Weird Economics

Basically, economics is about human behaviour, especially as it pertains to the marketplace. It gets more complicated with all the other myriad influences we include or attach such as money supply, production limits, trends, interest rates and all the assorted detritus humans attach to getting their needs filled. But, it is all basically just a simple fulfillment issue run amok, if you think about it.

I mean: a bear gets hungry, walks through the woods to the river and catches a fish. Eats the fish. Then the bear poops in the forest on the way back home to his/her cave. Feedback supply chain writ simple. In effect, that is what we do when we buy a car or a house or even a salmon. We just complicate the hell out of it….even the pooping.

And I might have just about done the same. Almost…..(I like to think that I am just a smidge smarter than the average bear…..we’ll see)

I awoke from my cave one day and wondered if I needed a different car. And here goes the new ‘economic thinking’ on THAT process: My current vehicle is a sound, well-running, 2004 Nissan Pathfinder that serves our limited needs rather well. We drive little but we drive over bad, hardscrabble roads, in snow, always fully laden and with virtually no support services in case of problems. Reliability has been our key requirement and it has been rather well met now going on for twenty years (the last eight of which have been with us).

The next requirement we have of our vehicle is carrying ability. The more space the better. But we have dogs and they are still growing – and our sturdy little mid-sized SUV is not. Should I move up and out? Should I get a full-size?

Looking at say, a 2015 Nissan Armada (bigger brother to the Pathfinder and eight years old), most of the vehicles advertised already have 200,000 kms on the odometer or more. My 2004 only has 197,000 kms. So, there appears to be no advantage on an actual wear and tear comparison, largely speaking. My car ain’t worth a Tinker’s dam but the 2015 Armada example is in the $20K range so there is a lot of cost associated with a few extra cubic feet of cargo space.

Then there is the longevity factor….not the car’s so much as mine. We drive less than 5000 kms a year. The old Pathy is not even at it’s half-life. It will go another 200,000 kms rather uneventfully (with regular maintenance and a few repairs). In other words, if the car doesn’t dissolve, I could drive it for more than 40 more years! Mind you, when you are 115 it is likely one has cut back a bit on their driving so I might be able to drive it for as much as 50 more years.

Put more succinctly, my current car will outlast me. In fact, actuarially speaking, if I live to a reasonably expected age of 85...oh, hell…make it 90…..that is only 15 years or 75,000 kms! My car, at 275,000 kms is just middle-aged by that number. Me? I am compost.

So, the conclusion is that it is just bad economics to get a different car at this stage of my life. Even better, the old Pathy will likely even see Sally out a further 15 years down the line when she is 100.

The dogs are just gonna have to squeeze up a little…..

Real economic consideration factors in depreciation. The revelation for me was that, in this case (changed perspective), the depreciation is not applied to the car, it is applied to me!

16 thoughts on “Weird Economics

  1. Don’t even consider it! Your Pathy is on the verge of INCREASING in value, and it isn’t beleaguered with all the fancy electronics that are prone to break down! My 1997 Chevie 4×4 is a case in point. Every year it increases in value. So does my 2000 BMW roadster. These heritage vehicles and their owners are to be relished, and treated with respect.
    Are you ready for Mendoza yet?


    • I’ve been ready for Mendoza from the get go. It is the travel I can’t get my head around. Especially the airports. I used to look at taking a cruise ship down, hang there until the season changes and then take the returning cruise ship back. Sadly, it does not quite work out that way and, anyway, another friend recently came back from the SS Incarceration being subject to lock downs while enroute to ports that would not let the passengers in. I dunno, man……it seems like setting myself up for hysteria, frustration, madness and arrest…..ya know?


  2. I would have to agree with John. If it serves you well and has little electronics, you should stick to it. I have never seen a Nissan Armada in Europe (I don’t think this model exists over here).
    Getting a big storage box might do the trick for the coming years as the dogs grow to mature size
    But getting back to your blog, there is no such thing as simple economics and cars
    I am even surprised you did the math, found out that you are better of by keeping the car and still did NOT buy the bigger car. You know what they say about toys and boys!
    With the prices these days, most of the time when you do the math, it is simply the best option to stick with what you have if it is still working! The prices of mostly everything are sky high!
    Only thing you have left out of the equation: will the car pass the yearly inspection (do you have that in Canada?)


    • Strange what triggers thoughtful response…Dave and his old car…..still, I appreciate the responses hugely. Thank you. For the record, the older Nissan Safari was, in a way, like the Armada today. Just a bit larger. The Nissan Titan is a full-sized pick-up and the Armada is a full-size SUV built on the same frame. And yes, the engines are very good, reliable and drink gasoline like a fish drinks water. I have decided to put some $ into the old Pathy. NOT cosmetic.


  3. An annual inspection could be inimical to the Sally driving the Pathfinder at age 100. But, happily, British Columbia has done away with them. In fact, I don’t think BC ever had them, except when registering an out-of-province car. Mind you, until age 85, Dave court probably do the servicing on the Pathfinder to keep it passing inspections, if required.

    BC did, for some years, have a program, called AirCare. It was an annual inspection for emissions and required certain standards to be met. But, it only applied to vehicles registered in a few large cities, like Vancouver. So, if you owned a place away from there, you could register there and avoid it, as well as avoid the higher Territory 1 insurance rate for Vancouver. Of course, if you had an insurance claim, you might end up having to explain being rated outside Territory 1.

    When I lived in Los Angeles, there too there were no mechanical inspections, only “Smog Check” every 2 years. There were a number of exemptions. I drove with BC plate for 2 of my 3 years there and avoided Smog Check. I drove a car I bought in California for awhile in BC and ducked AirCare. No self-respecting off-gridder is gonna’ sit in a line of cars for an hour waiting to get emissions tested. BC took a more rigorous approach to the matter than did CA, but it did not last. AirCare existed from 1992 to 2014.

    Also, whether there are mandatory inspections of any sort or not is not is not something that applies to Canada. Here, motor vehicle legislation is provincial. Each Canadian province has its own laws and there is no uniformity. Then there is Read Island. The Wild West. Lawlessness reigns supreme. Read Islanders would take up arms (that’s another control story) if told there would be inspections of any sort. Of course, they’d have to comply with registration laws first, before the regulators would know who to order to attend an inspection. I think Trudeau would have to send the military by land, sea and air to have any hope of bringing law and order to Read Island.

    Wimdegendt, you are not alone in not knowing of Nissan “Armada”. I have not heard of it heretofore. But then, I don’t pay much attention to vehicle makes and models. But these things seem to vary by country. I bought 2 cars when I lived in the Philippines – a Nissan “Safari” and a Toyota “Sportrunner”. I have not seen those in Canada. In 2016 was looking to buy a new pickup truck. I had 2 Ford Rangers. One – a 2008 – was our “town truck” and the other – a 2005 – was our island truck. Both were very good. So, I thought of buying a new Ranger. I wanted one with a “crew cab” and 4 doors, instead of 2 doors and “rumble seats” in the back. Driving across Canada or US with one person relegated to the rumble seat was less than ideal. I had seen crew cab rangers online. Turns out, Rangers are not sold in North America anymore. I am in the Philippines at the moment and seeing nice, new, shiny crew cab Ford Rangers. Maybe I’ll bring one back to BC.

    The “Armada” sounds intimidating. Maybe because it’s a large and burns as much fuel as a modern-day Spanish Armada? Maybe it should be called the Exxon Valdez. Probably, as seems to be the consensus here, Dave should just keep the Pathfinder. With a name like that, it always knows its way home. Very reassuring.


    • Reminds me of the time H picked up the RCMP to take them to the remote cabin of a recently deceased. “Before I bring down my truck, you will have to agree NOT to see just about everything you see including the lack of plates, insurance, registration and the passenger door.” They laughed. H didn’t move. “Not joking.” They agreed. It was that or carrying the dead on their shoulders for a few miles through forest and down logging roads.


      • And that reminds me of the time when 3 young guys and a woman arrived from Alberta and started camping at Lambert’s Beach. Someone brought them there. They had no boat. Crazy time to come there and camp. It was winter. They very soon broke into B’s cabin just up the road. But, people see things and RCMP was called.

        For a few days, when driving up to the school, I would see these folks sitting around a fire on the beach. As I arrived that the school one morning, 4 cops and a dog arrived in a helicopter, landing in the schoolyard. A long way from Lambert Beach. They had arranged a ride with H, who had sent his son, M. But he had no room for 4 big cops, their gear and the dog. Now, being civic-minded, I offered my services. I told them I had just seen their quarry sitting around their fire at Lambert’s Beach and I could drive the cops right into their camp.

        So, 2 cops + dog got into my 2005 Ranger, mentioned above. Of course, it had no licence plates on it, no insurance and so I had to get them to agree to overlook those shortcomings and my lack of a driver’s licence on me. No problem. One cop and dog sat behind me, in the rumble seats. One in the front passenger seat. It was a bit crammed. M drove the other 2. They asked us to stop when getting close. I stopped 100 yards up the road from the camp and pointed to a trail in the woods that would let the cops walk right up on the campers without being seen, as they would if they walked down the road.

        So, the cops did just that, walked up on them, announced themselves loudly, the whole “get down on the ground” routine, arrested and cuffed them, then called for the police boat which had been hiding in Evans Bay just south of the beach. It pulled in a close as it could and they took the 4 aboard by dinghy.

        Then the cops asked for a ride back to the school to meet their helicopter. I was not keen to drive the miles back there, but I would be passing the “remote cabin of a recently deceased” to which jdc made reference on my way home, which cabin happens to have next to it a very nice grassy helicopter landing site. I suggested they get on the radio and call the helicopter to meet us there. They happily obliged and the helicopter showed up shortly after we arrived. So, that was a day of off-grid adventure.


        • Just to add a bit of spicy seasoning to Rjukan’s story of lawlessness and blatant disregard for the SYSTEM, Mr. Jukan is a bona fide member of the legal industry. Practically a judge. Definitely a member of the Supremes. Two hats, two paths, two costumes but one good, basic, moral value system.


          • Well thanks jdc. But there may be times when my moral compass is a bit off. One might think so, if one were to subject my life history on the planet to microscopic scrutiny. Maybe I need to do the time-honoured “swing the compass” ritual. Do you think that might work? Or maybe I can replace with a moral gps? Or should I just carry on. I think I can fairly say I have not left any harm behind. That counts for something, no?


          • So long as you help complete the odd circle of love, you are golden, all naughties forgiven. Currently you are batting 1.000 in my book. Latest home run was cutting J some slack…good on ya. It ain’t easy being green.


  4. Consider something like this, it will work well into our aging things. Combined with a big Thule container or two.
    I also very briefly considered a replacement car but will stick with the 2008 Taurus awd. Probably still under 1000.00 per year for maintenance including purchase price.


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