CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

VW Diesel Bug

My husband has a 2001 VW Diesel Bug that has 185,000 miles on it. He’s kept it in good repair, but it’s getting expensive to replace all the parts it needs. Should he trade it in for a new Honda Insight?

Yup.

Seriously, this is a highly personal decision and the right answer for me may not be the right answer for your husband. It’s generally cheaper to keep an old car runniing than to replace it with a new one, however issues like reliablilty, make and model preference, comfort, lifestyle and even driving environment make a difference. I commute, even in winter weather, so reliability is a critical criterion for me. If this isn’t important to hubby, and he likes he Bug, than his criteria would be different from mine.

There is no single right answer. Talk it over with hubby and you folks decide.

What does you husband think he should do, and why isn’t he asking this question himself?

Take a look at the cost of REPAIRS over the last year and compare that to a year's car payments.  From a economic standpoint alone, it will make more sense to keep it.  

Now about the cost you have had.  Many people end up paying more for repairs and maintenance because the go to the dealer or to another high priced provider.  

Also there are repairs and there is maintenance.  Don't confuse them.  Things like timing belts, oil changes and fuel are all maintenance cost, not repairs.  

In the end it is usually not just about economics, but there is heart.  How do you and your husband feel about the car you have compared to what you might prefer.  Is it worth the difference to you?  Can you afford it?  If so then for you the right decision is to trade.  If not then the right choice is to keep.  If you don't both see it the same way.     Sorry.

Be sure to take an extended test drive in the new Insight, as well as any other model that you are considering.

Based on a limited number of reviews of the Insight that I have read, this car does not sound like a serious competitor to the Toyota Prius. Those two reviews were largely negative regarding how the Insight compares to the Prius, as well as to other economy cars.

After that, he might want to check out a Fusion hybrid…As far as “trading” the VW, dealers will have little interest in it and will offer salvage value for it…Put it on craigslist and sell it yourself…

Is it your car or is it your husband’s car? Would you want him to tell you when to sell your car and what kind of car to buy? I should think not. You should let him keep it as long as he wants to keep it.

Interesting supposition that I was trying to dictate what my husband should do. In fact, the reason I wrote is because I type better and was doing him a favor. That’s what loving spouses do for each other. Try it sometime.

We have both driven a Prius and didn’t like it much at all, although we have several friends and neighbors who have them. That’s our next step, though, to drive the Insight and see what we think of it. It may happen tomorrow. Thanks for the input

You make a really good point about the heart. He LOVES the beetle. It’s yellow and very cute. But he’s afraid that, at some point in the unknown future, he may have a major repair, engine, transmission, etc. that may mean the end and it debating whether or not to wait for that moment. Thanks for your thoughts.

Interesting. You are not the first person to suggest that I am dictating what my husband should do. This, quite honestly, says more about you and your relationships than it does about mine. I type better so offered to do this for him. It was a loving act and he appreciated it.

Thanks. That’s what we’re doing. But it’s helpful to see what others say. The bug is generally very reliable, and he does have a long commute, but he does love his cute little yellow bug. We shall see.

Good on you!
Sometimes we get overly attached to our things and we need a voice of reason to help us see things clearly. As an example, I get attached to my worn out underwear…it drives my wife nuts. I like my “holy” underwear. My wife is an ER Nurse and probably has seen some pretty wrung out britches along the way. She will toss my underwear in the trash when they no longer pass her inspection. When I see them in the trash, I will dig them out and run them back through the laundry…this is a game that we play that keeps our marriage fun. The next time that she sees them, she will cut them to ribbons, then toss them in the trash. I’m sure that this is a loving act on her part :slight_smile:
To add input to your question, you have to play the odds. It is cheap to string along a car, but over time, the utility of the car is decreased so much that it becomes useful for only running down to the corner store as it is no longer safe and reliable for more ambitious trips. I suggest that you establish a “car fund” right now so that when your husband decides that it is time to shop, you are financially ready to pull the trigger. My wife and I established an underwear…err…ummm…I mean a car fund to replace her aging minivan. She did all of her shopping ahead of time and pretty much knew what she wanted to buy. When the time came, SHE pulled the trigger.

I don’t think that the 2001 VW will bring very much at a dealer as a trade-in on a new car. In all likelihood a dealer will make it look like you receiving a good trade-in allowance but has really not discounted the new car any more than if the dealer sold it outright. In fact, in the past, I have had two honest dealers actually sell me the car I was buying for less money when I bought it outright than if I had traded in my old car (my old cars were far older than your VW). Since your husband likes the car and as long as the car is roadworthy, he should drive it until something major goes wrong. At the point, he can buy a new car and either sell the VW for scrap, or block it up in the yard and go sit in it when he misses it. There will always be cars and I think he will be money ahead to keep driving it until it isn’t worth repairing.

Thanks for your thoughts. What you said is basically what we’ve concluded. I think we may check out the Insight just for fun sometime soon. He really liked the Civic Hybrid, too. Our daughter has a Fit we bought last year (when they were really hard to find) and we tend to like Hondas a lot in general. Again, thanks.

You are in a great position where you can check out cars for fun, but are not in the position where you have to make the purchase to have transportation. I still have a car I bought new in 1978–an Oldsmobile Cutlass with the 4-4-2 trim. Back in December of 1995 when I bought a car, the dealer sold me the car I bought for $300 less if I didn’t trade in the 1978 Oldsmobile. I’ve used it around town for almost 14 more years. At this point, my wife says it has to go and I guess I’ll junk it if I can’t find a buyer. IMHO, buying a car outright with a clear idea of what you want and what price you should pay is the way to go. When I am ready for a car and decide on what I want, I tell the salesperson “You have a car and I have some money. What we are here to determine is how much of my money you think you should have for the car”. I let them know that I am going to buy within the week and if they are the dealer that will take the least amount of my money, they’ve sold the car.

But he’s afraid that, at some point in the unknown future, he may have a major repair, engine, transmission, etc.

That is true. It is true for any car not covered with bumper to bumper insurance. A new car just off the lot can blow the engine, and many have.

I generally don’t recommend the repair insurance policies because they all cost more than the average driver pays with them, about double. However if the owner feels the known coverage is worth the cost, then that might be a good idea in this case.

I never made any suppositions. I merely asked questions, and suggested that he should make the determination for himself. Thank you for answering those questions though, especially since your original question was so vague, lacking important details that should be considered in this decision process.

Even if he had asked the question himself, I would have given him the same advice, but it would have been phrased a little differently. I would have said that none of us are in a position to give him better advice than he can give himself. I don’t care who is asking the question for whom. The point is that the person who drives this car is in the best position to make this decision. What the rest of us think doesn’t really matter. If he wants to keep the Beetle, he should. If he wants to trade it in, he should. What the rest of us think is unimportant.

I would like to add that mcparadise didn’t assume anything either. He merely asked two pertinent questions. Why are you so defensive?

Good strategy! Thanks!

In one of your replies you said your husband has a very long commute, how long? how often?, how much stop and go vs constant highway speeds?

Hybrids are not going to give you very good mpg if most of the commute is at a steady highway speed. In fact your diesel is much better for long commutes where there is only a bit of stop and go stuff. When the car is moving at 30 mph and above with only a small amount of creaping stop and go stuff the diesel will get much better mpg than a hybrid.

Hybrids are perfect for commutes in heavily congested areas where it takes a long time to go a few miles. A commute where traffic is backed up often and it is mostly stop and go until you clear the bridge, toll plaza, or congested on or off ramp are ideal for a hybrid.

Your best replacement option might be a new VW diesel, either Jetta or another Bug. If the commute is mostly highway miles at steady speeds a conventional gas Civic would get close to the same mpg as the Insight, costs less, and be a more comfortable car.