I read an article recently about the changing purchasing habits of Americans, specifically the argument of “Purchase vs. Lease.” Even Clark Howard, the “helping you save your money” guru has said that in some cases, leasing is better than buying. More and more folks are leasing their cars rather than buying them, and it’s not a decision based on the fact that in most cases, the lease payment is less per month than the loan payment.
New cars today have great warranties. In the last month or so, my son’s 2015 VW Passat 1.8T quit running on the side of the road. Since it is a “certified pre-owned” purchase, he called VW, they sent a wrecker to take it to the dealership. They diagnosed a broken valve spring and the subsequent damage it caused. The fix? New engine at a cost of almost twelve thousand dollars. Oh, yea, under warranty. His out-of-pocket – zero. Whew!
My daily commuter car is a 2010 VW CC that is out of warranty with a 2.0 turbo and a six speed manual transmission. It is a great car, but as a direct injection engine, the intake valves tend to get nasty, requiring a $1,000 disassembly and cleaning at about 70,000 miles. I am not looking forward to that.
Then we have the electronics that accompany the newer cars – everything from complex engine management systems to suspension and brake controllers and those automatic systems that keep you in your lane and stop you from rear-ending a truck while you text about the grocery list. Those systems will eventually malfunction, and getting them fixed is expensive. (I saw on one of those cable car shows where a V12 Aston Martin was running on only six cylinders because the computer for that side of the engine malfunctioned. Cost for replacement? $7,000, but you had to buy the pair at a cost of $14,000.)
So therein lies the problem – convenience, fuel economy and neat features come at a cost, and the best way to protect yourself against costly repairs is to lease – and turn it in before the warranty expires. And then others purchase that car, and opt to buy the extended warranty to cover the more expensive systems. At something around a hundred thousand miles, a car that is otherwise running and working well will be worth nothing because no one wants to take the chance that an expensive system will need repair.
How does that effect us, the damaged people who like to drive thirty-year-old front engine water cooled Porsches? The engine management systems on our cars are the best 80’s computer systems you could design, and rebuilt replacements are less than $500. The DME and the radio in the dash are about as complex as they come, excepting maybe the later 944 ABS systems.
While I love my Volkswagen, one of the 924S944 projects on the list is a nice 924S for daily driving. And here at Global Headquarters we are in the need for a newer truck – so maybe the VW will be the trade-in on a truck this summer…
Just something else to think about.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.