Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Matter of Time

In vehicle ownership there always comes a time when you have to decide if its still worth it to fix your car. There is always that point of diminishing returns where you have to make tough choices. I think most people look forward to that day (buying new cars is fun), but with regard to my Landcruiser, I dread it. There are two main reasons for this. First, I don't want to pay for another truck, and second, (more important) I don't want to give up the one I have.

Landcruisers are iconic. Across the globe they are recognized as the quintessential backcountry workhorse. This is how I usually describe it: Landcruisers are to SUVs as Harleys are to motorcycles. When you own one its like joining the club. It is unique in its abilities and strengths. For many years Toyota has considered it their flagship line and the quality evident throughout its design and construction reflects this high opinion.

But it is still just a car.

Consumer Reports will tell you that a new one will likely run for 200,000 miles. That's pretty dang good, but it still only puts off that day of diminishing returns, and it comes at a steep price. Since its a flagship, it was built with the best components. The cost of these components does not depreciate with the cost of the truck. Actually, the opposite is usually true since parts availability declines through the years (especially due to the relatively low numbers of Landcruisers imported to the US thoughout the '90s).

So, even though it is likely to run great for many years, once things begin to go wrong you may reach that point of diminishing returns quicker. Indeed, if I was not knowledgeable about cars and able to work on it myself, we would have reached that point long ago. I think I have a higher tolerance for servicing cars than many people. Don't confuse that to mean I like driving a clunker. I mainly want to use my skill to maintain the vehicle in extremely good condition despite its age.

I fear the day because I can see it coming. My Landcruiser has about 201,700 miles and its 18 years old (built in January 1994). It feels right around the corner. When I bought it, it was my intention to own it for 10 years. This fall will be five, so I want to get five more.

Despite my expectation, whenever a new problem presents itself I can't help but wonder if this is the one that will tip the scales and put me over the point. I have recently put to bed some long outstanding problems, but there are more to come.

The two major issues scare me to death because I can't effectively troubleshoot them. They are tricky and intermittent, and both have potentially serious consequences. I won't go into the details; that isn't the point of this post.

I wish cars didn't get old. I prefer to have cars for many years. Next time I'm going to buy something newer, but I don't think I'll ever pony up the cash for a new car. I hope I can keep justifying fixing the Landcruiser. Cross your fingers for me.


At 8:02 AM, Blogger Miriam said...

I'm having the same conversation with myself about my sewing machine :) Fingers crossed for both of us.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Ashley and Dave said...

So. Do you love your landcruiser or your puppy dog more?? That is such an evil question huh. Bahahahaa.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger B. Kruger said...

I'm impressed you know what month your land cruiser was born in.


Post a Comment

<< Home