Vehicle Maxims

This is just a quick note to let you know that I’ve added a couple of new pages to the site.

I have a number of automotive theories and I’ve decided to document them on pages here so that I can refer back to them from time to time, with links to the theories that I’m working from.

They’re my automotive maxims. Before a Maxim was a men’s magazine or a fancy restaurant, it was a proverbial saying that outlined a basic truth. These are the automotive maxims I’m aiming for.

I have two maxims up on site at the moment: Vehicle Value Theory and Get The Best. I’m working on a third one called Flaw Theory, which will be complete whenever I can be bothered getting it done.

Please take a look if you feel so inclined. Comments are not open on those pages but you’re welcome to post any thoughts here. If you’ve got any suggestions for additional maxims then I’d be happy to hear those, too.

The maxim should be a conceptual rule that has been proven in your life on a consistent basis. It’s not an absolute and it is subject to exceptions, but in general terms it should be sound advice to live by when facing an automotive decision.

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  1. No discussion of used car values/prices is complete without a reference to “the market for lemons.”

    Arguably, the market for collector and classic cars is better informed, so the lemon principles aren’t as important.

    1. On an academic level I can appreciate where they’re coming from. But there’s no quicker way to kill a field of genuine interest than handing it over to an economist (unless you’re an economist, of course).

      I used to know a joke about an economist stuck on a desert island with an engineer and some other professional and a cache of tinned food with no way to open it. Can’t remember it now, but the punchline was “if we assume a can opener”…..

  2. Tagging on Bernard, above, even though I completely buy into the Vehicle Value Theory, I’ve always found it hard to quantity the differences given that used vehicle sellers have uneven pricing habits. That’s the single factor that’s difficult to factor out. It simply means that we must be very vigilant as buyers, I guess.

  3. I think you are on to something. When we got together in Hobart last February I said I was thinking about a new garage-mate for Dame Edna (’07, 2.3T). Maybe a new Kia Optima. No, don’t buy new if not necessary. But up the ante on used . . , the garage-mate is an off-lease (at 54,000 km), factory Certified, 2010 MB E350, Premium Package, full glass roof, AMG trim, leather, etc. for very little more than a new loaded family car of other makes, and with 4 more years of full warranty. For barely double the price of what are looking at. Options cost a ton at purchase but most hardly count on resale, so my sub-Maxim would be (as you found with your Viggen), get the model level that has all the bells and whistles you want, not a lower model optioned up, if resale value will be important for you. Applied your Maxims!

    Incidentally, or not so incidentally, the SAAB is much more sporty to drive, has marginally better seats, and is slightly easier on gas (even with the toe down a bit), but the E350 is quieter and has much more up-to-date AC, other comfort features, and electronics . . . perfect fro cross-continent drives. And it won’t cost a penny to get up to standard. Not a squeak in 6000 km so far. But the SAAB stays too! Fun counts! And both are tops in safety–matters to me because more time on the road means more exposure to risks.

    Still in disbelief about that Tazzie “muffin”!


  4. Small addition: Some people are crooks. Worth remembering when buying anything. So, you can pay more than something is worth and fix something that was hidden, too. But, most people are honest.

    Just a thought.

  5. I buy new cars like you buy used cars. If I bought the best, that would be it. I would never buy another car because I owned the “best.” Unfortunately with cars there is always something new and improved. You also need to know that the best is the best and not just more expensive.

  6. Never think that electric toys and frippery can compete with a great driving experience and comfort.
    I’ve had newer cars loaded with loads of gizmos but the 2005 9-5 vector combi that 1 bought 18 months ago has brought back the joy of driving for the first time since I had a 900 turbo in the early 80s.
    I don’t miss the gizmos at all because its simply a lovely car to drive.

      1. “Never think that electric toys and frippery can compete with a great driving experience and comfort.”

        100% correct, if as Swade said, “It goes without saying that this Maxim is for those for whom cars are a passion.”

        Cars have been a passion of mine since I started working on them at the tender age of 10. 52 years ago.

        I had a neighbor who had race cars, and he invited me to help him build & maintain them, after hanging around his garage for a few days. I was drawn to the sounds of the engines.

        First thing he taught me was how to rebuild a carburetor. Next thing was to setup a rear diff. Had them both down pat in no time.

        When I was ordering my 2013 Audi S5 Coupe, the sales woman, who I have bought two other Audis from, was offering to give me the “Audi Advanced Key” keyless entry system (a USD$500.00 option) for no charge. Told her thanks…but no thanks.

        I only put three paid options on the car. Two to enhance the handling of the car, and one to provide great sound whilst traveling on long trips…of which I take many.

        1) The “Sport Differential”, which makes the car handle as if it were on rails.

        2) 19″ wheels with “Summer” tires.

        3) The Bang & Olufsen (B&O) sound system.

        The one non-paid option was for “Alcantara” seating surfaces. Those make your backside stay glued to the seats, as if you were attached with Velcro. Comes in handy during “spirited” driving. 🙂

        I did not want a Nav System, automatic transmission, automatic crusie control, “Lane Departure” system, backup camera, or any other electronic “gee-gaws”.

        I merely wanted a car that would perform & handle to its best abilities, and I got it.

        Of course I was “crucified” on some of the Audi owners forums for this by some of the twits there for turning down the Advanced Key & Nav System, but you know, it’s my money, and I got what I wanted, not what someone else THOUGHT I should have. I have since stopped visiting all of the Forums…just too many “know-it-alls” with more money than talent, who in reality, know very little.

        So the Maxim might really be “You should always endeavour to get the absolute best model variant, or the best option package THAT FITS YOUR CRITERIA, when you buy a car.”

  7. ‘Get the best’ also applies to the condition of the car. I’d much rather but a mint used car for more money than a cheaper car that needs to be fixed up or was not maintained very well. You often spend more money with the cheaper car anyways.

    I have had (quite) a few Saabs over the years and I learned anything less than an Aero is not going to make me happy. Sure, you can tune a Linear or Arc, add the bodywork and such but it will never be like the real thing.

    Not sure if this is a maxim but I also figured out over the years that when you find a great used car for a good price, jump on it and buy it if you have been looking for a while. If you hesitate, someone else will buy it before you and you’ll be sorry. Like my 2005 9-5 Aero SportCombi with 43K miles I bought last year. 🙂

  8. Think I got another one: “Buy an airplane”, with which I mean apply the basic concepts that hold for assessing aircraft to buying cars; i.e. as an economic good. Things like range under given conditions, running hard tests to determing fuel consumption at several different speeds instead of relying on some strange test cycles, weighing your family and luggage for finding a car with the right load. Determine interiour size by taking actual measures, etc.

    Or, in other words: don’t get fooled by “image” and advertising bubbles; use you own brain.

    Oh, I have another one “stare at cars” that might interest you. Not on images, but in reality. Often. Still like the design after a couple of months? Good.