My 1996 Nissan Pathfinder has been a faithful and loyal friend for the past 6 years. It was six years old when we bought it, when we first moved out here. It had 78,000 miles on it when we bought it. It now has 258,000. We put an average of 30,000 miles a year onto this vehicle since we’ve had it.
I researched vehicles when we were moving out here. We needed something that would haul our family of four (we’re large people), our (at the time) one dog, plus we needed a vehicle that could haul our water for us. We have a 2500 underground tank for our water supply, which we keep filled by making trips to the community well with our 500 gallon tank.
I have no intentions of getting rid of my Pathfinder anytime soon; in fact, Mr. A is planning to replace the timing belt and water pump. It was last changed in 2004, at 117,000 miles. The manufacturer recommends changing it every 100,000 miles. We got by with 117,000 the first time, and now it’s been 141,000 miles. I had a timing belt go out on a Mercury Gran Marquis and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was the car I was driving when I had given up all my credit cards, to pay off my credit card debt and couldn’t get the engine fixed because I didn’t have the money (or credit cards). So I’m a little paranoid about timing belts.
I’m sure we’ll get the timing belt changed in time. The water pump is in the same area, so Mr. A will change that at the same time.
I know that we’re in the minority with a vehicle that has lasted this many miles. It seems common for people to trade in their car for a new one every 3 years, or at least once it gets close to 100,000 miles.
I guess we’re lucky in that Mr. A can do a good deal of the maintenance, although we have at times chosen to take our vehicles in to the shop and have someone else worry about it.
I hear people say that they’ve had to make repairs on their vehicle and now they are looking at another repair costing $1000. They decide it’s time to cut their losses now and buy a different vehicle, often a new vehicle. I had a friend who was in a minor fender-bender and her trunk lid was the tiniest bit tilted. I honestly couldn’t see it until she pointed it out to me. Her insurance company TOTALLED her car, and she decided to buy a new one, because the cost to fix the tweaked trunk would have cost too much money. I would have lived with the tweaked trunk… and I will never buy a new car because they depreciate the minute you drive them off the parking lot.
When we bought my Pathfinder, it was $14,000 and since it was six years old, the longest term loan we could get was 48 months. The payment each month was $342. A year’s worth of payments came to $4,104. Now paying $1000 a year for repairs seems cheaper to me than $4000 a year in payments. And our payment was untypically low.
Then there’s insurance. If you buy a brand new car on loan, you have to have insurance that will cover the vehicle if you in an accident. If we didn’t have an 18 year old on our automobile coverage, we’d be paying around $600 a year for two older vehicles. Not to mention the cost for emissions testing, and paying for your yearly tabs.
I do not look forward to the day I have to replace my vehicle and make payments on another one. We don’t have the money right now to save for a future vehicle, so we will almost certainly have to get a loan when we need to buy another one.
Put me in the camp of keeping a vehicle and maintaining it until there is absolutely no hope left for the poor thing. I hope we’ll get to 500,000 miles. That would be kind of exciting. If I do have to replace my Pathfinder, I am pretty sure I’ll want another one like this one. It has been the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning.