Time for a new car?

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anthonyphamy
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Time for a new car?

Post by anthonyphamy »

Good afternoon everyone,

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I have come to this forum previously regarding a laptop and cellphone purchase with great input and success and now come seeking advice on a car purchase. I have a 2004 Toyota Solara with approximately 160,000 miles. In general, it runs smoothly and gets me to and from work (work commute less than 10 miles one way). Prior to covid, I would take road trips (1-2 hours away) on the weekends (approximately twice/month). Least to say, it does the job. I know well kept Toyotas are meant to last longer, however I’ve been wondering if it is time for a new car.

Previous repairs include replaced water pump ($481), replaced alternator and engine mount ($600), replaced serpentine belt ($400). Previous usual maintenance include engine oil, transmission oil, and brake pad replacements. I recently had a free full car inspection done which found both lower front control arm boots torn (repair estimate $900), both front outer tie rod boots torn (repair estimate $560), oil leaking near engine bay area recommending oil leak diagnosis to find leak point ($30 dollars for diagnosis, and actual cost of repair pending where leak is), and the front brake pads needing replacement soon (repair estimate $260). In addition to the above, the engine burns oil where I am going through approximately 1 quart of oil per 4-6 weeks. I’ve read that this engine model is notorious for engine oil burning. One of the tires leaks air, due to the chrome rims flaking and not providing a strong seal (approximately 4-5 psi per week, resulting in weekly trips to Costco for refilling the tire air). The current Kelley Blue Book estimated trade in value is approximately $700 while the private party value is approximately $2600.

I am in my early 30’s and considering my next car to be a future family car as I would like to own it for 10-15 years. I am considering the Toyota RAV4 (gas or hybrid) or the Subaru Forester. I like both options as they have 4 doors, have more clearance as I want to get into camping and hiking again, and enjoy the larger trunk size for items such as surfboards and bikes (as well as potentially car camping).

My question is whether I should keep the Toyota Solara for longer or if it’s time to get a new car. If it’s time for a new car, when would be a good time (eg, end of this year)?

I greatly appreciate and welcome all thoughts and advice as this forum has been so helpful to me so far.

Thank you very much in advance,

Anthony
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bottlecap
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by bottlecap »

Shop around. Unless you are in a high tax part of the country, those prices seem pretty high.

I wouldn’t buy a family car until I had me a family and needed one.

JT
Kagord
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Kagord »

$400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
Last edited by Kagord on Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Mr. Rumples »

I love my 2001 Honda. My rule of thumb is that if the repair costs exceed a year's new car payments, I would replace her. Yet, if I had to do what is on your plate, I would get a new vehicle. I like both the models you list and they are on my list.

(When it comes to price, I don't shop around since I have a mechanic that I trust and stands by the work. That might be a mistake.)
tibbitts
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tibbitts »

anthonyphamy wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:37 pm Good afternoon everyone,

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I have come to this forum previously regarding a laptop and cellphone purchase with great input and success and now come seeking advice on a car purchase. I have a 2004 Toyota Solara with approximately 160,000 miles. In general, it runs smoothly and gets me to and from work (work commute less than 10 miles one way). Prior to covid, I would take road trips (1-2 hours away) on the weekends (approximately twice/month). Least to say, it does the job. I know well kept Toyotas are meant to last longer, however I’ve been wondering if it is time for a new car.

Previous repairs include replaced water pump ($481), replaced alternator and engine mount ($600), replaced serpentine belt ($400). Previous usual maintenance include engine oil, transmission oil, and brake pad replacements. I recently had a free full car inspection done which found both lower front control arm boots torn (repair estimate $900), both front outer tie rod boots torn (repair estimate $560), oil leaking near engine bay area recommending oil leak diagnosis to find leak point ($30 dollars for diagnosis, and actual cost of repair pending where leak is), and the front brake pads needing replacement soon (repair estimate $260). In addition to the above, the engine burns oil where I am going through approximately 1 quart of oil per 4-6 weeks. I’ve read that this engine model is notorious for engine oil burning. One of the tires leaks air, due to the chrome rims flaking and not providing a strong seal (approximately 4-5 psi per week, resulting in weekly trips to Costco for refilling the tire air). The current Kelley Blue Book estimated trade in value is approximately $700 while the private party value is approximately $2600.

I am in my early 30’s and considering my next car to be a future family car as I would like to own it for 10-15 years. I am considering the Toyota RAV4 (gas or hybrid) or the Subaru Forester. I like both options as they have 4 doors, have more clearance as I want to get into camping and hiking again, and enjoy the larger trunk size for items such as surfboards and bikes (as well as potentially car camping).

My question is whether I should keep the Toyota Solara for longer or if it’s time to get a new car. If it’s time for a new car, when would be a good time (eg, end of this year)?

I greatly appreciate and welcome all thoughts and advice as this forum has been so helpful to me so far.

Thank you very much in advance,

Anthony
If it was my car, either it or all of its wheels would be gone within a week or two.

Just get a new car. I did for years what you've been doing: scraping the engine and transmission pans on rocks, just hoping they'd be strong enough to carry part of the weight of the car. And they always were, but that was just luck.

I think your repair prices are reasonable. Maybe not bargains but if the work got done correctly you didn't do badly. I would have traded or sold the car before now, probably.
runner3081
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by runner3081 »

Families don’t require a SUV. If you want one, buy one, no need to justify as a family need. Our little Nissan Versa is just fine for a family....
tibbitts
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tibbitts »

Kagord wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:54 pm $400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
You will not find the OEM belt at a dealer for $20; I'll guess it's closer to $100 than $20.
tibbitts
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tibbitts »

runner3081 wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:08 pm Families don’t require a SUV. If you want one, buy one, no need to justify as a family need. Our little Nissan Versa is just fine for a family....
I disagree, you want (maybe not need) a larger vehicle for the family. If you have two adults and two kids, where does the dog and all the toys go?
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Watty
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Watty »

anthonyphamy wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:37 pm I have a 2004 Toyota Solara with approximately 160,000 miles.
.....
The current Kelley Blue Book estimated trade in value is approximately $700 while the private party value is approximately $2600.
16 years is a good run for a car. What to replace it with depends on your finances.

A huge advantage of replacing a car before it dies is that you can wait and take your time and find a great deal on your next car. I normally buy new cars and I figure that being able to buy one when there are good deals may save me up to a thousand dollar or so.

I have had to buy a replacement car in a hurry and that is not a good way to good deal. :annoyed

If your old car is still running well it will also sell for a non-trivial amount. If you wait until it dies and is not worth fixing it will not be worth much of anything.

Car safety features have also improved a lot in the last 16 years. ESC became required as standard equipment in 2012, about the same time they added a new side offset crash test that a lot of cars did not do well in so they improved the designs, and in the last few years many manufactures have also added a laundry list of advanced safety features like automatic braking.

A few years ago I replaced a 2010 car with a 2018 in part to get the better safety features.
anthonyphamy wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:37 pm If it’s time for a new car, when would be a good time (eg, end of this year)?
I don't know what the car market is like now but you can likely find car forums that specialize in particular models that would be able to help with finding out what the market is like.

Here is a post I did a few years ago that outlined the process of how I bought a car online.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=239526

My basic car buying strategy is to by modest new cars that have a reputation for reliability and do not depreciate quickly then sell them when they are about 10 years old. These are usually cars like Hondas or Toyotas(Corolla, Camry, Civic, Accord, etc). A ten year old car like this will sell for a surprising amount. I start watching the car market when it is about 9 years old and can wait until it is 11 if I need to in order to find a great deal on my next car. This is not the cheapest way to own a car but it works for me. Unless I get unlucky I rarely need to pay much for non-routine maintence.
Last edited by Watty on Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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tyrion
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tyrion »

Weird that the 'free' full car diagnosis found $1750+ worth of repairs. I would get a second estimate from another place (without mentioning the list from the first place) before I did any of that.

You didn't mention your financial situation but if you can afford a new car that seems like a reasonable choice.
stoptothink
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by stoptothink »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:13 pm
runner3081 wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:08 pm Families don’t require a SUV. If you want one, buy one, no need to justify as a family need. Our little Nissan Versa is just fine for a family....
I disagree, you want (maybe not need) a larger vehicle for the family. If you have two adults and two kids, where does the dog and all the toys go?
Never-ending debate on this thread. Answer is easy for us: there is no dog and what toys? 7+ day camping trips with our family of 4 are great...in our VW jetta.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:09 pm
Kagord wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:54 pm $400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
You will not find the OEM belt at a dealer for $20; I'll guess it's closer to $100 than $20.
My favorite serpentine belts are Gates. They go for around $40-$50.
atikovi
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by atikovi »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:09 pm
Kagord wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:54 pm $400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
You will not find the OEM belt at a dealer for $20; I'll guess it's closer to $100 than $20.
Why would anyone take their $1000 beater to a dealer for service? Probably the only thing to do on that list is slap on a set of pads at the corner gas station.
rockstar
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by rockstar »

Get a new car. My last one lasted 12 years. I try to stay in a vehicle for at least double the amount of time I spend financing it. My current vehicle has a four year note, so I want to stick with for 8. But I doubt it since I moved and my priorities for what I want in a vehicle have changed. This is the other side of the equation. When you buy a vehicle under certain circumstances, those circumstances might change before your vehicle is ready to die. Some times you have to bite the bullet and change sooner than later.

Given where you're going camping, high clearance and all terrain tires might be all you'll ever need. If you're going to go the camper route, you're going to need a pickup to tow it. If you plan to go off road, you're going to want 4WD and clearance. If you want to go kayaking, you need to find somewhere to put your kayak. Lots of good videos on Outside Magazine website, where people trick out their vehicles for the outdoors.

Definitely spend money on your hobby. I see folks here who have $100k+ in yearly expenses, which blows my mind. For my trips to national parks and car camping trips locally, I barely spend any money, so I don't mind going out and buying a DCF tent for backpacking. Splurge on the stuff that makes you happy. I'm heading out to Glacier National Park next month.
runner3081
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by runner3081 »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:13 pm
runner3081 wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:08 pm Families don’t require a SUV. If you want one, buy one, no need to justify as a family need. Our little Nissan Versa is just fine for a family....
I disagree, you want (maybe not need) a larger vehicle for the family. If you have two adults and two kids, where does the dog and all the toys go?
Pets don't travel with us. We bring what we can fit. We tend to be minimalists so we don't have all of the junk that most people have.
Wannaretireearly
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Man I miss my 2004 solara v6 conv. Great car. Mine got totaled last yr with around 135k on the clock.
Worked out in hindsight, got around 5 or 6k from insurance, and bought a hyundai pallisade I was eyeing.

Ignore the non-safety issues from your 'free' checkup. Take care of brakes if needed. Hope u have a good local mechanic. Else, find one now.

Think hard about your next car. As if your buying trow...narrow it down go check it out...then get rid of the good ol solara...
Buy Low, Sell High
Blue456
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Blue456 »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:13 pm
runner3081 wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:08 pm Families don’t require a SUV. If you want one, buy one, no need to justify as a family need. Our little Nissan Versa is just fine for a family....
I disagree, you want (maybe not need) a larger vehicle for the family. If you have two adults and two kids, where does the dog and all the toys go?
Not to mention cars seats, strollers and luggage for 4 people. If you are planning to have a family I recommend a large size SUV such as Sequoia.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by adamthesmythe »

bottlecap wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:49 pm Shop around. Unless you are in a high tax part of the country, those prices seem pretty high.

I wouldn’t buy a family car until I had me a family and needed one.

JT
Neither the Rav nor the Forester are particularly family-oriented. Indeed they are highly appropriate for a single person who does some outdoorsy stuff. The fact that they may be convenient for use with a baby seat is irrelevant.

Yeah, if OP can afford a new car he should feel justified in getting one.
MathWizard
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by MathWizard »

Yes.

You got your value out of the car.
kiwi123
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by kiwi123 »

I took my 2005 Altima to a nissan dealer for an oil change a few years ago when i was out of town and asked them to give me a write-up of what needed to be done. When i got back home, my trusted local independent mechanic cracked up laughing :-)

You've got enough use out of the car to feel fine about buying a new one... it's a pain to do oil top-ups and frequent tire inflation. However do take it to a good independent mechanic and have them look over it for you first. Chances are their costs will be a lot lower and there will be a bunch of things that are probably fine to leave for a couple more years. You may feel like keeping it for another 1-2 years if you just pay $500-$1000 in repairs which is the equivalent of a few months payments on a new car.

I intended to buy a new car this year (at 185k miles at the moment) but with everything going on i'm ok waiting another year... unless the timing chain goes which will be a $2k+ job and will get me to pull the trigger now.
stoptothink
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by stoptothink »

Blue456 wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:47 pm
tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:13 pm
runner3081 wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:08 pm Families don’t require a SUV. If you want one, buy one, no need to justify as a family need. Our little Nissan Versa is just fine for a family....
I disagree, you want (maybe not need) a larger vehicle for the family. If you have two adults and two kids, where does the dog and all the toys go?
Not to mention cars seats, strollers and luggage for 4 people. If you are planning to have a family I recommend a large size SUV such as Sequoia.
Or a 3-door Hyundai accent hatchback...that's what we had for the first 3yrs of my son's life, and went on many family camping trips in(4 of us, with a stroller, 2 car seats, and 7+ days of luggage for 4 in the hatch). You don't have to bring everything you own. If OP plans on having 3 kids before getting another car, then of course they should be looking at something bigger.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Reading the first post, the OP appears to be single with no wife, no kids, no dogs, no mother in law. Buying a car for the unknown "maybe" future is silly. I might want to go racing in LeMans GTE-Am class, so I should buy a Porsche 911 RSR for half a million dollars? No, that's silly.

To the OP: It's obvious you're paying for maintenance rather than doing it yourself. I'm sure you're only mentioning the major component for some of the services (certainly the serpentine belt also included a new tensioner and maybe other parts) and those services along with known oil burning which will destroy the catalytic converter means that it's time for this car to go.

Bogleheads tend to think everyone needs to cart their 12 kids, 3 dogs, a duck, grandparents and in laws everywhere. A Bluebird school bus is needed for this, perhaps pulling a full sized RV trailer. That's silly. If you ever need some ginormous vehicle, rent it.

What do I think you should buy? Subaru Crosstrek. It's much smaller than a Forester with the same ground clearance. The current car was redesigned for 2018 with much larger wheel wells, so if the 8.7 inches of ground clearance isn't enough, put on some larger tires. We have a 19 with a proper manual transmission and our snow tires are about half an inch larger than the stock size and work great to raise the car just a bit more for getting through unplowed snow. These vehicles are cheap to buy and get decent gas mileage (the CVT version has numerically lower gearing so gets much better mileage....real life 35 mpg). I own an older generation 2013 Crosstrek limited with the CVT and a 2019 Crosstrek premium with the proper manual 6 speed. Your surf boards can go on the roof, pull the front wheel off the bike and fold down the back seat and your bike stays safely inside. If you want a hitch rack, they're available for DIY installation (my son installed the one on our 13).

This is one of the vehicles that holds its value "too well", so you're much better off buying new.

So there ya go.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid
tibbitts
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tibbitts »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:20 am Reading the first post, the OP appears to be single with no wife, no kids, no dogs, no mother in law. Buying a car for the unknown "maybe" future is silly. I might want to go racing in LeMans GTE-Am class, so I should buy a Porsche 911 RSR for half a million dollars? No, that's silly.
Well, the problem with your theory is that if the OP comes back here in five years and says now he wants to trade for a minivan, he's going to get beaten up for not getting the full life out of whatever he buys for today. He's reacting to Bogleheads "drive it into the ground" mentality. We can't have it both ways: we can't say buy for your needs today; and drive it into the ground.
Living Free
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Living Free »

Your car is totaled. I'd replace it unless there are economic circumstances which would preclude you from doing so.
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greg24
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by greg24 »

I think you're at the point where you should replace the car.

Auto sales have been very slow during the covid era. This may have translated into good deals, but I have no idea.

I would recommend buying whatever car you need now. An 8 year old Corolla or Camry something like that. If the family comes to fruition, you and your spouse can purchase a family vehicle together.
deltaneutral83
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by deltaneutral83 »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:20 am Reading the first post, the OP appears to be single with no wife, no kids, no dogs, no mother in law. Buying a car for the unknown "maybe" future is silly. I might want to go racing in LeMans GTE-Am class, so I should buy a Porsche 911 RSR for half a million dollars? No, that's silly.
Well, the problem with your theory is that if the OP comes back here in five years and says now he wants to trade for a minivan, he's going to get beaten up for not getting the full life out of whatever he buys for today. He's reacting to Bogleheads "drive it into the ground" mentality. We can't have it both ways: we can't say buy for your needs today; and drive it into the ground.
Very simple to scrap the current car for parts and move up slightly in car to a $6k Toyota/Honda that bridges OP three years. I've seen a lot of people who weren't even at fault in an accident have their 4 year old car worth $14k with plenty of life in it take the $14k check and start over again with a $30k car. You don't always have to go to the top of the ladder when you buy. I guess a lot of people detest used cars and the car buying process in general but the last 15 years have been relatively easy with technology (read: not stepping foot into a dealership) for my family.
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Quirkz
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Quirkz »

Yeah, it sounds like you got a full life out of the car. The mileage is low enough I bet you could still sell it for a fair amount if you're willing to put the energy into a private party deal. (If you do, look up the rules for your state to make sure you do it right. It'll be simple, but there may be some non-obvious thing, like how to handle the license plate, print out a generic bill of sale, etc. Really, not hard.)

I recommend the new car should fit your life now, not what might happen in the future unless that future is only a few months away. If you want space or the ability to do outdoorsy stuff and you can afford it, Rav4 or Forester may be fine anyway, but don't get it just for the maybes.
squirm
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by squirm »

This is what you should focus on: Can you easily pay cash for a new car? If no, then save until you can.
stoptothink
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by stoptothink »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:20 am Reading the first post, the OP appears to be single with no wife, no kids, no dogs, no mother in law. Buying a car for the unknown "maybe" future is silly. I might want to go racing in LeMans GTE-Am class, so I should buy a Porsche 911 RSR for half a million dollars? No, that's silly.
Well, the problem with your theory is that if the OP comes back here in five years and says now he wants to trade for a minivan, he's going to get beaten up for not getting the full life out of whatever he buys for today. He's reacting to Bogleheads "drive it into the ground" mentality. We can't have it both ways: we can't say buy for your needs today; and drive it into the ground.
:confused I've definitely never seen this on this board; minivan is an immediate answer for anybody (regardless of how new their current car is) when more than a single kid is thrown into the equation. It's a whole lot better to buy a reasonable car now and size up as needed, then to pay twice as much now for a larger car that may never be necessary. Even with threads about $5k watches and $1k wallets, the idea that everybody needs some massive 7-passenger vehicle is maybe the most confusing common theme on this board to me.
GeMoney
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by GeMoney »

If it were me, I would be looking to by another car given all of the issues (whether real or fake). I previously had a vehicle where I had to take it to the shop for a moderate to big repair every few months so there comes a time to cut your losses as it is not only a financial drain, but also to your time and convenience. If you are looking for a new vehicle and are ok with the 2020 model, you may want to wait a few months when the 2021 models come out. Good luck.
tibbitts
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tibbitts »

stoptothink wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:05 am
tibbitts wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:20 am Reading the first post, the OP appears to be single with no wife, no kids, no dogs, no mother in law. Buying a car for the unknown "maybe" future is silly. I might want to go racing in LeMans GTE-Am class, so I should buy a Porsche 911 RSR for half a million dollars? No, that's silly.
Well, the problem with your theory is that if the OP comes back here in five years and says now he wants to trade for a minivan, he's going to get beaten up for not getting the full life out of whatever he buys for today. He's reacting to Bogleheads "drive it into the ground" mentality. We can't have it both ways: we can't say buy for your needs today; and drive it into the ground.
:confused I've definitely never seen this on this board; minivan is an immediate answer for anybody (regardless of how new their current car is) when more than a single kid is thrown into the equation. It's a whole lot better to buy a reasonable car now and size up as needed, then to pay twice as much now for a larger car that may never be necessary. Even with threads about $5k watches and $1k wallets, the idea that everybody needs some massive 7-passenger vehicle is maybe the most confusing common theme on this board to me.
You missed my point: I could have said 1-ton dually not minivan, whatever, it's just an example. The point is that Bogleheads are uniquely able to somehow go through their lives buying nothing but Civics or Corollas and keeping them for twenty years, while everybody else sometimes finds they must (or at least want to) switch to a different type vehicle because their needs actually change. Example: I had a small car, but needed to "move" part of my household frequently. But at my main residence trucks were prohibited, so I traded my small car (after only 49k miles) for a station wagon (this was before the popularity of SUVs.) Later, I bought a trailer that was beyond the towing capacity of the station wagon, so after only 70k miles I traded the station wagon for a truck. Later, I changed jobs to where I was commuting, and traded the truck (after only 80k miles) for a compact car. None of these would have been Boglehead-approved moves because I didn't suck the lives out of any of these vehicles. You said it yourself: "regardless of how new their current car is" means I should have just put up with whatever vehicle until it had reached a Boglehead-approve age or mileage.
youraveragejoe
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by youraveragejoe »

tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:09 pm
Kagord wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:54 pm $400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
You will not find the OEM belt at a dealer for $20; I'll guess it's closer to $100 than $20.
I think the difference in prices is what we could/would pay versus what the dealer could/would charge.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/toy ... ,belt,8900

Here are more reasonable prices for OEM-equivalent belts for a 2004 Toyota Solara.

OP,

Depends on what your financial situation is. Look up repair estimates on YourMechanic.com or RepairPal.com to get a better estimate on the repairs. Personally, looking at it as face value it seems to me that you have a lot of repairs versus the status of the car and its age/value. So if you are financially ready for it, I'd say shop around and see what you can get.
Last edited by youraveragejoe on Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
tibbitts
Posts: 12261
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by tibbitts »

youraveragejoe wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:59 am
tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:09 pm
Kagord wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:54 pm $400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
You will not find the OEM belt at a dealer for $20; I'll guess it's closer to $100 than $20.
I think the difference in prices is what we could/would pay versus what the dealer could/would charge.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/toy ... ,belt,8900

Here are more reasonable prices for OEM/OEM-equivalent belts for a 2004 Toyota Solara.

OP,

Depends on what your financial situation is. Look up repair estimates on YourMechanic.com or RepairPal.com to get a better estimate on the repairs. Personally, looking at it as face value it seems to me that you have a lot of repairs versus the status of the car and its age/value. So if you are financially ready for it, I'd say shop around and see what you can get.
I glanced at the link but didn't see any actual Toyota OEM part. While you and I would likely buy a name brand like Gates, etc. some people want to use actual OEM. Very occasionally I have found an OEM part actually works better, but I've only found that out from trial and error.
alfaspider
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by alfaspider »

anthonyphamy wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:37 pm Good afternoon everyone,

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I have come to this forum previously regarding a laptop and cellphone purchase with great input and success and now come seeking advice on a car purchase. I have a 2004 Toyota Solara with approximately 160,000 miles. In general, it runs smoothly and gets me to and from work (work commute less than 10 miles one way). Prior to covid, I would take road trips (1-2 hours away) on the weekends (approximately twice/month). Least to say, it does the job. I know well kept Toyotas are meant to last longer, however I’ve been wondering if it is time for a new car.

Previous repairs include replaced water pump ($481), replaced alternator and engine mount ($600), replaced serpentine belt ($400). Previous usual maintenance include engine oil, transmission oil, and brake pad replacements. I recently had a free full car inspection done which found both lower front control arm boots torn (repair estimate $900), both front outer tie rod boots torn (repair estimate $560), oil leaking near engine bay area recommending oil leak diagnosis to find leak point ($30 dollars for diagnosis, and actual cost of repair pending where leak is), and the front brake pads needing replacement soon (repair estimate $260). In addition to the above, the engine burns oil where I am going through approximately 1 quart of oil per 4-6 weeks. I’ve read that this engine model is notorious for engine oil burning. One of the tires leaks air, due to the chrome rims flaking and not providing a strong seal (approximately 4-5 psi per week, resulting in weekly trips to Costco for refilling the tire air). The current Kelley Blue Book estimated trade in value is approximately $700 while the private party value is approximately $2600.

I am in my early 30’s and considering my next car to be a future family car as I would like to own it for 10-15 years. I am considering the Toyota RAV4 (gas or hybrid) or the Subaru Forester. I like both options as they have 4 doors, have more clearance as I want to get into camping and hiking again, and enjoy the larger trunk size for items such as surfboards and bikes (as well as potentially car camping).

My question is whether I should keep the Toyota Solara for longer or if it’s time to get a new car. If it’s time for a new car, when would be a good time (eg, end of this year)?

I greatly appreciate and welcome all thoughts and advice as this forum has been so helpful to me so far.

Thank you very much in advance,

Anthony

Repair prices seem high. $560 for outer tie rods is insane. A car of this age should be serviced at a smaller independent shop, not a dealership. Nothing there sounds particularly serious or necessarily indicative that the car's life is up. All those items could be addressed DIY for under $200 if you are willing to get a bit dirty.

If the boots are simply torn, and there is no play in the ball joints, then you can probably get away with just a split boot. Can be easily DIY'd or done cheap. All the boot does is keep dirt out of the joint (which would eventually wear down the metal).

No point in spending a lot of time diagnosing an oil leak if the engine is burning a quart of oil a month (although are you certain it's not just leaking a quart a month?). $30 might be worth a diagnosis on the if it ends up being minor.

Do yourself a favor and buy a cigarette lighter tire inflator for $15. Silly to have to rely on Costco for that. You might also see if they could try remounting the tire to get a better seal (and confirm it's not a hairline crack on the wheel).

All that being said, it sounds like you WANT a new car. Whether that's a good idea depends on your finances. Contrary to popular belief, there isn't a universally good/bad time to buy a car. Any good deals can be very model dependent.
youraveragejoe
Posts: 12
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by youraveragejoe »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:16 pm
youraveragejoe wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:59 am
tibbitts wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:09 pm
Kagord wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:54 pm $400 with install for a serpentine belt seems really excessive, like $20 for the belt, and what, 5 minutes to put on?
You will not find the OEM belt at a dealer for $20; I'll guess it's closer to $100 than $20.
I think the difference in prices is what we could/would pay versus what the dealer could/would charge.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/toy ... ,belt,8900

Here are more reasonable prices for OEM/OEM-equivalent belts for a 2004 Toyota Solara.

OP,

Depends on what your financial situation is. Look up repair estimates on YourMechanic.com or RepairPal.com to get a better estimate on the repairs. Personally, looking at it as face value it seems to me that you have a lot of repairs versus the status of the car and its age/value. So if you are financially ready for it, I'd say shop around and see what you can get.
I glanced at the link but didn't see any actual Toyota OEM part. While you and I would likely buy a name brand like Gates, etc. some people want to use actual OEM. Very occasionally I have found an OEM part actually works better, but I've only found that out from trial and error.
Oops, you are correct. I edited my post to get rid of OEM.
Broken Man 1999
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

tibbitts wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:48 am
stoptothink wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:05 am
tibbitts wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:46 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:20 am Reading the first post, the OP appears to be single with no wife, no kids, no dogs, no mother in law. Buying a car for the unknown "maybe" future is silly. I might want to go racing in LeMans GTE-Am class, so I should buy a Porsche 911 RSR for half a million dollars? No, that's silly.
Well, the problem with your theory is that if the OP comes back here in five years and says now he wants to trade for a minivan, he's going to get beaten up for not getting the full life out of whatever he buys for today. He's reacting to Bogleheads "drive it into the ground" mentality. We can't have it both ways: we can't say buy for your needs today; and drive it into the ground.
:confused I've definitely never seen this on this board; minivan is an immediate answer for anybody (regardless of how new their current car is) when more than a single kid is thrown into the equation. It's a whole lot better to buy a reasonable car now and size up as needed, then to pay twice as much now for a larger car that may never be necessary. Even with threads about $5k watches and $1k wallets, the idea that everybody needs some massive 7-passenger vehicle is maybe the most confusing common theme on this board to me.
You missed my point: I could have said 1-ton dually not minivan, whatever, it's just an example. The point is that Bogleheads are uniquely able to somehow go through their lives buying nothing but Civics or Corollas and keeping them for twenty years, while everybody else sometimes finds they must (or at least want to) switch to a different type vehicle because their needs actually change. Example: I had a small car, but needed to "move" part of my household frequently. But at my main residence trucks were prohibited, so I traded my small car (after only 49k miles) for a station wagon (this was before the popularity of SUVs.) Later, I bought a trailer that was beyond the towing capacity of the station wagon, so after only 70k miles I traded the station wagon for a truck. Later, I changed jobs to where I was commuting, and traded the truck (after only 80k miles) for a compact car. None of these would have been Boglehead-approved moves because I didn't suck the lives out of any of these vehicles. You said it yourself: "regardless of how new their current car is" means I should have just put up with whatever vehicle until it had reached a Boglehead-approve age or mileage.
I think for some econoboxes are the modern version of hair shirts!

A little suffering is good for developing character. Plus you might be able to retire 7 days earlier!

Good luck, OP.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven then I shall not go. " -Mark Twain
Teague
Posts: 2100
Joined: Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:15 pm

Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Teague »

OP,
You note the car has an oil leak from an undetermined location.
You also say the car burns a quart of oil every 4-6 weeks.

So, how did you determine this oil is being burned rather than leaked? Leaks can be cheap to fix, though not always.
Oil burning is rarely cheap to fix. Of course, it may not need fixing if not excessive.
Semper Augustus
DonM17
Posts: 78
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by DonM17 »

You might want to try this product (available on Amazon).....it may solve your oil leak problem for less then $10.00

https://www.amazon.com/ATP-AT-205-Re-Se ... 285&sr=8-2
davey-cakes
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by davey-cakes »

In 2015 I purchased a 2003 Camry with 162K miles. We needed it for a kids car. It's now on the 2nd kid at 213K. I still like to drive it.

Of the repairs you mentioned, water pump, alternator, motor mount, belt, etc. are all regular maintenance items just like the brakes. Those prices sound like dealer prices. I agree with others that you should find a local independent mechanic to work on your car, or learn to do the simple things yourself. I also buy parts from Rock Auto unless I need something immediately.

Do you have the 4 cylinder, 2AZ-FE engine? As for the oil, it's most likely leaking most of that, not burning much. And it rarely shows as drips on the driveway, appears to leak while driving. Don't try the leak stop. It won't stop the leaks. I can tell you the valve cover gasket is hardened and cracked and must be replaced. It's $11 for the part on Rock Auto and takes about an hour to change. Also change the PCV valve. You may also have a leaking oil pan gasket. (I still have to do that repair) Doing these I cut oil use from 1 qt. in 800 miles to 1 qt. in 2400 miles.

Keep up on the regular maintenance and the car will last a long time. If you do it now, you'll increase the resale value on private party sale.

Then go buy the car you want to get. Rav4 or Forrester are both great, but you won't find many "good" deals on them, too much demand.
Outer Marker
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by Outer Marker »

tyrion wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:15 pm Weird that the 'free' full car diagnosis found $1750+ worth of repairs. I would get a second estimate from another place (without mentioning the list from the first place) before I did any of that.

You didn't mention your financial situation but if you can afford a new car that seems like a reasonable choice.
This! None of these recommended repairs appear to be safety issues. I wouldn't do any of them. The car probably still has some "free" miles to give you, but if you want a new car, go for it. I'd buy a AAA membership if you don't already have one - for insurance.

If there is a new car in your future, August tends to be a good month. Historically, lots of factory incentives to move this years models off the floor and make room for next, but with the short production run in covid, who knows . . .

To be honest, I'd be a bit wary of a 2020 build given the circumstances. I avoid taking my car into the shop on Fridays and Mondays. This is that on steroids.
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BolderBoy
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by BolderBoy »

anthonyphamy wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:37 pm If it’s time for a new car, when would be a good time (eg, end of this year)?
My criteria for "Is it new car time?" is, "How much risk is there that this car is going to leave me stranded on the side of the road sometime?"

Based on what you posted, it is time to start the new car process.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
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anthonyphamy
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Re: Time for a new car?

Post by anthonyphamy »

Good evening everyone,

Thank you all so very much for the great, informative responses. I found them all enlightening, knowledgeable, and helpful. From what I’ve gathered, it’s justifiable to start looking for a replacement car. I greatly appreciate the more car mechanic-focused posters, as I don’t have much experience working on cars myself. Although, it is something I would like to learn more about. In addition, I appreciate the clarifications on repairs and appropriate costs. The free diagnostic test was done with a free engine oil change. I also appreciate the comments about not buying a car based off future needs but focus on what I simply need now. I do believe that a compact SUV such as a RAV4 or Forester would fit my current needs, but will also look at the Crosstrek recommendation. I do worry about the Subaru reliability, particularly with the CVTs, however it looks like their reliability has improved over the recent years. I will start car shopping with the hopes to getting a car end of this year or next year.

Thank you everyone again, as always for the advice and help. This forum never fails to amaze me how supportive and knowledgeable it is.

Thank you,
Anthony
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