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?