than what you already have.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Meh, transportation is transportation. Keep the MDX and buy a Boxster, Bugeye Sprite or Road King and have some fun.

  • avatar
    forward_look

    My rule is to always pay cash.
    First car: $75. drove 3 years, sold for $75.
    Second car: $200. Drove 4 years sold for $200.
    ….etc…… Now I’m up to 1-2 year olds, keep for 10 years.
    I’ve never bought new, and never had collision insurance.

    So far I’m way ahead. Except for antilock brakes, the gadgets today don’t compensate for bad driving well enough to make me desire them, and most other gadgets I don’t use and don’t want to fix when they break. Now get off my lawn, punk.

  • avatar
    3XC

    The idea of having to interact with dealers, many dealers, to sit in/test drive different vehicles and narrow down my purchasing options sounds exhausting.

    Visiting a dealership is something to be avoided for most people. Its a “ugh” moment that exists on the same level as trips to the dentist. I’d sooner do all my research for features, options, pricing, and financing online, then go to a single dealership with a cash offer for a car that I’ve already picked out. And I’m going in with my defenses up, expecting to interact with dishonest people, and expecting a wholly unpleasant day.

    I’m not the exception.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I have an idea which dealers I want to deal with and will be using lots of online tools to get a good idea of what the market is generally paying (up to but not limited by my Costco membership).

      Then use the price quotes to support my negotiating.

      I don’t “relish” going to the dealer BUT long after my wife’s last new car purchase (which I participated in the negotiations at her request) the salesman (whom she has known for several years) said to her, unprompted: “You two make a hell of a negotiating team.”

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      It’s called the ” I’ve got to know” moment, then Clint ( the salesman) walks back and points the gun at head “click”, your response – ” you son of a bit..”!

  • avatar
    DedBull

    I am with Sajeev on this one.

    Don’t wait until your current ride is dead or on it’s last legs when you have to either take something you don’t want, or overpay to get what you want because the need is urgent.

    It is much easier to shop for a vehicle when there is no sense of urgency. You have 2 good working vehicles, and you can take your time exploring the market. Go drive anything you might like. Make a list of those features you want to have in a different vehicle.Then set up searches and patiently wait for your unicorn to pop up on the market.

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    Life is short. Do what makes you happy. Money is overrated.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Naseem:

    Based on what you’ve disclosed, we have similar behaviors. I’m a bit older, however. I was in the same position – kept my Tahoe (now with 300,000 miles because I really like it). Bought a Miata for Fridays and weekends. They’re cheap and fun – your kids will love it.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A car is a depreciating asset. Drive the MDX until Hell freezes over, then drive it on the ice.

  • avatar
    Jessie Pinkman

    I would keep making bank and avoid a newer car. The MDX has plenty of life left even with 171 K. Routine maintenance should easily get another 100 K or more.

    I was in the same boat. I have a 2006 Honda Insight as a work car It has 271 K and is on it’s second set of batteries. I drive 125 miles a day. I an not a hyper miler I drive it like I stole it and amazingly still achieve incredible fuel economy. I have a few options. Buying a new ride is not one.

    An Insight is the only hybrid that will still run without the battery pack. When it goes my average will drop to 43 mpg. Damn.

    If the motor fails and amazingly no sign of that. It uses NO oil at 5000 mile intervals. When it does I plan to drive the wife’s old 2005 xB she and I couldn’t part with after her new Outlander Spt. until I swap a K series Honda into it. Then my commute turns into fun. Yeah I might loose a few mpg but Why buy another car? The Honda is all aluminum and despite the miles is in perfect condition.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The classic argument.

    I like to run it till the wheels fall off, but if you do so you’ll be out a car and not in the best position of negotiating. It occurs to me the MY04 MDX should still have the so called “glass transmission” so my question to you is how long have you owned this car and has the transmission ever been replaced (I think its a 5spd and I believe this was rectified in 2005 for MY06)? If you have this notorious transmission I would consider dumping the car because the design of the transaxle is inferior and it *will* fail (seem to recall something about drain holes for the fluid aren’t wide enough and it cooks the fluid over time).

    Yup 3.5 V6/5 spd.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_MDX

    “The Acura MDX has a long history of transmission-related problems. Dating back as far as 2001, MDX owners have often reported experiencing problems with the vehicle’s automatic transmission. The most commonly reported transmission-related issues include difficulties shifting and a blinking “D4” or check engine light. During a diagnostic test, these issues tend to generate computer codes P0700, P0740 and P0370.
    Anytime the transmission stops shifting smoothly, this is very likely a sign of mechanical failure. In other cases, if the transmission appears to be performing as usual, the problem may be as simple as dirty transmission fluid or a faulty sensor. Both of these issues warrant a professional diagnostic check to properly identify the problem so it can be fully repaired.
    MDX owners can help their transmission last longer by strictly following the manufacturers recommended schedule for replacing automatic transmission fluid.”

    https://www.creechimport.com/common-problems-acura-mdx/

    “My 2005 MDX recently started downshifting a little rough. It happens after I have been traveling at least 50mph. When I take my foot off the gas to coast before pressing the break, I feel the rough downshift at about 30mph.

    I took it to an Acura dealer where they replaced the transmission, free of charge since I was within warranty, but the problem persisted even after the new transmission. I took it back and they checked for “updates” the computer might need. After verifying the computer was up to date with the most recent software, I left. The problem still exists.

    Has anyone had any sort of problem like this?”

    https://forums.edmunds.com/discussion/9188/acura/mdx/acura-mdx-transmission-problems

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      The blinking D light is typically a much cheaper solenoid related repair, minimal cost of parts and labor. The PO of my ’03 Pilot had the same work done a few years before I bought it. I bought mine with 176k miles, original trans with a spotty record of ATF changes, but trans sounded and shifted very healthy. Drain and fill with Honda ATF (it’s stupid easy on a Honda automatic), and keep trucking. IIRC past ’03 on the MDX the failure rate dropped quite a bit as Honda implemented an extra ATF squirter via the dip stick tube, at least this was the case with the Pilots of that same era.

      OP I find myself in the same sort of situation, but like Lie2Me I just think of myself as a perpetually procrastinating shopper, although I do cycle through beaters as a low cost way to get my kicks without getting hit by depreciation.

      The MDX with those miles is worth about $5k in good condition and some maintenance history on the open private sale market. Assuming just normal maintenance and minor repairs, I forsee another easy 3-4 years running it up to 200k, and it will still be worth about $3000-3500 at that point.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        My brother in law is at 245k miles in his early aughts (2002?) Accord with the V6 and 5-speed auto. He started abusing the car about 70k miles ago, as in, “can’t remember when the last oil change was”. Original transmission. No problems yet. The entire family is holding is collective breath at the resilience of this wonder Honda.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I think transmissions are the biggest wildcard as far as even reputedly weak ones can still rack up crazy miles under the right use case, and the “bad” ones’ failure rate is often at 10% or so, you just hear about them a lot. There’s a guy out there with a 300k mile original C4DE, and I’m sure some early Nissan CVTs miraculously live on to high miles.

        • 0 avatar
          mittencuh

          My J30 powered Accord was truly one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. Sadly got stuck in a flood and had major electrical and HVAC issues after though it still drove perfectly.

      • 0 avatar
        Michael Reese

        That’s the problem I have with the ’01 Accord I’m getting rid of. Solenoid replacement didn’t change anything…first thing I did was do the trans fluid change. Not worth putting any more into it, I think, at this point.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    If he loves his current ride, no reason to trade. It’s already so far down the depreciation curve to where it has more transportation value than it does market value.

    When either it gets too ratty or something significant breaks, or he decides that he found something that he really wants, then replace it.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    It can (has) been claimed that the desire to acquire possessions is what drives capitalism.

    So by purchasing a new vehicle the OP is helping to keep ‘grease the economic wheels’ and improve the economy. Thus defending the capitalist system.

    And by driving a new vehicle, gaining ‘prestige’.

    As most purchases are based on ’emotion’ rather than ‘logical need’.

    Personally, I would say ‘go for it’. If the OP can get as many years out of a ‘new’ vehicle as his MDX, then he is getting reasonable use of his money. And it will allow him to have a vehicle which he could conceivably ‘hand down’ to his children.

  • avatar
    volvo

    I entirely agree with what Sajeev said.

    My mindset is very similar to the commentator and I usually drive them till they break.

    At first I thought drive it till it breaks and then toss. However NADA says the residual value of that vehicle in decent condition is $5500 and that is a reasonable chunk of change towards a replacement with newer technology and presumably greater reliability.

    Kudos to the reader for not just wanting a new car. For any number of reasons one’s financial situation can turn on a dime and with young children you just can’t be too prepared.

    So I would caution the reader. Don’t buy more car than you actually need. Use the extra money for non depreciating assets.

  • avatar

    Life’s too short to spend a significant amount of time in a car you’re no longer in love with. Time for a trade, may I suggest a BMW X5 diesel? Or, a 3 series wagon? the RDX is pretty nice with the Type R engine (the Type R engine is a gem, love it).

  • avatar
    Funky D

    I am in a similar situation. I have a Clifford, a Big Red 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche with 168k on the odo. It is still solid and reliable after all these years. I’ve been banking money for a replacement … eventually.

    The factory CD player was replaced with an unit that I can plug my phone into and stream music, or SiriusXM, or any radio station that IHeartRadio has available. About $600 upgraded the speakers to window-rattling levels. That is the most important bit of tech that I really need. I could and still may add a backup camera one of these days.

    I think that Naseem is on the right track. As long as his MDX is meeting his needs, he should continue saving money. However, if he can buy a new vehicle, one that he will be happy driving for 10 years or more, with cash, then it becomes a matter of what will make his drive enjoyable.

    As for me, I will eventually replace Clifford with a F-150 or Tundra, but would really like to roll on past 200k miles since I’ve never had a vehicle that long or have driven that far to date.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Yep. Just replaced the radio in my 08 xB. Didn’t go crazy, I like being able to hear, but still a huge upgrade as far as enjoying the car. Wish I’d done it years ago.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’m sure all the “Debt = Death” guys will weigh in quickly…

    Sometimes the desire is too strong and as long as you aren’t doing yourself harm by taking on a car note, go for it!

    I thought I was a “keeper” until I got my Highlander, 20,000 miles a year is making me sick to death of it (or maybe it’s just a Toyota/appliance thing). Note will be paid shortly, I will be shopping.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      One of the few Ramsey-isms I sort of prescribe to:

      Take the average American’s monthly car payment (~$500 as of this year), and put it into a mutual fund from when the person is 30 years old to 70 years old. Using decent fund return averages over that time span, that’s something like $5.6 million dollars.

      Cars are easily the single most wasteful drains of Americans’ wealth. 70% live “paycheck to paycheck,” and many of those with car notes.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve still never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch.

        Money is a tool, I have a 403b (and a pension), and I pride myself on keeping my new car payment as close as possible to my new car payment. I still have never had a car payment more than $400 a month and am paying ABOVE what I was required on my current loan just to pay it off more quickly.

        (I also realize that I am not the average american after making those assertions.)

        • 0 avatar
          Ryan

          Dan,

          Over the years I’ve read you posts and have always been left thinking how much we have in common. After our two kiddos get a bit older and if i can manage a hall pass from the Mrs, first beer is on me.

      • 0 avatar
        Jessie Pinkman

        AMEN!!

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Eat well, exercise daily, die anyway.

      Spend the money while you can spend it. There’s being prudent, and then there’s being a fanatic.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “Eat well, exercise daily, die anyway.” What a horrible outlook on life IMO.

        Eat well, exercise daily, look and feel better, set a healthy example for your kids, enjoy outdoor/physical activities more, enjoy better sex with your SO, live longer, etc.

        It’s vastly more enjoyable to be a non-slob

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          I never said not to eat well or take care of yourself a best you can. It was merely an observation that many of these comments seem to revolve around never spending the money, even if you comfortably can.

          It’s not like you can take it with you.

          A large bank balance is not the only measure of a good life.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Eat well, exercise daily, die anyway.

      Spend the money while you can spend it. There’s being prudent, and then there’s being a fanatic.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The other macabre thought is that you’ll spend 100s of thousands (maybe a million plus) on transportation in your lifetime and when you die all your heirs will have to show for it is a depreciating asset sitting in the garage/driveway. Odds are also good that few of them will want anything to do with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Exactly! I commented awhile ago that my current car (2014 Kia Soul) was among the most boring cars ever. Does everything OK-to-Well but definitely does not stir my soul (pun intended). I will have it paid off soon and decided it is time for me to “my car”. I also realize I cannot go off the financial rails in chasing my desires. So compromises will have to be made. I just have to wait for the right deal to come along.
      I know purchasing a new (or new to me) car is a depreciating financial asset but it is also emotionally appreciating asset. Sometimes the latter asset outweighs the former

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    Keep the MDX. Buy yourself a lightweight dual sport motorcycle (KTM 500 EXC or Husky FE501. Bask in the freedom.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’m not even going to try advising on this one; it’s a matter of wants over needs and that’s a decision that can only be made by yourself.

    Me? I keep a car until I can no longer trust it. That’s usually about 8-10 years. The longest I’ve kept a car is 12 years, whereas others in my family are/were like you and kept them ’til they died. Yet others seem to trade every three or four years… but they always buy used and usually pretty worn out already. When buying new, you know the car’s service record and usually get a good, long life out of it. The only reason for trading, therefore, becomes one of a change in vehicular needs or simply desire.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      I’m still driving my 22 year old Pontiac GP, 3.8 178K that I bought new in 97! It’s my city car, store, golf course etc, it still runs/drives decent, looks good to, when I have to take the wife or 5 year old grandson somewhere we go in the leased 2016 Encore, one more year on the lease, it’s only got 19K on it so I’ll never hit my 39K allotted mileage ( being retired has its advantages) I may just go ahead and buy it at lease end ( for $13K )4 year bumper to bumper warranty, 6 year powertrain warranty ( life long powertrain through the dealer) There’s nothing like having a new car, I’ve owned 3 new cars and 4 new trucks plus 2 new car leases! The peace of mind of driving something under warranty and safe/reliable especially as you age is priceless!

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Isn’t this mostly about how well off you are financially? To some, a $500 note is backbreaking, while others see it as equivalent to a phone bill. If money isn’t much of an issue, I’d get what you want.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Buying new can be good, or it can be a disaster.

    If you buy a base model Toyota or Honda, buying new is cost effective.

    But, if you buy a bling car that has a record of poor reliability, you will be wasting tons of money.

    I was always thrifty and that worked out. I am retired in Newport Beach, Ca. I am nearly 50 years old and my whole group was laid off so I entered retirement earlier than expected. All the other people I worked with wasted their money on expensive cars and vacations … they are struggling to find new jobs and are in serious financial trouble. They laughed at my Toyota and Honda base models. Now I ride my bike at the beach and do small repairs on my home. Life is good. Do not waste your money on expensive cars. New cars that are reliable are OK.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      jimmy I look to folks like you (and my father in law) for inspiration in regards to things like this. You don’t have to live like a total hairshirt pauper, but playing the long game will pay off IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Good work Jimmyy.

      No mortgage, credit card or vehicle debt here. Didn’t use my house as an ATM leading up to the housing collapse.

      Always bought basic vehicles with common wide spread parts and service availability with an eye for the long term.

  • avatar
    Duaney

    Some of these questions revolve around, “are you handy with mechanical repairs, do you enjoy working on your car or truck? Is the challenge of keeping an older vehicle running fun?” If the answer is no, then buy the new vehicle. I’m driving a variety of older vehicles that I’ve invested around $1000-$1500 each, have no car or truck payments, but it’s what I enjoy.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I’d say upgrade,as Naseem has some predilection for views cars as more than appliances by the sheer fact he knows this website exists. We as Americans to date are spending more and more time on the road, in traffic. You might as well be comfortable and content. CPO near luxury cars seem to hit a sweet spot in value in my opinion.
    We had an 03 MDX, with the valve body upgrade already done as part of Certification and drove it to 85k or so, and it felt just broken in when we traded it in on an Enclave. It was the height of the recession and I felt some sort of civic duty as I (we) had been having a great financial year.That MDX would’ve went forever, my brother has 225k on his same gen. Pilot.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    Sounds like you want a new ride just to have a new ride. Wait until THE CAR (or C/SUV, truck, etc.) comes along that you just GOTTA HAVE.

    I was convinced my 2008 Bullitt Mustang would be my last car. It was going strong at 135K miles, I could do all routine maintenance and repair myself and it could still hold its own in traffic. Then, I saw the new one …

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Oh good grief. Don’t listen to the “YOLO” crowd & spend money you don’t need to. Keep making bank. Who wants car payments of hundreds of dollars for years when they don’t need to? Before I had company cars, I drove the wheels off my Honda Preludes until 200,000 miles & then sold them to the Honda mechanics who maintained them.

    You are doing all the right things in saving the money & driving the MDX until it drops. Nobody knows what the future holds, but whatever it is, it will be more expensive than what it is today: food, houses, health care, etc. You have three kids! Some or all may go to college, get married, etc. Don’t give me grief about “there are scholarships you know”, “my parents didn’t contribute a nickel to my college education/I slaved three jobs/worked nights/I still graduated/turned out just fine”.

    Keep making bank & continue to research cars & educate yourself. So when the time comes for a new car you are prepared on what cars you are interested in. Visit the local auto show (if you have one). Avoid dealer visits if you can to avoid the pressure to buy a new car.

    You want more gratification later in life when saving money? Retire early like some of the others above have, or retire on your terms rather than someone else’s. Live in a better retirement community.

    You like the MDX & it runs well. Keep maintaining it until significant issues come up or it dies. Drop the collision insurance if you haven’t already for further savings. Sounds like you already use the newer Sienna to transport the wife & family.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Good grief to yourself. This guy sounds like the epitome of financial responsibility. It’s not like he’s going to throw his financial future away on an AMG G-Wagon or something. I have a couple of friends who always lusted after the next shiniest object and often stretched themselves to or beyond their financial means to obtain it. These are the people who should heed your advice, not this guy.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Here’s a way to look at it: The HIC-15 spec is a crash test stat used to estimate the likelihood of a given severity of head injury in an impact. An HIC-15 of 700 means you’re basically certain to have a ‘severe’ head injury – that is, you’re a dead man. An HIC-15 of 400 is a ‘moderate’ head injury.

    Trust me: You do NOT want a moderate head injury. That means trouble reading, permanent concussion damage, etc.

    At lower numbers, the odds of those things are reduced, basically linearly.

    The 2004 MDX’s HIC-15 in a moderate overlap collision (the only test available for that year) is 238. The 2019 MDX is 121.

    So you’re basically twice as likely to have any given level of head injury in your current car as you would be in a modern analog to it. And this doesn’t get into other specs – small overlap, for instance – that tend to be truly awful in older cars, but just were never tested. Your odds of never walking again are probably much worse than your odds of never thinking straight again in an older car vs. a newer one, in other words.

    For healthy adults, car accidents are the most likely thing to cause us harm, and a modern vehicle is probably less than half as likely to cause you harm as a ten-year-old one. If you figure that reducing your single largest risk in life by 50% is worth 400 bucks a month, get a new car!

    Remember what they say in the regulations for the racing series I run: Get a fifty dollar helmet if you have a fifty dollar head.

  • avatar
    trackratmk1

    The answers you are going to get depend on the level of joy people get from spending their money on their cars.

    Yes there is a financial aspect where responsibility comes into play, but I’ll get to that in a second.

    I love road trips and I also drive for work. I put 40,000+ miles/year combined on my vehicles, not all of which are the luxury of being company cars. I can’t imagine doing this many miles in cars I don’t enjoy driving, especially since driving sports cars is pretty much my favorite hobby. A newer sports car is a waste of money by all conventional reasoning, and it’s not logical transportation. I could save a boatload that may be worth $1 Million in retirement, but I wouldn’t have a sports car now which is precisely WHEN I WANT IT. I don’t know if I’ll be able to have it, or more importantly, enjoy it, later.

    Also don’t be an idiot and overspend. Everything in moderation. There are a lot of boring comments here that are basically against having fun in cars because they are a waste of money. Fine, but what is so bad about financing something at 3% interest and instead investing your savings at 5 or 6% or more? Isn’t that a smart move that allows you to have a fun car, with a reasonable note, and still come out ahead? Jeez there are a lot of extreme savers out there it seems.

    I’ll close with this. My father saved his whole life and still now refuses to spend a red cent in retirement. I’m still not sure what he enjoys to do other than save money.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      trackratmk1 – read about J. Paul Getty, billionaire who dressed in old wrinkled suits, expected others to pick up the meal tab, refused to pay his grandsons ransom even when they cut off his ear, he did eventually pay a reduced amount of ransom but made the grandson pay it back with interest! even installed pay phones in his London mansion so his guest wouldn’t rack up his phone bills! I guess some just can’t let go of the almighty dollar! like PrincipalDan above said ” I’ve never seen a hearse with a hitch” ;-) ya can’t take it with you!

      • 0 avatar
        trackratmk1

        Redgolf – I think some people just like saying (or knowing, if they’re more humble) that they have loads of money. I’ll look up Getty. IMO money is a tool that you wield to do the things that make you happy. That could be kids, dining, travel, you name it… and any combination of things. Only you know what you can safely afford without putting yourself at risk. The one hobby that just doesn’t seem worth it after watching a family of accountants my whole life is collecting money for its own sake.

    • 0 avatar
      Michael Reese

      My father saved his whole life and still now refuses to spend a red cent in retirement. I’m still not sure what he enjoys to do other than save money.<

      I know a man like this. Passed away about a year ago. Pretty sure he didn't think he could take it with him …

  • avatar
    jfk-usaf

    You only live once. I’m doing ok myself but not nearly as responsible as you appear to be. I am currently looking into buying an older pick up that I can use for projects and just have as a hobby. I don’t need it but I’m a car guy and want it. It would be a 3rd vehicle so it would reduce the mileage burden on the other two which should make them last even longer. Sure it will be a couple of extra bucks in insurance on top of its cost but — you only live once. Treat yourself for your discipline and work so far and enjoy your new ride.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      jfk I did the exact same thing (twice), no regrets. The purchase price of an old truck is basically less than the sales tax you pay on the new one, and zero depreciation (or actually increase in value if you clean it up and bit and fix a few easy things). Very different than a lifetime drain of payments IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        But if he pays cash, like I did, then there’s no “lifetime drain of payments” and no interest expense. Sure, you still get the depreciation but if he keeps the vehicle as long as he kept the previous one, depreciation is irrelevant.

  • avatar
    BigDuke6

    “and could afford whatever I want”
    And you’re considering a new F-150….?
    WOW. Knock yerself out…….

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Car expenses are just one part of your overall financial plan for the rest of your life. Money you spend now can’t be invested for a greater return in the future. The question is whether treating yourself to a new car you don’t really need will leave you short during retirement. If you will be okay, go for it. Depriving yourself to save for a future that never arrives is as foolish as not saving at all.

  • avatar
    Michael Reese

    If you’re like me, you may have to…I got a cheapo ’01 Accord after my ’08 Fusion was totaled (and my insurer is still wrangling with the company of the other driver, this is going on the second year), so I figured that I’d just cope for a year or two, save up a nice d/p and then look. Life happens while you make plans, so I discovered that the Accord needs repairs that are worth more than it is. No sense throwing good money after bad, so I’m in another, newer Fusion…before I wanted to, but there you are.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    My 2 cents is that I see it both ways. I don’t enjoy making payments on things, yet I don’t intend to be that guy that keels over at 75 without having enjoyed life yet has a fat bank account.

    A few years back, the Mrs. and I sat down and decided that we were going to pay everything off but the mortgage. We own a duplex and live in one side and rent out the other, which almost covers the mortgage so our housing costs are very low.

    As we paid off all our debt, we found that we rather enjoy being frugal people. That being said, we also like the finer things, and don’t have any kids to leave our wealth to. So, at the moment we’re banking money just as fast as we can with the intention of doing so until the next downturn, at which point we intend to spend like drunken sailors on real estate, jewelry (I’ve always wanted a Rolex President), and a vehicle (we both love the new Navigator).

    My recommendation is that the original poster do the same and keep driving the reliable vehicles he owns outright. If things work out, he can then deploy capital at a time that is advantageous to him. A fat bank account is also a good insulator against emergencies, so it’s a twofer in my opinion.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I don’t know if its my Lutheran upbringing or something else, but if I was in your position (not far from it actually), I would imagine sitting at the kitchen table with your wife in about 25 years.

    You two look over your assets and liabilities, and realize that, as much as you both want to retire and move to FL, you CAN’T because you didn’t save/invest enough for retirement.

    Is a new car now worth telling your 65 year old wife that she needs to keep working the job she hates for another few years?

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