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Upgrading Used Cars

My 2003 Subaru Forester has 65,000 miles on it. What if I were to sell it for $10,000 and then find a 2006 Forester with let’s say 35,000 miles for $16,000. Do you think it would be worth it to pay $6000 to “upgrade” to a 3 year newer car with 30,000 less miles?

I would rather put money into the one you have - is it in good shape? Have you changed the coolant regularly, with the Subaru coolant? How long have you owned it? it is of the age that had head gasket problems - has yours?

Yeah the car is in good shape with maintenance performed regularly. I’ve owned the car for 6 years and haven’t had any head gasket problems. I think the head gasket problems were of the previous generation Foresters. The 2003 model was a big change.

If you are that worried about head gasket problems and are willing to spend $6k to avoid them, maybe you should consider a different make in your next car. Otherwise, put that $6k into upgrading your home instead.

I wouldn’t take on extra depreciation and other costs just to avoid a problem that doesn’t exist. You could easily spend $6,000 and end up with a less reliable car if the one you get has bugs that haven’t been worked out.

Put $6000 In A Replacement Car Savings Account.

I always pay cash for cars and have no payments, but I do allocate a certain amount of money per month that goes into the Replacement Car Savings Account. That’s where I’d park the $6000. I pay enough in there to cover maintainence as well. Car insurance has its own account with monthly contributions.

Keep saving and drive what you have and keep it well maintained. When the time comes for a replacement, you’ll have the money.

My account is on a three-year / six-year plan. I’m buying a car every three years, one either for my wife or me. That means we drive the cars for six years. The replaced cars trickle down to my kids to drive.

You seem to be concerned about the miles / age of your vehicle. This idea should help with a little peace of mind.


I agree with CSA. As long as you still like your Subaru, keep it. Where else can you find a low mileage Subaru of any year that is as well maintained as yours is?

The Consumer Reports info indicates the engine problems continued through the 2004 model year. That said, I’d still keep it.

Projecting your 35,000 miles usage gained for $6000 would result in a total cost of $25,714 if you bought the car new and assuming that the car would reasonably last 150,000 miles; possibly more without major repairs. A new Subaru Forester according to the first price that I found on the Internet was about $20,500 making the numbers that you state less than a good deal. In addition, since you are not buying new, you will not get to enjoy the “New Car Experience”.

IMHO it’s always a bad idea to trade a car known to be reliable and in good shape with another used car of which you really don’t know the history…despite what the salesman and Carfax may claim. You’re trading a “known good” for an “unknown”. Always risky.

Beyond that, the economics of your proposal don’t make sense. There’s rsik without any savings.

keep the Subie. If and when it begins to show signs of questionable reliability, you can address the issue at that time. It may be years from now.

What do you think the ultimate life of the vehicle is? Can you expect it to go to 100,000 miles? 150,000 miles? 200,000 miles?

vehicle… total life… present worth… miles left… owner cost per mile

2003… 100,000… $10,000… 35,000… $.2857
2006… 100,000… $16,000… 65,000… $.2462

2003… 150,000… $10,000… 85,000… $.1167
2006… 150,000… $16,000… 115,000… $.1391

2003… 200,000… $10,000… 135,000… $.0741
2006… 200,000… $16,000… 165,000… $.0969