I found a car! But can I be profitable MSing?

Oh, wow. Sort of need some input here. I finally found a car I can afford the purchase price of $2,000.

It's a 2006 Volvo S80.

The problem is mileage. It's only gonna get 25 mpg on highway, less in town. And it uses ONLY premium gas -- and I know that's gonna bounce right back up as soon as all this "stuff" dies down.

My old Buick got 30 mpg, regularly. Plus, upkeep/repairs, relatively cheap. My mechanic
says if anything goes wrong with the Volvo, repairs will be 3X what my old Buick was.

I do have an appointment with my TRUSTED (highly!) mechanic for Thursday. I'll pick the car up tomorrow morning, and return it Friday (I love rural Nebraska!).

Pluses, I know Volvo has an excellent safety record. It has an above-average reliability record.

Minuses: No historical repair record. I ran the Carfax on the VIN, of course, and it comes back clean. No owners manual. No idea if the timing chain -- if there is one -- has been replaced.

OK, I need your advice/input/ideas/suggestions.

Two thousand is definitely in my price range, and it's the ONLY car I've found in 6 months.

Thanks in advance!

(My thoughts: Premium gas/low MPG makes this a no deal. Even if it's the ONLY deal!!!)

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The cost between premium gas and regular unleaded isn't that bad, even if you're running with a 5-cylinder engine.... Think of it this way too, your car expense is only $2k, which is a deal in itself. The longer you drive the car, the better value you get out of it. So yes, maintain the $2k car, and you will come out farther than getting say ahead.

Regular Mid-Grade Premium
Current Avg. $1.918 $2.309 $2.571
Source: [gasprices.aaa.com]

Relatively speaking, premium unleaded gas is 34% more than regular unleaded, on average. The bright side is that the car is only $2k AND it's a 2006. Your collision coverage and insurance in general will be dirt cheap too.

Let's say the full tank is 16 gallons for the average sedan: $1.918*16 = $30.69 vs. $2.571*16 = $41.14.

If anything, what's going to break the bank MORE is total maintenance and repairs, NOT gas.

As for your concern for repairs, remember that parts will be more expensive simply cause of foreign, imported parts; however, labor should stay relatively the same. If you stick with the Volvo, consider working with the mechanic for options for parts. Some parts make sense to stick with OEM, while others you're okay playing with aftermarket, especially dealing with a car older than 10 years. Just got to do a little research ANY time you're working with a mechanic regardless.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2020 09:02AM by Tarantado.
Almost all owners' manuals are available on line. Don't print it, save the ink cost, just bookmark it and refer to it when needed.

I wouldn't go near a used Volvo. Buy something reliable. My first car when I started practicing law was an XJ8 Jaguar. It was expensive. It lasted 60k miles in four years and needed thousands in repairs. My next car was a 2007 Toyota Prius. It has almost 500k miles now and is fine. Wait and buy a used Toyota Camry or Corolla or Honda. The gas isn't the issue with the Volvo. I would love to go buy a used Mercedes since they are so "cheap." I won't though. The selling price is the least of your concerns. Instead, we bought a new Prius as the second commuter car.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2020 12:53PM by Niner.
CAVEAT EMPTOR! How did you find this vehicle? Craigslist? If so, RUN AWAY. Do you know the person who is selling the car? Do you trust that person? Why is the vehicle being sold? Why hasn't that person sold the vehicle to a family member, rather than offering it on the open market? Granted, your trustworthy mechanic is an "ace in the hole," but I would be very leery. In addition, MS opportunities will be scarce for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic, so "look before you leap."
There is no "mid-grade" premium here. We have ONE gas station within 45 miles, and its only premium is regularly $1 a gallon more than the cheapest gas is. Right now, regular is $1.67; premium is $2.69. If it averages 20 MPG, that's an additional nickel a mile.

Nickles add up when you're putting several thousand miles a month on a car.

Thanks, all, for the input. You've helped me tremendously with clarifying this.

I fear the purchase price is, indeed, the tip of the iceberg. I do have recent experience with vehicles that get low mileage, and the adverse effect on profitability is startling.

Thanks, everybody.
Having a car is wonderful when you have a reason to drive it. It might be months before mystery shopping takes off again. I know in our state there are no shops but phone shops available right now other than a low paying Marketforce drive thru. We are under lockdown until the end of April but I anticipate that will be extended at least until the end of May. At that time I probably will do some merchandising jobs. I am guessing I won't have in person shops (at least more than 1-2 a week) until August. Maybe a few demos. Bonuses will be non-existent for awhile.

So ask yourself if it's worth having a car and paying insurance for it for 3-4 months with no money coming in, then ask yourself it's worth driving 200 mile routes for multiple non-bonused shops.

My oldest sister drives a Volvo and it's $75 for an oil change.
There must be a mid size town in rural Nebraska. In that town are there not cars for sale? I agree with Niner, Toyota or Honda are better choices than Volvo.
@ceasesmith wrote:

There is no "mid-grade" premium here. We have ONE gas station within 45 miles, and its only premium is regularly $1 a gallon more than the cheapest gas is. Right now, regular is $1.67; premium is $2.69. If it averages 20 MPG, that's an additional nickel a mile.

Nickles add up when you're putting several thousand miles a month on a car.

Thanks, all, for the input. You've helped me tremendously with clarifying this.

I fear the purchase price is, indeed, the tip of the iceberg. I do have recent experience with vehicles that get low mileage, and the adverse effect on profitability is startling.

Thanks, everybody.

If you are counting nickels on gas, your mind will be blown when that thing needs a new transmission, etc.

Volvo S60 Problems
Transmission Shifting Issues Due to Internal Failure and/or Software Issues
The automatic transmission may develop shifting problems and/or the Check Engine Light may illuminate due to internal component failure and/or software issues. It is always best to be sure the...
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Front Upper Strut Mounts May Fail and Cause Noise Over Bumps
Front upper strut mounts may wear prematurely, resulting in loud noise from the front of the vehicle when going over bumps.
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Exterior Light Bulbs May Burn Out Prematurely
It is not uncommon for the exterior light bulbs to burn out prematurely. No repair option has been reported other than replacing the failed bulb.
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Volvo Extends Warranty on ETM Due to High Failure Rate
The Electronic Throttle Module (ETM) has a higher than normal failure rate. Volvo has extended the warranty on some of the ETMs to 10 years/200,000 miles
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Erratic Shifting or Loss of Transmission Operation
Several complaints have been reported regarding Volvo S60 transmission shifting issues. Long shift times between gear shifts, hard shifting, hard downshifting and a loss of transmission operation...
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Look at this page

From that page:
"WEDGE11 years ago
Best Answer
Unfortunately, they are expensive to repair and there isn't much you can do about it! I own, (owned), an S80 T6 that required a multitude of repairs and even tho' my mechanic is a "master" technician and quite able to repair just about any vehicle, he can't work on my Volvo because it requires all specialized tools. I had my S80 for two years this month and I have probably spent in the neighborhood of $5K in repairs during the two years. Now, the timing chain broke and smashed the pistons into the intake valves and the dealer is estimating at $7500. to repair if nothing else is wrong. Of course the price will go up if they find anything else. (His rate is $148./hr) I am getting up and running away from Volvos because of the inherent cost to repair!!!!"

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2020 04:20PM by Niner.
Oh, my word! Yet Volvo constantly brags about their safety rating. It's all about the "spin," not to mention the almighty dollar, isn't it?
I drive a 15 year old luxury German car which I adore and have no plans of selling at least until I hit the jackpot. It only has 85000 miles on it..(had 29,000 when I got it 6-7 years ago, so it was in mint condition) But things go wrong with older vehicles.The cost is high with foreign cars. The Volvo may have less problems than the BMW I drive, but I have had at least $2000 per year in repairs and maintenance ranging from water pumps, hoses, brakes, oil leak problems with engine that I forget what it's called..separator??, oil changes, new battery, tires etc. I use a private mechanic who is good but not much less expensive than the dealer's prices. It also takes premium gas which I used to get mostly covered from shops.

How many miles are on the Volvo? If it is not in tip top shape, you could be hit with a costly repair soon after getting it. For $2k I would think it is not in tip top shape. Could you handle shelling out 2-3k or more for a repair? If not, I think you should keep looking, especially since there are currently no shops to drive to nowadays. See what your mechanic says about it, but weigh the costs too. I know it must be tempting.

Edited because I don't know the difference between way and weigh today.

A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Zen Shin Talks

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2020 04:54PM by MsJudi.
I am thrilled because you found something! Your trusted mechanic will weigh in and provide some guidance. Each car has a history, and I hope that the history of this Volvo is traceable. The specific vehicle information is even more helpful than the general track record of Volvos. Good luck! smiling smiley

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music. - Gustav Mahler
Like Jas said, since there are really no worthwhile shops right now, you might not need the extra expense of owning a car. Also, if you bide your time, you may be able to find a vehicle that is less expensive to run and maintain in the next few months.

Omg no. If you have $2000, pay back all the people to whom you owe money and call it a day. You clearly aren’t profitable. It’s time to call it a day. Take a page out of Irenes book. Aren’t you mid 70’s?
My Mom had a Volvo station wagon when I was growing up. Very big, very strong, safe. We loved it. But it was very expensive for repairs. Before my Dad died, he bought the parts (still very expensive) and did repairs himself. After, every month something broke and the repair costs were unbelievable. We were stranded and had to get a ride home and have the car towed a bunch of times. We couldn't afford a new car, but eventually after adding up all the repair bills, my mom's boss said he would help her and suggested she get a new Honda Civic - which was 12K at the time. Her payments were less than $300/month, and she and her boss figured that she had been putting between $300 and $400 a month repairs into the old Volvo. Back then gas costs were not such a big deal, but her gas mileage doubled and it cut her driving costs by 50%. I would never advise someone to buy an old Volvo unless they liked working on cars themself or had a second vehicle....and a lot of money for repairs.
We are a Honda, Toyota and then back to Honda family. They are the BEST. I don't feel the need to drive a luxury car although DH and I deserve one at this point in our lives. We ask ourselves, "Where are we going to drive it? To the mall? Golf course? Supermarket? Out to dinner, show and then have to park it in a garage? To our relatives' homes?" The only way we would consider a luxury car was if we spent a lot of time in it which none of my family does. Mass transit is used to and from work.

I would also caution buyer beware for all the reasons cited by savvy shoppers/consumers above. We just bought a brand new Honda EX for one of our DDs. The safety features were wonderful. Safety features from a car dating back to 2006 are now way out of date. I would save your money for food, rent, utilities and other life's basic incidentals.
The internet is really your best friend for finding a good reliable vehicle. Per the advice of others I would stay away from Volvo. I personally have driven Hyundai Elantras forever. No real problems or repairs. I had at least 3 including my current one. I had a Mazda in between and would not buy another. My family all has had Honda, Volkswagen and Kia. Edmunds.com is a good place to start but I would hold off a few months till the world starts to go back to a new normal.

Shopping Western NY, Northeast and Central PA, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. Have car will travel anywhere if the monies right.
My brother has been an auto mechanic for over 50 years. He owns his own shop. He won't touch a Volvo with a 50' pole. Volvo's do have timing chains. He says your looking at least $1500- $1900 to have it replaced. A computer costs $2500 + . He says none of the mechanics in the area will touch a Volvo. There is only one place in the area to take it and that is the Volvo dealer. The dealer charges $125.00 an hour plus parts.
My brother says to go with a Toyota camry, they last up to 500,000 miles.
I picked up the car this morning, and will keep it til Friday. (I love Nebraska! No way do you get a 3 day test drive anywhere else, LOL!!!)

Mostly due to your great feedback, it's not a deal I'm gonna make.

I already feel the test drive is a mistake, of course: one cannot help falling in love with the darn thing!

But life without a car SUCKS. Imagine not being able to just go when you want to go. We dont have taxis, or Lyft or Uber or anything like that. And I call my friends and get rides, sure; but mostly they won't even let me put gas in their car or pay them, so I feel like I'm imposing. Or they take advantage of me (one neighbor charged me $62 to take me shopping, and I only earned $84 -- so not worth it!).

Thanks for all the feedback.
I perfectly well know what it is like to not have a car. Yes, it sucks. That was me at one point in my life when in college, but I was young and able to walk, ride my bike etc. And, since I lived in a city, I was able to utilize public transit. I know that this isn't an option for you in rural NE and nothing is walking distance. Even now if public transit was an option, it's not a good one with the corona virus spreading around.

Even if you did have Uber or Lyft, it requires using an app and a credit or debit card...and again, exposing yourself to pathogens that could take you down in a heartbeat. On the upside, you are isolated enough where you may never ever come in contact with the corona virus, which is awesome.

Your neighbor that raked you over the coals is an ass.

Your neighbor that raked you over the coals is an ass.
Karma is watching, waiting. She'll visit that neighbor.
This is from the Nebraska government website:

"Purchasing a Used Car “As Is”
Buying a used car can be risky and the responsibility for the purchase falls on the buyer.

If the vehicle is sold “As Is” this means that the consumer agrees to purchase the car in its current condition. The consumer is buying the vehicle as it is on the lot with no express or implied warranty by the seller. This means that once the purchase is complete the seller is under no obligation to make repairs.

In Nebraska, there is no three day right to cancel the purchase of a vehicle and the lemon law only applies to new vehicles.

If you have a complaint about a vehicle dealer, you can file a complaint with the Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board. You can find their complaint form here."

Are you sure about that 3 days?!?
You mean is the 3 day "test drive" actually an unspoken agreement that she is going to purchase the vehicle?
No, the test drive is I keep the car until my mechanic looks it over; the earliest appointment was Thursday at 2 PM. Seller had other stuff to do, so just said "keep it til Friday or Saturday". That's rural Nebraska for ya! He gave me his proof of insurance and a written note giving me permission to drive it.

Of course, he's hoping I'll buy it.

I have decided I can't.

Not really fair of me, I know. I didn't find out about the miles per gallon and the premium gas until I'd already arranged for my mechanic to check it out.

It certainly is a sweet car, but I really feel I cannot afford the upkeep. Just replacing a headlight is like $300. Ugh.
I don't know why you are stuck on the premium gas and mpg. Those are the least of your issues with this car. Is the seller a dealer? You could always tell him you are looking for a Toyota or Honda. The used car lots go to auctions. He could probably get you something specific.
I have a question. How much fun can you have with your next car? Depending upon what opens up first after all the restrictions and shutdowns, you might be able to enjoy some inexpensive traveling in addition to wondering about MS-ing.

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music. - Gustav Mahler
Hmmm....We did look into the Volvo XC90 when researching new cars. It was gorgeous, luxurious, safety features were on par and it just so happened that the manager of the dealership was one of DD's friend's parents from elementary school. Way too big of a SUV/car for her, let alone the price. He was truthful and non pressuring. He advised a HONDA as the best car for your buck. As I and others have said, do your research online and take your time.

Your friend that took you MS'ing does not sound like a friend. No one gets over on someone unless they allow them to or if they do not know better. The fact is that you know better. Set the price before you accept their 'kindness' and weigh the benefits.

Niner's research on the 3 day Nebraska car thing sale has me concerned for you. I have never heard of a 3 day test drive but then again, that's me. What about the insurance? If you get into an accident or damage the car while it's in you possession, does his insurance cover it? You say he gave you written permission. I am not sure if that overs your liability. Good luck to you.
Oh, like I said, it's a rural Nebraska thing. Dealerships100+ miles away will bring the car to your house, tell you to keep it and for how long, and then either pick it up or let you drive it back to the dealership.

The "test drives" I take cars on when I'm MSing are a joke. You can't really tell anything about a car in 10 minutes of city driving, LOL!

His insurance has me covered.

Agreed about Honda/Toyota.

And I do not drive, ever, for "fun".

Hung up on MPG and premium gas? Because they immediately impact the cost of MSing.

If it costs me $11 in gas to get to a shop and home, that's what I use to figure if the shop is worth it. The same shop will cost me $36 in gas in this car. Three hours of drive time plus $36 means most of my "mini-routes" are no longer profitable.

Because there's no cushion in my budget -- I have to have the gas money TODAY to do the shop today, as well as whatever cash is required to complete the shop. Unlike the vast majority, I have no credit cards.

And the neighbor? Agreed to pay for the gas for the trip, $10 in cash before we left, and another $10 after we returned. Sixty miles from home, he said he needed an additional $20 in cash, right there -- or he'd leave me there to get back home on my own.

Major jerk.

To add insult to injury, he still wanted the additional $10 after we got back, he feels I still owe him $10! Nope. Because of his insisting on the $20, I had to do without wine for ten days, as I didn't then have enough cash to buy wine for myself.

And a glass of wine nightly is something I truly look forward to and enjoy.

That's how tight money is for me.
MPG are almost incalculably important in our world, which involves at least 416 IC miles every week. That is just for the hubby's job. My IC work adds more mileage. Our vehicles do not require premium gas, and they get good gas mileage. They were chosen for being affordable, plain looking, and easy to maintain. But that is just us.

Your neighbor will get his comeuppance and you will get something good. Life just works that way.

If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music. - Gustav Mahler

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/08/2020 05:29PM by Shop-et-al.
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