car for life, car for life, car for life, car for life, car for life, car for ...

i'm digging around more on the pt cruiser and have come across a nugget that is nearly inconceivable to the human mind.

it's typical now for companies to offer a bumper-to-bumper warranty that is somewhat less than the powertrain warranty. for example, before chrysler upped their powertrain warranty to lifetime, it was good for seven years; the bumper-to-bumper warranty on the same car was good for three.

consumers have always had the option of "wrapping" the bumper-to-bumper warranty, meaning they could extend the bumper-to-bumper amount to equal the lifetime of the powertrain. but something like this comes for a price, of course. in fact, this little ploy is widely considered to be a sucker's bet; why would they offer you insurance that you'd make money on. and hey, the real expensive stuff -- namely the engine and the transmission -- are already covered, right?

well right here is where we cross the sanity part of the map ...

get this, you can wrap a lifetime bumper-to-bumper warranty on a loaded pt cruiser convertible, with a $100 deductible, for about $1500 (no deductible is about $2800). it covers essentially everything but the "normal wearing parts," things like brake pads, tires, upholstery. it covers so much that they don't even list everything it does cover, they only list the stuff that it doesn't.


i poke around some more and find some interesting data. chryslers are held an average of 4.9 years by an american owner; the average american car is held 5.1 years. meaning the average chrysler is turned a little more often than the average car.

there are a few catches to the lifetime powertrain warranty that everyone seems to hone in on: one is that it's not transferrable, you have to show the car's been maintained to spec and you need to have your car inspected (at chrysler's expense) in a 60-day anniversary window every five years.

well, i don't even think about re-sale when i buy a car. i didn't do that with my del sol, and here 15 years later, i haven't sold it.

i already keep all my car records and maintain to plan.

and a 60 day window is nothing. if they said i had to get my car checked at 11:33 on november 1st of every prime numbered year, i could do that. simple.

people act like these are big deals. they're not. i don't know why people react in such a way -- i think in their very soul what they think is: i don't like this general concept, so i'm just going to find some stuff i don't like about it and hang my hat there. (my pal zz does this all the time, both with things he likes and things he hates.) i don't understand why people can't say, "i don't like this for emotional reasons." i mean, come on, every single thing you do and decide has a logic component and a emotional component. i have a degree in mathematics and yet i'm willing to readily admit that the reason i'm considering buying a pt cruiser convertible is because it's the most fun car i've ever driven in my life.

so with this warranty, i could get a car and drive it for the rest of my life. it doesn't sound right, it doesn't feel right.

i need to think about this a little more.

in the 80's chrysler was in trouble. under ioccoa, they came back (including paying off a ten year loan, seven years early). they got bought by daimler and almost immediately went back in the toilet.

this year, they got window shopped, and taken private, by a venture capital firm called cerberus. cerberus is run by none other than former secretary of the treasury, john snow (if you've got american currency on you, pull it out of your pocket and look -- it's signed by snow). it's obvious what they're trying to do. buy a lame company, nurse it to heath, sell at a huge profit. okay, fine, i've got no problem with that.

i look closer at what chrysler has done under cerberus and i agree with every decision. closing factories. discontinuing models. streamlining the offering. it's all right. all to a "t."

so what about this bumper-to-bumper wrap? what the hell is going on?

most people trade a car at five years. most chrysler people do it a little sooner. with the exception of my brother, no one i know drives cars as long as i do. no one seems to really think about them exactly the same way i do.

so this price, this bumper-to-bumper price, what do you figure? you know that in their actuarial tables they have to have it figured out to something like a 95 percentile situation. like, "95% of the people who buy a car under these circumstances will somehow leave the plan (death, accident or sale) by ___ years."

what's that number? seven and a half, eight years, something like that.

let's toss some more stuff in.

we can already see a break-over figure in the difference between the deductible and no deductible -- $1300, or 13 trips to the dealer. so they figure you'll go less than that, and these are only trips after the third year. so in five years you'll make less than 13 trips to the dealer. how many less? you've gotta figure they're putting at least 60% profit on the deal. so you're going to go to the dealer for repairs, five times, tops, with it costing you something like $200 a go. no, that puts the warranty profit a little too low at $500 on the $100 deductible plan. it's probably more like $800, which means you're going to make three or four trips to the dealer in five years.

THAT sounds right. that's the right order of magnitude.

= BUT =

the pathological case, meaning, the person who drives a car "forever" in just part of the noise in the long tail of owners. it's all coming together.

i say the phrase out loud just to make sure, "i'm going to buy a pt cruiser convertible. i'm going to wrap a lifetime warranty around it. and i am never going to buy a another car again."

it's hard to grip.

i say it again. "i'm going to buy a pt cruiser convertible. i'm going to wrap a lifetime warranty around it. and i am never going to buy a another car again."


it hits me like a ton of bricks. just resonates in my entire being.

that's right. that's what i'm going to do. i'm going to buy a pt cruiser convertible, i'm going to wrap it, and i'm never going to buy a car again!

really, i only have to do two things: not wreck it and live a long time.

oh yeah.

now i have to find me a car. and a price.

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