Piston Slap: You've Got to Ask Yourself One Question

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap youve got to ask yourself one question

Naseem writes:


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 sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.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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2 of 92 comments
  • SaulTigh SaulTigh on Jan 12, 2019

    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.

  • R Henry R Henry on Jan 21, 2019

    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?

  • Jpolicke Manufacturers put such little effort into making AM reception sound like anything tolerable to listen to, they may as well drop the pretense and eliminate it altogether. Maybe it's not coincidental that my last car that had decent reception also had a traditional metal stick for its antenna.
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hideous
  • Irvingklaws Still listen to AM from time to time. Mostly just to find what's out there, often just after something has cleared all my presets. Lots of christian and rightwing politic talk shows, but there's still music, local news, traffic, and weather. I've found lots of non-English (as a primary language) stations as well. Kind of like local access cable. You can find more local content that can't get air time on the big stations. It can be fun to explore on trips just seek/scanning up and down the dial.
  • Oberkanone AM is choice for traffic reports, local news, and sports. FM is choice for music. I don't own a cell phone. How often is AM radio accessed? Over 90% of drives I use AM at some point.
  • Art Vandelay So half of them voted for the same people that were selling them out and taking bribes? Wow