My ride, which stickered out at $31,000 at the turn of the century, is nothing more than a beater today. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except maybe for this:
Many manufacturers are no longer producing OEM spare parts. You have to rely on cheap Far Eastern knockoff components, where the quality is at best questionable, at worst abysmal. Even there, only the more popular parts are being produced in economical quantities. Try to find something hard-to-get, and you’ll pay through the nose. Furthermore, many parts are now only available as complete sub-assemblies. For example, on my wife’s car, a front headlight must now be bought as a complete assembly, even though only one bracket is defective. You simply can’t buy the bracket on its own — at least, not from the manufacturer. Additive manufacturing (so-called “3D printing”) is supposed to help alleviate this problem, but I haven’t yet seen any reports of it making a significant difference.
Therefore, your old beater car will remain a good, low-cost solution, unless and until you can’t get the parts you need to keep it on the road. We might end up like Cuba, where thousands of pre-revolution cars had to be kept going for decades with ingenuity, handmade parts and other workarounds, because there were no replacement vehicles available.
In my specific case, Nissan still has stocks of some stuff, but dealers have only so much space in the parts room, so only the most common widgets are kept on hand. That said, I’ve only seen two instances where my local dealership presumably could not get Nissan OEMs: rear brake rotors, supplied by the aftermarket at about 40 percent off, and wiper blades, supplied by Rain-X.
Still, the car was assembled in the fall of 1999, fercryingoutloud. At a hair beyond 174,000 miles, it’s presumably not ready to be retired. Then again, the dreaded word “SALVAGE” appears across the title.