Dear Car Talk:
I have a great deal of anxiety over choosing between my old, but highly reliable, car and the new one purchased to replace it. Nearly 16 years ago, I purchased a Saturn SL (the stripper model) for a miserly $9,600 — including tax! I thought it might last a couple of years and would be chucked for something fancier later on. Well, 305,000 miles later, my Saturn has proven to be the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned. I’ve never been stranded or have failed to get wherever I needed to go, mile after mile. It continues to run flawlessly, even with its original clutch — and rear brakes! Last year I purchased a new Subaru Crosstrek, figuring that my faithful Saturn couldn’t go on forever. The Subaru has been sitting for months, waiting patiently for its garage-mate to go to automotive Valhalla. It waits still. So, do I continue to drive my highly reliable and economical Saturn, or put it out to pasture so I can drive my more comfortable Subaru? I feel guilty ditching a car that’s been so completely reliable for so many years. — Pat
I don’t remember the Saturn stripper model. Does it have a pole between the rear seats?
Look, Pat: If you’ve driven a base-model Saturn SL for 305,000 miles, you have done your penance. No further bad luck will ever befall you.
And since it’s never left you stranded, now is an excellent time to quit while you’re ahead — and you are ahead. Of course, I probably would have said that to you if you’d written to me 150,000 miles ago.
But seriously, you have a nice new car. It’s sitting in the garage depreciating. It also will be reliable (cars, in general, are much more reliable than they were 16 years ago). Not to mention safer, more comfortable and better handling. And your backseat passengers won’t have to work around that stripper pole.
I think you should donate the Saturn to some high-school or college kid who needs a car to get to school or work. That should go a long way toward eliminating any guilt you feel about moving on. Your old Saturn can continue to serve honorably.
You’ve more than gotten your money’s worth out of the Saturn. And it’s likely that its longevity was, at least in part, related to you. You probably drive gently and take good care of your cars. So there’s no reason to think your new Subaru won’t also keep going until you’re sick of it and it’s an embarrassment to your friends and family.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, Pat. Good work.
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