If you're thinking about driving a cheap old car, I think you should. The benefits of driving one far outweigh the joy of driving an expensive new car.
Something disappointing happened on the last day of our Lake Tahoe vacation. After loading up the car I swung around to the driver's side. There, I saw an enormous gash in my car's side panel and hood. Holy crap!
Apparently, a truck must have bashed my car overnight and didn't leave a note. I had dropped the car off with the valet at 1 pm the day before. Cameras showed the car was in perfect condition when the valet drove the car to park.
Pictures Of My Bashed Car Under Valet Care At The Resort
My mind was racing as it usually does when something unusual happens. It was 12:45 pm and my original plan had been to drive 3.5 hours back to San Francisco while my two kids napped after swimming. We had already checked out of our rooms and had loaded up the car.
Originally, the valet guy had said I shouldn't have a problem driving my damaged car back to San Francisco. But as a precaution, I took the car for a spin to see if it was true. Unfortunately, the damaged sharp-edged body of the car would poke and scrape at the tire every time the car went up and down. And it was just me in the car.
Once four more people hopped in the car, the clearance between the tire and the sharp-edged body would only be an inch. I didn't want to risk driving the damaged car hours back to SF. Therefore, we came up with another solution.
Buying Time To Figure Out The Best Solution Post Accident
Since it was Friday afternoon, I decided to ask Grant, the Assistant General Manager, whether he could put us up in a suite for free. This way, we could all have more time to figure out what to do.
Enterprise car rental company wouldn't pick us up, even though it is their tagline. Instead, I would have to drive 50 minutes north to Reno to pick up a car. Then I would have to drive back to the resort. There was no way I was going to have my wife and kids wait in the lobby for two hours for me to then start our three-and-a-half-hour journey back to San Francisco.
Unfortunately, there was no large size rental vehicle available in Truckee, 20 minutes away from the Resort. Therefore, the Resort's car service would have to drive me at 8 am the next morning to Reno to pick up a rental vehicle. I'd be back by 10:30 am. Then I could spend a couple hours relaxing or playing with my kids in the pool before we headed back to San Francisco.
Losing hours of time was the biggest loss. All told, I lost about four hours of time.
The True Benefit Of Driving A Cheap Old Car
I don't have a cheap or old car. But I do have a 2015 Range Rover Sport which I bought used following my 1/10th rule for car buying. Instead of old, let's call him middle-aged.
When I first saw the enormous gash, I didn't think about my poor car. Instead, my first thoughts were how the hell am I going to safely transport my family back home to San Francisco? Then I thought who the hell did this? Finally, I wondered how the car would get fixed.
You see, if my car was under three years old and worth way more than 10% of my gross household income, I would probably have felt really down about the damages. If the car was under one year old with the new car smell, I'd be downright pissed!
No Stress When My Car Is Dinged
But by driving a seven-year-old car with plenty of door dings, I felt no sorrow for the car. All I saw was damaged machinery that now needed to be fixed. In fact, with a new hood, new side panel, and the replacement of damaged components, fixing it might be like getting a partially new car!
Without any sorrow for the damaged car, I felt way less stressed. My mental well-being stayed stronger. I knew that sooner or later the car would be fixed. In the meantime, I would get to drive a new SUV with third-row seating. I had been wanting to test-drive a larger vehicle for a while.
My main concern was making sure my kids could nap and not feel the stress of a car accident. I see my car as a tool, not as a valuable possession.
Silver Linings From A Car Accident
Although it stinks to lose hours of time due to this car accident, there are some positives that have come out of this incident.
Silver lining #1: Another Night At The Resort
After bringing back our luggage to a new suite, we decided to rest for an hour before going to the pool again. There we stayed for two hours going down the water slide and enjoying the hot tub.
One of my goals now that my boy is five is to teach him how to swim. So we had two more 20-minute swim lessons on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. My daughter decided to play games on the lawn with her mother and then go to the sandpit area and build sand castles.
The cost of our comped three-bedroom suite was about $1,200 after taxes and fees because it was a Friday night in August. August is peak season.
One of the reasons why we wanted to leave on Friday was to avoid the crowds, save money, and capture the weekend's rental income, which we did. Our condo was rented out Friday and Saturday night.
Silver lining #2: A Wonderful Dinner
After the pool we had a lovely dinner outdoors accompanied with live music. Although the dinner wasn't comped, we hadn't had a nice date night in a while. This dinner date likely increased the longevity and harmony of our relationship.
Silver lining #3: Worked Out
After the kids went to bed, I decided to finally hit the gym after three months of not working out! I had delayed going to the gym due to laziness and my focus on marketing my new book. Being a writer is not good for the body!
I figured as I was going to be staying an additional night, I might as well try to make the most out of the Resort's facilities. In the weight room, I did four reps each for my chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and lats. Further, I also did three sets of 50 sit-ups. The soreness felt so good! No, I didn't exercise my legs because I play tennis 2-3X a week. My quads and calves are already quite beefy.
This workout has emboldened me to start lifting weights again at least once a week to build back strength. Once a week is better than no workout at all. It's important to build muscle after age 40 for maintenance. This could be the start of a body transformation!
Silver lining #4: Drive A Newer Car I Want
I get to test drive one of the cars I've been thinking about getting for the past 12 months for free. I was considering the Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, BMW X7, Tesla Model X, Nissan Armada, Defender, or the Range Rover with third-row seating.
The longer it takes to fix my car, the more I save on mileage and wear and tear by using the rental car. The rental car is also slightly larger, so it should be more comfortable.
Silver lining #5: More Content On Financial Samurai
One of the best things about having Financial Samurai is that I can always use the platform to share a new story. Maybe this post will help some people not spend as much money on a depreciating asset. I might even earn some advertising revenue too.
Further, I can also write a new post comparing the Nissan Armada to the Range Rover Sport. Instead of testing the Armada for a day like most auto journalists, I get to do a deep-dive review after driving it for at least a month. So far, the Armada drives like a slow boat!
If my car comparison post goes well, I will submit it to a car publication and maybe land my dream job test driving and reviewing supercars! Those folks get to drive Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the race track and then post video reviews. They have the best jobs.
Silver lining #6: A Reaffirmation Of My Car Ownership Beliefs
After going through this car accident debacle, I firmly believe owning a cheaper, older car is the way to go. So long as it is mechanically sound with good safety features, having an affordable car is less stressful to operate and maintain. Not feeling attached is one of the best reasons for owning a cheaper, older car.
I'd much rather drive an older car onto a parking lot and not have to worry about door dings and gashes. Dings and scratches always happen, which can be super annoying if you have a nice car. Further, insurance costs are also lower for cheaper cars.
The sweet spot is buying a car that's three or four years old and then driving it for eight-to-ten years. By doing so, you'll miss the steepest part of the depreciation curve while also driving a car with some relatively new safety features. After ten years, you might want to buy another three or four-year-old car for better safety features.
Another reaffirmation after this incident is my desire to own only one car. Two cars means more parking tickets, more maintenance headaches, higher insurance costs, more damages, greater liability, and a higher risk of theft.
I will try to stay a one-car family for as long as possible. I don't mind driving the family everywhere or paying for rideshare services when necessary.
The Cost To Fix The Car Damage And Make Me Whole
What's scary about having your car damaged is how much it costs to fix nowadays. I once had to fix two panels on my $20,000 Honda Fit and it cost about $3,500! Therefore, make sure you have great auto insurance coverage. However, it might not be good enough.
Since my Range Rover Sport costs more than my Honda Fit, I'm guessing it will cost around $7,000 to fix my hood, side panel, and internal parts. The cost includes painting the panels. Then it will probably cost another $1,500 to replace my cracked windshield for a total of $8,500.
It will probably take the autobody shop two months to get the parts and do the work. Meanwhile, the resort's car insurance company has to pay for my car rental. My quote is for $973.32 a week for the Nissan Armada. Given I expect it to take nine weeks to fix my car, the rental car cost will be about $8,760.
Rental Car Cost Paid For By Insurance
The costs continue! I may or may not drive back to Lake Tahoe for another vacation in two months. Therefore, if my fixed car is towed from Reno or Truckee to San Francisco the cost will likely be around $4,000.
We're now talking a total cost of $21,260!
If my family wants to go back to Lake Tahoe for vacation when the car is ready, we might be able to save the Resort's insurance $3,500. Instead of towing my fixed car from Reno to San Francisco, they would just tow it from Reno to the Resort, a 50-minute drive.
I also save a net 170 miles of wear and tear on my car by driving the rental up to Lake Tahoe. Wear and tear adds up over time.
Update On Cheap Old Car: Once the Resort's insurance company took over, the daily rate they paid for the rental car was $80 versus my $160. The insurance said they wouldn't pay for the $28/day total insurance coverage Enterprise sold me as an upsell. So I had to bring it into an Enterprise in SF to have the car inspected before taking it off. It makes sense as $28/day is a lot and I'm already paying insurance under my company.
The Desire For Nice Cars Fades Once You Get Richer
When you don't have enough money to afford a nice car, your desire for a nice car is high. Once you make enough or have a large enough net worth to buy any car you want, the desire for a nice car dramatically goes down.
Hence, if you want to eliminate your car buying desires, try to make a lot more money or grow a larger net worth! I've asked a couple wealthy friends why don't they buy a Ferrari or another exotic car as a weekend car. They both said their interest in cars went away once they could easily afford them.
This phenomenon of no longer wanting to buy a nice car once you can afford it is another example of how money doesn't buy happiness. It is much more thrilling being a broke teenager who daydreams of their favorite cars with posters on their walls.
A Car Nut In My 20s And Now I Don't Care In My 40s
I remember one of my favorite hobbies in my 20s was going for test drives at the BMW, Audi, and Mercedes dealers. I couldn't get enough of the thrill of driving a brand new car and inhaling the intoxicating new leather seats. Now, I hardly ever go.
In conclusion, the true benefit of owning a cheap old car is more freedom and better mental health. Your freedom from worry and stress fades if you have an older car. With less worry and stress in your life, you will feel lighter. And when you feel lighter, you feel happier!
Oh, and one last tip. If you ever valet, you might want to ask them to park your car out front!
Reader Questions And Action Items
Do you drive a cheap old car even though you could afford a nicer one? Did you find your desire to own a nicer car faded the wealthier you got? What are some other benefits of owning a cheap old car? Should the Resort compensate me for my four hours of lost time beyond just giving us a night to stay?
In June 2023, my car started leaking coolant and making a squeaky noise. The coolant is on the side the car was bashed, so it makes me wonder whether the water pump or something was damaged during the collision as well.
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44 thoughts on “The Biggest Benefit Of Driving A Cheap Old Car: Better Mental Health!”
I was shopping for a new car a few years ago, another guy in the dealership told me, “after 6 months, any new or used car feels the same”
If it starts, doesn’t embarrass me, is comfortable, and can hold enough stuff, and will offer decent protection? That’s pretty much all I care about. I tend to buy new and then keep them over a decade. I like to know that all the dirt is mine.
A Honda Accord is fine for now. A Porsche or Land Rover (quite different, I know) are doable and I would surely enjoy them, but not enough to endure what commuting on these roads in this traffic would do to them, and never mind the parking garages. When I retire is soon enough.
Good to find silver linings in bad situations; it also helps mental health.
I drive a super old honda civic: benefits – it’s been paid off, I drive it roughly making it more fun since it’s not worth a whole lot, cheaper insurance, smaller car therefore cheaper gas.
We went to one car last November when both my wife and I went fully remote. It’s not been a problem at all since we are normally both at the house. It saves a ton of money over the year factoring in depr, maintenance, insurance, and lost returns from having money sitting in a vehicle. We did buy a boat though, so maybe I’m just trying to justify buying the boat, LOL. Although, the boat creates a ton of fun memories whilst the car is just a utilitarian machine that depreciates.
Maybe! There is that old saying, “the best time own a boat is when you get the keys and return the keys!”
My wife and I went jet skiing on Lake Tahoe for the first time ever for an hour. It was a blast! The place also rented boats and we saw boaters go back and forth. But after about 45 minutes, we were starting to bore, even though it was 79 degrees and sunny.
May I ask how long do you enjoy being out on the water each time and whether it gets boring? Maybe it’s the fishing aspect that’s really fun? I can see that. Thanks
We usually go out for 3-4 hrs. Most of the time we ride to a swim spot and swim and listen to music. The we waterski and wakeboard. The swim some more or ride around. We also go ride somewhere to eat on the water every other time. I’ve always loved being on the water and realize it isn’t for everyone. We used to jetski on lake Tahoe when we lived there and I can say jet skiing gets old pretty fast.
Good to know! Thanks for sharing. I feel the same way about boats for 3-4 hours. I have gone out on a catamaran sailing in the Bay twice. It was really nice. But I think I would get bored if I went more than once a month or two.
Here is an acronyms for all to follow if you own a boat. I know how you love your acronyms. BOAT = Break Out Another Thousand. That’s the minimum it will cost each time you take it in to get fixed.
Big congrats on all your success w/the new book. I will pick it up soon.
Driving a “cheap old car” is probably relative. My husband said something interesting when he was driving a McLaren during a 4 hour rental. He said he couldn’t be totally relaxed driving the car since he wanted to avoid any accidents and mishaps since that would cause such a hassle with our insurance company and put a damper on our Las Vegas vacation. This is a car that retails for $195,000 in case there’s anyone that’s clueless like I was. He said that he would have more fun driving the car if he actually owned it and we owned other vehicles since if something happened to the super car, it wouldn’t be as impactful. This is speaking to a time when money is just a drop in the bucket. We’ll see how he feels when we get to that point financially.
Hmm, I dunno about that! I would think most people would feel the opposite. Renting a vehicle while insured makes people feel more emboldened to drive it hard!
Once you own something really really nice, you tend to baby it. Keep it in the garage. Only drive it on sunny weekend days where nobody else is around.
I love the idea of renting a supercar every once in a while to get the thrills out.
Our family of four have three vehicles. It may seem like overkill, but it’s nice to have a spare when one breaks down. We own:
2010 Ford Fusion 175k miles
2012 Honda Civic 75k miles
2015 Chevrolet Silverado 29k miles
The truck I bought 2 years ago b/c I’ve been doing side work with a carpenter to pick up spare cash and I love the work. We own all 3. I tell my 9 year old daughter she’ll learn how to drive in the truck!
Interesting observation about the desire to own expensive cars diminishing with increasing wealth. I’ve the same personal experience, but whether it is due to higher wealth or increasing age is an open question!
I used to drive a BMW 535, and switched to a Jeep Compass a few years ago. Not caring about expensive cars any more was one of the factors in the switch. Sticker shock from some minor repairs on the BMW was another factor. Finally, I also wanted an SUV (easier to get in & out with my bad back), and a manual transmission (I’ll change my own gears, thank you very much!). Jeep is the only SUV brand left that still offers stick shift vehicles – they are a dying breed.
Love the Resort at Squaw Creek. Great family place, we go every summer.
I had a similar car experience while going camping in Big Sur. I drive a 10 year old car. We were enjoying lunch and someone decided to side swipe the car and not leave a note. It wasn’t as bad as yours looks and everything still worked so we continued with our trip.
In the past, this would have really annoyed me. it was easy to just move on and get camp set up and drink a beer and think “well, the car is 10 years old and camping with my daughter is really cool, I’ll deal with it later.”
Its really good to be in this mindset. I think it’s a sign that (some) wisdom has been earned and one’s values are in the right place.
What would have happened if this were a car rental instead of your car?
Same process probably.
I think you would have much better protection if you had used a rental car to drive your family up to Tahoe. Many credit cards offer damage protection in case there’s an accident, plus you can use the car rental company’s roadside assistance hotline to up/tow the vehicle and get provide an immediate replacement!
Got it. So you suggest I leave my car at home and rent one for a couple hundred dollars a day next time? That would’ve cost $800 – $950.
Just doing the quick math, I’m not sure that’s worth it. The resorts insurance company is paying for a rental and tow and fix etc. But maybe the rental car company would provide a make up gift or something? I’ll consider it.
I would do it if the rental car company paid for first class round-trip tickets to Hawaii for your family.
But I have a feeling Dan didn’t read the article or do the math. What insurance company paying for all the costs and a rental replacement is the same as another insurance company covering all the costs and a rental replacement.
A mid-size SUV is about $500 a week at Enterprise (without any discounts) if reservations were made in advance. Plus, no wear and tear on your vehicle ($0.3/mile)! If an accident occurs, simply hand the car back to the rental company and let them Subrogate with the hotel. You can lead a horse to water …
There is something to be said for abusing rental cars with all the miles. That is partially how I’ve been able to keep the mileage on my old cars so low and still running. Also, I’ve never paid $200 per day for one. If booked in advance, there are typically good deals to be had. I also don’t rent luxury vehicles. A standard suv works just as well as a premium. Full size cars still work as well, like the ones we went on road trips with as kids (before SUVs).
2001 Tundra 150K miles
2008 Accord 170K miles
Both still run fine.
Also own a ‘22 Genesis GV70. Maybe check out the larger GV80 while you are looking (10yr/100K power train warranty is hard to beat). The Armadas/QX80s are nice. They do feel like you are commanding a big (safe) ship which is kinda cool. I also feel like the big V8 provides plenty of power.
The EV Hummer SUV starting at 79K is also going to be intriguing. Saw the truck version on the road the other day and it’s pretty awesome looking beast if a vehicle!
A blog that warms my heart and makes me smile. Current Daily Driver: 30 year old Mercedes 190 with estimated 250+K miles, odometer broken for 8 years, bought 10 years ago for $2,000, taught 2 kids how to drive and take care of a car, and came back in one piece. OK, a little extreme admittedly, but, it’s the perfect “who cares” car. Except you end up caring, because the car develops character over time and you attachment :). Besides, new cars don’t have a soul yet, that takes 20 years to develop.
In all seriousness though, some vehicles can make sense new, I think. Pickups, especially mid size and small ones, seem to have a pretty flat depreciation curve. To me, it’s about total cost, depreciation plus insurance, tax, maintenance, gas, and I have done well with 2 new pickups on a 10 year horizon. But, in then end, I come back to: The old Benz has soul!
Thank you for the thoughts!
We were a two car family until someone recently stole the catalytic converter from my wife’s Honda. Apparently its a thing that’s going around since the catalyti converter has precious metals that they can get a lot of money on the street. They basically jack up the car and saw off the part in minutes. Without compreshensive insurance I’m out of luck and the car was only worth $3k.
So we were thinking about getitng another car but waiting because of the inflated market. My main car is 8 years old. You mentioned only having one car? My worry is if I’m using the one car and something happens, then my wife can’t hop into the car with the kids and take off. Is that a concern for you as well with 2 kids? Thanks
It’s not a concern for some reason. Maybe it’s bc we live in a city with massive amounts of rideshare options like Uber.
I can always borrow my friends cars and I can always get a rental. It’s too much of a pain for me to own two cars even if I have the space.
So I guess city living and having enough money to afford a rental, even without insurance are some positives!
But good thing I didn’t think about. Thanks!
Its mostly for emergencies since we have a baby. Just yesterday our little one fell and split his chin open… luckily it wasn’t serious. If I wasn’t home and with the car and my wife’s only option may have been to call 911 instead of just getting in the car and going to the ER. So the 2nd car just becomes an insurance policy and convience thing if one person is using the car then the other can’t go anywhere. In this car market I’d rather wait anyway to buy another. I guess its more of what my wife’s comfort level is if I’m using the car she is stranded. We live in the burbs. City dwellers is a whole different thing.
Sounds about right. Our Mercedes SUV is almost 10 years old and has a few dents and the drivers seat needs reupholstering, but otherwise it’s still a great car. We are expecting another baby in 3 months, so we are switching car seats to the ones that fit 3 across. We will see how that goes, and if it isn’t working out we would probably do a lateral trade to an aged BMW X5 with 7 seat option. Could definitely get a new car, but doesn’t seem worth it because we don’t drive much. Plus with the whole climate emergency the government’s progressive threshold for luxury tax on car sales isn’t too generous.
Sorry to hear about your car being damaged, its aggravating for sure. Fortunately nobody was hurt and it sounds like the resort made a great effort to make you guys happy.
Thanks for sharing. Insights on actually shopping for a used car might be an interesting follow-up (assuming you don’t already have that in your archives)
Let me put it on the list! Oh yeah, you can always type in your question and add “Financial Samurai” in Google, and 90% of the time something should show up. I’ve written over 2,500 articles since 2009.
Best way to buy a used car is on Craigslist. I purchased and sold 14 so far I think. You can buy for about KBB value minus 10%. You can also sell for close to KBB if not KBB value if you’re good.
Related post: A Car Addict’s Trip Down Memory Lane
From this article, it seems the car market of the past couple years has not affected the advice you give. Do you believe normal depreciation will return in the near future? Also, what about people who needed a vehicle in the past year, say to replace one that was totaled – should they have paid for a 3-4 year old used car that was often selling at over MSRP of a new car, or try to find a dealer that could offer a new car at MSRP?
Good thoughts! Yes, I like to keep things simple with my 1/10th rule for car buying.
I think the depreciation curve will normalize within the next 12 months as supply chain bottle necks get fixed and the global economy slows down.
Even though used car prices are not as cheap, it’s still cheaper than new car prices.
He’s saying that gently used car prices are in many cases not cheaper than used. The cars I wanted (in demand, highly reliable, Japanese cars) were almost always over msrp used. ~50k miles and 2018-2021.
The used car market and also the new car market in parts of the country continue to be way out of whack.
I’m not saying that your advice doesn’t generally hold up, but I do think the math isn’t what it used to be.
No worries. You are free to spend however much money you want on a car, new or used.
I’m going to stick to my 1/10th rule, no matter what used or new car prices are doing. It’s a judgement call when it comes down to it. Of course, if you are following the 1/10th rule and can find a new car that’s cheaper than a used car, or a new car that’s only slightly more expensive than a used car, I’d go new.
If you’re spending less than 10% of your annual household gross income on a car, it doesn’t matter too much.
I’m amazed at how long cars last these days. My first car was 13 years old at the time I bought it and I was constantly trying to keep it going as it decayed. Getting it to 100,000 miles seemed like science fiction. My present car is sixteen years old and I’m genuinely curious to see how long it will go, especially as buying a new car right now is a bit problematic.
The only downside today is that accidents take a much greater toll on cars then in the past, but that’s a good thing because it means the car was protecting you when you had the accident. In the old days, the cars made it through the accident fine, but the driver often did not.
What type of car do you have and how many miles?
After 10-15 years, I want to pay up for new safety features. That’s a long time for car engineers to make big improvements.
But I do love driving older cars. Just not when I have young children. Getting in a crash with them inside is my nightmare.
Same here, Sam. In fact, safety and comfort for long(er) haul drives led me to the largest vehicle I’ll likely ever own, a 2020 Ford Expedition. I couldn’t get out of my mind the idea that I would never forgive myself if an accident (God forbid) was worse that it could have been if I had bought a newer vehicle with all the newest safety features. The precious, irreplaceable, cargo that I am tasked with shuttling into adulthood is still a reminder I use to justify the decision when I’m thinking we could get by with something smaller and less expensive.
What safety features are you guys talking about? Airbags, crumple zones, traction control are the big ones and they’ve been on cars for over 20 years. The only recent safety feature possibly worth it is auto emergency braking and back up cameras. If you want a safe car, replace your tires on time and maintain your brakes/replace pads and rotors when needed.
how do you like the 2015 Range Rover? Im in the market for a new car. I love the RR Sports but have been told that they a notoriously fickle. Dozens of owners told me the info-tainment system breaks once a year and there are LOTs of smaller issues with the car. I dont want to buy one 1-3 years old only to have it wind up in the shop soon thereafter. Thanks!!!!!
So far so good! I had to replace my engine fan for $700 in 2019. But other than that, it drives well an no electrical gremlins. Are you on a RR car forum with user complaints by chance?
I also had a Land Rover discover II for 12 years before my Honda Fit. It was fine. Had some small issues, but nothing like the issues that pop up with new cars.
The RR drives great as well.
As a former Land Rover repair shop owner, I would not recommend Land Rovers to anyone. There are so many “routine maintenance” issues that other cars simply do not have. Models vary with the problems they have, for sure, but some of them need new control arms ($1,500 per side at independent shop prices, double that at the dealer) every 75k miles. Some of them need a cooling system overhaul (around $4k at an independent shop, at least $6k at the dealer) every 75k miles, because they built the car with a plastic Y-pipe that cracks, and if you don’t get it fixed ASAP it will completely blow apart leaving you stranded. And they are super sensitive to overheating. If that plastic Y-pipe blows on the freeway and you drive for even a few minutes to try to get to a safe place, the engine will usually need to be replaced (I heard from one customer that the dealer was quoting them about $20k to replace it).
In the newer models, there are a lot of software issues that require you to go to the dealer to get a module reprogrammed. The diesels get a DEF error that says “No Engine Restarts in [x] miles. Incorrect Diesel Exhaust Fluid Quality Detected.” The error is actually unrelated to the DEF fluid, and requires reprogramming of a module at the dealer. We had a client who had a trip to Utah scheduled but he only had about 100 miles to go before the engine wouldn’t start again. The dealer’s service schedule was backed up for weeks, so his Rover couldn’t make the trip or it would turn into a paperweight at a gas station partway between here and Utah.
With some errors, the car won’t shift out of park because the transmission is electronic. Unless you have go-jacks lying around, that might be highly inconvenient if your car dies and you need to roll it out of the way because you can’t get it into neutral.
Turbo failures are common. There’s apparently a class action lawsuit pending against JLR for it. They’re supposed to last “the life of the vehicle” (about 150k miles according to JLR), but lots of people are complaining that they’ve died at around 50k miles, and we’re talking ordinary middle-aged people and sometimes little old ladies driving them, not street racers.
Oil changes at an independent shop are around $250. At the dealer, double that.
Most of the people who came into the shop were people who were not cost-sensitive, so the thought of throwing a few grand (or more) into their car every year on maintenance issues was nbd to them. If that’s you, and it’s really worth it to you to drive a Land Rover, go for it. As for me, I drive a Toyota Highlander. I want a car to work for me, not the other way around.
Sam, I’m really happy that your Rover has been good to you so far. If you’ve had a string of good luck for some years with it, I would do some poking around online to see if it might be time to get rid of it soon. Or maybe have your next oil change done at a reputable independent shop near you and ask them if they’re seeing anything that might be coming up. We’ve seen several people who were planning to sell their cars, and right as they were putting it up for sale, they started getting a small leak at that Y-pipe. $4k down the drain, right there. Oof.
Fascinating you were a former Land Rover repair shop owner! How random!
Good thing I don’t have a diesel or a turbo then. Not sure about the Y-pipe. I owned a Land Rover Discover II for 12 years. Minimal issues. And I’ve owned my RR Sport since December 2016, and just had to change the fan in front after 2 years for $700. So far, so good. I only have about 38,000 miles on it and drive it normally.
Could it be that car shop repair owners are more jaded since that’s all they do, see problems after problems? Even though a Toyota has less problems potentially, the Toyota repair shop owner sees problems after problems too!
Great article and I agree that driving an older car is less stressful and I don’t worry as much about it. Driving a ‘14 Honda Odyssey now. I do think I have some standards, though. Earlier in our marriage when we changed locations, hubby got a company car and we kept our newer car for me to drive. It was a Ford Ranger extended cab with manual transmission. I drove it for 5 years b/c it was paid off, but I hated it. Was so happy to get a newer, more comfortable car with automatic transmission that was easy for our kids to learn to drive.
Yeah, you gotta at least ENJOY the drive since driving is a PITA for many people. Driving a nice car with nice features helps makes driving less of a pain for me. And that’s a benefit!
You and I think alike!!
This journey practically describes mine as well but, I have purchased three new cars since 1999. Even though they weren’t exotic, it turns out they did not depreciate as fast as most other cars. (2000 Toyota Tacoma, ‘13 VW Golf R, ‘20 VW GTI)
The GTI was the last manual transmission GTI on the dealer’s lot in December. They just wanted to get rid of it and I negotiated a price that reflected that. According to Carfax’s trade-in value, it is still worth more than I paid for it, almost two years later.
I worked in a Microsoft building where an MSN Autos car reviewer had his office. He seemed to really enjoy his job.
There was a company called “Vocation Vacation” I tried to use because they listed “automotive reviewer” as one if their trial vocation options. For whatever reason the person that was their auto reviewer decided he didn’t want to do this gig anymore. But these days with so much auto review content out there, it has lost its luster just like that new car smell (which is toxic anyway). Being out in the mountains always sounds better.
Great story! Good luck with the repair work!
Thanks! And enjoy the GTI! Those most be fun to drive.