Thursday, May 26, 2011


I like to call this the Great Team DeBoer DeBate: keep fixing what continues to ale our two beautiful beasts because we own them and therefore they are payment-free, or ditch them for something a bit newer, a bit more reliable and ultimately, a bit more expensive.

Exhibit A: We have a 1994 Chevy Beretta, teal, 2-door with 190,000ish miles. It's completely paid for, has brand spanking new seat covers, newish tires, we know what's been fixed and by whom and who's been driving and taking care of it. We carry liability-only insurance to the total of $381.40/year. That coupled with the yearly registration and tab fees of $41.25, equates to this bitch costing us about $35.22/month. The gas mileage is no where near what is should be because a) I drive 4.75 miles to work, in town and b) it doesn't run so well. The check engine light goes on and off daily. The breaks chug at every stop. The power locks and windows still work but make a monotonous clicking noise continuously from the time you open the door until the time you get in and close the door behind you. Doesn't sound like a big deal but when you're 31 weeks pregnant it takes a while to get in and out of a car of this nature and that incessant clicking is about enough to make my raging hormones flair and my large left thigh raise to kung-fu kick out a window. Also, the A/C doesn't work, it's a 2-door and therefore will not work for Cletus and the car just makes a lovely hissing, clanking, rough noise when it runs. Did I mention it's paid for?

Exhibit B: We have a 1994 Chevy Cavalier, green (painted by Dad), 2-door with 218,000ish miles. It's also completely paid for, sports a bad ass camo seat cover on the driver's side and a camo wheel cover as well. It was completely hauled over by Dad and thanks to his attention to detail, I have a written record of everything that was fixed, every part that was replaced, when, at what cost and by what manufacturer. I also have a record of every place he ever put in gas and therefore what the gas mileage has been since he owned it. Needless to say it's been steadily falling since we took it over. We also carry liability-only insurance on this beast (when we drive it) but thanks to the brakes going out recently, it's without said insurance and instead just does it's job decorating our front lawn. We just renewed the registration in April for $41.25 as well, which I had a feeling was going to jinx things. All-in-all, it basically costs the same as the Beretta. It does not have power locks or windows and also does not have A/C. It too is a 2-door and therefore will not accommodate Cletus, oh, and the power steering is slowly going out. We've been piddling through with some power steering fluid for a while now but it was a rough, rough winter. Some days I worked my Hee Man arms so much turning a corner I thought my biceps were going to rip open my sleeves. Due to this ailment, the car makes a lovely hissing, high pitched squeal that gets worse when you turn. I can't help it, this one holds a little sentimental value though.

The Cavalier is currently out of rotation because we were recently quoted a little over $700 worth in brake repairs. I was driving home one day and had them held at a red light when they gave way and sank all the way to the floor while the car crept ever so slightly forward. From there it was a bit of an adventurous ride home but I made it and they still "worked" well enough to do the job at the few stop signs I had left until Ruggles.

This quote is what ultimately reignited the debate to which I again instinctively said no, we are not buying anything new, these still run just fine. However rash this argument was at the time, I'm now starting to waver. We can't afford something new so it would have to be used and therefore we would be giving up used cars for another used car. We wouldn't know it's history but it would have much fewer miles, would be more reliable and would be a 4-door or SUV that would accommodate both Cletus and the pooches. It may sound like a no-brainer but I can't help but hear my Dad's voice saying "…fixing these once is much cheaper then a car payment for the next three to five years plus you'll be paying more in registration, tabs and insurance…". He was a very wise financial man so his advice does carry some validity.

But are they practical anymore? Are they reliable? Are they efficient? Do they accommodate our growing family? How long until the next fix and then the next? What will have to happen before we say enough is enough? Obviously I'm still undecided and there are a few other factors I haven't mentioned that are still panning out but this is why I'm turning to you. What would you do?


  1. I would invest in something bigger b/c let me tell you, getting a car seat out of a two door is a pain in the A**!

  2. There does come a time when practicality wins. Your father would want everyone safe. Your father probably bought bigger when the family grew at the sacrifice of other things (did you eat alot of pb at one time?). So maybe you need the advice of a car dealer your father respected-and that person may be able to help you find a used but reasonably priced used car. That dealer will be honest with you about maintenance. I know there is sentiment but you've been taught well about upkeep and the next vehicle will serve you well with the lessons you've learned. There's my grownup speech because you asked! Good luck and let us know the ultimate decision! :)

  3. So...A few years ago Kelli and I bought a brand spankin' new Honda Accord. We will from here on out, only buy Honda. It is incredible. We bought new because Honda's don't lose their value as much as other cars, and we're not one to trade in frequently anyways. A year or two old Accord ran pretty similar in price to a brand new one, so we went with the warranty and the fairly high payment for 3 years because we will probably drive it till it dies!

    Another reason we made the decision to go new is because of the situation you will find yourselves in. We had Kelli's older Ford Escort. It was two door, which wasn't going to work with Charly, but we didn't need it to. I drive it 10 blocks to my school and back everyday, put gas in it once every other month, and that's all it's good for. It's paid off so it costs us nothing. We have the Accord to haul Charly.

    I will admit, yes, you will want at least one vehicle that is NOT two door. We have never even attempted to put Charly's car seat in the Escort as it looks too challenging and not worth our time. Charly's daycare provider lives very near Kelli's school too though, therefore eliminating the need for me to ever really need the carseat.

    If this is about sentimental value, which I suspect it may be, then that's a whole other field I'm not qualified to touch.

    What happened to the Camry? Where have I been?

  4. Mr H: We do still have the Camry so we do at least have one reliable, Cletus-accommodating car… but we'd be hard pressed to fit all the members of Team DeBoer in there should the need ever arise.

  5. okay, first you need 2 reliable cars that would accomodate Cletus. Scenario: You, with the Cletus-accessible mobile, leave the house to run some errands or to go visit your mom or you are stuck at work...whatever. Meanwhile, back at De Boer El Rancho, Shawn with an assortment of vehicles at his disposal but none of them Cletus-friendly realizes he absolutely MUST get Cletus somewhere (that is as far I'm going in this scenario as not to create angst). So -- what does he do? Wrestle the 2nd car seat into a 2 seater all the time dealing with 2 barking dogs and a fitful Cletus? And I am not so certain 2 doors are all that safe toting Cletus. Just my opinion, no scientific data to back it up.

    Second, murphy's law is real.

    Third just mentally calculating the costs you will need to cover on the aging automobiles in the next 1-3 years as things continue to become "unsafe" it sounds like you might actually come out ahead with low car payments. That does not include the cost of tags or insurance.
    Third (a) Why not lease? NO DOGS, just you guys and the baby. Use the other vehicles for dog transport.
    Third (b) Check with your insurance agent and tag place about increased annual costs. Might not be so prohibitive. Are your vehicles and house all on one policy? Could be a good break there for you if you consolidated.
    Third(c) Read Consumer Reports about cars and get their online cost analysis. It cost me $25 for a report of 3 cars. I walked into the dealer, slapped it down and said here is what it really cost you. Here is what I'm going to pay and we are not talking about trade-ins. Whats your best deal? If its not good, I'm heading to Lake City, then Lakeville...and be ready to just do that.
    Finally, I know you. Keeping Cletus safe and secure is number one on your list (followed very closely by numbers 2, 3 and 4 aka the "DE BOER" boys. So, keep Cletus safe. In a vehicle that has a great opportunity to NOT break down over time.

    okay -- sorry for the long response. You might want to rethink having me as a follower.

    Just sayin'

    love to all

  6. Of course the Cavalier has much sentimental value to you. So think about what you can take from it for a keepsake, seat cover maybe? Then a day will come when you are ready to let it go. You (and only you) will know when you are ready to let it go.

    You know what your finances can handle. I have total confidence in that. You can get by with just one vehicle for a while that accommodates Cletus. It's "need" not "want" when money is an issue. Maybe the new vehicle is further down the road for you.
    And I know you well enough that safety is in your list of priorities where it needs to be.
    Whatever you decide will be a good decision.



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