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New Car or Ride current one into ground?

Hey everyone,

I’m a bit torn between the decision of buying a 2016 Ford Focus ($14,100, 0% APR for 5 years) or continue to drive my 2000 Saturn SC1 with 214,000 miles.

I recently put about $500 into my Saturn - new rear brakes, some other minor repairs. This car should run many more years. BUT, the interior is in rough shape. The windows don’t work, the ceiling cloth is falling down, and some other things. I do a lot of commuting for work so I spend a lot of time in this car. On one hand, I’d like to run this car into the ground, put all the miles I can on it until it literally falls apart (could last another 100 - 200k from reviews I’ve read). However, it’s not very comfortable for a tall guy like me.

The new car is appealing because, well, everything is new, and comfortable. Working windows, etc. Would cost me about $260/month to finance, plus an additional $35/month in better insurance.

Ford is having a good sale at the moment - hence the good deal. Do I wait and keep driving my Saturn, or take advantage of this good sale and make the plunge into a new car?

Thoughts?? Thanks in advance!

You have an old car that is uncomfortable, needs work and you need to depend on it for commuting. I can’t believe you are even asking.
Who ever wrote the review that states you can get another 100000 to 200000 miles out of this thing sell it to them.

I don’t see your Saturn providing you years and years of trouble-free service. That’s possible of course, but more likely you’ll experience many problems over the next 150 K miles, all of which will likely be fixable, but may cost you some $$$ and more importantly – your personal time, and no car to drive – to address. I’m thinking the Ford Focus at $14 K might be a great deal, just what you need. Suggest before writing any checks to read up on what Consumer Reports says about that car. There’s been some reports here that the dual-clutch automatic transmission has been problematic. B/c of that, if you buy a Focus, I’d recommend a manual transmission version of the Ford Focus.

Buy the Focus. Life is too short to drive crummy cars.

I agree the saturn miles are a liabilty at this point. Care free driving and comfort probably not a bad option.

You’re on borrowed time with the Saturn.
Is reliability important to you? Comfort? If the answer to either of those is yes, and your budget can do it, go for the Focus. It might not be my choice, but it seems to be the one you like and it’s time. You’re extremely lucky to have gotten as far as you have with the Saturn.

It’s been a good ride but like the others I agree it looks like it’s time to move on. If you had a backup car and were able to make needed repairs yourself you might be able to keep that Saturn running indefinitely but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Saturns are not unusually reliable cars. Don’t know why anybody would claim 300-400k miles as reasonable - that’s a joke. I’d move on.

It sounds to me like you have already run it into the ground. My Riviera had 530K when I got rid of it for stalling but looking back on my records, I would have been better off dumping it at 300K. But that was with the V6 and fairly substantial car. They rarely go until they literally fall apart but rather its a long list of things that get fixed every month or so and seldom a big dollar decision. Looking backwards though, you see the picture.

In other words, time to trade.

I agree with the others; it’s time to move on. But I would move on to something other than a Focus. A Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Kia Forte, Honda Civic, or Toyota Corolla would be my choice. That couple of thousand dollars you save up front by buying the Focus will be spent several times over the lifetime of this car. You can begin by pricing out an engine air cleaner for this car; you have to buy a whole assembly. The transmission is troublesome and electronics less than robust.

Happy shopping!

Add this as another vote to move on.

I would be willing to bet that if your car were carefully gone over a number of faults could be found. This would mean that you should move on to another car.

Just some food for thought here. Since the car owes you nothing and it’s likely paid off and IF you have a place to park it then why not keep it for a backup? Keep insurance at a minimum liability or less if you can something out with your insurance agent.

It could come in handy now and then on random errands and save some wear and tear on the new ride.
As a trade-in the dealer is not going to give you anything anyway other than a scrap metal price.
They will play a numbers game on paper to make it appear they’re giving you more but that’s all smoke and mirrors. Just a suggestion. :smiley:

If your budget can handle a $300 monthly payment for the years of the loan, then make the deal. If the payment is a budget challenge then keep the Saturn and put $300 a month into savings for the down payment on your next new car.

Saturns are not unusually reliable cars. Don't know why anybody would claim 300-400k miles as reasonable

I have personal knowledge of many Saturn SC1’s and SC2’s that have gone well over 300,000 miles with manual and auto transmissions with little service other than maintenance. Two in the same household were replaced at nearly 400,000 miles because they were in accidents.

That said, I’d agree with the rest here. I wouldn’t put up with the headliner or windows on a long daily commute and dependability is a crap-shoot at this point.

How adventuresome are you? Maybe drive it until it breaks something and then junk it.

“If your budget can handle a $300 monthly payment for the years of the loan, then make the deal. If the payment is a budget challenge then keep the Saturn and put $300 a month into savings for the down payment on your next new car.”

I read that @snowlip7 mentions 5 years worth of payments. He/she doesn’t mention a down payment amount or payment size. Also, the amount of time that this Saturn was owned and driven was not mentioned.

I believe that car payments are backwards thinking, “buying” something and using it and then paying for it, is not wise budgeting or a way to get ahead. I really don’t understand how it has become so common with car purchases. I, like many others here, save for vehicles and then pay cash.

@snowlip7 should have (hopefully) been setting aside money for the inevitable replacement of the Saturn or at least amassed a very large down payment.

So, if @snowlip7 must make long term payments then he/she cannot afford a new car at this time and should drive this vehicle long enough to do some serious saving.

When a new car can be afforded then that’s the time to buy it and also a time to start saving for the next vehicle.

Many (most?) people don’t pay cash for a new car. I’d say a new Focus for $14,100 and 5 years at 0% interest is the next best thing.

No more than savings accounts are paying in interest waiting to pay cash for a vehicle if you need one now makes 0% look good.
Besides new at 14000 is a lot better than 14000 on an unknown used.

For every repair your Saturn needs, you can deduct the repair cost from the new car. You can fix everything but it won’t be worth one cent more. Buy the new car and sell the Saturn for whatever you can get for it. You got your money’s worth out of this ride.

I understand why some people like to save for a car and pay cash but you just have to do the math. If you had the cash and its properly invested (not in bank CDs), you likely can approach or exceed 5% earnings. Not every year but overall. So 5% earnings on 14,000 would earn an extra $700 before tax in just the first year by taking a low interest loan and making payments, rather than using all your cash to pay it off. So its really not that bad.

Now if you don’t have the money, the main danger is in using the car up before its paid for and going in the hole that way. But throwing money away on a piece of equipment that needs to be replaced is a loser too.

Is the OP considering the likelihood of his aged Saturn, at some point…
…making him late for work or causing him to miss work…
…stranding him in an inconvenient, or unsafe place…
…possibly causing an accident as a result of mechanical failure…?

My personal view is that nobody who has a responsible job can afford to rely on a car that is no longer in prime condition.