The skills gap myth

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

Is this political? The skills gap was just nonsense.

The “skills gap” was a lie
New research shows it was the consequence of high unemployment rather than its cause.

Advertisements

85 thoughts on “The skills gap myth

  1. I think the skills gap is more about the gap between what employers want and what they are willing to pay.

  2. Another in the duh series? As labor becomes more available, employers (can) become more choosy about who(m) they hire.

    And/or: as labor becomes less available employers are willing to hire people without certain credentials, but also they are less willing to pay (higher) wages to those people.

  3. And/or: as labor becomes less available employers are willing to hire people without certain credentials, but also they are less willing to pay (higher) wages to those people.

    I slightly disagree. As the labor supply decreases what employers are willing to pay goes up and what they are willing to accept goes down. When the labor supply increases, employers both demand more and expect to pay less.

  4. The common complaint/rationale for hiring undocumented workers to work the harvest or in chicken processing plants is that “no americans/legal residents are willing to do that work”. (Never said is “…at the rate we are used to paying”.)

    The experiment I would like to see is what the wage rate would actually need to be for those jobs to be filled by legal workers with the same amount of turnover/productivity currently experienced. $20/hour, $30/hour? And what would the price of chicken/lettuce/strawberries go to as a result? What would happen to demand for these now higher priced items?

  5. The experiment I would like to see is what the wage rate would actually need to be for those jobs to be filled by legal workers with the same amount of turnover/productivity currently experienced. $20/hour, $30/hour?

    At that point you’d just buy one of these:

    The automated harvester uses computer optics to “see” the romaine and the water jet knife technology that cuts it. A conveyor belt moves the lettuce heads up to the platform for real time packing in the field. From there, the freshly harvested product is sent immediately to market.

    https://www.taylorfarms.com/news/smart-farm-equipment-helps-feed-world/

  6. I don’t think anyone needed a research study to know that the “skills gap” was crock.

  7. And if employers have trouble hiring, I would expect them to invest in more automation. If they don’t, it tells us they don’t expect the tight labor market to last for very long.

  8. “I think the skills gap is more about the gap between what employers want and what they are willing to pay.”

    Yes!!

  9. “The experiment I would like to see is what the wage rate would actually need to be for those jobs to be filled by legal workers with the same amount of turnover/productivity currently experienced. $20/hour, $30/hour? And what would the price of chicken/lettuce/strawberries go to as a result? What would happen to demand for these now higher priced items?”

    Unless there are significant trade restrictions, production of those items would shift to countries with lower labor costs. As it happens, almost all asparagus is now imported. Twenty five years ago, asparagus was imported only when it was the wrong season to grow it in California/Arizona. Then NAFTA happened.

    Many years ago, DH and I were deciding between wine grapes and almonds. We went on a trip to Chile, which essentially California in the Southern Hemisphere without a gold rush. It was obvious that labor was significantly cheaper in Chile, and they had significant import restrictions on equipment. Wine grapes require relatively more labor than capital, so we picked almonds, which are much more capital intensive. As it happens, we chose wisely. Right now, we are moving towards almonds and away from more labor intensive crops as quickly as we can.

    A friend used to work at a major livestock harvesting plant. It was extremely difficult to hire people for the harvest floor. Most of the employees were ex-cons. Some jobs are just unpleasant and the way the economy is right now, there just aren’t people to fill even the relatively pleasant jobs.

    I just flew back from the northwest and both of my flights were delayed because the airline 1) didn’t have enough baggage handlers to load the plane, and 2) because a flight attendant didn’t show up.

    Finally, a job description is a wish list, and the employer typically has to settle for something less. When there are lots of potential employees, the employer can be pickier.

  10. Some jobs are just unpleasant and the way the economy is right now, there just aren’t people to fill even the relatively pleasant jobs.

    I think it’s important to push back on that. There are plenty of people – at the right price.

  11. In Cassandra’s example, they needed one (more?) flight attendant so the flight could go. The marginal rate is the killer.

    If an airline needs one more and they had to pay only that incremental person, say $50/hr, no problem. But they can’t do that because then the union (assuming) would then say everybody has to get $50/hr. Same with other jobs. if you need a crew of 25 to run the meat harvesting floor, as soon as you begin paying the higher wage to attract more/new workers, everybody will want in or they’ll walk otherwise.

  12. A friend used to work at a major livestock harvesting plant.

    Is that a slaughterhouse? And/or meat packaging? I’m not trying to be political. There’s a plant like that up in Greeley and they cannot keep it staffed. The work is so gross. But it can be a stepping stone for an ex-con. If you show up and do an okay job, you can get references for the next, better job, etc.

  13. I think it’s important to push back on that. There are plenty of people – at the right price.

    Right, and I think the “right price” can be higher than it currently is. But Cassandra’s point about globalization is well-taken. In the U.S. in the 1950s, there were tons of good jobs with good pay, and partly (only partly!) that was because Europe was still gluing itself back together after the war, and Asia and Latin America hadn’t ramped up production on the stuff Americans wanted.

  14. RMS…yes, slaughterhouse and/or meat packaging…the preferred term is harvesting. I used to think it was ridiculously pc, but I’ve come to appreciate the idea behind it that harvesting is an accurate term for what is happening.

    A place like that can be a stepping stone, because the emotional/mental toll of the job should be brutal. Anyone who could manage a job like that like long term, likely isn’t someone we want out in the world with us.

  15. It is likely that the flight attendant was missing not because they couldn’t hire one, but because either the scheduled flight attendant had worked too many hours (this often happens if there is a delay) and has to go to a mandatory rest period, or was on another flight that didn’t make it in on time.

  16. I have a friend who works in the airline industry, specializing in algorithms for choosing which flights to cancel in various situations. It is incredibly complex, because there are many variables, and making sure that crews are in the right places, at the right times, and within their allowed awake hours was one of the big problems. If you cancel a flight, it has ripple effects because the crew and equipment do not end up in the right place at the right time.

  17. “Some jobs are just unpleasant and the way the economy is right now, there just aren’t people to fill even the relatively pleasant jobs.

    I think it’s important to push back on that. There are plenty of people – at the right price.”

    I don’t know if it’s always the right price. A criminal record can also restrict the job search as well. For both pleasant and unpleasant jobs (though probably more for pleasant jobs…).

  18. Back in my public accounting days, I had an agricultural and shipping client out of Kansas City because the elderly principal stockholder liked a Boston partner and the original company was a family new England flour mill. They owned chicken processing plants in Tennessee, which were staffed almost entirely (tax credits involved, too) with relocated colonies of war refugees from distressed non white nations. I think each plant used a different national group with overseers who spoke the native language. There are jobs that only the desperate are willing to do. I don’t think you can raise the wages high enough to attract anyone who has a choice.

  19. I don’t think you can raise the wages high enough to attract anyone who has a choice.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that there is more to compensation than wages. The could automate away some of the most unpleasant parts of the job. They could have 6 hour shifts, 8 weeks of vacation, lavish benefits, job security, etc. etc.

  20. I agree that when workers are more plentiful than jobs the minimum requirements go up and the reverse happens when jobs are more plentiful than workers. You see it is specific sectors or geographic areas, but also with the baby boom you see it economy wide to an extent.

    However, in geographic areas where unemployment is high, there does seem to be 3 common issues (1) people do not have the resources to move to where jobs are, (2) people do not have the skills that match the jobs in the area, and/or (3) taking the job that is available makes them worse off – due to losing benefits or not making enough to pay for child care, etc.

  21. Rhett – The problem with “their is more to compensation than wages” only works when you have enough wages to have food, clothing and shelter. My current employer has a very low paying, low skill entry level job in one department. Most people who take the job do so because (1) they have other household income, but this job offers paid insurance for the employee and subsidized insurance for family members (and some other benefits, but this is the big one), (2) they are retired and want a low stress job – which it is, or (3) they are fresh out of college and need something that looks professional on their resume to get the next better job. Turnover is high, because while it pays $15 an hour, that is hard to live on in my area.

  22. Rhett – The problem with “their is more to compensation than wages” only works when you have enough wages to have food, clothing and shelter.

    Totally. I was thinking more along the lines of something like working an offshore oil rig. IIRC you make great money and it’s also 12 hours a day for 3 weeks straight and then you’re off for three weeks. If they wanted people working non-stop or even 3 w/ 1 off or 4 w/ one off the wages would have to be astronomically higher.

  23. Rhett – Agreed. I was thinking about those jobs that tend to be filled by non-citizens or new immigrants. Those tend to be low skill, low wage and often low benefit jobs where the worker NEEDS the money. Finding that “right” price is hard because it may mean driving up the cost of the product/service to the point it reduces demand.

  24. Finding that “right” price is hard because it may mean driving up the cost of the product/service to the point it reduces demand.

    Economist have had a real challenge trying to prove that raising the minimum wages raises or lowers employment. One of the theory’s to explain this is that while raising wages has a disemployment effect the greater flow of money at the bottom increases employment. Sort of similar to the velocity of money metric used in monetary policy. So it’s not a clear cut as increasing wages and prices drives down wages and employment.

  25. Rhett – I agree it is not that clear cut. I used to estimate revenue for my employer. It was odd how some sources were very elastic (even very small changes had a large effect on the amount consumed) and others were very inelastic (changes had very little effect on the amount consumed). Sometimes it was intuitive, but others not so much.

    I find individuals to be the same way. We keep absorbing increases from our maid service. At some point, it will hit the point that we feel the need to rebid it or discontinue it. But, we are more sensitive to the cost of other things like insurance.

  26. Trip Report – visiting my sibling along with my kids and parents. I decided it would be better to stay at a hotel that I had stayed at before, close to my sibling rather than a BnB. Hotel is very comfortable and was updated a few years ago. You can get a full English breakfast at the hotel but you have to pay for it. There is a very nice M&S food store and cafe at a nearby gas station. It’s quite a popular stop for commuters who pick up breakfast and lunch items on their way to work.
    In London so far we saw The Tower of London, London bridge, The Shard, The V&A Museum and Westminster Abbey and we also visited Harrods and ate lunch there. We took a road trip outside London and covered Canterbury Cathedral, Dover cliffs and castle, a country manor house, Stonehenge, Bath and Oxford. SIL planned everything very well. The weather has been quite good and we had a few showers here and there but it’s been quite warm. A few days left. I want to see the rest of the sights in a more relaxed manner.
    We also saw A Midsummers Night Dream performed by an all male company outdoors on the grounds of a country house and had a very nice dinner in an English pub.
    To be continued but in all a good time.

  27. I’ll be happy if I don’t see another roundabout in my life. Exiting our highways is so much easier and signage is so much better.
    I did like the automation in terms of contactless cards, parking garage exits that recognize your license plate.
    However, on the whole the streets are quite narrow and really navigating through them and trying to find parking is not a great experience.

  28. on the whole the streets are quite narrow and really navigating through them and trying to find parking is not a great experience

    I would call that an understatement.

  29. Louise, glad you are having a good time!

    We got to NZ yesterday and are now in the northlands.

  30. Speaking of colleges we saw Christ Church College at Oxford University. We saw the Cathedral within the college. The tour guide at the Cathedral told us a lot about Alice in Wonderland which was written by a Professor at the college and was inspired by the characters and people at Christ Church college.
    We also saw The Great Hall which I believe Harry Potter was filmed in. The Great Hall closes while students eat lunch but once it opened it was packed with tourists. We were fortunate to come during lunch when there was a lull in tourists.
    Also, students were taking exams in their academic dress with a carnation in the lapel, quite quirky. It was great weather but hot without air conditioning so windows in the dorms were kept open.
    I loved the gardens and the English countryside. It would be nice to choose just one city say Bath or Oxford and stay for a week or so.

  31. Bath still remains my favorite. I guess I just like the Roman baths, looking at the engineering that was involved in keeping such a large bathing complex going. The sauna and spa treatments sounded appealing after a long day of sightseeing.
    My kids thought that tasting the mineral laced water was cool. The city itself with the beautiful limestone buildings is very appealing. Since we had a large family group we took the hop on and off buses while in Bath and Oxford.
    As a Totebagger, I hope my kids have absorbed all the history while on this trip.

  32. “I’ll be happy if I don’t see another roundabout in my life.”
    You don’t want to go to the Netherlands then! They have them everywhere and they are very complicated.
    American style exits and entrances are great in areas with lots of space to do them properly. Here in the NYC area, they are really badly done because of lack of space. Too often, the entrance lane is shared with an exit, so you have to get onto the highway, squeezing in between murderous city buses, at the same time other vehicles are frantically trying to get into the same space so they can exit. I find myself wishing for a nice Dutch roundabout.

  33. Louise, I love London and it was a tough choice when we were choosing between London and Dublin for a trip later this summer. I’ve traveled to London so many times for work and vacation, but it is one of those places that I always love to visit. We chose Dublin because we wanted to go to a place that is new for both of us. We are spending th first part of our trip in Amsterdam and I had to travel there several times for work, but Dublin will be a first time for both of us.

    Today is the first day of summer in our home because DD took her last exam on Monday. I drove upstate on Monday to drop off the camp trunks so it finally feels like we can relax.

    The trunks that she uses are soft sided “jumbo” bags and we have to use the MDX because she takes too much stuff. I noticed that the MDX was struggling a bit when I drove through the mountains. I miss some of the technology that I have in our other car. The Acura is a 2014 and it has 52,000 miles. I took it in for service a couple of weeks ago, and they recommended a few things if we want to continue to drive the car. We are at the point where we have to decide to if we are going to invest in the car vs. a new car. I thought DH wanted to keep the MDX, but now he is thinking about a new car because he wants some of the new tech. We bought this car because we needed a third row for frequent carpools. Even though we just have one kid, we used that third row a lot because of carpool. We didn’t realize how often we would also use the cargo space for camp and large purchases. I don’t think he wants to downsize the size of his next car so I bet we look at some SUVs this summer.

  34. “The Acura is a 2014 and it has 52,000 miles. I took it in for service a couple of weeks ago, and they recommended a few things if we want to continue to drive the car.”

    Just generally, I am disappointed to hear this. I would (have) expect(ed) a properly maintained 2014 model ANYTHING, but especially a Honda/Toyota/Nissan lineage vehicle, would be good for much more than 5-6years and ~50k miles without having to even think about “if we want to continue to drive the car.”

    When our 2015 Q7 hits those same marks 6 months from now, damn right I’ll want to continue to drive the car. Till at least 150,000 miles, if we choose to keep it vs getting something smaller.

  35. a properly maintained

    Isn’t they the question? If they want to continue driving it it may need a brake fluid flush, new coolant, etc. If they are thinking of trading it in then don’t bother.

  36. I took “they recommended a few things if we want to continue to drive the car” as (much) more extensive work relates to engine performance than just usual maintenance (drain/replace fluids, check alignment, hoses/belts, air filters, brakes, tires even, taking action as necessary, wipers, etc) … like what’s in the owner’s manual for the time & mileage. The 5yr/60,000 mile check/service can be expensive (as all 30k multiples), but just because it’s routine does not mean inexpensive.

  37. Most car purchases today include 2 years of free maintenance. So the 30 K checkup can be done just before the expiration. I think it runs about 250 to 300 at full price. The 60 is a little more. If suggested coolant flush, brake work, are extra. New tires. Certainly new battery. If this is a time to trade it in marker for the purchaser. (I cant find the OP on my device quickly), probably leasing is more suitable. 10 to 12K a year in mileage is not too much.

  38. much) more extensive work relates to engine performance

    I can’t imagine that’s the case. What kind of work could there be? Any engine performance issue would have triggered a check engine light.

  39. @Fred – I agree that was my reaction when I read that. Although maybe it was just all the routine stuff that quickly adds up to a grand rather than major overhaul in the $5K range. I DO know that after driving a Honda for 12 years and >100K miles with nothing but truly routine maintenance, I will be supremely disappointed to ever have a car where the words “continue to drive the car” are uttered at less than half that. UGH. Some days I am tempted to get a new car because of the new tech and better integration with our phones, etc. But then I just don’t want to deal with it, I only actually drive a few miles per week unless traveling, and I also have a little bit of Milo/MMMesque pride driving a car that is older than DS.

  40. I visited my parents this weekend and they are finally talking about getting rid of their 1995 Lexus ES300. It has 81K miles on it. I took my mom to Walmart to get a new battery for it and the service manager wanted to buy it from her. He gave them all his contact info, and I’m sure my dad will give the guy a very good price whenever they finally decide to part with it. So my expectation for longevity is pretty high!

  41. I also took those comments to mean that the car isn’t performing as expected, but then I began to wonder if it is the Acura Service center telling her that. As we all know, dealers make their money in the servicing of the cars, not in selling them.

    We drove 2005 Chevy for 12 years, 150,000 miles. It only ever needed routine maintenance. The only reason we replaced it was because DH wanted an upgrade in technology. Also, we never take our cars the dealer for service. I’m amazed at what up charges my coworkers agree too when they take theirs in for oil changes, or new brakes.

  42. “I also have a little bit of Milo/MMMesque pride driving a car that is older than DS.”

    Me too! My car predates DS1 by 4 years (it’s a 2011). I plan on keeping it for about 4-5 more years. By that time I project I’ll have close to 140k miles on it. I will hate to give it up if it’s still crawling along. I expect I’ll have to because we’ll need a car that can handle all 5 of us and the dog comfortably.

  43. Also, we never take our cars the dealer for service.

    What about TSBs and such? Does your mechanic fix those and then bill the manufacturer?

  44. All my life I’ve driven my cars for at least 8 years, usually 10+ years. But now I’m interested in upgrading more often because of new technology. When I recently asked the dealer I was told they could not install the Subaru blind spot detection system in my 2016 Subaru. I could get a generic brand and have it installed somewhere else, but I can see myself getting a new car soon instead to get the latest and greatest safety features. I saw that Cadillac has a hands-free driving feature now so there may be lots more like that out there in other makes very soon.

  45. “What about TSBs and such” I’ve only encountered that once (that I can remember). I took it to the dealer then. But I don’t count that as service. I didn’t pay for it.

  46. I rented a car with lots of newfangled technology when I was in KY, and hated it. Especially the collision detection system. It was SO annoying – binging and bonging every time a car passed me on the highway. And very distracting during parking maneuvers. We had rented a similar car in Europe a couple of years ago and also found it very annoying.
    I also did not see the point of the keyless ignition.

  47. I also did not see the point of the keyless ignition.

    You don’t see the point of never having to take your keys out of your purse? Walk up and grab the door handle an it opens and then get in a hit the button and drive away.

  48. Especially the collision detection system. It was SO annoying – binging and bonging every time a car passed me on the highway.

    Do you recall what kind of car it was? I drive a ton of rental cars and I’ve never seen one that bings and bongs to let you know if a car is in your bling spot. The only time it beeps is if you’re trying to change lanes and there is a vehicle in your bling spot.

  49. If I never take the keys out of my purse, I suspect I would lose them. Also, I was using the fob to unlock the car.

    Another funny story about that car. Driving down the highway from the airport, it started to rain really hard. After a bit of driving in the rain, this huge error message pops up on the dashboard display, saying System Malfunction Consult Owners Manual. Right, I am so going to open up the manual while barreling down the highway in the pouring rain. Luckily I had my oldest kid with me, so he extracted the manual, spotted another warning light that was glowing, and after much shuffling of paper, finally found the problem. No, the car was not about to blow up. Instead, it was trying to tell me that the radar at the front was not working because of the rain so I wasn’t going to get some portion of collision detection. What on earth? Who designed that crazy warning display system. After that, my kid kept joking about it, saying “No, no, if you open the door it is going to display ERROR ERROR Car Exit System Overridden or something like that”

    The car was a “Nissan Kick”, something I had never heard of before. If it were stripped of its “advanced features” it might have been a decent car – it was easy enough to maneuver.

  50. Also, I was using the fob to unlock the car.

    You don’t have to take the key out to unlock the car. You just grab the door handle or push the button on the front of the door handle and it will unlock if you have the key with you.

  51. . No, the car was not about to blow up. Instead, it was trying to tell me that the radar at the front was not working because of the rain so I wasn’t going to get some portion of collision detection.

    They must have fixed it as my last Nissian rental said “Front radar unavailable due to obstruction cruise control and emergency braking unavailable.” In my case it was because it the person at Enterprise had installed the front license plate incorrectly and it was blocking the sensor. In the back of the car still wrapped in plastic was the front plate mounting bracket they should have used.

  52. That is pretty much what the manual said once we looked up the meaning of the flashing warning light. I think the rain was causing the problem because it went away the next time I drove it.

  53. @MM – Our rental car over Spring Break did that crazy beeping all the time too. (It was a Range Rover.) We kept having to turn the warning beeps off because they were driving us crazy. It was WAAAAAY too sensitive (as you could tell from the backup camera).

    I also really hate the thing where the ignition cuts off every time you are at a stop light.

  54. I also really hate the thing where the ignition cuts off every time you are at a stop light.

    That varies widely from car to car depending on what tech they are using. With some you come to a stop and it’s shudder-shudder stop and then you start again and its shudder-shudder start. For others (I think it has to do with integrating the starter, alternator and transmission) and it’s absolutely undetectable. Something to keep in mind on a test drive if you think it’s something that will bother you.

  55. MM and Rhett

    When the weather is poor, or something goes offline, a message appears on the dash of our Outback: “Eyesight unavailable.” Once the camera is clear, the message disappears and all the systems come back. It’s nice, easy, and unobtrusive.

    I do have to agree though, the Outback peeps a lot. My oldest constantly asks “what’s that noise” when the car beeps about something (washer fluid low, car ahead of us moved, obstruction detected, etc.). It’s almost as if it needs to be part of the family conversation… like my toddler “I’m hungry; I want a toy; Are we there yet?”

  56. Unless it’s a truly urgent matter, I really hate error messages or flashing lights that pop up when I’m driving and cannot easily stop. My GPS does that in suggesting alternate routes in heavy traffic.

    For me learning the technology can be a challenge. Luckily last time I rented a car with all new gizmos I was traveling with an engineer who explained everything and helped me set up some of it. He also explained about the ignition cutting off at stoplights and showed me how I could deactivate it. It was subtle and after I got used to it it didn’t bother me.

  57. @Rhett – That makes sense about the auto shut off. Thanks for the tip – it would REALLY annoy me if it was an obvious as it was in our rental. I have noticed it in other cars as a passenger & hated it, so maybe I’m only noticing it when it is badly done.

  58. Had the same reaction as Fred to the “recommended a few things if we continue to drive the car” idea. Lauren, you must chime back in with more detail. Exactly how hard are those service people leaning on you??

    I have shared that I have a 2008 Pilot with 190k miles and the car is wonderful. Higher order totebaggy: I am 52 and have had 5 cars in my life, starting driving at 17.

    1st – a hand-me-down from older sibling. Had to pass down to younger sibling or would have driven it longer.
    2nd – purchased on my own post-college, stolen and totaled by the thief at 90k miles. Would have definitely driven it longer.
    3rd – purchased to replace the stolen/totaled car, engine blew at 50k miles. Would have driven it longer if not for that major defect.
    4th – replaced early, needed a 3rd row for carpooling, would have driven it longer.
    5th – current 2008 Pilot. Will be handed down to DD in January when she gets her license. Would have driven it longer if she didn’t need a car.

    You see the theme. Rhett and LfB may have just spit out their coffee.

  59. When we bought our latest car my husband joked with the guy helping us that the last time we had bought a car the salesman was in middle school. I don’t think that went over too well.

  60. My car history
    1. Chevy Sprint in grad school
    2. No car while living in NYC area
    3. A stick shift Subaru Loyale
    4. A used Subaru Legacy
    5. My current Subaru Outback which is 4 or 5 years old now. I really like this car but miss having a manual transmission. Oldest kid is learning to drive on it.

  61. You all would have Totebag heart attacks if you saw the stream of cars in and out of our driveway. There hasn’t been a year in the last decade in which we haven’t bought a new car.

  62. My car history:
    1. 197x Toyota Corona in undergrad, inherited from relative
    2. 198? Nissan Sentra
    3 1990 Honda Prelude (loved that car)
    4 Honda Accord, because you can’t put a car seat in a Prelude
    5. Toyota Sequoia, because you can’t put three cars seats in an Accord
    6. Nissan Sentra because a long commute in a Sequoia is ridiculously expensive (kept the Sequoia)
    7. Five years later, Sentra wears out at 170K miles, purchase Hyundai Sonata
    8. Five years later, Toyota Camry, because eldest turns 16, starts driving Sonata,
    9. Eventually replace old Sequoia with new Sequoia because after 180K hard miles, parts are staring to fall off and I want a new one. Best car that holds six teenagers.
    9. Toyota Corolla for oldest to take to college
    10. Toyota Corolla for second child
    11. Various assorted pickups over the years because they wear out, we get more employees, etc

    Mostly Toyotas because they can take a lot of abuse and lots of miles. When I replace my Camry, I suspect I will just get another one because I like it. Right now, it has 180K miles, several dents from parking in the wrong space and the radio is starting to be glitchy. In spite of all the vehicles, I find car buying a hassle and a chore, but no one else in the family is wiling to do it. It’s kind of like picking up clutter, the person who breaks first ends up picking up the mess or buying the next car.

  63. Since I bought my first car in 1976 I’ve kept cars 10, 5, 10, 10, 5, 3 (current car) years and I’ve only changed once because I really needed to. The 1985 MBZ 500SEL which I had bought used from FIL because it became too costly to continue maintaining at 150k miles after I’d had it 10yrs. All the others were by choice and my prior two to this one were hand me downs to kids at >150k miles once there will little economic life left. I’m planning on at least 10 years on the current car.

  64. “Front radar unavailable due to obstruction cruise control and emergency braking unavailable.”

    One thing I don’t like about our newest car, and the one before that, is that they don’t let you use plain old-fashioned cruise control.

    Adaptive cruise control is great in stop and go freeway driving, but for going up and down our street I just want to set it to the speed limit and then pay attention to traffic, pedestrians, road conditions, etc, and not have to watch speed too.

    Our newest also has problems with cars parked on the side of the road when there’s no line separating the parked cars from traffic, even when the road is really wide.

  65. “All my cars have been stick shifts.”

    I guess you’ve never been a minivan owner.

    For a long time, DW and I had two stick shift cars. I need to teach my kids to drive on my car, before we replace it with an electric car.

  66. I guess you’ve never been a minivan owner.

    Minivans have come with manuals at least as recently as 1994. See below the 1994 Dodge Minivan.

  67. I wasn’t able to check back until now. Some of the suggested items are related to mileage at the next visit. The car will probably have 55,000 miles by the fall. We will need new tires, but the other items are things that were suggested on our Subaru when we hit $50,000 miles. Differential fluid, certain filters etc. It wasn’t over the top stuff, but it will be enough money that we have to decide if we want to keep the car. The service guy actually wasn’t pushing me to do anything. He said we should wait and discuss, but he did say that he thinks it is a good investment to just keep this car because it will run for a long time if we want to keep it. I think it is like people – certain things just happen after a certain age even with maintenance. The car just seems a little old – for example, the screen takes few seconds to appear in the winter when it is really cold. The car was working hard to get up those peaks yesterday. It wasn’t like the trucks that were crawling up the mountain, but it wasn’t flying like the BMW if I just hit the gas. Another decision point is timing because DD will start to learn to drive in a year. We will probably buy or lease a third car by end of 2020.

  68. Rhett – in America?

    For the Dodge and the Previa yes. Scratch the Odyssey ,that was a custom.

  69. . It wasn’t over the top stuff, but it will be enough money that we have to decide if we want to keep the car.

    So routine maintenance is expensive enough that it might be a better investment to trade it in at only 55,000 miles? That would keep me from ever buying an Acura.

    The Highlander just passed 8 years and 120,000 miles and is going strong with only routine maintenance. I did major maintenance at 100k and was happy to find out it has a timing chain instead of a belt so it doesn’t need to be replaced.

    Most car purchases today include 2 years of free maintenance. So the 30 K checkup can be done just before the expiration.

    The Corolla will hit two years this fall and I doubt it will even reach 8,000 miles by then. DS drives to school and work and not much else.

  70. timing chains seem to be standard on Hondas now, too.

    the “2 years free maintenance” is just to establish your habit of going to the dealer service center. people can do whatever they want with their money, but those places have enormous markups, and they tend to recommend a lot more than is actually needed.

    but…whatever. a lot of people don’t care, or it’s just not a meaningful amount of money for them.

  71. So routine maintenance is expensive enough that it might be a better investment to trade it in at only 55,000 miles?

    Where are you getting that? They are just saying if you’re planning on getting rid of it don’t bother with the maintenance.

  72. or it’s just not a meaningful amount of money for them.

    Or money per unit of time. If you’re driving 5k miles a year then the maintenance intervals come so far apart it’s not worth the hassle.

    those places have enormous markups,

    Many will install parts you order online. I had the brakes and tires I ordered from Tire Rack sent to the dealer and they were happy to install them.

  73. I learned to drive on a manual transmission minivan, a Chevy Voyager. When my husband went to replace it around 2000, he was told there were no longer any manual transmission minivans. I ended up with my current automatic Subaru because I needed a new one in a hurry (husband had totalled the old one in a ice storm) and We were told it would be a several months wait if I wanted manual

  74. Where are you getting that? They are just saying if you’re planning on getting rid of it don’t bother with the maintenance.

    She said they have to decide if they want to keep the car. That they are having to decide if they want to keep a car with only 54k implies to me that it’s a significant amount of money. I see this through the lens that you don’t plan on getting rid of a car with that few miles on it unless you are looking at thousands of dollars in repairs/maintenance. And IME, routine maintenance at that low of mileage shouldn’t be anywhere near that point. So if it’s all routine maintenance that is costing this much, then that is a huge reason to me to not buy an Acura.

  75. This isn’t about Acura. We will look at the 2019 MDX if we decide to buy a new car. It is about our decision about whether to continue to invest any amount of money into maintenance/repairs or buy a new car. The reason that it is a big decision is that we do think this is a quality car like our Subaru that we could probably drive for another 50,000 miles if we keep up with the maintenance. We just don’t know if we want to spend the money for something that has new safety/tech features or just drive this car for a few more years.

  76. Lauren. I vote for the new safety features. They have renewed my driving life. Buy vs lease is a separate decision.

  77. We had the same philosophy about cars – buy, buy, buy. Own quality, stable cars as long as possible. The reason that we started to lease was because of comments here and from my IRL friends about cost of owning a BMW long term. We leased the BMW because we didn’t want to own it beyond 30,000 miles and now we can see why people like to lease cars. The flexibility it gave us to easily change the type of car we needed from sedan to small SUV = plus all new technology and safety features was awesome. I know that DH likes the Q5 so we will probably test drive the MDX, Q5, X5 and possibly a Volvo this summer. We can decide after driving all four, analyzing cost – whether we want to invest in the MDX or buy/lease a new car.

Comments are closed.