Before you get too excited, it’s not really new, it’s actually far from it but it’s new to me and helps me stay on the path to FI. This type of purchase helps me to stay humble by buying used cars with low miles and are cheap to own. So, as I welcome this 1999 Buick to the family I’d like to share with you a few things I have taken away from the process and also warn you about an experience I had at the mechanic’s shop.
Yes, I bought a “grandpa car” which is nothing new for me. While I constantly get made fun of for the cars I drive, I have learned to embrace it. My go-to trick is to scour Craigslist, looking for a car that was well taken care of and barely driven. And voila, I found one. This 1999 Buick Century has only 55k miles meaning it was only driven 2,750 miles per year. It was owned by an older couple who maintained it well and kept all the maintenance records. I scored this old thing for $3,200 which means after selling my previous vehicle, I actually profitted a couple thousand bucks. Also, when switching over the insurance I learned that I saved an additional $400 per year just by downgrading to this older car.
I plan on this car being very reliable and lasting me for a few years without any significant issues. What I generally do is sell the car for close to, or near the same amount, that I bought it for and find another good deal again. This system has worked well for me and I wrote all about how I go about buying these cars in a previous article “Wealth building: Buying your next car the smart way.” Check out the article HERE.
One thing I always kept I mind during the purchase process is that I would need to get new front tires for this car as they were beginning to wear out possibly due to bad alignment. I called two shops for prices and went with the one that was $100 cheaper for a total of $260 for two new tires and an alignment.
As can be expected, any time you take your car to a shop they will give you a laundry list of items that your car “needs”. The mechanic advised me that it would need new front brakes which I also already knew and stated that the boot on the CV axle had a tear in it. Luckily I have some knowledge about cars and challenged the mechanic asking if the boot could just be replaced to which he replied, “They generally don’t just sell the boot, you’ll have to replace the whole axel.”
Knowing this wasn’t true, I did a quick amazon search and found a boot for $13. This is much less than the quote he gave me to fix it which was $343.18. The mechanic also stated he would give me a quote for the brakes even though I told him I would replace them myself. His quote almost made me sick. For front brakes alone the total was $422.14. This included $90 brake pads and $173 rotors plus $157 in labor. Again, a quick amazon search was done and I found a set of brake pads and rotors for $70 and that was with a higher quality brake pad. Doing the work on both of these issues myself will take me about an hour and save me a staggering $682!
Now, I know not everyone has the tools, knowledge, or motivation to do this type of work themselves, but there are multiple ways to go about this. Find a family member or friend who has some tools, maybe someone you know who’s a mechanic, or take the leap yourself by watching a couple Youtube videos and buying some tools to save yourself hundreds of dollars and learn a new skill. What I do ask, is that you do not support these mechanic shops who are ripping people off left and right. $90 for some brake pads…Come on. These are about $20 at your local autoparts store.
Please comment on some auto repairs you have paid for, or some that you did yourself and how much money it saved you. Also, think about how buying a used car for a few thousand bucks, can save you money and propel you forward to getting even closer to your own financial independence.
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