Which brother will spend the most on car repairs: the one with the Volvo or with the Vanagon?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1997

Dear Tom and Ray:

My brother and his wife like to snicker at what they perceive to be the high
cost of repairs that my wife and I occasionally incur on our vehicles -- an '83
Volvo 240DL sedan, and an '84 Volvo 240DL wagon. I could deal with the jokes if
it were not for the blatant hypocrisy. My brother and his wife have two
Volkswagen Vanagons, an '86 and an '87, and not a day goes by in which at least
one of them is not in the shop (and need I mention that an air filter for one
costs $50?).

My question is, then, over the course of a period of years, which of us is
likely to spend more in repair bills (or as my brother phrases it, which of us
is the bigger set of fools?). -- Todd

TOM: Gee, Todd! Talk about a tough call!

RAY: Well, let's analyze this carefully. I'd say the repair bills should be
about even. You'll spend twice as much on each Volvo repair, but his Vanagons
will be in the shop twice as often. So let's call repair costs a draw.

TOM: Stylishness? That would have to be a draw, too.

RAY: Fun to drive? Looks pretty even to me.

TOM: Utility? The Vanagon has more interior room than the Volvo wagon, but on
the other hand, the rear passengers in the Volvo probably won't suffer from
hypothermia in the winter. So let's call that a draw, as well.

RAY: Which leaves three deciding issues, all of which break in your favor,
Todd. One is safety. The Vanagon's use of the driver's knees as the front wall
of the safety cage doesn't win any points with us, so the Volvo has the clear
edge in safety.

TOM: The second issue is longevity. You'll probably be driving your Volvos long
after the Vanagons have turned into oversized Chia plants in some junkyard. Of
course, you'll be spending enough on repairs at that point to qualify the
Volvos as dependents on your tax returns, but that will still be cheaper than
the new-car payments your brother is making to the bank (see our pamphlet for
the complete explanation of that -- How to Buy a Used Car: Things Detroit and
Tokyo Don't Want You to Know. You can order it by sending $3 and a stamped (55
cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to Used Car, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ

RAY: And the final reason we side with you is because of your brother's
snickering. Snickering's not nice, so you win, Todd. Congratulations.

TOM: But I do have to say I'm concerned about this "glutton for punishment"
gene that seems to run in your family. I'd seek counseling, Todd. If you act
now, maybe you can mitigate its effects on the next generation.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter