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  #1  
Old 08-28-2003, 08:35 AM
Coming back from burnout
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: in the Pacific Northwest
Posts: 2,274
44 yrs old--time to stop working on cars?

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/snow7ice/BENZ.html

I have an 85 300D (Owner Rebuilt engine) 83 240D (owner rebuilt engine )91 Volvo 940 Turbo (owner rebuilt engine).
The last couple of weeks, all three cars were idle and needed major repairs:

2 Alternators (240D/300d)
2 MacPherson Struts (Volvo)
1 Exhaust System (240D)
1 set rebuilt brake calipers (85 300D)
1 ball joint (85 300D)
2 AC systems
1 Front End to be fixed--(240D)

I did all the work on my last vacation in 95 degree heat and 95% humidity. I feel like I am 95 years old this morning. I am surprised my wife didnt leave me. The neighbors think I am Nuts.

I watch the new generation of kids, they are going into business and Computers and healthcare. They dont work on cars. I feel like an old violin maker. I started working on cars when I was 23.

Is it time to hang this up and go out and buy a new car?
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  #2  
Old 08-28-2003, 09:51 AM
Fimum Fit
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Sounds just like my summer, too, except

for the specific makes and models of cars with problems in the family (I've got 5 grown kids). It's even hotter here in Tidewater Virginia and I'm 61, due to retire from teaching in two years and go back to almost full time mechanic work.
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  #3  
Old 08-28-2003, 10:21 AM
I told you so!
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Motor City, MI
Posts: 2,790
Welcome to the club - (I'm 47) - so I can commiserate with you. I too wake up mornings feeling like I'm 80. Working on an old car vs. buying a newer one is a personal decision. One thing you can do is lower your tolerance level for car problems. As long as you drive, cars will break down and need repair. That's a given.

When my friends ask me why I work so hard at home, I tell them that I treat it as a second job. After all, money saved is money earned. This work allows me to enjoy some of the finer things that my peers can't afford. I see little difference between myself, who works 40 hours a week and wrenches in the evening, and the person who works 60 hours a week and then has to contract others to work on their car or home. At least I get some enjoyment from my evening work.

Don't let the new crop of kids get you down. They're hocked to the gills with their posessions. Myself (and perhaps yourself) own everything free and clear. Should the economy get worse, guess who'll fare better?
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  #4  
Old 08-28-2003, 10:21 AM
inspector1
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If you dont enjoy dont do it is my motto
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  #5  
Old 08-28-2003, 10:34 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I hate to say it but you can pay someone to do that for you.

I'll be 55 tomorrow and I'll love it if I can do about 5 alignments. I'll loose a gallon of sweat and feel great after all its only 93 with 90 percent humidity. I'll do AC after work.

Summers are great in north central Florida.
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Continental Imports
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  #6  
Old 08-28-2003, 11:05 AM
moedip
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Hey Carrameow - I am 56 and have spent all my free time since May working on the six cars in my family and stripping down a 1986 Jetta diesel to the bare body - cleaning and replacing interior as required, sanding and re-painting it and completely going through all the mechanicals including dropping in another engine and tranny - so my son's girlfriend can have a reliable car when she buys it from me next week. There are days I feel like 90 - but I enjoy it and as long as I can do it at my own pace (no time constraints) - I will continue. The satisfaction of having the cars all working great is worth it. You are only as old as you feel. I heat my house up here with wood in the winter. Being lazy I bought 6 cords of Ash firewood from a guy cut and split and delivered. When he brought it out, he looked like he was 60 -62 years old. He said he cuts the trees down and cuts them to length and splits them by hand " to keep busy". I asked him how he did that at his age. He said " you know, at 78 years old, if you don't keep active - everything slows down and the body aches" HE IS 78 YEARS OLD AND STILL DOING THIS GRUELLING WORK!! -----IF YOU ENJOY WORKING ON THE CARS - KEEP IT UP - YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD!
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  #7  
Old 08-28-2003, 12:22 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: roslyn, LI,NY
Posts: 445
age is to the beholder!

To all you young cockers out there: I am 76 next month, and just changed the water pump on my 63 corvette! I wouldnt attempt it on my m/b 1977 450sl because of the cockamamie way mercedes engineers put engine parts together. I must admit there is a good feeling when everything works ! So get of your soft asses and do something! Good luck, Abe G
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  #8  
Old 08-28-2003, 12:23 PM
csnow's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Mass
Posts: 1,127
Fun discussion.
I hear you. Crawling under cars hurts more than it used to afterwards. Sometimes I enjoy the work, but other times it is a real chore, particulary with competing obligations or bad weather conditions.
I've always been a 'part-time mechanic'.
My primary vocation is in software, but I've been messing with cars since before I could legally drive. I like to think I'm some sort of crazed 'renaissance man', who can work both in the virtual world and the physical world. I also do extensive home repairs among a slew of other 'hobbies'.

I grudgingly farm out auto repairs when I have to.
Sure the neighbors think I'm nuts, and my wife complains, but the practical economics are very compelling.

Here's why:

1) If I farmed out auto repairs, it would not be economical to hang onto older cars as long, so I would be burdened with the carrying costs and depreciation hit of owning newer cars. This is a very substantial economic factor in accumulating savings in the long term for most households.

2) My billing rate in software is pretty good, but clearing $70-100 per hour after taxes... not THAT good! As part time jobs go, DIY auto repairs pays pretty well. Auto repair costs have dramatically outpaced inflation, due to supply side factors. Even if you want to pay, getting good service is now a challenge.

3) Direct parts costs are often half what shops charge, particularly with the 'frictionless' and 'placeless' supply chain enabled by the Internet. Shops are not gouging, they just have different suppliers and priorities. This makes my effective billing rate even higher...

4) All of the above factors combined make auto repairs among the 'best paying' activities I do. Even better than most home repairs. This means that it is a much better deal for me to farm out cheaper services that would have consumed my time, like house cleaning and lawnmowing.

Now imagine how much you saved doing all that work yourself!
How many months earlier can you retire?

That said, everyone needs an actual vacation now and then...
Oh, and back surgery is very expensive, and could ruin my whole economic theory...
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2003, 01:05 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Epsom Downs, England
Posts: 152
Carrameow,

Maybe its just time to reduce your workload.

I'm 50m now, but I've always bought cars that have depreciated enough for me to be able to afford them, but not enough to keep me under them all the time.

With "normal" cars, this used to be about 100K miles, with a Mercedes it's probably 200K miles. These are rough figures because you never know how the previous owner treated her.......

The tough part is knowing when to let go before she costs you serious money.

There's not many jobs on the car that I actually enjoy, but I get great satisfaction knowing that the job's done properly, and I've saved a fortune.........the kind of money which would have made Mercedes ownership unthinkable if I payed a garage to do it.

There's psycological effects going here as well, at 21, I probably felt just as bad the next morning after as hard day's car-fixing, but I had more important things to think about in those days

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  #10  
Old 08-28-2003, 02:12 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,160
Carrameow

You can't quit..........at least not for another 11 years.
While I do a lot of work on my own vehicles ( as well as the kids cars ), I refuse to do exhaust work, or anything that would require special tools, that would most likely be used once in a lifetime.
Oh, and I will not attempt to repair something that I know nothing about & consider myself too old to learn.
This is a pretty good system, as it keeps the aches & pains to a minimum, and leaves a bit of " social time ", i.e. beer!
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  #11  
Old 08-28-2003, 03:06 PM
G-Benz's Avatar
Razorback Soccer Dad
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
I turn 44 this year...

I don't wrench because I love it...I do it to save money!

If I had deeper pockets I would farm out all of these mundane repairs, both cars and house.

Yeah, I could just go out and saddle myself with payment for a new spiffy model...but a few years down the road, I would be back at the same place!

It's a sanity call, really.
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  #12  
Old 08-28-2003, 04:55 PM
pfphipps
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I am 63. I grew up on an Indiana farm and we fixed everything because we had to--too far to town. I sometimes do not know if it is a blessing or a curse to be able to do some of these things myself. I often wonder why I still do things because now I can afford to have someone do the work. Just do not trust those mechanics younger than my cars!

In the past year or two, I have been more content to let others do it. It just seems that I have better things to do with my time. In fact, I have bought a new Mercedes, four year maintenance and a four year warranty so if they screw it up, they fix it. But I still work on my 1966 230SL! At least I now refuse to work on the neighbor's cars.
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  #13  
Old 08-28-2003, 04:59 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Boonville Indiana
Posts: 2,342
Re: 44 yrs old--time to stop working on cars?

Quote:
Originally posted by Carrameow
http://mywebpages.comcast.net/snow7ice/BENZ.html

I have an 85 300D (Owner Rebuilt engine) 83 240D (owner rebuilt engine )91 Volvo 940 Turbo (owner rebuilt engine).
The last couple of weeks, all three cars were idle and needed major repairs:

2 Alternators (240D/300d)
2 MacPherson Struts (Volvo)
1 Exhaust System (240D)
1 set rebuilt brake calipers (85 300D)
1 ball joint (85 300D)
2 AC systems
1 Front End to be fixed--(240D)

I did all the work on my last vacation in 95 degree heat and 95% humidity. I feel like I am 95 years old this morning. I am surprised my wife didnt leave me. The neighbors think I am Nuts.

I watch the new generation of kids, they are going into business and Computers and healthcare. They dont work on cars. I feel like an old violin maker. I started working on cars when I was 23.

Is it time to hang this up and go out and buy a new car?
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  #14  
Old 08-28-2003, 05:40 PM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: NE
Posts: 133
age

well, for what its worth, I'm 29 and I've been tinkering for a few years and enjoy doing the work and saving money. Oh and I also like feeling a little challenged perhaps. and getting some tangible results, working in mol bio doesn't afford too many of those; short term at any rate. I don't know if I am considered young, but if I am by the standards here, than I can say that there are some youngsters out and about who grew up with good parents who taught them what a good work ethic is. The next generations will have slackers and folks who want to rebuild old cars and bikes and everything inbetween, way its been for some time now... personally not worried. I watch my younger brother go to work as an architech from sunup till well past sundown, and that's just on the weekends....

Problem I have is I usually have no way of knowing when its going to be a no brainer and when its going to turn into something totally different. That's when I feel old, maybe that's more of what you mean perhaps? You feel like you can go out and fix it all and then one project seems to lead to another and at some point you just want to go back to the nice cozy grey cubicle with the nice cozy grey phone and nice cozy grey desk.

Here's my example to hopefully show you we all feel that way sometimes: There was a - its a blurred drunken memory now- 18hour door bell replacment fiasco that wasn't so much fun. If someone had told me going into it, look the PO has wired to doorbell into the security system, and oh yeah also into every doorbell- oh did I forget to mention they had one doorbell in every room for some unknown @#$@$ing reason... and well I might have said to the boss, lets just pay someone else so you don't have to watch me cry.

hang in there keep wrenching and carry a cane to whack all those young whipper snappers in the knees as you pass by mumbling


cdt
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  #15  
Old 08-28-2003, 08:19 PM
dtf dtf is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: South East CT
Posts: 824
Aspirin is the answer.
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1994 E320 Wagon (Died @ 308,669 miles)
1995 E300 Diesel (203,000)
1999 E300 Turbodiesel ( died @ 255,000)
2006 Toyota Tundra SR5 AC 4X4 (115,000 miles)
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