Home » Being A Cheapskate Can Really Come Back To Burn You: COTY

Being A Cheapskate Can Really Come Back To Burn You: COTY


If you haven’t noticed by now, most of the writers that you love at this website are serial cheapskates. David is the king of saving old Jeeps and finding killer junkyard deals. Stephen Walter Gossin rescues cars that look like they have spent years in a scrapyard. I have a habit of never spending more than $3,500 on a car unless it’s something special. I’m pretty sure if we tried to sell all of our cars we’d have to pay the scrap man to take them away.

All of us are extreme penny pinchers, looking to get the cheapest possible example of something for sale. We’ll ignore gigantic red flags if it means a good deal and face the potential consequences later. You almost have to work to be this cheap.

And yes, we frequently get burned by our miserly ways of living. As today’s Comment of the Yesterday winner Duke of Kent advises on David’s idea of buying a dirt-cheap BMW i3, sometimes that can be literal:

“I’m the ‘save money on the front end, get burned on the back end’ kind of man; I’m sure you all know this by now.”

Me too. Especially that time I bought sunscreen from the dollar store before visiting the clothing-optional beach.

Despite solid advice in that thread, including this amusing plea from Arch Duke Maxyenko, I’m pretty sure you can’t break us out of our ways:

David. Listen to me, as a friend, do NOT buy the cheapest BMW on the market. Seriously, I cannot overstate this enough, DO NOT buy the cheapest one. Find a mid priced one, a sport model, this is the way to buy a BMW.

Don’t worry, even though David has cleaned up and become a BMW guy, I’ll hold down the shitbox fort. As I write this I’m looking at a Grade R Toyota Century with over 100,000 miles to import into America. That V12 is just barely broken in!

Have a great evening, everyone!

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23 Responses

  1. Yeah, I went for a just out of warranty BMW that was kitted out but not fully, and have done all the work myself saving money on labor and investing in OEM or better parts for every job. I also picked up every indicator that this was a Dadmobile in its prior life in NJ with some candy bits still wedged under a seat when I flipped the back down and scrapes from a stroller on the lower trunk. That and missing child seat lock covers on the back seats, I had a good inclination that it wasn’t beaten to shit during ownership.

    I slap in B6 Bilstein EDC shocks either this or next weekend with some Meyle HD lower front control arms and this heavy 335ix GT should boogie the canyons with a bit more confidence.

    The old addage nothing more expensive than a cheap German luxury performance sedan is there for a reason

  2. I needed to explain how a cheap car can be expensive to my wife when she was looking at Land Rovers a few years ago. She was looking at the same model and year range that Doug Demuro was bankrupting CarMax with. I sent her some of his articles and she ended up buying a Grand Cherokee. That thing is still expensive to keep on the road, but not Land Rover expensive!

  3. I am not really sure BMW guys would consider i3 Owners BMW guys. I would think they would only really accept BMW i8’s from the first generation of BEV attempts from BMW.

    1. Funny story – I was doing a corporate gig at the Spartanburg SC BMW facility around the time the first i8 came out. We had to let the i* “rest” after about every 6 laps or so or it would enter limp mode and we’d have to have one of the techs get it going again.

  4. Such a central topic, when is cheap too cheap? What drives us to decide and possibly elect price over quality (and long term total ownership cost)?
    If the product is equal (the same spare part) of course you’d buy the best price, but how do you assess current lowest price versus future repairs related to condition ?
    Sometimes I regret the old times with mostly your local ads, maybe nationwide magazine. Now with 24/7 worldwide (and historic) search, you can get trapped in this hole, where someone else somewhere else maybe scored or offered a better deal.

    1. When is cheap too cheap? Let us stipulate that greed, ignorance, and indifference are fundamental human traits.

      When a car too cheap for it’s generally recognized value it IS possible that the seller is ignorant as to its real value or is indifferent to its real value. Grandmas may be ignorant in this regard- car salesmen not so often. Grandmas and rich friends and rich uncles may be indifferent to receiving money equivalent to the real value – the amount involved doesn’t trigger their greed response level. Car Salesmen? Baby ALWAYS needs a new pair of shoes- usually Manolo Blahnik’s.

      So – if a car is being sold by an individual who ain’t yer grandma, yer rich friend, or yer rich uncle, one can posit that person is a de facto salesman and eager to maximize their profit. Generally a salesman will ask the easily researched price for an equivalent: X model from Y year with (all)-Z-miles is worth A price because why not?

      If the salesman is asking less than that, it’s a logical assumption that some is wrong with the damn car or will be soon. The price is low because not even the most shameless salesman -despite his innate indifference towards you – thinks he can get away with asking a normal price. The price is so low to:

      A. Tempt you into making a quick and rash decision and the car out of his life and
      B. Get it out of his life before whatever he knows is wrong decreases its value even further.

      Too long/ didn’t read version:

      If he/she/it is too easily available, someone else is tired of his/her/its bullshit.

    2. It’s not always possible to know ahead of time. I’ve been burned spending more on something that turned out to be cheaply built and overpriced. I’ve also bought the cheapest option of some things that worked out great.

      However, if you go shopping and price is your first and only criteria you’re almost certainly about to make a mistake.

    3. > when is cheap too cheap? What drives us to decide and possibly elect price over quality (and long term total ownership cost)?

      When David is excited about it.

  5. I’m cheap too, but what I’m not is a shitbox buyer that will cause me debt to just get drivable.


    $ 100 1962 continental ( daily driver / show car)

    $800. 2003 Ford excursion 4×4… Beast people hauler and tow pig ( drives like a dream )

    $1000 2001 Chevy 1500, current beater, runs great, everything works.

    $500. 1994 suburban….newish engine and trans…. Drives like a tall station wagon and just needs interior clean. Currently 4 sail

    $500 2005 Nissan Altima…only 119k! Everything works ( needed a starter)… Since sold to a Freind

    I mean there’s no reason to spend money when you can just be vigilant in what your buying.

  6. Thanks, Mercedes. I’ll be living vicariously through you if you buy that Century. They’re just wonderful (I think…never experienced one myself obviously).

  7. My ex’s dad was one of those who took “cheap” too far. This is the man who believed changing light bulbs in their house was a waste of money. He bought a run down late 90s Plymouth Voyager and put over 300k on it. He never changed the oil, since it burned so much. Which is fine, whatever. But he bought used tires (of varying sizes) at $25 apiece–he would have them mounted, but never balanced, nor did he ever have alignments done. Most of those used tires were at the wear bars when he got them, with no alignment they would wear out within a month or two. He got mad at us when we told my ex’s mom to buy new tires for her car, even after one of the used tires on her car failed and almost sent her off a bridge. He’s been like that for years now, can’t imagine how much money he wasted on cheap tires.

    But what got me was his cheap-ness endangered other drivers. He’d drive around with failed suspension components, tires worn to the cords, with a couple wheels missing lug nuts. It broke down all the time and he was always late for things. When he lost a windshield wiper, he never replaced it and just let the wiper arm dig a groove into his windshield. For as much time and money he spend on that shitty van, he could have bought a decent car. It’s not like they were hurting for money, last I checked they were bringing home six figures a year. He just seemed to enjoy living like he was in poverty, and it extended to all areas of his life. So glad I’m not involved with that family any more. They were basically adult children.

    1. No chance you were dating my friend’s sister, in Tennessee? Because that was a way too accurate assessment of their dad. Right down to the Plymouth Voyager (red if I recall), missing wiper and shot / mismatched tires.

      If not, then I’m even more terrified that there are two of these cheapskates out there on the road.

    2. Yikes! My uncle had an old K car that he drove never faster than 35mph (no lie, even on the highway), because that’s the speed that got the best gas mileage. I thought that took the record for cheapest guy ever but you proved me wrong.

  8. You Go Mercedes! With DT going all normie/modern car, someone has to keep it interesting around here! A Toyota Century sounds like an excellent counterpoint to a BMW i3.

    I especially appreciate the Gambler 500 Content! You should swing by the NY Gambler 500 event, we do it right in the Adirondacks!

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