Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Doing The Math

There's a fairly good chance that in the next month or so the Earthf**ker will be replaced. It's over 100K right now, and has run nearly flawlessly the entire time I've owned it. I believe there have been exactly two non-wear problems, one with the heater fan and one with an engine fan, and both occurred while under warranty. I've put nothing but, excuse the expression, gas, tires, and oil into that truck.

I fear I'm pushing my luck.

Yes, I know that - barring catastrophic failure - repairing a vehicle I own outright will be less expensive than buying new. The problem right now is that the truck needs tires ($800 - $1,000) and brakes ($500+, depending on whether it needs new rotors which I suspect it will). And while I know it is possible to do the brakes myself, that ain't gonna happen. I don't have the time, the tools, or the know-how (or patience).

On top of tires and brakes, it is only a matter of time before the exhaust needs replacing ($500 -  $1,000, depending on what needs replacing). Ditto shocks ($500?). There's also a few scratches and some minor surface rust that I'd want taken care of as well, if I were to keep the Ram ($1,000). These are the known/suspected areas, and none of them are a surprise (except perhaps the rust. That irks me, especially considering that the Ram was garaged for the first 6 winters of its life...)

With what the dealerships are quoting me as a trade in (which is an electronic assessment, but at least a starting point), I can get into either a Honda Accord or a Nissan Altima for about $400 a month for 4 years. I've got about a year's worth of payments that the Ram will need if I'm going to keep it; if I had a crystal ball and could tell that it would run perfect for 5 years once the work was done, that would be one thing. But I have no idea of knowing if the transmission will blow in 25K miles or if the wiring harness were to get fried or...

It's the unknown that really gets me.

Neither the Accord nor the Altima really excite me; both are pretty bland sedans. We owned an Accord sedan when my son was born and it served us very well; I've rented a bunch of Altimas and been pretty impressed with the gas mileage and performance. That's another thing: both the Altima and the Accord 4-cylinders have 180+ horsepower and get 26-27 MPG in city driving. That's easily double what the Ram gets - in a typical 12K mile year, that's a savings of $1,200 a year (3 car payments) with gas at $2.50/gallon.

I've heard very good things about the reliability of both vehicles (and we put ~ 120K on our Accord before the Mrs. turned it in on her Pilot). Either would be a solid, respectable choice that should serve us through college for the kids (which is kinda the plan). But I do have to admit, neither get my blood going like the thought of this:


Dodge Challenger R/T. 372 horsepower 5.7L Hemi V8. Custom leather interior. Mag wheels. Spoiler. Racing stripes. I'm going to do the smart, responsible thing, but I'm sure as hell not gonna like it...

And damn, but the midlife crisis car is going to be epic - I'm thinking Hellcat...

That is all.

17 comments:

Roger said...

Buy the Hellcat! You only go around once. Remember by the time your kids are through college, the rat bastard liberal commies will have legislated out any car with any fun factor. You'll be stuck with a "sport" model Volt or Prius.

Lupis42 said...

http://www.subaru.com/vehicles/brz/index.html

Cheaper than the Accord. Better gas mileage. More horsepower. RWD. Much more fun.
You weren't going to haul anything big with the Accord anyway, so...

David said...

The only difference between a new car and a used car is that with the new car you always know what you're going to be paying each month.

Raptor said...

Can't speak for the Altima as we've never owned a Nissan, but as far back as I can remember, Honda and Mazda are the only two brands that have never given my family any trouble. I will say avoid Subaru: Dad has an '07 Legacy that has given us far more than it's fair share of trouble. But every Honda and Mazda we've ever owned has been bulletproof.

Now as far as practicality vs. mid-life crisis, why not split the difference and get a Charger? Pretty much the same power and speed as the Challenger, but with four doors and a usable back seat? I think the equivalent Charger trim levels are a little less expensive than their Challenger counterparts too.

Stretch said...

As far as midlife crises go a Hellcat is not a bad choice.
Far safer than a cheerleader or that red-headed cashier at the IHOP.

TheUnpaidBill said...

By your own admission the smart thing to do would be to keep the truck.

If you do the math, buying new is nothing but flushing money down the depreciation hole.

Sell the truck and buy a used Challenger, and you'll still have a lower payment.

Mark Matis said...

My 1994 GMC Suburban K1500 only has 446,000 miles on it so far. I think I'll keep it a while longer. On the other hand, if it was a Fiat product, I might think otherwise...

Jay G said...

I actually looked into the BRZ (and its twin, the Scion FR-S).

Two big problems:

1. Premium gas. That negates a good chunk of the increase in gas mileage over the Earthf**ker (and it's 25 MPG in city driving, worse than the Accord or the Altima).

2. Back seats. I still have two kids, both of which are adult-size. There may be occasions where I need to bring both of them somewhere, and the back seat needs to be able to accommodate them.

As for keeping the truck, I honestly think if it wasn't starting to rust I'd be more on board with the idea. The truck, while not meticulously maintained, has been cared for pretty actively. For the first 6.5 years it was garaged from November to April. There's simply no reason for rust on it. Yet there it is. Which makes me wonder what else is lurking just below the surface.

Not to mention 12 MPG gets old, quick.

Hellcat ain't gonna happen. I know myself *WAY* too well to get something that powerful. Heck, I'll pass on the 392 for the same reason. 485 horsepower begs to be opened up and run hard. And I'll do it. I figure I'll get in the least trouble with the 5.7L...

Anonymous said...

Considering where you live, get a (non-BRZ) Subaru! I picked up a '15 Forester last year and absolutely love it! All wheel drive, comfortable, reliable and great gas mileage for an SUV (I get from 28 to 32 MPG). Get the turbo version and you can have the fun of sportier car with the benefits of an SUV!

libertyman said...

Try this:

http://www.carmax.com/search?ASc=14&D=90&zip=03049&N=4294963070+4294962718+258&Q=9b5398b2-8f14-448d-a6b2-ff3c58370056&Ep=search:results:results%20page

A whole bunch of Challengers. All Hemis.

abnormalist said...

before you look at a used challenger, look out for the timing chain recall

http://www.hotrod.com/news/chrysler-hemi-timing-chain-defect/

one friend of mine has had the valve train rebuilt 3 times in his challenger...

Mark Matis said...

If you're not overly concerned about appearance, this fixes rust:
http://www.rustbullet.com/

Of course, if you're after shiny new bling, that won't do the job...

ProudHillbilly said...

Transmission. Killed me. Because that was the warning sign that everything else was preparing to go downhill.

Subaru Outback. I'm getting about 33 mph on the open highway to-from Detroit.

ProudHillbilly said...

Transmission. Killed me. Because that was the warning sign that everything else was preparing to go downhill.

Subaru Outback. I'm getting about 33 mph on the open highway to-from Detroit.

Old NFO said...

You're going to miss the truck... Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

If you go the nissan route, take a hard look at the Maxima instead of the Altima. It is a WAY better car. Look at fit and finish, mechanical details, look in the trunks to see this plainly. Around here, the price difference is negligible.

I'm with OldNFO that you will miss the truck. Sure, if you need a sheet of plywood, you can rent a truck from Home Depot, but ...... I think you'll miss the mass and height the most.

With any car, consider one coming off lease, but look in the nicer neighborhoods.

nick

@old NFO, just finished your third book, read them basically back to back and straight thru, awesome and very emotionally involving. I used to live in SD, have worked on NAS North Island, and NAS Miramar, and spent a couple of months working at Pendleton. Currently living in the great state of Texas. Ate at Perry's, would have been cool to see a shoutout to the Waterfront Tavern...

Anonymous said...

Or go with the Altima 3.5SL, 270HP in that little car. :)