The Car of the Thousand Dollars

If you look at my car
(in a manner that could be
construed as rude)
it gets its feelings hurt
and Something inside
               it dies.
And whatever that
Something is, will
cost (at least)
one thousand dollars
               to fix.

The end.

I’m being extremely unfair to my almost 12 year old car. It has over 150,000 miles on it & still gets great gas mileage. It can’t help it that it’s elderly & over-engineered. Oh, and you might think I’m exaggerating, but this time it will actually need over $2,000 of work done.

I would use this as an excuse to get a new(er) car, but darn it I LIKE my car. It’s comfortable, I can mostly park it, and it has tumbleweeds in the corners that I would miss if it were gone.

From 2008, in happier times :)

So Ms. Saturn enjoy your week at the spa – I’ll be putting you through your paces when you get back home!


  1. Everyone benefits from a day at the spa, even an old friend like your car.

  2. Ha! That's in the Land of Lincoln before Lincoln went to Illinois (i.e. Indiana). The Ohio was flooding, and we risked Ms. Saturn to get some pics :-)

  3. I imagine it's not hard to spend $2,000 on repairs these days. If you'll get $2,000 of use out of the car afterwards, why not?

  4. I was going to say how immaculate it looked, until I realised the photo was from 5 years ago. Why is it that the less cars are worth, the more they cost to repair?

    Cars definitely become like pets. You're with them so much of the time you can't help but become fond of the strange inanimate/animate objects they are.

  5. But if this has happened before recently, at some point don't you have to weigh the cost of repairs (likely to become more frequent) vs buying a new(er), modest car and have payments?


  6. Sigh. I hear you. I felt that way about my 1996 Ford Explorer. It was such a great car and really tricked out, too. But little by little, I felt less confident driving it, as in "What is going to go next?" On longer drives, I found myself listening to it closely and worrying. Finally, I just had to get a new car because I was too worried. I was sad to see it go, but I was happier in the long run.

  7. If your car is almost 12 years old, you will have to make some calculated decisions sooner or later (hopefully, later). I'm a big fan of keeping cars for a long, long time, too. With my last car I used to joke that every time I put gas in it, I doubled its value.

    Here's to your Saturn and that it may serve you well for a while longer!

  8. Here's hoping the investment gives you many more miles of pleasure.

  9. I pity the people who can treat a car as nothing more than a collection of parts. Yes, there will come a time when you have to say goodbye, but that time is not marked solely on a bookkeeper's ledger. Here's to a few more trips around the block, Ms. Saturn!

  10. We figure that our repairs are costing about $125 a month - which is less than a car payment would be. Of course, there will come a time when the repairs come so frequently that we'll just have to get a newer car - but it would be best if we could wait another two years!

  11. You sound like us. We hang on to our cars until they have to be towed to the junk yard. Unless they were junk to begin with. Had a couple of those. Going to check out your 50/50 on the side....

  12. One of the boards I belong to just discussed this issue and a member shared a useful formula:

    my rough formula is when the repairs cost 1/2 of the payments and increased
    insurance cost for two years in a row, it's time to let the old car go.

    $2,000 per year == ~$160 month.
    figure your insurance will be about $100/month for a new car

    $360/month is a full car payment on a brand new car. IMO, let this one go.

    Another added this:

    Don't forget personal property (assessed annually on a car based on it's
    {inflated} book value) and sales taxes (one time and going up
    significantly in July)...

  13. There is certainly a penalty for keeping a car for more than 100,000 miles. Water pumps, thermostats, etc., go bad. We've had several of those issues in the last few years that were more preventative maintenance than breakdown. But we have also had electronic problems, a known issue with this car, and throttle body problems, also a known issue. We had the throttle body replaced at roughly 78,000 miles, and the emissions control module, which at that time was under factory warranty. About two years ago, we had to replace the body control module, not under warranty, but it had lasted over 100,000 miles. Now, at about twice the mileage when we had the first work done, the throttle body has started sticking again. When The Bug wrote this post, we thought that both the throttle body and the ECM would need replacing, which would have cost more than $2000. Today the mechanic told us that he still has not gotten sufficient negative data to warrant condemning the ECM, so we are going with the $1000 throttle body replacement and hoping for the best. But SouthLakesMom is absolutely spot on. Over the last five years we have averaged less than $125 a month in repairs and maintenance, including tires, brake job, etc. I think I even included oil changes in that calculation. Given all the stuff we've replaced, the condition of the brakes, etc., and the solid condition of the engine, we think we have a reasonable chance at another two years or so, at which time we will be in a better financial position, based on our aggressive plan to reduce personal debt. But it is a gamble. I had said I wasn't going to spend anymore big bucks on this car, especially after the dubious labor and diagnostics charges we incurred recently, but we are working with a different shop this time and I think we are getting a fair deal. We'll see. Thanks, y'all!

  14. My car is twelve years old, too. I know I'll have to get a new one soon, but I hate car payments, and I hate shopping for a new car. They say you save tons of money if you keep your car till it leaves you in the ditch, and I'm a believer in that. My last car had over three hundred thousand miles on it when the engine finally went kaput, and I coasted into a service station. It had to be towed to the old car graveyard. We always keep our cars at least a decade.

  15. I hope she's fixed. Sounds like a sensitive machine.


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