February 19, 2008

Time doesn't heal all wounds

I wish all cars were made out of brick or something durable that if you did nick it or dent it, no one would know that you indeed suck at driving and stupidly scratched your car up against a garage pole during the first month of leasing it.

The accident happened a year ago, but now that my lease will be ending late this year, I finally have to do something about the scratch and dent. Although I might buy the car at the end of the lease and am fine with the daily reminder of my blunder, I guess I have to get it fixed some time. I also have other tiny scratches here and there that continually deflate my driving confidence.

Anyway, I plan to get some estimates soon and hope I don’t have any frame damage to my car that will cause the shop to take off the panel and weld it back. According to CarMax if a car has any frame damage they won’t sell it on their lot, thus depreciating the value of your car if you chose to sell it to them. We had went to CarMax over the weekend, since Raphael was interested in selling his car, but we balked at the low offer that they gave us for an extremely well kept, 2005 37k mile convertible. Way below blue book value, however they told us Kelley Blue Book is pretty useless now a-days since they are in cahoots with the car manufacturers and their figures are only updated monthly, when a cars value can change weekly. It also turned out that Raphael’s car had been in an accident from the previous owner, one that was unrecognizable to the naked eye and one that he had no idea about. But according to the CarMax inspector they spotted a difference in the pain job on the inside of the door, proving to them that that frame of the car had been repaired and remodeled by someone outside the car manufacturer.

All this talk of taking care of your car as an investment had me scared that I was messing up my investment and feared I wouldn’t be able to stop it. Sure I give my car the expensive synthetic oil that it requires every 5,000 miles and had taken it to the dealership when I noticed squeaky breaks and a sticky button (yes, those are the highly technical adjectives I told the mechanics to describe the problems, much to their dismay), but my careless driving and nicks might prove to be the killer of my investment. *sigh*

PS: We picked out our wedding invitations at Custom Invites, take a look.

7 comments

  1. One of the biggest mistakes, to be honest, is treating a car as an investment. They're a consumable (like toilet paper, only more complex) and should be treated as such, so folks shouldn't bank on them being cash cows later. Remember, whatever you get out of the car when you sell it you've already paid out once before -- it's like paying $20,000 into a savings account and then 5 years later only getting to take $8,000 back out. The difference is what you got out of in in the time you had it, which is what is valuable to people.

    The best thing you can do is to protect the *value* of it, not the investment, as long as possible. If you can stretch that $20,000 to $8,000 margin from 5 years to 7, or maybe stretch it to 10 years even if you only get a few grand out of it, well, you've gotten more car use for less money in the long run. So yeah, treating your car to synthetic at regular oil changes, keeping up on your maintenance, etc. is a great idea and kudos to you for doing so. You'll be glad you did in the long run.

    As far as the damage from the accident is concerned, you more than likely did NOT damage the frame. Frame damage takes MAJOR hits to cause -- like running sidelong or headlong into something at a good speed. I hit a 400lb deer doing 65mph head-on and didn't touch the frame at all, even though the radiator was neatly folded in half. Cars these days are built with 'crush zones' so they dent easily to absorb the impact but don't damage major components. I suspect it'll be an easy fix and one well worth the money you'll get out of it if you bother to fix it ahead of time.

    In other news, your invites are very cute and, from what I know, very you. Elegant yet unique and bold colors, like your personality. :)

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  2. I've had big bertha since 2000. Her check engine light goes off and on probably because she has close to 200K miles, plus she's American. Oh yeah, one time it cost me $400 to get the check engine light fixed. Later my brothers were furious saying that I was screwed for paying a lot for a simple fix since they only replaced two sensors. I should have taken my bros with me when I got it fixed. But oh well, I learned my lesson. Bertha is good at what she does and we have fond memories, hence the 200K miles on her. It's good that I don't have to drive her to work as much because she's a hungry beast. But I still love her. By the way, I love your invitations. I can't wait. =)

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  3. I will never be able to sell my car because i have dented it so many times... wow. it's crazy. especially in my parking lot when i was in college... i used to run into EVERYTHING.

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  4. I wanted to go into the fact that cars are not an investment, but someone beat me to it.

    If it helps, I think your car is cute.

    durante vita

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  5. I must agree with tarsi210. I used to think of cars like an investment, but they depreciate so quickly, it really isn't prudent. I'm thinking of buying a car (I don't own one now) and am thinking of getting the most inexpensive (yet, safe) used car so that I can pay cash down and run it to the ground and sell it to a scrap yard :) - hahaha.

    Anyhow, don't feel bad about the dents & scratches, it happens to the best drivers.

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  6. Thank you guys, I feel better accepting the reality of what you're saying. I'll keep repeating to myself that my car is not an investment just a vehicle to get me from point a to point b.

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  7. Too bad about your car. Since cars have become such a reflection of who we are (and even more so in a place like LA), it is easy to take it personal when one picks up a few bumps or bruises. While some cars are a sure-fire investment (think late 1960’s Ferrari’s and Corvettes, witnessed at www.barrett-jackson.com), I would also argue that your daily ride is an investment… in your success. Without a car, how would most of us get to work on time? Being on time (and being able to get around on time) can help you move your way up in the corporate ladder, which is an investment in your future. AND, while loosing money is inevitable for most cars, keeping your car in good condition goes along way to maintaining it’s value. A good cleaning and coat of wax every three months will keep your car looking new – and remind you how nice it is, thus helping prevent you from wanting a new ride.

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