Friday, May 29, 2015

Car Toon

Readers- A change of pace today owing to the fact that my '93 Nissan ("The Official Car of Hope n' Change") suddenly died about an hour ago, stranding Mrs. Jarlsberg at the dentist's office following her latest smile tune-up. Her smile was fine, by the way, although a little strained after the car's ignition went tickity-tickity-tick instead of vroom-vroom-vroom.

I showed up with the jumper cables and got the old girl running (the car, not Mrs. Jarlsberg) and drove it to the little auto repair shop I've been using for years, secure in the knowledge that the mechanic I've built a relationship with would never, ever screw me.

"Oh, Mario? Yeah, he's gone," I was told. "New management. Replaced everyone. Let's take a look at that car. Man, that's an old one..."

Fortunately, the repair shop was within walking distance of the Hope n' Change office tower, and even more fortunately, the apocalyptic weather in Texas was taking a brief break in which to gather energy for whatever hell will break loose later today. So, after dabbing the mist from my eyes, I left my car in the hands of strangers. Strangers who will no doubt factor into the final bill the fact that I left on foot.

Now I'm waiting by the phone to find out what's wrong with my car and what it will cost to repair, which makes it pretty darned hard to concentrate on politics. Which, considering the current state of politics, may not be an entirely bad thing.

But hey, as a nice consolation, how about a visit from the ever insightful...

Catch 22 Caliber
Automotive Update: Much like the most recent entries in a certain film franchise we could mention, it turned out my car's battery was a "Die Hard" in name only. It has been replaced, and everything seems to be running fine again.

Assuming, of course, that those mysterious "new guys" at the car repair shop haven't actually refitted my car with miniature cameras, microphones, and drone beacons.


Joseph ET said...

Stilton, we’re glad that your car was repaired and it only needed a battery. I used to do most of my own repair until a few years ago when I decided that I had enough of it and could now afford to pay a shop to do it. But, all of that may be coming to an end soon because GM, Ford, And Others Want to Make Working on Your Own Car Illegal. If this doesn’t close our small auto shops it will at least run up the cost as the small shops will have to pay for the privilege of using “big auto’s” software. Big auto wants to force us to use their expensive dealership shops. Follow the money!

George in Houtx said...

Stilton: George Carlin used to do a routine involving battery brand names. his comments on "Die Hard" .... "not a bad way to go, but what does it have to do with starting a car?" actually, when you described the noise the car made, I suspected a battery problem.

Proof said...

Trigger warning? As in, "Look out! It's Nellybelle!"
(No one below the age of fifty will get that.)

REM1875 said...

We could solicit funds to up date the H-n-C mobile but I doubt a high milage 94 would be much of an improvement.

REM1875 said...

We are now suffering rebuke again. (Formerly known as 'rain' prior to reverend al) It looks suspiciously like rain we used to occasionally get here in far North Texas prior to glowbull warming.
So I am grateful doc that you did not have to walk home in the pouring rebuke.

TrickyRicky said...

About two years ago I finally let my beloved 1966 Volvo 122S drift off to Valhalla after the heater valve cratered, I installed a cheap on/off valve in the heater hose under the hood, and subsequently had to pop the hood to adjust the heat. I've moved up to a 1999 Accord previously owned by a little old lady (Mom). Mrs. Tricky drives the pickup, our only vehicle manufactured this century. That says a lot about the relative value of the cargo.

Fred Ciampi said...

Wow, this must be the week for car deaths. My old Jeep with only 291,910 miles finally went to the great transmission shop in the sky. Now I have a Toyota Highlander with only 96,000 miles on it. It should last about as long as I will. Ah, yes, I remember Nellybelle. Another famous Jeep....... So, the 'Big Three', spurred on no doubt by the big gubbermint, wants to make it illegal to work on your own vehicle. I just wonder just how many of us lawbreakers will go back to doing out own automotive work if that passes? Hmmmm, now I can look for the SWAT team to be coming up my driveway. Stay dry Stilt.

Geoff King said...

Reminds me of once read graffiti on a biker bar bathroom wall (cleaned up somewhat for this audience): "If it has breasts or wheels, sooner or later it will give you trouble".

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Joseph ET- But private citizens won't need to do their own repairs once everyone is covered by ObamaCar. Plus, I'm told it will bend the cost curves down!

@George in Houtx- I may not know engines, but I know sound effects.

@Proof- I'm plenty old enough to get your joke and applaud it. Good one!

@REM1875- I actually considered getting a newer used car a few years ago, but "cash for clunkers" took them all off the market (and, oh yeah, destroyed them). Thanks, Obama!

Regarding "cloudy with a chance of rebuke," we got another five inches last night and a pretty decent light show. Seriously, this is nuts.

@TrickyRicky- I look at new cars with a suspicious eye; full of touch screens, bluetooth receivers, proximity sensors, and whatnot. Moreover, I recently had the state inspection for my '93 and it posted super low emissions after all these years.

@Fred Ciampi- If the government says we can't work on our cars, then we should claim we actually want to have sex with the engines. Liberals won't understand what we're really doing under the hood, but would reflexively support our right to do so.

@Geoff King- You can't argue with biker wisdom.

J Boyle said...

Dear Sir,
I repair cars. (I employ the people who repair the cars) In reading the comments, I am struck by some of the remarkable pieces of "poop" your followers use to perambulate. Guidelines: Avoid ANYTHING vaguely Nordic or English or Australian or German or Italian. (Italians are the worst with a propensity for extreme passive aggressive behavior and funks of indiscernible origin... Fix It Again, Tony)
Toyota is good.
Volvo is evil.
Jeep owners have skinned up hairy legs, bleached out mustaches, gnarled hands and no money. The men are worse.
Hope this helps.
J Boyle

John the Econ said...

I feel for you. Years ago I was customer of such a shop; a small independent run by a dedicated owner and populated by well-paid employees who honestly acted in the best interest of their customers. This place was so extreme, that if you were to come in and ask that something should be replaced at an expectedly high cost, they'd actually counsel you against it if there was a cheaper (and less profitable to them) alternative. To those who own cars that are usually old enough to vote, (if not drink) shops like this are a godsend.

Well, the day came when the owner wanted to retire and sold out. Soon thereafter, all of the older and highly experienced employees were gone and replaced with much younger and obviously cheaper ones of questionable residency status who were more "parts swappers" than "repairmen". Too bad. Most of the older customers, like myself, moved on.

So to pick up the slack, here's some news:

Dennis Hastert is providing us with the latest example of why it's both expensive and pointless to give in to blackmail. If you've done something embarrassing, sooner or later you're going to take the hit for it, and be much poorer for it in the process.

Socialist Bernie Sanders laments that Americans have too much consumer choice:

"You can't just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on."

Yes, fortunately citizens of socialist/communist countries don't have these kinds of problems. "Happy Venezuelan consumer enjoys freedom from confusing and starvation-causing US-style brand proliferation"

I've long argued that people in societies with empty store shelves don't give a s*@! about "climate change and all kinds of environmental problems". BTW, today in Venezuela, toilet paper is literally more expensive than Venezuelan currency.

John the Econ said...

Meanwhile on Planet Hillary: Chelsea Clinton buys new $10.5 million apartment across the street from her husband's $4 million 'starter pad' bought just before they married.

"Most young couples could only dream of buying a luxury four-bedroom apartment in the centre of Manhattan. But Chelsea Clinton, 33, and husband Marc Mezvinsky, 35, are about to swap their $4 million pad for a huge new $10.5 million one nearby."

See how wonderful the Obama economy really is you ungrateful sops? How bad can things be when humble millennials like Chelsea and her hedge fun hubby can afford such nice digs?

See, if we were to free all millennials of student loan debt, they too would be living like this, in a world where money has no hold over over their inner selves.

George Stuffshispantswithcash: Does it strike anyone odd that a reporter who's making $41,000 a day should be cynically asking politicians what they think about the injustice of "income inequality"?

And finally, not only has Hillary learned that it is possible to have more than one e-mail account on a phone, she's now giving lessons to hapless, technically ignorant voters on how to take "selfies".

Finally, I can relate to her.

Bruce Bleu said...

One advantage to having a "Die Hard" battery is the photo of Bruce Willis on the side, (we seem to have similar politics). Living in Colorado, I loved my 1100 CCA battery... started at 36 degrees below zero when I went skiing at Mt Crested Butte!
Got Toyota, Mitsubishi and Yamaha at present, but have had 3 Desotos previously and would love another, ('55's).

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@J Boyle- Thank you for your expertise. I hate car repairs, so try to own cars which won't need them very often. And then I drive them until some idiot hits them and forces me to buy a new one (at a certain age, it's amazing how little damage you need for the insurance company to say "it's totaled.")

@John the Econ- At the shop I went to, it wasn't unusual for me to show up with a problem, exhuding automotive ignorance from every pore, and have the guy fix the problem with a couple of wrench turns and then send me on my way without charging a dime. I'm going to miss him.

Meanwhile, I thank you for adding some fiber to today's offering. The topics are pretty much all things which were on my radar, but it turns out I can't cartoon and sit fretfully by the phone at the same time.

Regarding Hastert, I've got no sympathy. As you say, playing the blackmailer's game is only going to get you burned.

Bernie Sanders' pronouncement that world hunger would be reduced if there were fewer deodorant choices really merits its own Lefty Lucy cartoon. I actually know people who are very excited that Comrade Sanders is (allegedly) in the race for the White House. I think "Spread Wealth, Not Deodorant" could make for a pretty catchy poster.

Chelsea Clinton's insane wealth, associated with no discernible skills, is galling. As is her claim that she joined her parents' foundation instead of taking corporate work because she "doesn't care" about money. At least, not money the IRS will tax her on.

Although it seems odd that the overpaid Stephanopoulos complains about the state of income inequality, keep in mind that he donates copious sums to charity to help give struggling kids like Chelsea Clinton a chance.

Finally, I'm surprised that when Hillary fiddled with the "selfie" woman's iPhone, she didn't actually erase everything on it out of habit.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Bruce Bleu- I don't believe my battery had a picture of Bruce Willis on it. Or even Rumer Willis.

BillH said...

Re Lefty Lucy: If niggardly is racist, shouldn't trigger be racist too?

Bobo the Hobo said...

@Fred Ciampi- If the government says we can't work on our cars, then we should claim we actually want to have sex with the engines. Liberals won't understand what we're really doing under the hood, but would reflexively support our right to do so. Stilt, you are a freaking genius! Using that guideline, my '68 Mustang would qualify. Hmmm, I wonder if I can declare it as a dependent or better yet, marry it - these rehab bills are getting to be a killer!

It's No Gouda said...

I've been re-thinking buying "American " cars. Mrs Gouda and I have two GM products neither of which was built in the US. The Chevy Impala was built in Canada and the Buick Rendezvous was built in Mexico. I'll be looking at Toyotas or Subarus which are built right here in Indiana. I like the idea of keeping my fellow Hoosiers employed.

John Ortmann said...

Kind of puts the whole "Die Hard" thing in perspective.

Colby Muenster said...

You know, Stilton, our beloved and benevolent leader gave you the opportunity to turn in your clunker a few years back and get a shiny new Lexus with 20's on it, but noOOooo.

Seriously, I'm glad to hear that the Cheese-Limo only needed a battery, but you should be glad you didn't own a Prius, or (God forbid) a Chevy Dolt.

Oh, and "wealth" isn't the only thing Bernie Sanders spreads. Ain't it nice for Billary to have someone running that makes her look conservative by comparison?

John the Econ said...

@Stilton, it may be heresy for me to say so, but I at least have to respect Bernie Sanders in that he believes his s&@$. He's certainly less a hypocrite than multi-millionaire crony-socialist Fauxcahontas Warren. Of course, Hillary is a socialist only to the extent that it's now a requirement to be viable in the Democratic party. Even most Democrats realize that she'd be more than happy to engage in a three-way with the Koch brothers if the price was right. Interestingly, while making villains out of honest capitalists, Bernie has taken a hands-off approach to Hillary's omni-millions and how it was obtained. So does Bernie really believe that it's okay to become mega-rich via influence peddling and shakedowns? Or is it that he doesn't want to be the one to bloody up Hillary on the chance that she's actually going to be the candidate. (Which I am still betting against) Either way, if he isn't willing to take off the gloves against the obviously corrupt Clintons, I don't see how he's going to gain any respect outside of the hard core.

Either way, the charmed environs of Vermont only get the luxury to entertain their political vanity and socialist fantasies because of the huge amounts of wealth teleported up to the state from the capitalist activity that takes place down south in NYC. Vermont would be a frozen Mississippi without rich Yankees and their vacation homes. Sanders is a fluke.

Chelsea: As we've pointed out before, it's pretty easy to profess a Bohemian outlook on life with $15-million (and growing) sitting in the bank. If I had $15-million in the bank, I'd probably be running a non-profit too. (albeit one that wasn't spending 90% of its donations on making me even richer)

"I'm surprised that when Hillary fiddled with the "selfie" woman's iPhone, she didn't actually erase everything on it out of habit."

That's funny, and worthy of a cartoon. Next time I'm on the phone with the Koch Brothers (as I am so often accused of being) I'll see if we can't get you on the payroll for a "Planet Hillary" daily.

@Joseph ET, I've been following the GM assertion. Actually, they're going beyond just the repairing or modifying of cars, but asserting rights to the entire vehicle. You no longer own the car, you've just got a license to use it indefinitely. And apparently, they also reserve the right to determine how you can use your car. So if I drive my GM car to a Tea Party rally, could they legally shut it down? Absurd? Today, yes. But then again, how much of what is now
"normal" today was considered "absurd" only 8 years ago?

@It's No Gouda, I am afraid that there is no longer any such thing as an "American" car. It might be assembled in Indiana, but most of parts came from somewhere else. (You can thank the unions for that)

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@BillH- I'm pretty sure that with enough effort, any word can be considered racist.

@Bobo the Hobo- Sort of gives a whole new meaning to "lube job," doesn't it?

@It's No Gouda- I'm a born Hoosier and actually worked at a Ford plant in Indianapolis (we made steering columns). Good for you for keeping the locals employed!

@John Ortmann- Action movies would be a lot shorter if they let reality intrude.

@Colby Muenster- All "cash for clunkers" did was take my tax money to subsidize someone else's new car while all of the used cars were being destroyed (oh yeah, that's great for the environment).

And you're right that Hillary probably enjoys having a declared socialist out there to make her look better. I'll bet Bernie's entire campaign is funded by the Clinton Foundation.

You also asked a tech question which I've subsequently deleted for guessable reasons, but the answer is "yes."

Romano Cambozola said...

More biker bathroom wisdom:
In Europe the fascists goosestep; in America they jog.

John the Econ said...

Oh, and I can't believe I almost forgot this one:

Corrupt FIFA Has Clinton Foundation Ties; World Cup Host Qatar Gave Millions

"Involvement with the embattled body extends beyond the foundation to Bill Clinton himself. The former president was an honorary chairman of the bid committee put together to promote the United States as a possible host nation for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

When the U.S. lost the 2022 bid to Qatar, Clinton was rumored to be so upset he shattered a mirror.

But apparently Qatar tried to make it up to him.

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, partnering with the State of Qatar, “committed to utilizing its research and development for sustainable infrastructure at the 2022 FIFA World Cup to improve food security in Qatar, the Middle East, and other arid and water-stressed regions throughout the world,” according to the Clinton Foundation website.

The cost of the two-year project is not listed on the Clinton Foundation website, but the Qatar 2022 committee gave the foundation between $250,000 and $500,000 in 2014 and the State of Qatar gave between $1 million and $5 million in previous, unspecified years."

I mean seriously, the only surprise would have been if the Clinton's had not been somehow tied to the FIFA corruption scandal.

John the Econ said...

"All "cash for clunkers" did was take my tax money to subsidize someone else's new car while all of the used cars were being destroyed."

It was worse than that. What it did was subsidize wealthy American's new cars, that most of them would have likely purchased anyway, without subsidies. Since the "clunkers" were to be crushed instead of being disassembled and parted-out, not only did these perfectly serviceable cars not make it to the used marketplace, neither did their perfectly usable parts! This made used cars that frugal and less-wealthy Americans purchase less available, much more expensive to purchase and much more difficult and expensive repair.

"Cash for Clunkers" was yet another great example of a Progressive wet-dream supposedly designed to benefit "ordinary Americans" that actually only benefited the wealthiest Americans. Fortunately for the Democrats, most lo-fos will never understand the degree in which they've been screwed by the Progressives and their rich string-bearers.

Geoff King said...

I drive a '94 Plymouth Acclaim. The fact that it still runs is not a testament to the manufacturer's pride in workmanship, but rather to my "shadetree mechanic" abilities. I have paid no one else to do anything more than put a new tire on the vehicle and yet it still runs.
If working on ones own vehicle becomes illegal, I will yet again be breaking an outrageous law.

Joseph ET said...

Here at ET land we drove old Volvo's from 1980 thru 2001. First there were two 1972 145Es four speed. I picked up one just for parts, but ended up pulling the engine and having it rebuilt. Cost was about 2k because one cannot get a rebuilt ‘off the shelf’ engine in this part of the world. I also did a complete re-paint on both. Found out that Mrs. ET is allergic to car paint and can’t participate anymore. I’ll miss her help if I ever paint again. Later we sold one of the ‘72s to get a 1974 because Mrs.ET wanted an automatic as we live in the foothills. Then we picked up another 1974 from an older friend after she passed out and drove off road. I had to do a lot of work on the under carriage, replace the oil pan and fuel tank as well. But, I was accustomed to going to the pick and pull salvage yards. All were good cars and it was often handy to be able to borrow a part from one to get the other on the road. I did all the work on these cars. Then in 2001 I was on the freeway going to work with my 1972 when a valve spring broke. The valve fell half way into the cylinder and caused a great deal of damage. So, I asked Mrs. ET if I should spend another 2k plus to rebuild the engine again or use that money for a down payment on a new Dodge Dakota? This Dodge has done well, but I wish I had gotten the V8 instead of the V6, as the V6 feels under powered for this vehicle.
Then we decided that it was time that Mrs. ET had a new car too. The remaining Volvo's were getting tired, power wise, and we were unable to find a working ERG Valve to pass California smog tests. She wanted another Volvo, but they are priced very high. We ended up getting her a Subaru Forester. The Forester has been without any major issues. It had a sensor issue once but our local honest shop just cleaned it up and put it back on instead of selling us a new one. I’m thinking about getting a new Subaru Outback in two years. That should be our last new car as I’m no longer commuting 100 miles a day. I recommend Subaru’s.
On the other hand, if the big auto group wants to make us outlaws for doing our own work, I would hope that the folks that make the tools, aftermarket parts and the salvage yards would put up a big fight.

Geoff King said...

BTW, my '94 Acclaim is not only old enough to vote, but drink too! It seems to have taken that to heart as it now drinks about a quart of tranny fluid a week.
As I have rebuilt engines, changed rocker arms on the side of a freeway while the engine was still hot, and replaced a Ford C6 transmission laying in the dirt in the middle of the woods all by myself, I believe this new minor problem will be resolved quicky and cheaply - without involving overpriced and under-educated so-called professional mechanics.

REM1875 said...

@Joseph E T -I had a dakota, damned good vehicle but I was shocked the v-6 got worse milage than the ram 1500 hemi v-8 I replaced it with after it was 'totaled'. I kinda miss it but have a 2001 durango (dakota disguised as a station wagon) to ease the sting.
I found working on a few european cars that different simply means different and not necessarily better,

John the Econ said...

More from "Planet Hillary", a "lifetime achievement award" for sleaze given to Bill, who then insists on a $500,000 check to go with it. I felt like I needed a shower after reading this one:

An Award for Bill Clinton Came With $500,000 for His Foundation

"The former president of the United States agreed to accept a lifetime achievement award at the June 2014 event after Ms. Nemcova offered a $500,000 contribution to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The donation, made late last year after the foundation sent the charity an invoice, amounted to almost a quarter of the evening’s net proceeds — enough to build 10 preschools in Indonesia.

So if you've been giving money to the "Happy Hearts Fund", rest assured that a certain percentage of that donation went to keep the Clinton's comfortable, while they might spend $50k of that $500k on something possibly charitable.

Also note that this story wasn't from Fox, but appears in The New York Times. They certainly weren't running these kinds of stories on the Clintons in 1991. Again, Hillary is toast.

Bruce Bleu said...

BillH said...

Re Lefty Lucy: If niggardly is racist, shouldn't trigger be racist too?
Because you read HnC you probably already know this, but "Trigger" is either "Equine-ist", unless it's a faggot horse, in which case you would also be sexist, or "Shootist" because of the obvious fire-arm allusions. With the left there is NO safe haven from their attacks and onslaught, thanks to lamont's 3rd father, Saul Alinsky.

Daddy Dave said...

When I read the first CARtoon, I wasn't sure where you were going with it. Maybe because so many folks, especially on the Left, will casually fire up their carbon-emitting transport device with nary a thought as they head out to shop, eat, club, or whatever, all the while calling in to a radio talk show to complain about the evilness of oil companies. Of course, even operation of a bicycle results in carbon emission ... and for an old wheezer like me, a lot of it!

Our cars do indeed carry us on their backs, yet often their care and feeding is either neglected or complained about. Mostly, our wailing is aimed at planned obsolescence, inept mechanics (or in many cases, over-paid parts changers), or the high cost of parts. When early weapon makers attempted to implement the idea of interchangeable parts, they had NO idea what manufacturing in the 21st century would look like. We have nearly come full circle where every new model of a device requires specialized parts.

Popular Front said...

@Stilton, as a Nissan vehicle owner of a similar vintage by I urge you to keep your Nissan running as long as you possibly can. I have a 1988 Nissan Navara light truck which these days is my primary driver as it takes my dirt bike(s), dogs, beer etc anywhere without fuss. It is the most reliable vehicle I have ever owned and I have had many much younger ones and they've all failed the test. I have a friend in town who is the head mechanic at an auto shop with some 40+ years experience and he has stated most emphatically that the years 1987-1995 were the pinnacle of Nissan build quality and has equally emphatically insisted I retain my Navara for that reason, and others. Sound advice.
Last year I hit a stray cow and did some quite heavy damage to the poor old truck but aside from a punctured A/C unit and radiator it was all panel and strut damage. The local body shop took one look at it and said "write it off", mainly because these days panel beating is a thing of the past. It is all component replacement and failing that, "write it off". The hell with that I thought and brought it home, parked it outside my workshop and had a good hard look at what was needed. Some new panels, a little common sense and plenty of elbow grease. Suffice to say, apart from not quite matching the paint in a couple of places you'd never know the difference and she runs just as sweetly as she did before.

Grizzly said...

Stilt, why would you worry that the new guys might refit your car with miniature cameras, microphones, and drone beacons? Is it just because it's a NiSsAn ?

REM1875 said...

Good news for doc and others who are down river from us, after the next period of 'rebuke' we're are forcasted to live in a dry county (for a few days at least) and for the first time in my adult life I support a dry county!
(Dry county usually refers to no alcohol sales and limited possession, a quaint, useless, infuriating custom slowly disappearing)

PRY said...

No comment today, just enjoying and relating to all that is posted, and also glad your auto is still good; currently, I'm driving a '99 Toyota that runs as good as when I got it in the previous century! Wishing all the patriots here a good day in spite of the sogginess (we have it too in OK!)

Anonymous said...

Probably true for most brands and dealers by now, but in my own experience Nissan dealers have no incentive and no interest at all in keeping an older one running at low cost. They are mum on lower cost options; and offer high prices on parts, components and repairs, with limited options.

DIY &/or a good independent mechanic; aftermarket but decent parts; occasionally a good salvage yard are the way to go. In that way I've 334,000 miles on a 2005 and doing OK for now.

Boligat said...

@John the Econ

"You can't just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don't necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don't think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on."

Just pulled up images for Bernie Sanders 2016. I notice that Bernie has at least 6 different ties, 4 different styles/colors of shirts, 3 different suit coats and two different sweaters. That makes at least 144 different combinations of dressing for Bernie. Why, Bernie, why do you need so many different outfits when we have children that are hungry in this country?

Re: Cars. We have an '88 Corolla with 274,000+ miles on it. Just use it to get back and forth to school, but it's a gamer. We got it with 36,000 on it back in the '90's. My students want to know why I don't get a new(er) car. I tell them that I will need it as soon as the legislature passes the law I have proposed. "No student may drive to school in a car newer than the oldest car in the teacher's parking lot." BTW, whatever anyone may say I will never believe that we have a gasoline supply problem as long as the student's parking lot is full.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- I just want to say that I'm delighted how my "non-post" about car problems has turned into such a fun and robust discussion of all things automotive. And yes, we've even been covering some politics here (special thanks to on-the-scene reporter John the Econ).

What a great group of folks you are!

Sarah Rolph said...

My condolences on the loss of your mechanic.

We have a guy like that--Bill at Chelmsford Diagnostics, in case anyone lives in the vicinity (Chelmsford, Mass is near Lowell). If Bill ever retired I would immediately sell my old luxury car and get a new Ford Fusion or something. As it is, when it came time to give up my 1992 Audi V8 (based on Bill's guidance) I bought a 2002 Mercedes S430 from Bill. He had picked it up from someone who couldn't pay their bill or something crazy like that.

Last week I took it in. Sounded funny when idling, like my old VW Bug used to sound when it needed a tune-up. (That was my description based on my total lack of auto knowledge.) Well it turned out it was nothing to do with spark plugs or anything, it was the catalytic converter starting to break. In one place the inner material was loose. Can't leave it like that because when it finishes breaking it would wreck the rest of the system, muffler, etc. Replacing the catalytic converter with a new one from Germany would be so expensive we didn't even price it out. Because Bill, as usual, had a better idea. Surgery. He determined that the place that was broken could be plain pipe without harming anything. So he chopped out the broken part and replaced it with a pipe. $500 instead of something like $2500.

Bill kept the Audi running for a really long time. He welded the exhaust once--I remember he got a huge kick out of that because it saved tons of money. He would find us after-market parts when that made sense, searching the internet if need be. One time when he couldn't find a part he had someone make it! He found an old guy in the depths of Lowell who has a little machine shop and specializes in making parts for mechanics like Bill.

Bill is also an amazing person. He mentioned offhandedly one day when one of his newly adopted kids was in the shop briefly, "oh, yes, we took in Petey recently, his mom is a local prostitute and drug addict who keeps having kids, and, well, someone has to do it." Saving cars all day long and saving souls on the side.

John the Econ said...

I must congratulate many of you here for your commitment to prolonging the life of your automobiles. The Econ family has three; the oldest has been drinking for years, and the 2nd oldest will be voting soon. Mrs. Econ got a relatively new car last year, which was only 3 years old; the newest car we've owned in over 15 years. And we paid cash. But we'll be keeping that car for a very long time.

Fortunately, cars today are far more reliable and longer lived that the cars we grew up with 30 years ago. There was a reason that odometers didn't go beyond 100,000 miles; relatively few cars were worth keeping that long. But the downside is that the cost of acquisition has gone up substantially. And yet even with greater longevity and cost, many new car buyers still get bored and swap out every 3 to 5 years even though most well cared for cars today will be able to make 200,000 with only preventative maintenance.

My point is that most Americans don't have a clue as to what they're actually paying to own their cars, especially when they buy (or lease) new. Most people fret over the price of gas and figure that's the most expensive part of owning their cars. But they only think that because gasoline is probably the only commodity that we purchase where we stand in front of a digital readout and actually watch the dollars click up. Depreciation, on the other hand, is largely invisible to most people. First year depreciation can be anywhere between 20 to 30%. Considering that the average new car today is almost $35,000, that means that as much as over $10,0000 of your net worth could be evaporating in the first year! People who habitually buy new cars in less than 5 years are losing tens-of-thousands of dollars. And considering that most of those people financed those cars, they paid interest for that depreciation as well! On the other hand, people who buy used after 3 to 5 years and the keep them for a long time see a very flat depreciation curve. My two oldest cars basically stopped depreciating a decade ago. So every year they soldier on, I save even more money.

But what about repair costs on older cars? Unless your car is a total lemon that breaks down constantly and cannot be permanently fixed, when you average out the depreciation curve, most people will find that what they spend on maintenance & repair will be less than a third of what comparable depreciation would be on a newer car. For example, I just spent $1,000 fixing some minor issues and putting new springs on my 1998 truck that I expect to get at least 3 to 5 more years out of. $1k is a lot to spend on such an old vehicle, but it's in otherwise good shape and assuming nothing major fails that requires more than a few thousand to fix, this will be a good investment; certainly less that I'd be paying in depreciation over the same period if I were to replace this truck with a newer model.

Most people would be shocked to learn that if they were to only buy used, then keep those cars a decade longer, and then invest the difference between what they'd be paying for new in practically any conservative mutual fund, they'd be at least millionaires over 40 years. At which point the class warriors would get jealous and seize your savings. So never mind; ignore everything I've written above. Buy new cars and live for the now. The Progressives have already stolen your future.

John the Econ said...

@Boligat, great point about Bernie's tie collection. I'll be stealing that for sure. Quite frankly, I don't see why anyone needs more fashion choices than the Chinese did after the Maoist revolution.

Love your suggested law regarding the cars in the student parking lot. When I attended a public university, I was unable to reconcile the cries of poverty whenever it was suggested that tuition might be raised with the value of the majority of automobiles in the student lots.

In those days, debates with fellow students over "socialized medicine" was nearly a daily occurrence. At the time, a comprehensive health policy could be purchased on the open market for about $100 a month. (A steal by today's standards) Higher deductible policies could be had for even less. During these debates, if I didn't already know what kind of car these people were driving, I'd ask, and then ask what their payments were. More often than not, they had very new cars and did not think twice about paying $200 a month. (A relatively large car payment at the time)

So in reality, it came down to priorities. A $200/month car was more important than health insurance. Obviously, it was far more important to them to have a sweet set of wheels than it was to have health insurance, whereas I found it more important to have health insurance, and as a consequence I made due with an older (and less sexy) car. So my question was "Why should I be made to pay for something that you don't even consider a priority in your life? In reality, what I'd actually be doing is subsidizing your new car! Now is that fair?"

People would usually tune out at that point, because people don't like facing reality when it's coming from a mirror.

Boligat said...

John, thanks for the nice words. You are dead on talking about priorities and I will be stealing your example about "subsidizing your new car."

Sarah, your comments about Bill brought tears to my eyes. A mixture of gratitude that such people exist and pride...that such people exist. Too bad we have to spend our time wallowing in the garbage soup served up by the MSM and the various internet providers. (I am cursed with Yahoo. Got to find something better even if I have to pay for it.) The next time you see Bill, thank him for me.

Stilton, I'm new here, but I have to tell you that I am impressed with the crowd here, too. Just remember, it all started with you. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Proud to raise my 95 Lincoln Mark VIII from the dead again and again as long as the block holds oil and retains its pistons. Long live the Old Iron!

JustaJeepGuy said...

Old cars, buying new, depreciation? I bought a brand-spanking-new Jeep Wrangler in 1989, and paid it off in just over 2 years. I still have it. The most important point about it is that I left Ohio and the accompanying rust in 1991. Had I stayed there, all I'd have now is a pile of rust flakes.

My Jeep has its issues, but it will still get me where I'm going--not especially quickly, and it takes a good bit of gas, but it gets me there. I think I should now inform Chrysler that, if they are in favor of this idiotic legislation, I will never buy a new Jeep. I'll just buy even older Jeeps, like the '48 CJ-2A I have in the garage. That'll show 'em!

Rod said...

@JustaJeepGuy: You're doing well with your Jeep, must put a lot of effort into it.

We have a '74 CJ5 in the family I've been holding as a project someday when I have time. Drive train was never abused and should clean up well; but the tub is, well, it's hardly there. The old joke is Jeeps were made out of compressed rust.

John the Econ said...

@JustaJeepGuy, years ago a good friend of mine who could only be seen driving very expensive German-made automobiles moved east where cars such as his were quite a rarity. Soon he found out why; it really didn't make sense to spend over $30k on a car that would only live 4 or 5 years before totally reverting to iron oxide.