To buy or not to buy

I live in Vermont and I drive about 100 mile a day to and from my college monday-friday in the school year. I am currently driving a 2000 Nissan Xterra with 131,000 miles on it and have about 2 years until it is paid off still making payments on this car but I have been wondering if I should find something with better gas mileage. I need to move a lot of stuff often so I have been looking at a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT with 95000 miles on it. I like it for the space and the MPG’s. I have started to have some problems with my Xterra and am wondering if it might be on its way out. I know Subaru’s have the reputation for lasting a long time with a lot of miles. Is it wise for me to change over, will the Nissan keep going if I continue to drive it this hard, is it smart to start a new lone, will the Subaru be the better choice, will scarlet end up with Ricardo? Find out next time on… sorry got carried away. I do know that as a Vermonter it is in a contract some place that I need to own a Subaru at some point while I live here. It is looking like if I get the new car my payments could be lower. I really need your help to help me make this decision.

How many MPGs do you get in the Xterra? Subarus don’t get great mileage and aren’t that cheap to own, things go wrong with the head gasket, all wheel drive system, etc.

Except for gas, I’d bet the Xterra costs less to keep on the road for 250,000 miles compared to the Subaru. Just a guess though.

Look for some previous discussions about what to look for in buying a used Subaru. Its reliability is very much dependent on how well the owner adhered to Subaru’s maintenance schedule and guidelines, especially with relation to tire maintenance.

That said, this Subaru is due for a timing belt in 10K miles, about a $500-$700 job. Factor that into your calculations. Our 2003 Legacy consistently gets about 24 mpg in 85% highway driving. You should expect the same or similar.

Here is a little more math to consider. You stand to save $1000 per year on gas alone (17 mpg avg vs 23 mpg avg; 24K miles per year driven). However, you only have two more years to pay off the XTerra completely. Your XTerra will have approx 180K miles on it at that time. What will be your payment/purchase plan for the Subaru? Do those costs offset the $1000 annual gas savings?

One last comment, if you have the V6 engine, then you are overdue for a timing belt change, too (105K miles).

I would get a Toyota …spent 30 yrs in Vt and never got subarized. Toyota will last just as long, perhaps longer than a subaru. Mine went over 10 years before trading them in and paid for maintenance only.

it gets about 16-18 on a good day

This might make sense if you had no payments on the Xterra, but I’d say get it paid off and save up some money before you think about replacing it.

I agree with the other posters. Since you’re so close to the end of the payment race, you’d be far better off paying off the Xterra, despite the higher gas consumption.

Also don’t fall into the trap of lower monthly payments=less money out of your pocket. Look at the big picture, including total money paid on the loan (including interest) and assumed gas expense for the same loan period. If you exclude the money you’ve already paid on the Xterra (sunk cost), I can almost guarantee you’ll come out better keeping the Xterra.

Good luck.