The Best Time To Get Rid Of Your Daily Driver – The Autopian Podcast

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It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for another The Autopian Podcast and today’s podcast has us answering your questions. We’ve got David in Australia struggling with Project Cactus, Beau in Vietnam driving the newest VinFast cars, and Jason in North Carolina being boring, I guess. Plug in your airpods and feeding tube, it’s mailbag time!

Today was our first attempt at a mailbag wherein we answer the questions that you have. It’s a fairly simple concept. There were a bunch of good queries, but this one stood out to me:

What’s interesting here is that, rather than get into the details of when a car is at the sweet-spot for the depreciation/car repair curve, Beau brings his experience as a dealer to explain why the time to sell is probably now.

Beau’s reasoning is that there’s such a shortage of used cars that basically anything has some kind of value. Nothing in the market is really a deal. If you can trade it in, you should trade it in. The caveat there is that it’s gotta be an extra car you can part with and, of course, you may not get a great deal on something new. If you were looking for an excuse to daily your track-prepped Miata, you just got it.

There are some interesting model year cliffs in value as well, which Beau does a better job of explaining than I can.

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5 Responses

  1. Great pod cast. What Beau said about the meaning of the Website name struck a cord.

    The thing to remember is just because someone has a passion for a vehicle you don’t like, respect the passion and do not make them feel bad or they made a wrong choice.

    That is what missing now, it is for or against. You cannot have the middle road where just because it doesn’t work for me, it shouldn’t stop yourself from rockin on.

  2. Choosing when to replace a car is an interesting puzzle, and so much comes down to individual circumstances.

    I loved my first car, and I relied on it. It was my only car, and I used it daily to get to work. When it got to be about 9 years old, I got nervous that something would go wrong, leaving me stranded. That was based on outdated assumptions that cars start to deteriorate at around 10 years old, though, and that’s just not the case anymore.

    I traded that car in and am now in a similar situation. I have a car that I love and depend upon that is now 8 years old. Just like the last one, I have been diligent when it comes to performing scheduled maintenance, and the car has returned the favor by being mostly trouble-free (or as trouble-free as a German car can be).

    There are some big reasons why I’m not as concerned this go-around, though. For starters I now know that modern cars don’t turn to dust at 10 years — especially when they’re driven low easy miles like mine and maintained regularly. Another point is that I am better prepared financially to weather a surprise repair bill with a healthier emergency fund as compared to when I was just starting out. Finally, with the adoption of remote working and the proliferation of Ubers, it has never been easier to go a few days without a car, so if I am without it for a while as it’s being repaired, it’s not nearly as much of a logistical challenge to get through life as it would have been just a few years ago.

    So I am in no hurry to find a replacement. I love my car, and there is nothing currently on the new car market that appeals to me more. I’ll continue sticking to the maintenance schedule and keeping it in good working order for the foreseeable future.

    1. In my opinion, the time to replace a daily driver, is when you begin to doubt it’s reliability. But that shouldn’t come at any set age or mileage. It should instead come after a vehicle has had a couple of things go wrong. Things that are questionable, that you couldn’t have predicted or prevented with maintenance. If you begin to wonder if the vehicle will start, or if it will get you where you are going, THAT is when a daily driver needs to go.

      My current daily driver is an ’06 GMC Sierra that I bought new during the first semester of my teaching career. When I bought it I never imagined for a moment that I’d still be driving it so many years later, but it has never faltered, and never left me stranded. Other than a bout of rust repair I had done last year (I live in the rust belt, and the rocker panels had taken a leave of absence), it has never left me with a repair bill north of $600. New tires bills not withstanding, but I don’t consider those repairs, just good maintenance. As such, I just keep driving it. It has about 170k miles on it. I imagine I’ll have to get something else to daily drive in the next few years, as it approaches two decades old, but I’ll never sell my trusty old pickemup truck.

      The car that this truck replaced though, I ditched that turkey after owning it for 3-1/2 months, because it had spent 31 days in the shop in that time (thankfully under warranty). That car was only a couple years old, and had 11k miles on it, but that unreliable POS had to go!

      I bought another CPO car about nine years ago, trying to keep the miles off my truck. Didn’t quite make it a year with that thing. Weird shit random was happening with it. One cold winter day the heater stopped working, then started working again before I could get it to the dealer to diagnose it. I wasn’t about to drive my baby around in the winter wondering whether or not the heater was going to work, I took an L on that shit-stick and went back to dailying my pickup truck. That car was three years old and had like 40k miles on it, but I didn’t trust it anymore.

      1. Good take on this. I’ve had a 5 year old car that was in the shop all the time (it fell just 5 days in the shop short of being a lemon the first year), so I ditched it. I currently have a 2008 spare car that my kids drive, and I’ve put under $1500 into it in the last 4 years, and that’s just been tires, a battery, rear brakes and regular fluid changes. We recently had another car in the body shop for more than a month after getting rear-ended at a stoplight, and we were happy to be able to just drive the spare car rather then renting something (especially since rental reimbursement was only good for a month). It only gets about 14 mpg around town (it’s an STS with a V8), but its still so worth keeping around for the couple thousand miles we rack up on a year.

    2. “Another point is that I am better prepared financially to weather a surprise repair bill with a healthier emergency fund as compared to when I was just starting out.”

      Especially this; it’s the reason I bought a German car for the first time recently (and also my first “weekend” car).

      I’m in the extremely fortunate situation now to have 3 cars and no commute. I keep thinking I should sell at least one of them, but I can’t bring myself do it. One is electric, and is not only nice to drive but is a nice hedge against CA gas prices. One is a giant SUV that we barely drive, but my wife loves it and doesn’t want to let it go. And the other is my aforementioned weekend car that doesn’t see much use — not something I’d want to daily again should it come to that but also not something I want to get rid of.

      So, I guess I’m basically sticking with these for the foreseeable future. Nothing else out there I really want short of replacing the SUV with an EV variant, but nothing I’d want in that segment right now that’s in plentiful supply.

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