CLICK & CLACK : A Drivable Hedge Fund?

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:

Would you discuss the ins and outs of "stocking up" on cars as a hedge against future inflation? For instance, I just bought a 2009 Honda Fit that I love and that is basically considered the best car in its class. Why not go out and buy another one for the relatively low price of $16,000 and simply store it? Then, after 15 years or so, I could take it out of storage and use it when my current car has worn out. -- Steve

TOM: This sort of idea works well for things like toilet paper, Steve, where technological innovations are few and far between. But it's less predictable with cars. Fifteen years ago, no one would have predicted that electronic stability control would be a standard -- and very effective -- safety feature. Or that an inexpensive car like your Fit would come standard with side and side-curtain air bags.

RAY: And while the Honda Fit gets excellent mileage now, compared with other cars on the road, it might not look so good in 15 years, when safer cars are getting even better mileage. So you're taking a big risk.

TOM: For some people -- like you -- that's fine. I drive a car that's more than 30 years old, and it's good enough for me. I don't need any of that fancy stuff like ESC, anti-lock brakes or electronic ignition.

RAY: And then there's the opportunity cost of the money. If you sink $16,000 into an "extra" Honda Fit now, in 15 years, even if it's perfectly preserved, it's going to be worth a lot less than that. You'd be lucky to get $5,000 for it in 2024 if you needed to sell it.

Dear Tom and Ray:

My son, 16, bought a '77 Pontiac Grand Prix. It's loud, with a big motor (muscle-car-type motor, original everything). He sawed off the exhaust pipe to make it even louder, even though I told him he could get a ticket for this. Well, he got pulled over by a police officer, who told him he needed to make his car quieter. He tried to put the clamp back on it, but it doesn't hold. He asked me if duct tape will be okay to hold the pipe to the rest of the exhaust system, without starting some type of fire. -- Rob

RAY: Duct tape is pretty hearty. But I don't think it's any match for pressurized, 800-degree exhaust.

Your kid can go to his local auto-parts store and buy an adapter. Almost all auto-parts stores sell metal sleeves that are either slightly larger or slightly smaller in diameter than your exhaust pipe. The sleeve serves as a coupling, where you stick the severed pieces of the exhaust pipe in either end, and then clamp them down to hold them in place.

TOM: It's a cheap repair, and it won't last forever.

RAY: If you want something a little more permanent, or if he cut it too close to the muffler for the sleeve to work, take the car to a garage or a muffler shop, and ask them to butt the pipes together and weld them.

Got a question about cars? Write to Click & Clack in care of The Post, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk Web site at http://www.cartalk.com.

2007 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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