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.