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RBB

Should I get a beater?

38 posts in this topic

So this happened yesterday:

img011.jpg

Now, I fully plan on keeping my car until it dies. That said, I've been considering whether to buy a cheap older car with good gas mileage to keep from piling up more miles than necessary on my primary car.

Would it be economically responsible to find a ~$2K beater that gets about 30-35 mpg to trek the 30 miles each way to work? Or would initial cost, insurance and probability of repair make it not worth it?

-RBB

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Your question is a double edged sword. Yes, it is prohibitively expensive to buy another car, insure it, drive it, and maintain it versus driving your current car as is. You will NOT recoup the money you outlay for a very long time, if ever. There is no financial reasoning that will ever make this a good idea. Same argument goes for Hybrids and diesels. The paybacks are 10's of thousands of miles or MORE and the car you find will NOT last that long.

With that said: HELL YES! There is a wonderful pleasantness that comes from having a car that you less than care about. The park anywhere you please freedom, the answering of "NO" when asked if you want to buy the car wash at the gas pump, the "Go ahead and pull in front of me" attitude that you will exude while traversing the highways in your high mileage beater. Rock chips and door dings BE DAMNED! The smile you will get when you look down at the Def Leopard Hysteria cassette stuck in the Kraco stereo - WITH 5-Band Equalizer!!!. Plus, there is always the nostalgic feeling you will get when you are driving down the road admiring your new for '92 delux consolette or the 4WS Steering system you found in the Honda Prelude Si you picked up in an autotrader you picked up on your way out of the grocery store. Hey, become a high miler and find yourself a CRX DX or Geo Metro GSi 3-banger and watch the folks in line for gas stare at you in a jealous rage. :neenerneener:

I can actually say that I enjoy driving a beater more than my primary cars just for these reasons. I am actually in search of such a smile maker right now.

Edited by toesuf94
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I just picked up another S-Series in very nice shape for $700... :D

So now your garage looks like Red Neck Yard of the week? :P

That makes 3 right, or 4?

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I just picked up another S-Series in very nice shape for $700... :D

If I could find a S for that cheap, I'd pull the LeSabre off the road and really get to work in it.

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YES! :)

I've got less than $350 TOTAL invested in my 1992 Buick RoadmOnster

since I bought it in Jan. of 2008. Beat THAT! :)

12,250+ miles

almost 9 months

$200 purchase price

$0 reused battery from the Datsun

$147 in parts

= $1/cubic inch :smilewide:

Edited by Sixty8panther
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Count me in on the pro-beater tally.

For me it wouldn't be a high MPG compact, but the principle is the same.

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I just picked up another S-Series in very nice shape for $700... :D

Nice!

I wouldn't mind picking up a 94-96 SL1 or 2 4dr.....

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So now your garage looks like Red Neck Yard of the week? :P

That makes 3 right, or 4?

3 currently. I had purchased a '94 SL2 that had a misfire that I'd hoped was just from the leaky valve cover gasket, but it turned out to be a bad valve seal. I pulled the engine & sold the body for the same money as I bought the car for.

The current one actually has quite a few performance parts in it. It's a '96 SL2 in nice shape, built engine, short shifter, performance clutch, and I got a buncha other goodies on the side. I'm returning the car to stock (including swapping the engine) and will sell it for a profit. On top of that, I'll have the performance parts to put in my '99 SC2. The 3rd S is my wife's '99 SC1. They've been nothing but reliable, efficient, and easy to work on. :)

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I most likely won't act before spring, but I was tempted by a '98 SC2 for sale locally with roughly 150K miles for $2k.

If I could find something for >$1K that doesn't require <$1K in repairs, it'd probably be worth it.

-RBB

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If I'm going to pay $2000 for a car with 150,000 miles it BETTER be

way cooler than some FWD, 4-cylinder econo-box Saturn with

Rubbermaid body panels and zero style. To each his own though...

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3 currently. I had purchased a '94 SL2 that had a misfire that I'd hoped was just from the leaky valve cover gasket, but it turned out to be a bad valve seal. I pulled the engine & sold the body for the same money as I bought the car for.

The current one actually has quite a few performance parts in it. It's a '96 SL2 in nice shape, built engine, short shifter, performance clutch, and I got a buncha other goodies on the side. I'm returning the car to stock (including swapping the engine) and will sell it for a profit. On top of that, I'll have the performance parts to put in my '99 SC2. The 3rd S is my wife's '99 SC1. They've been nothing but reliable, efficient, and easy to work on. :)

A 96 sounds nice.. I just saw a 98 sl1 in good shape....

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If I'm going to pay $2000 for a car with 150,000 miles it BETTER be

way cooler than some FWD, 4-cylinder econo-box Saturn with

Rubbermaid body panels and zero style. To each his own though...

For most people, the idea is a fuel efficient commuter car that requires as little investment, maintenance, and repair as possible. It's not about your obsessions with certain vehicle characteristics - that's saved for their OTHER vehicle, which they can more readily afford (and keep nice longer) because of how little cost/much abuse their 4cyl econobox provides. Show me a BOF, RWD, no b-pillar car that gets over 30mpg in mixed driving and almost 40 on the highway, and looks almost still new after 12 years (not even a door ding :neenerneener: ) without having been babied constantly. The Saturn S-Series isn't a glamorous car, it's not a sporty car, but it's one heck of a great commuter/beater. And if it's been even halfway well taken care of, still has 50-100k miles left in it with a few small repairs at 150k miles on the odometer.

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Some good points there...

Sooooo.... what is it again that you are "keeping nice longer" by driving a beater Saturn?

I was not aware you had a classic...?

Last time I checked your daily driver Ford-mazda was your only car, no?

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For most people, the idea is a fuel efficient commuter car that requires as little investment, maintenance, and repair as possible. It's not about your obsessions with certain vehicle characteristics - that's saved for their OTHER vehicle, which they can more readily afford (and keep nice longer) because of how little cost/much abuse their 4cyl econobox provides. Show me a BOF, RWD, no b-pillar car that gets over 30mpg in mixed driving and almost 40 on the highway, and looks almost still new after 12 years (not even a door ding :neenerneener: ) without having been babied constantly. The Saturn S-Series isn't a glamorous car, it's not a sporty car, but it's one heck of a great commuter/beater. And if it's been even halfway well taken care of, still has 50-100k miles left in it with a few small repairs at 150k miles on the odometer.

True.

I'm still thinking about getting my hands on a 96-99 SL 4 dr.....

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I'd just keep driving it... see if you can get 150 or 200k on it. If it's paid for, I wouldn't see any cost advantage to buying/insuring/etc a 2nd car... what's the Mazda 6 get, 25 or more?

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I'd just keep driving it... see if you can get 150 or 200k on it. If it's paid for, I wouldn't see any cost advantage to buying/insuring/etc a 2nd car... what's the Mazda 6 get, 25 or more?

I get right at 24-25 MPG. It's a V6/manual.

I agree that I should be able to get 150-200K out of it. My thought was if I had a to-work-and-back beater, that it'd take maybe four years to get to 150K instead of 1½. I do need a car that can comfortably hold four adults, and the MazdaFord suits that purpose well, as well as being fun to drive. But I'm not interested in paying $20K+ for a replacement any time soon.

The theory is getting a little runabout that's cheap to buy and somewhat cheaper to drive saves my bigger car wear and tear, and in theory might prove a money saver in the long run. I'm just trying to figure out if it makes economic sense or not.

-RBB

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As a final point to this: I am more apt to have a beater when there is a 'special car' that I do not want to drive on salt covered roads. Not knocking your car, but a Mazda with 100,000 clicks on it is already on it's way to the back lot if you were to trade it in anyway. At this point, you are probably beyond 'saving' the value of the Mazda due to mileage/vintage. You would probably be better off just driving your car, as it looks nice and probably does not owe you anything. Now, if you were driving a new Camaro or Corvette, or a limited production Miata or something rare, then it makes a lot of sense to have the beater for the every day driving care-free motoring.

Sorry if you take this as a dig, but it really is not. Your Mazda looks like a nice car and is a rare color, and I mean you and your car NO disrespect. I respect EVERYONE'S Ride(s) as wheels is wheels!

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I've thought about the beater question also...my '00 Grand Cherokee has almost 95k now, has depreciated over 8 years to 1/8th it's purchase price, and is long since paid for. It still runs well, looks good, though it has a few scratches, paint chips and dents. Admittedly, it gets only 18mpg, but that's ok with me. It makes no sense financially for me to buy something cheap and used that is an unknown quanity and a potential money pit to use as a daily driver.

At some point in the next year or two, I'll buy a new daily driver and keep the Jeep for winter use or for when I need to haul something.

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As a final point to this: I am more apt to have a beater when there is a 'special car' that I do not want to drive on salt covered roads. Not knocking your car, but a Mazda with 100,000 clicks on it is already on it's way to the back lot if you were to trade it in anyway. At this point, you are probably beyond 'saving' the value of the Mazda due to mileage/vintage. You would probably be better off just driving your car, as it looks nice and probably does not owe you anything. Now, if you were driving a new Camaro or Corvette, or a limited production Miata or something rare, then it makes a lot of sense to have the beater for the every day driving care-free motoring.

Sorry if you take this as a dig, but it really is not. Your Mazda looks like a nice car and is a rare color, and I mean you and your car NO disrespect. I respect EVERYONE'S Ride(s) as wheels is wheels!

No offense taken at all. But it is a bit frustrating that I'm not getting my point across.

I'm under no delusions that my car is something special. I'm not trying to baby the car or protect it from salty roads, dirt or rain - Hell, I park the thing on the street under a tree that apparently houses a 2-3 dozen birds whenever my vehicle is present. I have a cracked windshield that I've yet to replace. And because of a previous accident the rear bumper doesn't match the rest of the car. Honestly, I bought it because it was cheap for what I needed - not because it was rare or I like yellow so much. Still, I like it, and replacing it with a newer car would cost more than I'd like to spend at this point.

I'm trying to figure out if splitting my driving between two older vehicles is more economically viable in the long run. I do need a mid-sized vehicle capable of carrying four people in comfort. I prefer the V6-powered variety. But the bulk of my driving (roughly 60 miles per day) is commuting by myself to work and back - I don't need four large seats or a V6 for that.

So, all that said, if I get a cheap little commuter car, will driving that to work plus the MazdaFord when I need carry more people be less expensive in the long run than using the one car for both purposes and replacing it?

Or would it be cheaper to save the money I'd spend in purchasing, insuring (I'd pay cash and go w/liability only), maintaining, the other older vehicle, just drive the Mazda until it dies and then fork out the extra cash to purchase/put a down payment on a newer car of similar size and purpose?

I'm simply trying to figure out a way to avoid a car payment as long as possible.

-RBB

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Well, as I said previously: Two (or more!) are always better than one.

Just remember the rules for beater-ness is it has to be a new to you beater, you cannot buy a new car and use the old car you already have as your beater. There is no fun in that.

I think for what you are describing your desires for the car is to get you to and fro cheaply without needing a ton of money while splitting the mileage between your current Mazda and the new car. I would say a 4 cylinder something or other would really get that job done quite nicely and keep you from having a new car payment for quite some time.

Further to this point, let me also introduce to the discussion the Granny Car. You see them all the time, and while they may not be exciting to look at, they provide excellent carefree driving for years for very little coin. I am talking about Buick Centurys, The Cutlass Cierra Broughams or the Chevrolet Celebritys that are ALWAYS out there with only 35K to 40k miles on them for $1500 or best offer. The very unexciting nature of these cars is the very reason they are ripe for the plucking. They run well for years, cost very little if anything to operate, and are out there for a song. The 4 cylinder variants are great for high MPG and they are safe reliable transportation. I have a buddy that bought a Century (86) with 85k on the clock for $900. He drove that car for 8 years and 145,000 more miles. He finally junked it recently due to the trans starting to go, the rust winning the battle on the body, and the rear brake lines being pinched off due to broken lines. He drove it with all of the problems I just described for three years! Give it a thought!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

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I bought my granny car/beater Achieva almost a year ago, convincing myself with the same rationale. My other car ('03 VUE) is nice still but no collector car either.

Has it really saved any money? I don't think so. Am I still glad I did it? Absoultely. Having somthing a little older and a little easier to tinker with has been enjoyable for me. Plus it does spread my 80 mi/day mileage out between my two cars.

Now if I did not work my own cars I don't know if I would be as likely to buy one as those repair costs can add up quite quickly, even on the low mile beaters simply due to age. My Achieva probably had $1,000-1,500 woth of work done to it if I had a shop fix all the things I have done to "restore" it. :wink:

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Well, as I said previously: Two (or more!) are always better than one.

Just remember the rules for beater-ness is it has to be a new to you beater, you cannot buy a new car and use the old car you already have as your beater. There is no fun in that.

I think for what you are describing your desires for the car is to get you to and fro cheaply without needing a ton of money while splitting the mileage between your current Mazda and the new car. I would say a 4 cylinder something or other would really get that job done quite nicely and keep you from having a new car payment for quite some time.

Further to this point, let me also introduce to the discussion the Granny Car. You see them all the time, and while they may not be exciting to look at, they provide excellent carefree driving for years for very little coin. I am talking about Buick Centurys, The Cutlass Cierra Broughams or the Chevrolet Celebritys that are ALWAYS out there with only 35K to 40k miles on them for $1500 or best offer. The very unexciting nature of these cars is the very reason they are ripe for the plucking. They run well for years, cost very little if anything to operate, and are out there for a song. The 4 cylinder variants are great for high MPG and they are safe reliable transportation. I have a buddy that bought a Century (86) with 85k on the clock for $900. He drove that car for 8 years and 145,000 more miles. He finally junked it recently due to the trans starting to go, the rust winning the battle on the body, and the rear brake lines being pinched off due to broken lines. He drove it with all of the problems I just described for three years! Give it a thought!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

Absolutely!

I always look for granny cars when a beater needs to be found. Best bang for the buck in cheap transportation that you'll ever find.

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