Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cash for Clunkers for Foreign Vehicles?

I guess when I was shopping for a car nearly ten years ago; I should have had more insight to buy an American chunk of auto crud. Had I done this, I could have been fortunate enough to experience escalating maintenance bills, diminishing resale value and the loss of time I would have spent trekking back and forth to Bob’s American Auto Repair, whose motto is “You bought it so we’ll have to fix it. You call it a rolling money pit. We call it job security.” Yeah, that motto might not fit on a business card or in the cramped confines of a classified, but it’s accurate nonetheless.

Had I purchased an American chunk of auto crud I could also be turning my clunker in for a potential $4,500 payout that I could plop down for another American chunk of auto crud. You see, neither my 2000 Honda Accord nor my 1998 Honda Civic qualifies for the Cash for Clunkers program. Stupid me. What was I thinking?

No, ten years ago, I simply did my homework, read Consumer Reports, evaluated resale values and maintenance costs, played two dealers against each other and drove off the lot in a 2000 Honda Accord. Nearly 160,000 miles later, I’m still driving the stylish vehicle that was made in Marysville, Ohio. A geographical location, by the way, that is not Canada or Mexico.
The money I’ve saved in repair costs brings a smile to my financial face. However, I still feel I’m missing something with this Cash for Clunkers deal. If Obama is going to use my federal taxes to fund another stimulus program, I’d like a li’l somethin’/somethin’ out of it.

Years ago when I rolled off the lot driving a car that had the highest resale value, was voted the best sedan purchase, bested all competition in buyer satisfaction and safety, I should have known it was too good to be true. I should have know that if I’d purchased an American chunk of auto crud, I could have poured money into that purchase during the ensuing ten years and then qualified for a $4,500 rebate that I’m paying for anyway.
Stupid me. What was I thinking?
Side note: It’s interesting to see that four of the five cars being purchased with this CforC program are foreign cars. What are they thinking?


Pastor Bakker said...

Greetings - I began reading your blog after Aaron worked with me at the SOLA conference in Grand Rapids this summer. That conference was definitely the highlight of my summer - even if we all only had 20 hours of sleep by week's end!

I couldn't resist adding a comment to your post. I, too, am very proud of the vehicle I drive (ask Aaron :-) ). Like you I did quite a bit of research into reliability, average repair costs, and lowest price, but not resale value - I'm at the stage of life where I am the last one owning a vehicle. I ended up with a '96 Buick Roadmaster (bought it in '07 w/ 100k miles). 50k miles later, it runs great, has not needed much in the way of repairs, and is the most comfortable riding car I've ever experienced. It is also a lot of fun to drive with it's powerful v8 engine and rear wheel drive.

The point of all this is that you'd think that the v8 'grandma and grandpa' car from 1996 would qualify for Cash for Clunkers in a heartbeat. It's old, it has a v8 engine, and it's enormous (4600lbs when empty). Yet it doesn't qualify because it runs too efficiently - 18mpg in town and 24 on the highway means it averages two more miles to the gallon than it would need to qualify. Not that I'd ever want to participate in a program like that - I'd never be able to afford a new car that's even half the vehicle I happily drive now.

I just think it's hilarious that I'm sure my car and others like it *must* have been what the gov't had in mind with this program, and it doesn't even qualify. I don't mean to take up all your comment space on the clunkers item - you clearly knew what you were doing when you bought your cars, and your family is better off now because of it. I just wanted to let you know that the Big 3 did produce a few gems in the midst of the break-down prone rubble, and I'm proud to own and drive one of them. :-)

JBrandt said...

Pastor Bakker,
Thanks for the comment and thanks for the rich experience Aaron had at SOLA. He truly enjoyed it. I agree, The Big 3 has produced some gems and seems to be producing some more. After ten years, I'm eyeballing another car purchase. The Chevy Malibu has good ratings. I'll give it a spin. In high school I drove a 1970 Plymouth Duster. It was only a V6 but it was a fun car to drive. God's blessings on your upcoming year.

Aaron Brandt said...

Roaaaaad Maaasssterrrr!!!!!

Pastor Bakker said...

The Lord be with you for a wonderful year as well!

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

Karma is a boomerang.

Your car was merely assembled in Marysville, Ohio. It would make sense for any company to assemble their products in the country they are selling them strictly from a tax standpoint.

Compare the number of American employees for each company and your argument is even more invalid.

JBrandt said...

Allow me to edit your comment, "It would make sense for any company to assemble their SUPERIOR products in the country they are selling them strictly from a tax standpoint."
I know we have never agreed on this topic. I understand your domestic passion. However, you must also understand the financial wisdom of my car purchase in 1988, 1998, and 2000. I needed to buy a well-built car, that had great gas mileageand that I would not have to dump money into during years 7,8,9 and 10. Leasing a car every three years makes no financial sense. Buy a quality car and drive it forever...or at least ten years. There were no such domestic products available on the Big 3 assembly lines. Cause/Effect.
The Chevy Malibu is worthy of a test drive. Hopefully, it's as good as the Honda Accord test drive I had today.

JBrandt said...

Oh, and karma is about as real as Obama's promise to not raise taxes on the middle class.

Andrea Vaccari said...

I, myself, adore my foreign car and if you don't mind me putting in my two cents (to Aarons comment)

when you said "It would make sense for any company to assemble their products in the country they are selling them strictly from a tax standpoint."

It shows fiscal responsibility to their own company. Wouldn't any real conservative find that as something to be admired?

Wouldn't any one want to save taxes? Sure, there are less Honda workers than GM workers in America but in reality they are giving Americans jobs.