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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #133: When you have eleven cars and only one of them runs, then it doesn't

Owning a Honda means you should never have to open the hood. Or, at the very least, that you're not opening it very often. So there was dust on the "EarthDreams" badge and a sort of cobwebby mess on every flat surface around the engine and radiator.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-133-when-you-have-eleven-c...
53 REPLIES 53
9lbhammer
Detailer

This is why the "just buy a **bleep**ty used car" advice isn't always ideal. People get fired quick fast and in a hurry for being late to work when the car breaks.

I bought a bike as a backup for my 30 year old truck to mitigate the problem in one parking spot. This works better for a young dude south of the mason dixon line than it does for a family in ohio.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I agree. Most of the "just buy a used car" advice comes from either people without a real job, or people whose position in life insulates them from consequences. If you're a work-from-home executive, you don't need your car to start. If you work at McDonald's, you absolutely do. 

86Zed
Pit Crew

Road salt is no joke. On a good day 2/4 cars are available in winter months. Add in freezing rain, multiple days at -20F, and a 11 year old BMW people hauler and anything can happen.
Unfortunately (fortunately) my wife is similarly afflicted, neither of us quite content behind the wheel or inside any of the bloated, overpriced, and neutered offerings in todays market. Nearly time for a dead nuts reliable choice laden with remote start and a block heater...
whitef
Pit Crew

Glad it's not just us.

Let's see...two Miatas, 124 Spider Abarth, BMW Z4 and Alfa Romeo Giulia all have summer tires.

1999 Lexus LX470 is partially disassembled.

1979 Alfa Romeo is made of sugar.

That leaves a 2009 Lexus LX570 that needs tires, which are on order. A 2015 Mazda 3, a 2005 Chevy Colorado stripper model and a 2016 Nissan Leaf.

The Leaf will go about 80 miles charged, so that's not useful. No one seems to like driving the cheapest Colorado available in 2005, so after all that I pretty much have a 2015 Mazda until spring.

I feel your pain.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

To be fair, the 2015 Mazda 3 is/was a very good car. If you have to be stuck with one car, it's not the worst choice. Or you could sell the LX570, and based on what I'm seeing at CarMax, you could use the sale price to buy a Gulfstream. 

ATLpaul
Detailer

Well my primary Grand Cherokee has 131,000 miles approximately. It seems to work ok for now. My two other rides are my loves, 2014 Mustang GT premium with 2,800 miles, and a 2016 Stingray with 1,400 miles. I just like to look at them in garage, listen to music and drink red wine while polishing them.

 

Wife finally agreed I need a fourth vehicle(she has a practical Ridgeline). I really want a Tahoe RST 6.2 liter, but she vetoed that, saying they are not dependable and so I need a Toyota. Ordered a Tacoma. Bluecrush. 3-4 months is what my local dealer told me it takes to get one similar to one I like (I think Toyota gives allocations, not necessarily exact order fulfillment). I agreed. Put $1000 deposit down, and $2,500 for market adjustment for privilege of putting in an order. 3 weeks into process, dealer called and says they have a bluecrush Toyota with everything I want and the leather package/sunroof package.

 

But I hate Toyota leather. I want premium aftermarket leather. Dealer tried everything for me to take on this just a little better TRD sport 4x4 instead of one I ordered. But I want what I want with a Tonneau cover. Ahh well. I am going to wait. That bluecrush with every possible option still sitting there for $51,000 (inclusive of $5,000 for tinted windows, ceramic coating and nitrogen air for tires). Ahhhh well..........

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

6.2 liter Tahoes are hugely desirable. New Tacomas don't depreciate. You were stuck between two very good choices! But I like the new metallic green TRD 4Runner. If you ordered one now, you could have it in 2030 for just $1.1M additional dealer markup...

Brash
Intermediate Driver

I must admit to laughing way too much at this.
I'm currently at 4 cars/3 usable, but it was 5/1.5 only a year and a half ago. (And 5/1 for way more of the last 7 years than I'm comfortable admitting to my parents. Something something you work hard and make good money just buy something decent)
And when I started doing the childcare run with our toddler, my long suffering significant other was quick to ask "does that spitbox have heating?" referring to the aging Subaru WRX that I had long suggested was a practical family sedan. It did, but she was right to ask, after she drove one of the others that a friend had removed the heater box (and carpet) because it flooded the passenger side footwell. That one had working air conditioning, but no heating, because of course it did.
Brash
Intermediate Driver

In saying the above, I must also admit that I insist on fixing things myself. So when the aforementioned WRX refused to start in a car park building after work one day, I simply caught the train home, ordered a new fuel pump to be delivered to my office, and caught the train to work the next day, while carrying a toolbox full of what I expected I might need. When the replacement fuel pump didn't solve the problem, I considered setting fire to the thing, before calmly calling a friend and towing the thing home. Where it sat for weeks while I tried to interrogate the problem. Five weeks after the failed fuel pump replacement I had it towed to a workshop, who had the thing running the next day.
I don't ask for pity, just that you learn a lesson from my mistake. Even if I'm not sure what it is.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

That's how I am with bicycles, even the modern $9000 mountain bikes with more tech than an Eighties Williams F1 car: I refuse to let anyone else fix them. I'd rather do it wrong myself. 

pyrobirk
Pit Crew

This is SO relatable! We have ten cars. As recently as this fall I was bragging that I could get into any one of them and drive them, even the project car. Today the only two that don't have some sort of issue are the summer cars, both in winter storage. There isn't a single other one of the eight that doesn't have some sort of issue at the moment. I used to enjoy working on cars...
afurlong9
New Driver

Wow, do I feel this.

I've got pretty rust free examples of a NA Miata and three 30ish year old Saabs. I also have a 20 year old Saab wagon, and a 20 year old Silverado. Finally, there's a very nice Legacy GT sitting in deep storage, waiting for me to replace all the wheel hubs because the lugs loosen while driving after many years of the previous owner running aftermarket wheels with the wrong hub bore and poor quality hub rings.

The plan has always been to keep the non-rusty classics non-rusty and in the garage for winters here in beautiful Cleveland. So those four cars are non-negotiable (two of them also don't run at present). The Legacy has been waiting for my schedule to free up for about 3 years now. That leaves the wagon and the Silverado.

Typically, I drive the wheels off my Saab wagon and I preferably only use the truck when I need to do something that the car can't. Ever since I moved house at the end of last summer (for more garage space, of course), my Saab wagon has been a monumental pain to keep on the road. It was dead reliable for me for five years and 50K miles, and in the last six months it has gotten to the point that every time I put the key in it, it's got a new problem. It has been parked for a week now since it decided to quit idling on the way home from the office, and I am just annoyed with it and haven't even popped the hood. So now the only usable vehicle I have is my (t)rusty Silverado.

Once the 9-5 struggled to make it home, I started doing my research to see what I could replace it with. There's no such thing as a modern wagon with a clutch pedal, so I expanded my search. I found a few things that might interest me, a GTI, an Accord coupe, etc. The problem is that all of these used cars have significantly inflated prices right now, and I don't really love any of them. I couldn't justify paying current-market price for a car that I don't love. Since none of the options available really speak to me, I probably would end up wanting to keep it until exactly when the used car market course corrects and I end up being very upside down in whatever I settle for.

So after thinking about it for a day, I ordered the parts for the Subaru. I took the cover off yesterday and reminded myself how attractive I find it. I always liked but never loved that car, but at least I already own it.
AG1962
Instructor

I had to give up on our Saabs eventually. They just became too unreliable, and reasonably priced parts take ten days to two weeks to get to us here in Canada (and expensive OEM parts are getting harder to find). The Subaru will grow on you, esp. if you drive it hard—
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

The most depressing part of what you've written: in my head a "20 year old Subaru wagon" is a 99GTE. Uh, no -- it's newer than the 2000 9-3 five-door I bought new!

kyree-williams
Intermediate Driver

Hey, Jack, I'm in a similar boat, with having too many cars, although they are mostly operable. Here's the sitch:

1. 2005 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited -- This is one surprisingly problematic Panther. Weak brakes, broken blend doors and even ejected spark plugs, we can deal with, and have. But there's a really annoying (and smelly) water ingress issue that has nothing to do with the windshield cowl getting plugged up, and potentially everything to do with shoddy bodywork somewhere in its 18-year-old tenure. The air compressor for the rear air suspension starts up loudly, even when it seems not to be necessary, and we've taken it to enough mechanics and fired the parts cannon at it enough. It's also had the airbag light on for a couple of years now, due to one of the seatbelt pretensioners. But I guess the bulb/light for that went out, so now the car chimes incessantly when you first start it up and then periodically every 2 minutes afterward...to let you know that the bulb is out. Fixing this, per the esteemed Mr. Mehta, will likely require removing the cluster and sending it off to have it refurbished. Oh, and on Monday, my partner was using it as his cigar chamber (it's his car, he can do whatever the F he wants), went back in the house for something, got distracted, and left it on and running all night. The next day, the battery was dead. I replaced the battery, and it fired right up, but hesitantly. Turns out, it was also out of gas, so it's sitting dead in the driveway. I'm supposed to be running to the store with the gas can, so that I can limp it to the gas station sometime today.

2. 2006 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas -- I acquired this one in May of last year, as a project. It is not my first X350-generation XJ, and it was pretty rough. I--and my Jaguar mechanic--have put a lot of work into it, but I still think the suspension is irritatingly crashy (even with high-end aftermarket air struts at all four corners), and it still needs some body work, paint and leather refurbishment.

3. 2011 Lexus LS 460L AWD -- I bought this one last week. More on that later. It's in pretty good shape and I got a great deal on it, but the bottom of the front bumper fascia is a bit torn up, such that I'll end up replacing it just because of my OCD. However, it also has a vibration that comes through whenever the car is in gear (not park or neutral), which suggests to me that it needs new motor mounts or transmission mounts. It is at the Lexus dealership being inspected right now, and so they gave me a 2021 RX 350 to drive home as a loaner.

4. 2022 Subaru Outback Touring XT -- We bought this one last summer. It's great. No complaints. Except that I wanted the green, and there was none to be had in that trim. So it's white, instead. My partner drives this one most days, to see his clients.

5. 2022 BMW X5 xDrive45e -- I like this one, too. I got to order it with all of the options I wanted (well, all of the options that were available, since BMW has been steadily deleting features off their cars due to the shortage) and took delivery of it in November. It's nice not to use gas most days, since it has a genuine 30 miles of electric range. But good golly, was it an expensive car.

============

We already have the Outback--replete with towing hitch--to do SUV stuff, so the expensive X5 can go. With the $7,500 tax credit I'll take on it, I should either break even on selling it or even net a slight profit, and not making that monthly payment would free up some investment cash, or money to put back into the house. The Lincoln has been pissing us off for a while, and we have no love for it or its cheap interior (besides, I prefer the early 90s square-body Town Cars). So we'd like to sell it, ideally as-is. The Jaguar, I think, will never be what I wanted it to be, which is a creampuff example of that car. I think that if I bought another X350-generation XJ--and I will--it needs to be an immaculate 2008/2009 Super V8 Portfolio, and should cost every bit of $30K. That's the only way I'm going to get the true essence of that car.

So...the plan was for the Lexus to replace the Jaguar, the Lincoln and the BMW. I would drive the Lexus; my partner would drive the Subaru. However, my partner is going to be using the Lincoln as a cigar-smoking chamber until we get our cigar room all built out (early spring, most likely). The Jaguar is up for sale, but I drove it the other day, and kinda fell back in love with it. With its aluminum body and lively engine, it's a lot lighter on its feet than anything else in my stable, and the burble of that British V8 is nice. And the X5...well...the state hasn't sent the title to it yet, so I can't sell it.

I also worry that clearing three cars from my driveway would just make me want to buy more cars. I've never had a pickup before, and thought about buying a cheap Avalanche (since it has the midgate) for doing really dirty home improvement stuff that I don't want to use the Subaru for. And the thought crossed my mind that I might like to order a new Mustang GT Convertible 6MT, since I've never had that sort of car before.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

This post should be printed as an ad in the NYT to help "them" understand the "us" of car enthusiasts. Every car you own is something I've wanted to own. 

kyree-williams
Intermediate Driver

Well, we'll see what the driveway looks like in six months.

Meanwhile, I'm envious that you got to own two Phaetons, before they became used, clapped-out, outdated things. I was, like, ten when those were new. I remember driving one in a video game (I think it was called Test Drive, or something like that).

The G90 5.0 Ultimate is something I could see myself owning.
AG1962
Instructor

Oh, so been there, so done that… good luck!

The shortage of new and inflation of old cars has really been a double whammy. We lucked into two decent used cars last fall to replace our main ride, a VW TDI wagon (which our daughter over in Vancouver had borrowed early in the pandemic because she no longer trusted public transport; we eventually gave it to her when I could not find a decent used car that she could afford and that I would want her to drive), and a rather stinky, tired-looking Pontiac Vibe manual that no-one in the household but me cared to drive (56,000 original km and mechanically pristine, but aesthetics apparently do count, even for non-car people…). One of our lucky breaks was a lease return 2018 Prius from our local Toyota dealer at their regular pre-pandemic high price, the other a 2008 Outback with a mountain of service records from someone moving to Mexico soon. By accepting the best of what was out there at a decent price, we avoided getting hosed by pandemic inflation. I don’t love either car, but they will do just fine, one for daily economy and one for canoe/dump/hauling/trailering/snow & ice. I miss my minty ultra-low km TDI wagon with all its grunty torque, but am happy our daughter has it and that she will be safe in it — it was a good trade-off given the current car market and situation. Our son’s 2013 Matrix continues to be flawless, fortunately.

Here’s hoping your new truck arrives on time!
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

A friend of mine has a half million miles on a Matrix. Had to swap the five-speed in for a six-speed. That's been IT. 

ed
Advanced Driver

My 2 AMGs and the GT350R are safely tucked away for the dreaded salty New England winter. My everyday is a Jeep Gladiator I bought new over a year ago, when the world still had chips. A guy has offered me $8k over the original window sticker, but that means I would have to go on the same search for a ride that may be temporary, but needed none the less. In the middle of winter. With the current state of used vehicles, I'm not sure I can make that work. I considered picking up something rebuilt, but the possibility of big maintenance and the certainty of re-sell could feast on the Jeep windfall. I work at home, so I am considering whether the time I could get on my wife's Subie (she doesn't work at home) would be enough to hold me over to sanity. But as she often reminds me, that bus has already left the station.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Owning a GT350R is a better investment than a monkey NFT. You're making money as you comment here!

TresMustangs
New Driver

After my wife's Focus RS wouldn't get out of the driveway on the racy summer tires in a rare NC snow storm 4 years ago, I bought winter tires for her. This prompted Tire Rack to call and ask if I really meant to do that because they had never shipped winter tires to Raleigh before. Now her car is available 365.

Having said that, I have 6 cars; two usable right now.
FloridaMarty
Advanced Driver

I have 2 classic cars in the garage, wife's car in the driveway. She's been patient, for how much longer..I don't know? I sold my new truck so I could focus on my projects, kinda like lighting a fire under me. It's working so far. God bless her.
Blackpony
New Driver

14 cars and 6 motorcycles. Down to 2 cars that run perfect, due to preventative maintenance. Most of the other cars were parked due to high milage with placement on the "Too Do," list. Winter in Michigan also takes 5 cars and all off the motorcycles off the road. Seasonal storage on insurance policies helps with budget. Shared this article with relatives and friends who are in the same situation. Need warmer weather to get a backup car for Spouse or Me. Thanks, #113.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

You're two cars ahead of me. Fortune favors the prepared!

Maestro1
Technician

Jack, many Blessings. Well done.
I was born and raised on the North Atlantic Coast where we always had 6-8 cars my Father and I were working on. So the rule was, two are always running. Period. Certainly not as exotic as your collection but the two that always performed in any weather were a Chrysler New Yorker and a Buick Roadmaster ( we always had fat cars). Now I live in the Mountains on the Left Coast and I have two cars, really a car and a 41 year old Japanese truck which is currently napping. You guessed it: waiting for parts. All the others are in the barn in various states of disrepair to be honest, and since I have been ill there hasn't been much progress. I'm having a helluva good time.
I'm sorry to hear about the Lincoln; I don't know much about newer cars but replacing drive shafts at that age is unfortunate.
Go to Craigslist and buy something (it doesn't matter what it is) give it what it needs, and
that's the driver for everybody. Keep it going. It's a great rescue car/truck.
Stay well.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

When you're right, you're right! But I'm a lot better at *breaking* cars than I am at *fixing* them...

SAG
Instructor

I always fall back to a Scout II, with the death of Tech.
doesn't take too much.
New Batt; Plug wires [rabbit food here], Pressure washer [mice housing].
good to go
Gary_Bechtold
Engineer

Not the best of luck this winter. Now if you lived somewhere warmer the Miata's could stunt-double as dailies while you fix something else. I don't miss the Chicagoland winters at all with the Supra sitting in the garage for months because of road salt.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

That's how I got complacent in October, when the Silverado got totaled; we had the Miatas!

TG
Technician

If I have more than one down (counting the disassembled one) I get ancy. If I have more than one down for a considerable amount of time, it tells me I have too many. Now with that said - there are 2.5 that do not venture out if there is snow or ice on the ground but they are available for transportation if absolutely needed (followed by a thorough washing)
Al
Intermediate Driver

I had a real hard time finding the correct TPS for my 1982 Lincoln Mark VI. That and a NOS computer fixed it and it runs like new now, thank God for Ebay
JRJones
Detailer

A couple of weeks ago I read about the high mile, infallible Lincoln MKX taxi in New York. I would make a snide comment about your Lincoln infallibility but I am still pizzed about lionizing Karl Rove.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Sir,

 

a) I didn't lionize KR, I just said I had more affection for his theories in that situation. I played guitar at a rural church full of young men who have been crippled by our forever wars. You'll search in vain for any place where I affirm the merits of that administration.

b) Everyone in the MKT world, including my Uber driver, knows that the FWD 3.7 cars last forever and the turbo AWD ones, like mine, have problems. 

JRJones
Detailer

That administration, WMD mendacity, 20 years of casualties and hundreds of thousands deaths are the result of fart blossom and his protege "W".
Mwynvawr
New Driver

The 3.7 in my grandparents MK*C* had a water pump leak. Someone thought it would be a fantastic use of space design the water pump into the block of that engine so everything became lubricated with water. They now have a horrible little subaru.
Mwynvawr
New Driver

No wait it was indeed an MKT. Shows how much I recognize alphanumeric branding.
danio3834
Intermediate Driver

I'm in pretty good shape with 5/7, but it's all about staying ahead of the curve.

2021 Ram 1500: leased, always at the ready, until the wife picked up some road fodder and the requisite pieces weren't in stock anywhere close.

2018 Chrysler 300C: The foolish act of swapping in the 6.4L drivetrain from a Challenger 1320 drag pack has made accelerating this car on wet roads a bit silly with anything but a trained shoe, let alone in the snow. The wife is scared of it.

2005 Chrysler 300C **bleep** heap enduro car: I'd be lying if I said I never threw plates on it and drove it in a pinch. The tint hides the gutted and caged interior.

1999 Grand Cherokee: Lifted and locked on 33s, it's noisy, bad on fuel and cumbersome on the roads, but it always starts and gets there. Just leave that battery tender on when parked.

1986: Dodge B250 camper van: The van that never gives up. Can accept 15ft of pipe diagonally, much like your mom.

1976 Dodge Charger: The younger me didn't think of the older me when the obnoxious exhaust was installed. The fuel return line for the aftermarket injection system started leaking. Needs new rubber/proper line.

1963 Thunderbird: All laid up getting a Gen 3 Hemi swapped into it.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

I wish my mom would find someone to do that, she hasn't been on a date since 1970.

Billthecat707
Instructor

Mr. Late model Mopar!😁👍
-Nate
Detailer

Well written as always, I'd just go buy some beater from the impound lot, if it was good enough for a drunk to get around in, it'll prolly last until your new truck shows up...

-Nate
Eagle-co94
New Driver

As a true car guy I fail to see the issue. I bet undercoating a Miata and installing winter tires would make a great winter back up car. My recently sold TR6060'd Caprice PPV on Blizzaks did fine.

Taking a car to the dealership for repairs?

Too cold to work on a car?! 🤣 I shattered my reciprocating saw last winter working on my car with temps in the teens.
Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

Better you than me!

wirekat
Intermediate Driver

Something in this story nags at me.
"Our" count is ten and according to my wife, 2 are "usable". One is a Telluride the other a Scion XB. The "Telly" has one of those big class II hitches but folks keep running into it and now is due for a 2 week stint in the body shop if/when parts arrive. To be fair, my wife's nickname is Danger Prone Daphne (Scooby Doo). Our son's daily Golf starting that ticking sound, so it's off the usable list and the XB is his daily. It's a logistical nightmare when the Telly needs service/repair. Sure the son could commute in the Ram or the Porsche (no way in hell) but my wife will probably never drive the Ram (too big) or the Porsche (too small) and certainly none of the "others". The Telly is "just right".
I was going to take the winter off but I guess I'm the designated driver for the foreseeable future.
Nader
Pit Crew

None of the problems that are sidelining your cars, would exist on an electric vehicle. Food for thought, This coming from a fellow racer with over a half dozen interesting cars and trucks, all of which have one or more mechanical issues. (Except for my wife’s 4-Runner, of course)
Nader
Pit Crew

Replying to myself, to qualify my previous statement as coming from someone who is just sick and tired of dealing with leaks, fumes, seized fasteners, strange noises and vibrations, so on and so forth. Sometimes I just want to chuck it all and get the latest Electric. It will certainly be faster, more comfortable, and probably more reliable than anything in my fleet. Except the wife’s 4-Runner.
SteveR
Pit Crew

Geez, I'm a piker. Only four vehicles with two operational. The Mustang is fine and the NA Miata is being enjoyed immensely by my wife. The Xterra would be OK had only I remembered to renew the registration before the starter blew up (Note: AAA will not tow an unregistered vehicle). My wife is piloting the Miata because we're finding out what a BMW "dual-mass flywheel" is (Note: it's expensive).
Billthecat707
Instructor

I'm over AAA. My daughter has it and both times she needed a tow in greater Orlando it was a 2-3 hour wait. Not cool for a single woman coming from work at 11-12 o'clock. Plus you need to arrange for your own ride because you can't ride with them.
CAUberAlles
New Driver

Reading this gives me continued motivation to continue enduring the left coast. Out this way those Miatas and perhaps even the 993 would be daily drivers right now… And you only need $1M over asking to buy a house, so cheaper than the markup on a used truck right now.