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egnorant SuperDork
1/2/20 6:58 a.m.

Doing my own repairs is the real clincher for me! I paid $600 for my current DD but it jumped fast to $1400 with tires, brakes, cleanup, tune up including new timing belt and water pump. I have driven only 23,000 miles in it so it is still the new car, but did round 2 of repairs yesterday. Had to replace rear suspension parts as the tires were just being eaten. Once the bugs are worked out there is a golden age where I expect repairs to include bulbs and oil changes that make it a cash cow. I put aside $75 a month for repairs that more than covers costs. In fact this car was bought with excess money from this budget column!

It replaced a $250 Escort that I fixed for 17 years and 349,000 miles (bought with 132,000)  and is still a viable car, but the 2001 Focus was just too tempting!

I keep track of costs and am just under $50,000 total costs, including gas, insurance, tires, brakes...everything. I also figure my labor at $40/hr.

I had to replace the engine at 380,00 miles but a $200 parts car donated the replacement that can still deliver pizza at 30/50 mpg. 

I do have fun buying cars that others are not as ambitious at fixing.  The Escort needed a clutch right off the bat, The Focus would not run due to a broken spark plug and bad coil. Other finds include bad starter, needs transmission fluid...it boggles the mind at the minor fixes.

I bought a new car a while back and figured it was costing me 10 hours of work every week to pay for. My repaired cars dialed in at 10 hours a month!





BoostedBrandon SuperDork
2/11/20 5:08 p.m.

So, we got almost halfway through February before I realized that I needed to update this thing?

Remember the list of stuff I bought? Well, most of it is still in the box. BoostKid1 and I put the front pads and rotors on, but everything else is waiting on time (but let's be honest here. It's warmer weather I'm waiting on.)

Car payment total: 2 @ $714

Car repair total: $515.40

Oil change is coming next weekend. Maybe.

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
3/14/20 2:46 p.m.

Hello and welcome to the most boring thread on GRM!

It's so boring, that even I forget about it until almost half way through the month.

February came and went with no repairs needed.

Car payment total: 3 @ $1,071

Car repairs $515.40

See you in April.

Indy-Guy PowerDork
3/14/20 3:21 p.m.

yes yes

I'm pulling for the beater.

Cousin_Eddie Dork
3/14/20 3:41 p.m.

Neat thread idea. I hope you continue with the updates. I'm predicting they will be uneventful. 

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
3/14/20 5:12 p.m.

In reply to Cousin_Eddie :

Hopefully it will be very uneventful.

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
4/11/20 9:57 a.m.

March came and went, and nothing other than fuel ups and an oil change.

Car Payments: 4 @ $1,428

Repairs: $515.40

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/11/20 10:34 a.m.
BoostedBrandon said:

March came and went, and nothing other than fuel ups and an oil change.

Car Payments: 4 @ $1,428

Repairs: $515.40

COVID is gonna help the beater for sure!  And I'm OK with that.

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
5/31/20 6:30 p.m.

So, I forgot about this thread. That's how exciting it is. With the Covid pandemic, I've been working a lot, and if anything I've been driving the truck more. With that said, here's May and June.

May: Fifth intallment of $357 makes for $1,785

June: Sixth installment of $357 rounds out to $2,142.

Our repair bill is holding steady at $515.40. Although with summer here, and me tired of sweating in my nether regions at work, an A/C recharge is in order.

Stay tuned.

dculberson (Forum Supporter)
dculberson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/31/20 7:16 p.m.

Looking good.

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
9/7/20 6:12 p.m.

Hey guys, it's September and I'm still driving this pile. I'm still sweating my gonads off.

July: Seventh installment of $357 = $2,499

August: Eighth payment of $357 = $2,856

September: Ninth payment of $357 = $3,213

Remember that box of struts I bought? They're still in the box.

But, now my wife's van is paid for, so we have ZERO car payment. That's pretty rad.

Repairs are holding steady at $515.40. Although according to fuelly, my fuel economy has dropped by about 1.5 mpg, so I need to figure out what's going on with that.

Money in the bank.

03Panther Dork
9/25/20 9:35 a.m.
SkinnyG said:

I'm a BIG fan of $1000 per year (though I do Canadian, so that'd be like $750 per year for you fellers down south).

A $1000 car has to last at least a year.  If it lasts two - bonus!

A $5000 has to last five years.

A $65,000 truck isn't going to last sixty-five years, I don't care what it is.

If a $1000 repair will make it last another year, give'er.  If it's $5000 to fix, it needs to be kept another five years.

I have my bank set up to plunk $85 a month into a "new car fund." so that I can have $1000 ready to go each year.  If it doesn't get used for two years, I now have $2000 saved up for the next car.

All good words to live by! 

frenchyd PowerDork
9/25/20 11:44 a.m.

In reply to 03Panther :

Excellent if your job/ life allows you the time to do the required repairs whenever they happen. You can deal with the unexpected nature of repairs by having a fall back plan. Say AAA membership to retrieve your car from wherever it breaks down.  Plus a back up car to  drive until you have the time and money to repair your primary car. 

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
10/16/20 1:06 p.m.

So, it was barely October when the dilemma happened.

I gave it the beans trying to make it through a yellow light (I was in a hurry on my lunch break and headed to the bank) and I felt a loud THUD and then lots of revs. Turns out I lost second gear, and reverse. Did you know a TrailBlazer is very hard to push backwards out of a parking space?

I was anticipating this, however I'm still somehow surprised by it.

Initially I went car shopping. Decided I don't want a car payment, so that got me back to trying to decide if I want to put this pile back on the road, or move on to something else. Some of you may remember the F150 project I started a year or so ago. I called it "Project Spinel" but I have since decided to call it Spinel Tap.

Nothing motivates me like a panic inducing deadline. I've got my dad's current truck borrowed so I can get to work, but I'm leaning towards fixing it and driving it. The TraillBlazer is pretty beat, and I've spent lots of time this past week trying to decide it's fate. This build thread makes me want to persevere, but I really really hate the thing and I'm thinking about just carrying on the torch with this F150.

What do you think I should do? I've still got $300 worth of suspension parts in the garage that never got installed, and are past the return window at RockAuto. It needs a window regulator, air conditioning work, and all the other crap that a 17 year old, 212k mile GM product needs.

Fixing the transmission is the cheapest option to get me back mobile. Fixing the pickup is a two-birds-with-one-stone solution, as it gets the truck fixed and me back to work.

I'm going to update the truck thread later with what's going on with it.

Well...to keep the thread going, slap a junkyard transmission in and go.

Counterpoint, it is good to know when to throw in the towel.

Do you have a shop you trust to swap a trans? Can you find a suitable candidate? That should be a pretty cheap way to carry on. What, a grand? That's a couple of car payments.

You are $3200 ahead at this point. Can you get the F150 going for that price or less? If so, do that and reset your counter back to zero or whatever amount you have left and keep the thread going. 

The other option is to keep a vehicle you hate and spend $1500 to have the transmission rebuilt. 

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
1/12/21 5:33 p.m.

Hey guys, it's me again.

I am officially the world's worst thread author.

What I wound up doing was replacing the Trailblazer with another work car.

Enter: The Altoid.

Why the name Altoid? Because it's white, freaking minty and curiously strong.

Back in October I stumbled upon this on Facebook marketplace, and I bought this 69K mile car from it's second owner. Yeah, I probably paid too much but I think with the condition and mileage it was worth it. Car is a 1999 Saturn SL1, low option car with a manual trans, crank windows and non power mirrors and it even still has the Saturn AM/FM radio. But is also has a/c and a sunroof. Werid combination car. The car's original owner was the aunt of the guy I bought it from. She was retired and it was literally a "to church and grocery store" car. She wound up with dementia and they took her keys. She died in 2011 and he wound up with the car, and her house. So the car had also lived at the same home all these years. When he took ownership of the car ten years ago it had 24K miles.

So, what's our new numbers?

Altoid was purchased for $2500.

Catching our fake car payment up brings us to $4641.

Now, what about the Trailblazer? Well, it's still here. On jackstands in the garage getting the freshly rebuilt transmission reinstalled. I asked my cousin to help with it, and he just volunteered to do it if I bought the stuff. I'm gonna total up the costs of what we have invested once it's all said and done. The plan with it is to sell it once it's complete, and figure out how to add that to my numbers somehow.

The F150? still waiting it's turn.

Size comparison of the car to my work truck.

So far, the car has been flawless. I've driven it about 1000 miles and it's been so much fun to be back in a tiny car with a manual.

preach (fs)
preach (fs) GRM+ Memberand Reader
1/12/21 5:52 p.m.

Do you get to subtract the Trailblazer selling price from the $4641?

BoostedBrandon SuperDork
1/12/21 6:04 p.m.

In reply to preach (fs) :

No, we haven't sold the TrailBlazer yet. The $4641 is what I would have paid had I bought a car with a payment in January 2020.

ejs262 New Reader
1/12/21 6:34 p.m.

I went cheap for a few years as an adult, but when your $1000 truck develops a rod knock... well, it got replaced by something 36 years younger, I bought an 06 Chevy 2500 HD 4x4 with almost no options for about $13,500. since I paid it off, I have no intentions on selling it, I'll just keep picking away at it as things wear out. in the meantime, since I paid it off, I got myself another cheapy, a 1988 K10 Suburban that splits DD duty with the 2500.

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/12/21 9:06 p.m.

I'd think you'd subtract the trailblazer's price from the repair price (possibly ending with a negative number) then add the altoid's purchase to that. 

autocomman New Reader
1/12/21 11:38 p.m.

Ya know I can see both sides of this.  Since I started driving 23 years ago I never wanted a new car, always throught it was a waste of $$.  Ill drive what ever I have and just keep it maintained.  I was into volvos for ever, tinkering and what not.  I had a 242 with a 740 turbo drive train, nothing special but a solid car that was very easy to maintain.  I had also a 245 wagon.  I did all the go fast stuff to that one, (stroker 2.5, T5 trans, coilovers etc etc etc) and it was nice, 90% done.  I was working at VW at the time.  Bought a 2000 passat off a client to fix and flip, it needed a cylinder head.  Newest car I ever had, and when I fixed it after driving it for a few weeks I got spoiled.  It was 8 years old at that point, but quiet, comfortable, decent to look at, etc etc.  I had to get a newer car, I just couldnt ever get that old beast to the point where Id be happy with it.  I put all the go fast parts in my 242, turn the 245 into a truck and eventually sold it, and bought a 95 855 turbo that had lower mileage, was cosmetically perfect, and needed a bunch of maintenance.  I did everything in one shot, and didnt have to do anything but oil changes, minor things and a tune up for the next 7 years.  I put a stereo and IPD sway bars and bilstiens in it, thats it.  Towards the end I had to the do the rear main and a few other things, and it was just starting to creak more inside, clear coat was just starting to peel and it was needing more and more things more often,  so I sold it and got a 95 W124 benz wagon, yeah, another 20 year old german car, cause thats a good idea haha.


The W124 wasnt half the car the volvo was.    Yes the benz was solid, classic and wonderful to drive, and I had worked on em out of high school when they were coming off warranty so I knew what I was getting into, and I mean come on, they look frekin awesome.  But it was a near 20 year old platform when it was new, and the 855 was a new design (for the time)  The W124 was a great car, but not fast enough, not even close to what the volvo was, I couldnt deal.  I went from dont mess with the daily to putting a 3.6 AMG engine in it, which honestly was an engine R and R with an ECU reprogram, couldnt have been easier really.  I did a sportline suspension upgrade and I was happy.  But then i never liked the trans, so i messed with that too, did a 5 speed auto swap then eventually a 5 speed manual.  Then the upper timing cover leaks every 2-3 years, the valve cover every year, it developed a head gasket leak externally...once you fix it all you have a year before its something else maybe.  And yes I know it wasnt necessarily a low maintenance car, really I didnt have to do much to it in the 5 years I had it,.  But Im tired of fixing the daily.  Tired of old car stuffs.  I have old cars to play with, (82 mini cooper, 59 bug eye sprite, 82 LS swapped olds custom cruiser, 74 fiat X1/9) the daily I dont wanna think about it.  I dont wanna deal with it.  i wanna change the oil and drive it.  So I bought a 2019 Buick TourX and couldnt be happier.  


I get not wanting to spend the $$ on the old car, but when you do it for a living, and always have some project to tinker on, the last thing I wanna do is tinker or fix the one I always have to drive.  But thats just one mans opinion.  My dad has had 4 cars in his life time, all driven till they died.  He was never one to complain, he drove his first car, a 69 nova 4 door, 6 cyl, power glide, no power steering, manual drum brakes and a rubber floor for nearly 20 years, 200k miles till it stopped running then he put it in the garage for another 20 years haha, and on and on...


I will say with the Benz, with all the work I did, I actually sold the car 5 year later with another 60k miles on it, and didnt loose a dime.  I didnt make any money, but I never expected to not loose any on something like that.  Never could do that with anything else ive owned like that

frenchyd PowerDork
1/13/21 8:13 a.m.

In reply to autocomman :

That is very similar to my story. ( well except I was into Jaguars )  The problem was I started my own restoration shop and I learned to put value on my time.  
   The second thing was reliability. I placed a premium on giving my customers priority.  Their cars were ready when needed rather than working on my own stuff. So I pushed mine to the back of the line. Wound up using the wife's cars too often. Or having stuff delivered because Mine wasn't running. Instead of a 10 minute run to the parts place I'd do stuff out of sequence just to be working while I waited for a part and delivery schedule.  
     My next job provided me with a new car and that freed me up a lot. 

RedGT Dork
1/13/21 8:22 a.m.

A purchase like that Saturn will completely blow away the 'car payment or not?' question this thread started with.  It's going to cost you nearly nothing to drive for at least 100k miles.  That's the kind of thing I have always bought and it works really well for having transportation and saving money.  However it's a bit of a false equivalency because you wouldn't have a $300/mo loan on a tin can econo car in the first place.  Nothing for sale brand new is comparable, everything is much nicer and safer and so on.

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