Car Update

Thanks for all your input. I pulled the trigger and put a down payment so it would not be bought out from under me. Pick it up Monday or Tuesday once the financing is done and I have transferred money from my savings account. This isn’t as rushed as it seems- since the breakdown a couple months ago on the way to see ABC, I have been researching Honda CRV’s and used Lexus SUV’s, thinking a change was going to be needed soon.

My logic in the purchase was as follows:

Even though my Subaru is almost paid off (another year), I am paying 250 a month on the loan. With all the maintenance I did recently (2k worth), plus the new $1200 estimate just to get this running and with no guarantee that is the end of the problems, if you break down that $3200 into monthly payments (and who knows if that 3200 is the end), that’s like paying an additional 270 bucks a month. I’m basically paying $520 a month for an unreliable 12 year old vehicle. I can drive a new fucking Mercedes for that kind of money. So it just makes sense financially to do this.

Plus, I feel that once you get past 120k and you start having fuckery in things like the sensors and the electronics, it’s all downhill from there. So I figured cutting and running is the best best. Rolling my old loan into a new one, with the trade in value of my current vehicle, I can basically get a brand new car for slightly more than my current monthly loan with a slight increase in my monthly auto insurance but with an decline in real dollars spent when you consider all the money being sunk into maintenance recently and more than likely in the future.

Plus, the one thing that a cost can not be put on is the peace of mind. Maybe it is my training from the Army, but the luster was off my beloved Subaru because in the back of my mind I no longer trusted it. Every time I drove it, I was thinking “Is it going to break down? Can I plan a long trip?

For the record, I lied to you- the CRV doesn’t have 20k miles, it has less than 4k. I wanted to see what all you would say if it had higher mileage than it actually did.

I never know if I am making the right decisions financially, so I love being able to sound out my reasoning on the blog with you all. Hell, maybe I am actually smarter financially than some of you and this is helpful. I’m curious to hear if you think I made the right decision (David Anderson, you’re a numbers guy).

And with that, I exit the cult of Subaru just as easily as I left the Republican cult.

149 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Congrats, man. I hope you one day find a cult that’s just right for you.

  2. 2
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    @Baud: I thought that was Balloon Juice.

  3. 3
    Sebastian says:

    Why does it have only 4k miles?

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    @Sebastian: hmmm
    John, make sure that you get service as though the car has more mileage. Because I don’t drive often, I service according to the age of the car, rather than mileage.

  5. 5
    John Cole says:

    @Sebastian: Second vehicle for a rich owner who used it as a backup for primary vehicle and who trades the backup in every couple of years.

  6. 6
    gvg says:

    I don’t think the cult of Subaru is quite as delusional, and car ownership has a lot of reality checks that can’t be avoided.

  7. 7
    MomSense says:

    I guess I’m still in the cult. A Subaru did save my life a couple years ago though.

    Hope you like your new car, Cole.

  8. 8
    ArchTeryx says:

    Heh. You don’t need a cult. Just a good crew, decent maintenance on base and good alloy in the treads….

    Wait, you’re not talking about a tank?

    Your logic is pretty impeccable. Congrats on a great purchase!

  9. 9
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    The peace of mind thing is tremendous. My car had some intermittent electrical problems for a while. They’re fixed now, but it’s taken a while to get my confidence back.

  10. 10
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: yup. I joined AAA when my car reached Bar Mitzvah age. If I couldn’t be sure of my car, I wanted to be sure of my tow truck.

  11. 11
    Ahasuerus says:

    You’ll probably be quite happy. We’ve had 3 Honda Accords over the years, and they never break. They all lasted well over 9 years/100k miles, and the only reason we got rid of them was because we got bored and wanted something new. And we sold all 3 to friends of ours who still remained friends, so I guess that also speaks to their reliability. And several years ago I drove across the country with a buddy and his dog, and I was still able to walk at the end of the trip, so you should remain relatively uncrippled from driving it. Just don’t drive with your mop, ok?

  12. 12


    I’m still driving my 2nd Subaru, and I’ve been happy with the car. But I also have a friend who is a certified Subaru tech and he does all the work on it. That definitely played a role in purchasing the second.

  13. 13
    Cermet says:

    Any car but especially ones not made by Toyota (and similarly, Honda) are bad news as sensor’s/electronics start to fail. Cars that start doing this will just continue; luckily, I have a toyota and its a Prius – when anything starts to fail (and only last month something – the first item (the car has 150 k miles and is almost tens years old) the computer told me exactly what it was and a manual (and youtube) showed me where it was and how to replace it. I went on line, got a toyota part and in under fifteen minutes, a $700 repair (list) was done for less than $80. Knowing how to use a screw driver saved me over $600 (and having a car that tracks most everything electrical and emissions related.)

  14. 14
    Morzer says:

    once you get past 120k

    You and Cthulhu must have great conversations at the Undead Spring Fling every millennium.

  15. 15
    JMG says:

    We have a 2013 CRV and are completely happy with it. Also a 2004 Corolla, now at 187K miles and still major maintenance/repair free, a boast I now wish I hadn’t posted.

  16. 16
    lurker dean says:

    Congrats, sounds like a great buy with that mileage. Knock wood, you should have at least a good 100k trouble free miles, and probably many more after that.

  17. 17
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Hell, maybe I am actually smarter financially than some of you

    Hey hey hey!!. Why you got to insult us like that?

    Good move. Hope this car allows you to visit ABC often and that you rack up happy memories driving it around.

  18. 18

    Sounds like a completely reasonable choice to me.

  19. 19
    satby says:

    Congrats John! For the record, my mechanic son discouraged me from buying a used Subie, though he thinks they’re great cars, specifically because if they aren’t maintained regularly they do become unreliable. I ended up with a Hyundai from Avis, because they are maintained on schedule.

  20. 20
    Morzer says:

    @David Anderson:


  21. 21
    Quinerly says:

    Congrats! Love the color!

  22. 22
    Sebastian says:

    @John Cole: smart pick

  23. 23



    This is the Cult of Tunch.


  24. 24
    Morzer says:


    But does Tunch want to consume Cole’s latest petroleum chariot?

  25. 25
    swiftfox says:

    I got 347k out of a 2003 Forester. Since they have made them larger and less car-like, I was less interested and bought a 2013 VW Golf TDI. It now has 120k and no problems as I decide what to do when I turn it in to the VW authorities. Either a CX-5 or Tiguan.

  26. 26
    Nicole says:

    Congrats! Wishing you many pleasant road trips.

  27. 27
    danielx says:

    At least this time the Subie won’t end up obstructing a tractor in some farmer’s field.

    Also, too @PaulWartenberg: as millions of cat owners know.

    ETA: just leave off the ECO button or you will be unpleasantly surprised the first time you put your foot down on the gas and nothing happens.

  28. 28
    hovercraft says:


    You should know by now that spending time with your pack of jackals makes you smarter, it’s like spending a night at a Holiday Inn Express.

    Hell, maybe I am actually smarter financially than some of you

    Only a couple of us, but I won’t name names ; )

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    John, happy you’ve got a new set of (hopefully) reliable wheels.

    Next step: win lottery and get that Maybach!

  30. 30
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tom Levenson: AAA is my friend.

  31. 31
    jacy says:

    The utterly hilarious thing to me in all of this is my psycho ex-husband and The Boyfriend each bought a new Subaru within a month of each other. (The ex bought a Forrester and The Boyfriend bought a WRX) So, no fear, the cult of Subaru is still going strong.

    Hope this car gives you peace of mind, Cole, and takes you on lots of fun adventures (as opposed to “interesting” adventures…..)

  32. 32
    Butch says:

    I just spent $2,200 to get the Jeep running again (at 219,000 miles); I know I’m well past time to start shopping but the inertia is strong with this one. I’ll probably wait until it strands me.

  33. 33
    manyakitty says:

    Everyone I know who has a CRV (and a Honda in general) is happy. I had three Hondas in a row, and would have one now, but my beloved ’04 Accord got totaled and I ended up with a ’10 Mazda 3, which is beyond anodyne, but whatever. I’ll get something fun when I pay it off.


  34. 34
    Another Scott says:

    @John Cole: “Old” cars with low mileage can work out fine. The first car I bought on my own was a stripped 1966 Olds F-85 (no A/C, 2-speed automatic, etc.) around 1982. It had around 70k miles on it at the time (was nothing much to look at – faded paint and banged up front bumper). My mechanic friend bought if off someone who just wanted to get rid of it – it wouldn’t start (just needed a battery). Cost me about $75 to buy it from him. I think we ended up putting another 70+k on it before it finally died (rust, IIRC).

    If you’re happy with it, then you made a good choice. The financial reasoning makes sense – electrical/sensor gremlins that don’t ever really get “fixed” can be a giant money pit.

    Good luck!

    (Whose VW occasionally cycles open the sun roof on its own…)

  35. 35
    Jean says:

    I’ve owned 3 Subarus, still have 2 of them. The first one went to my daughter who drove it for several more years. However, I bought all 3 new and always had regular maintenance done. They’ve been problem-free.

  36. 36
    JPL says:

    Our national nightmare is over

    Anthony D. Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose “sexting” scandals ended his political career and embroiled him in a tumultuous F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton before the election, is to appear in a federal courtroom in Manhattan on Friday to enter a guilty plea.


  37. 37
    Ben Cisco says:

    Congrats, Cole. I predict you’ll be happy with this one.

  38. 38
    rikyrah says:

    Congratulations Cole😄😄

  39. 39
    germy says:

    For the record, I lied to you- the CRV doesn’t have 20k miles, it has less than 4k.

    I blame the Culture of Trump.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: We have USAA and it’s awesome.

  41. 41
    Another Scott says:

    @raven: USAA has been pretty good to us, except for that one time when J was rear-ended by a guy in a pickup that also had USAA. For some reason they dragged out payment to us in that case… :-/ But it eventually worked out.


  42. 42
    NotMax says:

    You could get a brand spanking new Mazda and still have lower monthly payments.

    Mom getting about 43 mpg highway on hers, which ran $16k new (and loaded w/options) on the lot.

  43. 43
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    I never know if I am making the right decisions financially, so I love being able to sound out my reasoning on the blog with you all.

    Money looks like hard, objective numbers to which you could apply objective universal rules in making your decisions, that everyone would agree on.

    But it’s not. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that money is not just numbers. It’s emotional, and it’s tied to some of the deepest irrational emotions we have. There are clearly healthy money decisions (invest in an IRA if at all possible) and clearly unhealthy money decisions (don’t gamble your house away; don’t enroll in Trump University). But there’s a whole lot of territory in between where the rule is “do what feels right”.

    Sure, some numbers come into it. But ultimately it’s how you feel about the decision. And it sounds like you feel good about this one, and have enough numbers to make it feel rational. So go for it.

  44. 44
    raven says:

    @Another Scott:I was actually thinking more of the roadside. My ex hit a college kid walk right in front of her and she hit him. He flipped over the hooded head smashed through the windshield. She went to the hospital to see him and he was going to be ok. We never heard another word once USSA toolkit over.

  45. 45
    MaryL says:

    I opted against the CRV for personal reasons, but I feel confident that you’ll be able to get well over 120,000 miles (assuming it’s not all stop and go downtown metropolitan traffic) with a Honda. Plus it’s a reasonably comfortable ride.

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:

    John, that’s how I look at vehicles. It’s a tool, like a wrench or lathe. If it doesn’t perform or you have to spend too much time and money to make it work it’s time to replace it with something that does. I’ve been buying machine tools for too many decades to count and this concept has served me well. I’ve seen people hang on to tools that don’t perform properly and in the long run what it does is hurt productivity. In the case of a car that means you aren’t driving it, and it is just costing you more money. Exactly what your cost estimates show. And you may be wrong, if you find/fix the problems it may run for a long time with no more issues, but my experience is also that it most likely won’t. And I didn’t get to this point without experience.

  47. 47
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    I had a new 2007 CRV, loved loved loved it. Surest footed vehicle I ever had, didn’t give me one single problem. I gave it to my daughter who also hasn’t done a thing to it except replace the exhaust system, which for a car with that many miles on it, is routine. She’ll probably get another 100k milies out of it. Good choice, you won’t regret it.

  48. 48
    raven says:

    @Ruckus: I had to take my buddy for a VA exam yesterday and we stopped at Summit Racing. I bought a high capacity water pump and new fan clutch for my 350 and look forward to putting them in this weekend.

  49. 49
    NotMax says:

    if you break down that $3200

    So old that first new car I purchased from a dealer was $2700.

  50. 50
    Ruckus says:

    @Another Scott:

    Whose VW occasionally cycles open the sun roof on its own…

    I’m assuming only when it’s raining?

  51. 51
    oldster says:

    “I never know if I am making the right decisions financially, so I love being able to sound out my reasoning on the blog with you all.”

    So you consult with this pack of jackasses in order to tell if you’re making good decisions??

    Okay, well there’s your first bad decision….

  52. 52
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I regularly take vehicles up to and beyond 300,000. (my wife took her Bonneville to 450+) I also don’t make payments so repairs (the ones I just don’t want to do) seem more reasonable. Just dropped $1500 into my truck the past month and a half, but it was repair free for well over the previous year.

  53. 53
    different-church-lady says:

    The problem’s plain to see
    Too much technology

  54. 54
    Barbara says:

    When it comes to cars it is pretty well impossible to know if you are doing the right thing, but the odds on a Honda with fewer than 5000 miles working out seem about as high as you can get with a used vehicle. It looks like a really nice car, and my own experience with Honda (dated) was good — I bought a CRX in 1987 and retired it in 2002, with no major problems in between. It still ran, but we needed something bigger even as a back up vehicle, so we donated it. My au pair from Peru could not believe we were getting rid of such a nice car.

  55. 55
    NotMax says:

    Knowing Mr. Cole, when you go to pick it up there’ll be a mastiff in the back seat.

    “Oh, didn’t you know? The dog comes with the car.”

  56. 56
    different-church-lady says:

    @JPL: Enter a guilty plea for which offense?

  57. 57
    different-church-lady says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: AAA is everybody’s friend.

    Seriously, the only thing they’ve ever done to annoy me in 35 years is try to sell me life insurance by mail every once in a while.

  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    I’ve noticed around LA that tow trucks are very much not old and worn out. Either business is pretty good (and it is) or tow trunk drivers just like to spend money.
    I work next door to a very large body and fender shop, (the Niagara Falls of body shops, if you look at volume) the vast majority are late model cars. I am astounded how many cars end up in the body shop. OK actually I’m not astounded, just wondering how some people get a drivers license.

  59. 59

    @NotMax: You survived the mandolin, I see.

  60. 60
    DanR2 says:

    @John Cole: Congrats on the purchase! Lucky find with only 4K. Get the front windows tinted and you’ll be totally incognito.

  61. 61
    Keith P. says:

    How many kids came with that SUV?

  62. 62
    Barbara says:

    @NotMax: One of my favorite car commercials:

    I think the point is that it is roomy enough for a family.

  63. 63
    NotMax says:


    On the mainland, yes. Here, not so much.

    4 to 8 hour waits de rigueur. Weekends? Fuhgeddaboutit.

  64. 64
    Ruckus says:


    And with that, I exit the cult of Subaru just as easily as I left the Republican cult.

    It is just a car after all, not a touchstone.

    It’s supposed to be a political party, not a cult. Which is the problem, isn’t it?

  65. 65
    Barbara says:

    @Ruckus: We learned the hard way that among other things with newer and lighter materials for cars, body work has become a lot more expensive than it used to be. Basically, you can’t just hammer out a dent anymore.

  66. 66
    Skepticat says:

    Congratulations; may it give you years of dependable joy.

  67. 67
    ruemara says:

    @different-church-lady: sexual materials transmitted to minors.

    4k miles? You made a good decision, John. And the car anxiety is why i went with a New-to-Me less than 2 year old car. I nearly bought a brand spanking new Fit but I didn’t want the extra frills for the extra 3k.

  68. 68
    NotMax says:


    With flying colors. A little sweat, many tears, but no blood.


  69. 69
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @NotMax: But no mustard in the glove box.

  70. 70
    Greg says:

    As long as you can make the payments its a good choice. My BIL has a CRV and loves it. Any car is good if it runs. Every vehicle has their weaknesses, some in a particular model year will to more problematic. With 4K you should get a good 8-10 years out of this car before any real problems. New cars all in all are much better than old. Engines, transmissions, starters, alternators brake systems are far superior.

    I am amazed on how well all the sensors do last and handle the awful conditions they have to work in. Once gremlins do pop up in a car it can be tough to trouble shoot. Many times its not the sensors but the connections. If a mechanic is not proficient with a scope then its tough to figure things out.

    My Ducati S4RS was down for a month due to a bad crank shaft sensor ground. The mechanic working on the issue is the best, and he finally got out a scope and checked each sensor and found a bad square wave. Re-ground all the sensors and the bike runs great now, Been over a year..

  71. 71
    Sarah in Brooklyn says:

    I love my Subaru but you’re making me nervous.

  72. 72
    hedgehog mobile says:

    Nice. Congrats.

  73. 73
    NotMax says:


    Weird. Cute, but weird.

  74. 74
    The Lodger says:

    CR-Vs are great! The dealer usually loans us one when we take our 2008 Civic hybrid in for service, and we’re convinced it will be our next car. No hybrid version yet, unfortunately.

  75. 75
    JPL says:


    Mr. Weiner will plead guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, one of the people said. Mr. Weiner surrendered to the F.B.I. early Friday morning.

    It’s unclear whether or not he will have to register as a sex offender. Huma deserves better.

  76. 76
    Original Lee says:

    Congratulations on the new car! You’re right – peace of mind is huge compared to repeat potentially dangerous drama. I’m a fan of both CRVs and Suburu Foresters, though I have to agree that if you’re buying a used vehicle, the Honda is more likely to be reliable in the long term. I think it’s because Suburu owners drive theirs until they reach their maintenance cash flow limit, which means the vehicles are money pits, while CRV owners are more likely to trade in to get something newer even if the car is fine. We currently have 2 CRVs and an Odyssey, though, so it’s been a while since I’ve owned a Suburu.

  77. 77
    GregB says:

    Ali Velshis just laid the truth down on Trump and the kleptocrats in Saudi Arabia.

    He said, noting that he is a Muslim, that Donald Trump has a perverted view of Islam and that no one is more responsible for that perverted interpretation than the government of Saudi Arabia.

  78. 78
    ThresherK says:

    Congratulations. It seems like a good, sensible fit for your needs.

    PS Anyone else tired of silver on cars? It seems like 40% of the cars in a parking lot are silver.

  79. 79
    Calouste says:


    just wondering how some people get a drivers license.

    They bought a pack of cereal.

    That’s roughly how hard an American driver license test is compared to a European one (did them both).

  80. 80
    MoxieM says:

    Congrats. And if your back hurts after awhile, I highly recommend spending the dough on a McCarty’s SacroEase–the expensive one. Next to putting in a custom seat, it’s like having a rebuilt back-supporting seat. Excellent for long drives.

  81. 81
    Another Scott says:

    @Ruckus: :-) Fortunately, it only happens when I’m driving, and it’s been sunny on those occasions!


  82. 82
    bl says:

    Woke up to barking dogs. There was a lost dog wandering in my yard. He reminds me of Walter (but cared for). He looks like an old black lab mix that isnt walking well. He has an electric fence collar but no tags or other collar. I tried to walk him around the neighborhood to see if he would head home, but we didnt get far.

    Not sure what to do next. Put a notice out on the local neighborhood bulletin, but that isnt well used.

  83. 83
    CaseyL says:

    Hondas are wonderful! Hope you have many good and uneventful travels in yours.

  84. 84
    MoxieM says:

    @Calouste: True! Daughter missed the window where she could have transferred her US licence to a DE one. Now she regrets it, big time, since she’ll have to go through a German driver’s test. She has no idea how to change a flat tire! (But neither owns nor needs a car anyway, so, hey — real public transit, hip hip, hooray!)

  85. 85
    Barbara says:

    @JPL: Anthony Weiner is a case study in the effects of unexamined privilege. He is a man who is politically liberal but existentially uncomfortable being married to a successful woman. I read the profile of them in the NYT (which I later understood had definitely not been her idea) but there was something pathetic about them, both thinking that what Anthony needed was political office big enough to make him feel important. Seriously, if you are a married man and find yourself needing to send nude pictures of yourself to other women something is wrong with you and you need therapy to understand why your ego appears to need limitless validation.

  86. 86
    NotMax says:


    You prefer maybe turquoise?


    “It’s not silver, it’s gunpowder gray.”

  87. 87
    BellyCat says:

    @Tom Levenson:Peace of mind with AAA? Nyet….

    Was a loyal AAA member for 19 years. Broke down once in a very dangerous spot (busy urban highway with 3′ shoulder in the dark, pouring cats and dogs). Left side of car hanging out a couple feet into the road, around a curve. State police came and lit flares, then ran to their car rather than wait for tow truck saying, “I’ll get killed if I wait here!”

    Frantic calls to AAA for a tow truck. TWO FUCKING HOURS WAITING with beads of sweat on our foreheads waiting to get rear-ended. AAA kept saying a tow vehicle would be there shortly.

    Finally called the state police asking them what to do. They said “Oh, no problem. We’ll have a tow truck there in five minutes”. And they did.

    So, done with AAA FOR-EVAH, assholes….

    If you are ever in a tight spot and need road service, just call the state police and they will help you out WAAAAAAAY faster than AAA will!

  88. 88
    jeffreyw says:

    I never try to reason my way into a purchase because that’s more work than I care for being in the retired old fart stage of my life. I’m looking at a nice 2014 F-150 super crew with less that 5000 miles on it.

  89. 89
    Barbara says:

    @GregB: Yeah, that sounds about right. Do you have a link?

  90. 90
    Barbara says:

    @bl: Our local veterinarians and animal hospitals keep lists of lost and missing dogs. Local shelters sometimes do as well, since they end up with many missing animals and it’s always a bonus when they can reconnect one with an owner.

  91. 91
    Yutsano says:

    @swiftfox: I just bought a 2016 Passat and oh wow what an upgrade from my 2011 Malibu. I don’t know what they put in those engines but it is by far the most fuel efficient car I have ever owned.

  92. 92
    Another Scott says:

    @bl: You could try taking him to a vet to see if he’s “chipped”. You might get lucky.

    Good luck!


  93. 93
    Ruckus says:

    It doesn’t matter how you fix it, it’s the shear number of vehicles being fixed. And in fact if bodywork had to be pounded out it would be even more expensive as reasonable body work takes a lot of labor. Most of the stuff I see is remove/replace with paint matching. What we used to call fender benders. Now they are fascia crunchers. One thing that is really telling is to see different brands of cars with the plastic removed. There really are very few different ways to engineer in crash protection. Take off the badges and plastic and cars tend to look all the same, from an engineering point of view.

  94. 94
    ribber says:

    I have a 2010 Pilot with only 29K on it, it’s the second car, not daily.
    One of the weird wonders of Hondas these days is the manual not giving you a mileage increment for service but waiting for the sensor to tell you the oil is bad. I’ve never had the sensor get there before I think, yeah, it’s been a year I’m taking this in now.

  95. 95
    Dan Garfinkel says:

    Good choice, brotha. I’ve owned a few Hondas and they’ve all been pretty much bullet proof. My Pilot is a 2005 and has 150,000 miles on it. I use to haul stuff and as my winter beater. It’s only ever needed routine maintenance. You’ll love the CRV.

  96. 96
    wormtown says:

    good to know. I bought my first one about 2 1/2 years ago. It is a Cross-trek; and looked at it largely because Mr. Cole recommended it when he was looking for the one he just ditched :). I am happy with it. The Cross-treks seem to be very popular around hear (central MA).

  97. 97
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @BellyCat: How much did that tow cost you?

  98. 98
    OGLiberal says:

    Upgraded from a Civic to a CRV to a Pilot as the family grew and had very good luck (knock wood) with all three. I will say that I don’t like the new look CRVs and Pilots. Our CRV and current Pilot were more boxy. It looks like the newer models are actually smaller but it could be they designed them so that you still have the same interior space. Anyway, from my experience, quality vehicles.

  99. 99
    NotMax says:


    Way back when (in the days before latching or locking gas caps were standard). an acquaintance of a group of us was gushing about his new car.

    For the first month he owned it, we’d sneak over in the dead of night and top off his gas tank.

    Second month, would siphon out more than half of the gas.

    He went back to the dealer to complain that he was getting 80 mpg and it all of a sudden dropped down to about 10. Much laughter at the shop ensued.

  100. 100
    Barbara says:

    @NotMax: When we were buying a Volkswagen Passat I wanted the Renaissance Green version just because I liked the name of the color. Alas, it was on back order so we settled for Shimmering Midnight or whatever deep blue with the special shimmery finish was called.

  101. 101
    Ruckus says:

    Yes I know.
    When I took my motorcycle endorsement many, many decades ago my friends said I should borrow a very small motorcycle as the test would be very hard. I replied, “It’s the DMV, their job is to make the tests passable, not impossible to pass.” I was quite right, it was easy peasy. When it was over the inspector told me to ride around the block and if I came back alive he’d hand me the paperwork.

  102. 102
    cain says:

    Grr.. how dare you leave our cult, sir! HOW DARE YOU! Actually, the subaru I have is the first I’ve ever had. I kind of wish I got a newer model though. I bought it because it was built in my home town of Lafayette, IN. There was something poetic about buying the ‘official car of the northwest’ built in in Lafayette, IN.

  103. 103
    BellyCat says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: About $35.

    Far less than my and my wife’s life.

    Net savings given no AAA annual membership dues for 15 years. And no need for printed maps these days!

  104. 104
    BellyCat says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Also, net savings is in the hundreds now since I swore off AAA annual dues about 15 years ago.

  105. 105
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @GregB: Fucking Wahhabi. Do for Islam what Jerry Falwell Jr., Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham et al do for Christianity.

  106. 106
    NotMax says:


    Knew someone back in the 70s who owned a Civic (roughly when Honda began seriously importing cars here). At that time, the Civic was about the size of a riding mower.

    Same thing for some of the first Subarus brought to the U.S. There was a model so tiny that the tail lights were mounted up at the roofline.

  107. 107
    ThresherK says:

    @NotMax: I would prefer turquoise. And I am aware of what looks good for paintjobs: The smaller the vehicle, the more suited it is to a very bright color (with a few exceptions). That’s why the number of purplish and green/aqua cars in the ’90s were largely concentrated on smaller vehicles.

    My idea of a “used car” starts at about 100k, which is one reason the two cars in my home are black and silver. (The silver one was my Dad’s bought new, so that’s a no-question well-maintained rig.)

    I guess I’d like people to stop buying so many silver cars so I don’t have to buy another used silver car for the rest of my life.

  108. 108
    JMG says:

    One caveat about the CRV, or at least the 2013. There’s a big blind spot for the driver on the right rear.

  109. 109
    NotMax says:


    Sounds attractive.

    As it’s German, just don’t refer to it as Frau Blue Car (unless you like the sound of horses whinnying.)

    /strained Young Frankenstein reference


  110. 110
    Ruckus says:

    Mfg have been changing the concepts of how to get fuel into the cylinder, to further reduce emissions and for better economy. And it’s been working. Direct injection is much more efficient. Better designed/built injectors. Smaller engines and turbo charging. Working all of this out, experience, trial and error, takes time. But that’s why cars are getting better. Engineering experience.

  111. 111
    The Moar You Know says:

    Only issue with our CRV we ever ran into was when my wife got rear-ended in hers (driver was going approx 40mph, wife was stopped) was that in addition to the body damage, the air conditioning compressor broke.

    This is fatal to a Honda’s AC system, it sends pieces of the compressor all through the system. Very common in collisions with Hondas.

    So if you do get hit, claim your AC doesn’t work anymore, otherwise the insurer (USAA in this case) will not pay for it. We didn’t know about this or figure out the thing was broken until several weeks after getting it back from repair. It’s a 4-5k repair here in CA. And where we live, a car with AC is not optional. We ended up donating it. Only had 140k miles on it. Went for ten years and easily would have gone for ten more.

    Wife was OK and we indulged her midlife crisis by getting her a BRZ as a replacement. Very impractical car. VERY fun.

    Also the battery on the CRV is too small and you’ll end up replacing it every 2-3 years. No other issues. I’m thinking about getting a new one for myself.

  112. 112

    Are you getting married soon? Because both the house and the car seem too much for one person. In any case, don’t forget to invite us. Congrats!

    ETA: I is in your blog, being nosy.

  113. 113
    NotMax says:


    (Just for fun.) Too.. Much. Pink.

  114. 114
    hovercraft says:

    It seems to soon for that, but then again sometimes you just know. On the other hand it’s not just him, he has his menagerie with him in that fixer upper, so really it’s just the right size. Now if only he could train his housemates to clean he’d be all set. Oh and to stop trying to show him just how creative they can be with shit.

  115. 115
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @BellyCat: Wow. The only time I ever got my truck towed by the cops (totaled by a hit and run driver while I was out of town) it cost me about $500 and the title of my truck just to retrieve my tools from it (to the yard it was towed to)(complete scams those Csuckers) And yeah, cheap at 17 times the price from that location. My brother called me once in a similar situation. When I saw where he was located, the first thing I said was, “Let’s get you and your car the fuck out of here.”

    ETA never had to wait more than a half hour for AAA, and out here no tow is cheap, except for the free ones we get from AAA.

  116. 116
    Ruckus says:

    Back in 1997 I bought a BMW. It had a reminder for each 10,000 mile service. With the synthetic oil they used for service that’s all that’s needed. Modern semi synthetic/full synthetic oils are far superior to what we had not all that many years ago and do not require a change as often. Also mfg tolerances have been able to be tightened up a lot because of modern mfg methods and so not nearly as much fuel passes the rings and you get better mileage, fewer emissions, and much better oil life than decades ago. Also you get more power and efficiency so a smaller engine does the same work.
    And in regards to engine oil changes, semi trucks have far longer service intervals than your car. Upwards of 50,000 miles. In a big diesel truck that routinely hauls 80,000 lbs around. Those oil change companies that advertise you need to change your oil/filter every 3000 miles are bullshitting you.

  117. 117

    @hovercraft: We got to know of it a few months ago, but the relationship may be older than that!

    ETA: I am so not a Vaishnav (Vishnu’s person/God’s person) as described by Narsi Mehta because I love to gossip and call people names, when they deserve it.

    — I is in your blog, several notches below sainthood.

  118. 118
    SWMBO says:

    @bl: Call the local vets offices. Ask if they know the dog or if someone has called looking for one. Call animal control and ask. My daughter found a dog wandering in traffic (6 lanes of surface street but still too busy to leave him) and she finally dropped him off at animal control with the provision that she would come and get him if no one claimed him. They called her at work that afternoon and said the owner picked him up. You don’t have to drop him off anywhere but you can leave your number so the owner can contact you.

  119. 119
    Jager says:

    The electronics in new cars are the reason they are efficient, power, gas mileage, etc. OTH I read an article in Hemming’s Motor News written by a classic car restoration guy that it will be impossible in the future to restore a BMW 7 Series because of the electronics or a Honda CRV for that matter. The new Benz S Class has over 300 electronic servo motors all operated by the car’s computer adjusting everything from the seats to the shock absorbers, not to mention the fuel injection, transmission…

  120. 120
    Ruckus says:

    Electronics is not the only reason but it is a big one for sure.

  121. 121
    JeanneT says:

    I want to put in a plug for using Better World Auto Club for roadside service. They provide great service (in my experience), are competitive in price with AAA, and unlike AAA supports bike lanes, mass transit, emissions controls and other good environmental transportation efforts. They give a discount to hybrid vehicles (and surcharge the worst 10 gas guzzlers). They also have bike road service, with nationwide coverage and do not require you to have a car membership to get bike coverage. If you haven’t before, check them out.

  122. 122
    Origuy says:

    I had a 2001 CR-V. I got over 200000 miles on it and drove it on mountain roads, dirt roads, pulling a trailer, with very few problems. Until I had a hose leak that lead to an engine over heat. I had to get the engine overhauled and a new transmission. It was never the same after that. The overheat damaged the transmission filter, which should have been replaced at that time. Since it wasn’t, the transmission failed. I got a 2011 Fir that now has 165000 miles on it and runs great.

  123. 123

    Good looking car.

  124. 124

    Cute little station wagon. (Yes, it’s a station wagon. “Crossover” is PC for folks who don’t want to admit they’re driving a 21st century version of the old reliable family wagon. The test: Four doors, tailgate, roof rack, less than six feet tall.)

    Every time I drove it, I was thinking “Is it going to break down? Can I plan a long trip?”

    I get that every time I drive my 1988 Pontiac 6000 Safari with 265K miles on it. But it made it to Ocala and back (600+ miles) without so much as a burp.

  125. 125
    Origuy says:

    @Origuy: Fit, not Fir. I’m not driving around in a tree.

  126. 126
    Captain Goto says:

    Congrats, John. Good choice, for all the reasons already given.

    I had a 2008 Civic EX, 5-speed. 187,000 miles, almost NO problems until maybe the last couple years–had just got past a raft of repairs and was hoping to keep it another 2 years…and then a 4-point buck confronted me about two months ago at about 11:30PM. Broken window (which he did with his rack AFTER he bounced off the fender!), mashed fender and hood, driver-side headlight pointing nearly straight up. >:-(
    But I drove it home.

    Off to the body shop the next morning…$4500 damage, retail value of the car = $5200. I was REALLY pissed because the body shop was airily assuring me “oh, they won’t total it.”

    After a few phone calls I lined up a brand-new 2017 Civic LX. Lower trim level than before (no sunroof, no alloy wheels) but now with SIX speeds, and all around a much better piece of iron (nine years of tech upgrades will do that). Back into payments again, but (hopefully) out of the almost-constant cycle of repairs.

    Shorter Captain: Hondas are da shizzle. I think you’ll be happy.

  127. 127
    Jager says:


    A gearhead friend of mine has a new Challenger Hellcat. It can burn a gallon and half of gas a minute at full throttle and it will get 24-25 mpg on the highway at 70. The “Performance Pages” on the dashboard computer are amazing…hell of a performance car for the money (70k) can’t buy anything close to it for less than 150k or more. Driving it is a religious experience…you can’t stop muttering Jesus Christ!

  128. 128
    Different John says:

    When deciding on any consumer item purchase, especially really expensive ones like a car, the smart financial decision is to compare its cost with how much cash you have on hand. If the cost is more than you have, then don’t buy it. That’s just the basic level of financial smarts. A better decision would be to compare its cost to about 1/4-1/2 of the cash on hand. That way if it gets totaled soon after buying it, you would still have cash available to replace it. Another bad financial practice is buying things you are not comfortable replacing without also buying insurance.

    Maybe this seems extreme, but buying stuff on credit is never a good financial decision. If you have the cash available, and you can take on a loan which costs less than you can earn with the cash, that is the only smart reason to accept a loan obligation. And factor in the insurance cost because the loan company will require it.

  129. 129
    lurker dean says:

    @Jager: 707hp, religious experience indeed. pretty amazing what they can do with computers so that it gets 24-25mpg hwy. that’s what my 10 year old 4 cylinder gets.

  130. 130
    Mnemosyne says:


    If her kids are coming down to spend spring breaks with JGC, I think it’s been going on for a while and he just didn’t tell us until it was solid. ABC seems like too sensible a person to start introducing her children to new boyfriends on a whim.

  131. 131
    Brachiator says:

    Seems like you made a good deal on a good vehicle.

    Enjoy the ride.

  132. 132

    John Cole,

    2002 Forester with ~160,000 miles on the clock. Indeed, around 120k it required a host of repairs (engine mounts, half-shafts, timing belt) and all of these were cumulatively expensive. However, my independent mechanic told me that once these repairs were done, I was good for another 120k at minimum. Plus, several times he told me that Subaru was not happy with the life of some parts, (engine mounts, half-shafts) and that they provided heavy-duty replacements for free. Indeed, I was not charged for those parts, only labor.

    The only oddball repair was the “clockspring” inside the steering wheel that provides the connection for the airbag and cruise control. Here, the mechanic (who owns an Outback with over 250k on the clock) told me it was bad luck and not a problem with Subarus in general.

    It is garage-kept, looks great and still drives and handles like a dream. Plus, that remarkable engine does not burn oil, is all torque and smooth as silk for a 4 (Note, I have rebuilt several Honda engines in the past). The auto tranny still works perfectly. As an aside, it still has the original starter, exhaust, alternator, radiator, etc. No car I have ever owned including Toyota, Mazda and Suzuki can hold a candle to this longevity.

    All things considered, how could I possible change brands at this point in time, especially when Subaru is one of the only automakers, if not the only to build all of its vehicles in Japan?

    The bottom line is that I suspect that your choice of mechanic is the issue.

  133. 133
    Ruckus says:

    Horsepower wars are always entertaining. Stupid, and useless as well but then we are humans. It’s that efficiency that is doing the work around town and at the drag strip.
    But I’m really not a fan of HP wars, because while the cars are much, much better than the last time we did this, vehicles with lots of HP are still just massive excess for every day use. Enough to get on the freeway is fine and necessary, enough to drive like Jeremie Clarkson just makes more Jeremie Clarksons. And we don’t need that at all.

  134. 134
    JKC says:

    @Theodore Wirth: I used to work with a woman who had an Outback of the dame vintage as John’s. From her description, it was right up there with my old Passat as a maintenance nightmare. Ditching the car was the right thing for John to do.

    John, I hope you didn’t get hosed too badly on trading the Subie (if that’s what you did.) May the CR-V give you many trouble-free miles.

  135. 135
    Ruckus says:

    @Different John:
    Some of this changes with zero % financing, keeping in mind that you’ll get maybe 1% interest at best at a bank, unless you have way more than enough cash to buy a regular car.
    Credit cards on the other hand are the devils doing. I’m offered cards with the rate at 24% every day. Yeah doing that……..not. Getting to the point of living with no credit cards is tough but it can be done. And once you are there the only problems are things like renting a car. They want to put a hold on your money that covers their deductible on their insurance. Can’t do that with some debit cards.

  136. 136
    Aleta says:

    Other thing saved is the time that repairs take out out of your life. Someone once told me the monthly car payment doesn’t go away once it’s paid off, it just goes to the repairs, less often but bigger chunks. Depends on the car and luck of course.

  137. 137
    glory b says:

    @BellyCat: “Advice not applicable to African Americans.”

  138. 138
    Jager says:


    Had an interesting airplane ride last year, sat next to an automotive engineer. He said the goal is to increase efficiency, the utilization of the maximum amount of energy from what ever fuel source, gasoline, electric, whatever. He also talked about multi-stage tuning via computer. Tuning an engine to produce maximum efficiency at any rpm. He mentioned tuning a Cummings diesel in 250 rpm steps and getting it to run so clean it didn’t need any smog gear or catalytic converter. He said it’s coming as soon as they can get the cost down. He also said the old muscle cars burned about 25% of the energy in a gallon of fuel. He mentioned driving a restored Mustang 350 GT, said he couldn’t understand how the hell we could drive cars like that. Made a long flight short and interesting.

  139. 139
    les says:


    One caveat about the CRV, or at least the 2013. There’s a big blind spot for the driver on the right rear.

    Car Talk taught me how to deal with that: when you set side mirrors, lean as far to the right/left as you can and move the mirror out there. Adjust if needed so when a following car moves out of the rear view, it moves into the side. Followers are in the mirrors until they’re in the driver/passenger side windows, pretty much peripheral vision.

  140. 140
    Aleta says:

    I gave away my 1991 Civic wagon to my cousin at 90,000 mi in 2007 and it’s still going great for him. He commutes in it and then loans it to his son in law who delivers pizzas almost every night.

    On the other hand, I’m another one whose life or at least body parts were saved in a Forester, and two or three times its braking system has saved me too. It also seems very stable in recovering itself. There are even special cup holders for the packages of kool aid that I find in the glove compartment after every oil change.

  141. 141

    @Mnemosyne: That’s what I concluded too. Did you get my email. I replied to the one you sent, last night.

  142. 142
    Mohagan says:

    @John Cole: Wow – you got a great deal. Congrats! Welcome to the Cult of Honda.

  143. 143
    TenguPhule says:

    @Viva BrisVegas: No, Balloon Juice is Cole’s penance for being a lifelong Republican. We must witness his suffering and tribulations for the Universe as he works off his karmic debt.

  144. 144
    Raoul says:

    @MomSense: I guess I am still in the Subaru cult, too. I bought a ’98 Forester with 19K miles on it, and drove it for seven years to 146K. Yes, it needed a major overhaul at about 105K (cheap-ass thermostat broke and overheated the engine), but if you amortize the OH over 40K miles, it was like 5 cents/mi net. At 146K, like Cole says “you start having fuckery in things like the sensors and the electronics” and I dumped it.

    I bought a Volvo, and while I did get 8 years of very comfortable and safe driving (got rear ended by a 6,000 lb giant-ass Ford Expedition doing 35mph at impact, and I was fine), it developed “fuckery” in the electronic transmission and stranded me. Gone within weeks.

    Now in year three of owning a ’15 Outback, and dreaming of at some point giving it to my partner (who has a 2000 Corolla) and buying a Crosstrek. I’m just waiting for Subaru to come out with a more robust Hybrid for it. Which, if it doesn’t happen, well the Corolla still gets over 30 mpg despite its advanced age. I don’t feel super safe in it tho. Probably would need lifetime weekly chiropractic for my neck if that Ford had hit me in the Corolla (or worse…)

    All that rambling said, JC, I think a CRV is a fine car for you. Enjoy!

  145. 145
    Raoul says:

    ETA, I haven’t been tracking much, since I have a late-model Subie. Didn’t realize they axed the ’17 Hybrid. Rumor is a plugin-Hybrid is in the works for the US for 2018. Knowing me, I’ll wait for model year before moving on that. So … 2019 (which means some time in ’18 given the near-meaningless of model years now).

  146. 146
    J R in WV says:


    We have a VW Tiguan and are satisfied with it. It is not intended for off road mountain climbing, but does really well in snow with winter tires (Bllizzak is what we have used for years).

    We do not get good fuel mileage with it, but I tend to drive it floored in the lower gears. We had a WV Jetta TDI that suddenly when it approached 150K miles began dropping into safe mode, cutting out the turbo, and loosing 60% of assumed horsepower. It was dangerous to drive when that happened as you couldn’t maintain speed with other vehicles.

    We sold it to a guy who planned to experiment with biodiesel, who I assumed was prepared to twist wrenches a lot anyway. The dealer replaced the ECM, worked on possible air leaks in the intake, replaced sensors, wiring harnesses, etc. Cut us a deal on the cost, as it didn’t fix whatever was wrong. We did buy another Jetta TDI, all this was long before the cheating happened as far as we know.

  147. 147
    Pete Mack says:

    A station wagon is a bit much car for a family of one or two people. CRV is a fine car, I’m just too tall–unless the interior has changed a lot–to sit in it. (If you can’t sit up straight and clear the ceiling, the car is too small.) It also helps to be skinny to drive one–the seats are pretty narrow.

    The bottom line is if you need to buy it on time, the car is too expensive, especially when you add in the mandatory collision insurance.

  148. 148
    Paul in NC says:

    Sounds like a lot of rationalization. Just kidding. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a Honda with 4k or even 40k. It’ll go 300k if you change the oil. More or as reliable as any other make on the road. They’re not fancy or sexy but they start and go every time. Subarus are OK but maintenance costs are high because the box 4 engine is situated in such a way that you can’t access anything without practically tearing out the engine. Throw in all wheel drive and every problem becomes a major problem. They’re a pain in the ass to work on. Sounds like the one you had was that 1% quality control failure. Once you start having electrical or electronic or sensor problems, it never ends, regardless of make. Good luck. Change the oil.

  149. 149
    Another Scott says:

    @Jager: A neighbor down the street has a beater mid-60s Corvette with a 427. It’s a beast, but you can smell the unburned gas in the exhaust when he drives by. It’s hugely inefficient (and is actually tuned pretty well for such a dinosaur of an engine).

    Variable valve timing, electronic ignition, direct fuel injection, tighter tolerances, better engine alloys, etc., etc., it’s all made a huge difference in efficiency.

    But it’s not enough.

    Fossil-fuel engines are on their way out, and not soon enough in my opinion. Toyota states the obvious:

    Climate change and extreme weather events caused by greenhouse gases, and atmospheric pollution caused by exhaust gases have become a threat to everyday life. At the same time, reserves of petroleum, which is the main energy source for vehicles, are not inexhaustible.

    I’ve got a 2004 Jetta TDI wagon. I hope there’s something similar (size, carrying-capacity) that’s mostly electric (plug-in hybrid if not fully-electric) by the time I have to replace it.


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