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My close friends know that I adore my 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer. It was given to me brand-new by my family (shout out to Dad, Mom, Ate Joy, Ate Grace, and Ate Faith) on my 17th birthday, and it has been my constant companion ever since. My Kuya Raul even chose the last two digits of the plate number for me—’17’ being my age at the time. Let’s just say my relationship with this car runs very deep, and I can’t imagine not being able to drive Yvonne—that’s her name—whenever I feel like it. We’ve been through way too much together.

At one point I began to document every aspect of her maintenance, though I wish I had started doing this much sooner. I’ve collected a whole notebook full of stapled receipts, shop calling cards, and scribbled notes. Some guys are awesome at neatly organizing the service records of their cars, but I think my mess of a notebook has character. Each of my running my cars (1976 Mitsubishi Galant Wagon, 1996 Mazda Miata, 2006 Ford Ranger) has its own tattered notebook, too. 


I hope this story is helpful for those who are wondering about how much it costs to enter a long-term commitment to a Japanese compact car from the ’90s, because this is the first time that I am adding up all of the expenses.Wonder no more if it’s better to hold on to your ride and maintain it, or sell it in exchange for something new.

Before we dive in, here are some things to note: 

1. The prices are not adjusted for inflation. I will leave that kind of stuff up to the experts at entrepreneur.com.ph.

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2. Costs vary depending on where the car was serviced and what shop I went to. Some shops charge more for parts and labor than others. I also prefer to buy my parts from my trusted auto supply, and then bring them to my trusted mechanics. However, one of my favorite places is a one-stop shop in Banawe.

3. I don't have all of the receipts for the oil and filter changes, so I’m going to use estimates based on the present day odometer reading and the average cost of a service (parts and labor) at your friendly garage. Sometimes I used mineral oil, sometimes semi- or full-synthetic. I also factored in a set of spark plugs every 20,000km or 30,000km. I only ever use NGK BKR5Es on this car. Any other brand or heat rating affects its fuel economy. Performance varies from car to car, and driver to driver, of course. I also factored in a new battery every 2.5 years. Also included is a rough estimate for total registration renewal at the LTO, including the emissions test and cheap TPL insurance. 

4. I computed depreciation at 18% after one year, and then 8% two years after that, and then 6%, then 4%, and so on. This formula aligns best with the prices on the used-car market—at least for me and my buddies. Also indicated is the resale value. These figures are pretty interesting in relation to how much I’ve spent so far. Yvonne was bought brand-new at P489,000, right before the Asian financial crisis hit us. Depreciation happens as soon as the car leaves the showroom floor, and I indicated that in 1997’s estimated resale value. Check out the table below.

Vehicle's age Depreciation per year Total depreciation Resale value (PH peso)
1997 0 0% 410,000*
1998 1 18% 18% 400,980
1999 2 8% 26% 361,860
2000 3 8% 34% 322,740
2001 4 6% 40% 293,400
2002 5 6% 46% 264,060
2003 6 6% 52% 234,720
2004 7 4% 56% 215,160
2006 9 4% 64% 176,040
2007 10 3% 68% 156,480
2008 11 3% 71% 141,810
2009 12 3% 74% 127,140
2010 13 2% 76% 117,360
2011 14 2% 78% 107,580
2012 15 2% 80% 97,800
2013 16 2% 82% 88,020
2014 17 1% 83% 83,130
2015 18 1% 84% 78,240
2016 19 1% 85% 73,350
2017 20 1% 86% 68,460
2018 21 1% 87% 63,570

5. Yvonne was subjected to hard abuse, including but not limited to a few slalom competitions, and WRC Thousand Lakes-style airtime from jumping lahar dunes in Pampanga. Car sympathy only came to me after massive hits to my wallet. I can’t even count how many times I drove Baguio to Manila and back during my college days. Constantly traveling between Baguio, Manila, Lingayen, and Los Banos is part of being a Subido. 

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6. For mechanical maintenance and repairs, I never leave my car alone at the shop. I’m there every step of the way, from start to finish. This means waking up super early and being at the talyer, first in line, at 7:00am. Some receipts I have lost. Prices with an * are close estimates. 

Okay, then. Let’s go on a journey back in time to relive a life with my 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer GLXi 1.6L MT

1997
Odometer reading: 15,245km
Resale value: P410,000
Cost
Throttle-position sensor 3,500
Punctured radiator (repair) 400
1997 total: 3,900
Running total: 3,900

1997: I get into a major accident three months after Yvonne is delivered to me. She is sidelined for eight months. I visit the repair shop every week, watching the painstakingly slow progress.

1998
Odometer reading: 31,320km
Resale value: P400,980
Cost
Set of tires (Goodyear 195/60 R14) 8,250
Brake pads (OE) 3,980
Clutch change (OE parts, labor) 14,500*
1998 total: 28,000
Running total: 31,900

1998: Yvonne is back from the shop, and I waste no time in enjoying her again. I am addicted to pulling handbrake turns and I dream of entering a slalom competition one day. I’m going through tires and brake pads quickly, mostly because I have no idea what good driving is yet. I even get stranded on Kennon Road from a worn-to-the-metal clutch disc after a night of, uhm, enthusiastic driving. I move to Manila to attend college, but I drive home to Baguio every three weeks or so—just because I miss home.

1999
Odometer reading: 46,200km
Resale value: P361,860
Cost
Set of 16in wheels (from Kuya Raul) 0
Set of tires (Dunlop Le Mans 205/45 R16) 9,000
Tie-rod ends (x2) 1,000
Mag wheel repair 1,500
1999 total: 11,500
Running total: 43,400

1999: Kuya Raul gives me my first set of alloy wheels. I have to save up for the tires, though. The 45-series rubber looks great, but make the alloys prone to damage. During rainy season I put the stock wheels on at the front. Silly, I know.

2000
Odometer reading: 67,000km
Resale value: P322,740
Cost
Clutch change (OE parts, labor) 13,750
Clutch slave 3,450
Brake pads (OE) 4,000
2000 total: 21,200
Running total: 64,600

2000: Folks who want to get the best price from their rides usually sell the car at three years old. Resale value is still relatively high, and there aren’t too many things to fix yet. I am not even considering it, and it really isn’t an option. Yvonne is too special, and I know my family worked hard to buy that car for me. Still, she is driven very hard. I don’t baby her. I also enter my first real slalom race in Subic during the Asian Festival of Speed. I put the car through hell, and on my way up to Baguio I burn through a clutch disc—again! My family isn’t pleased. 

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2001 to 2006 'The Lost Years'
Odometer reading: 70,000km - 135,000km
Resale value: P293,000 - P176,000
Cost
Timing Belt Replacement (OE) 12,000*
Clutch replacememt (OE) 14,000*
A/C compressor refurbishment 3,000
2001 to 2006 total: 29,000
Running total: 93,600

2001-2006: I call these the Lost Years. I don’t have the cash for the bigger repair jobs, and can only afford oil changes. It is a challenge saving money to fund a necessary timing belt change, but I manage to do it. I also become a master of rotating tires, making them last for as long as possible. I am fresh out of college and only have a few freelance writing gigs. The jobs I hold don’t pay very well, either. Still, Yvonne chugs along, although she drinks a lot of fuel. I also burn out another clutch and blame my driving ‘enthusiasm’ for that. It is getting expensive changing clutches all the time, so I start taking driving seriously. I study it by reading magazines and books, wanting to learn how to really do it properly. Drives with my race car driver friends open my eyes. I begin rev-matching and teaching myself how to heel-and-toe, not to be quick, but to prolong the life of the clutch. It takes time to master heel-and-toe braking, but I figure it out—eventually. It’s true that proper driving technique prolongs the life of parts.

2007
Odometer reading: 147,200km
Resale value: P156,480
Cost
Rear wheel hub bearing (x2) 3,200
Labor 700
Repair power-window regulator 120
KYB front gas shock (x2) 5,400
KYB rear gas shock (x2) 3,000
Shock mount (OE ) (x2) 4,600
Front suspension arm (x2) 3,200
Labor 1,400
Set of tires (Dunlop Le Mans 205 45/R16) 12,000
2007 total: 33,620
Running total: 127,220


2007: This is the year I start work at Summit Media, and with my first paychecks, I fix everything that’s worn out or broken. Yvonne is 10 years old now and beginning to show her age, but after repairs, she drives like new again. No rattles or clunks from the undercarriage anymore, and the fresh set of shocks are like a dream. The driver-side window is operational now, too. This is also the year that I spend the most on mechanical bits. At P33,620, every peso is worth it. The bond deepens with my ride. Driving is a joy. Yvonne's paint is in a sorry state, though. 

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2008
Odometer reading: 156,008km
Resale value: P141,810
Cost
Timing Belt 2,400
Tensioner 1,650
Crankshaft seal 380
Camshaft seal 350
Water pump 1,900
Power steering belt 680
Alternator belt 390
Air filter (OE) 1,650
Spark plug (x4) 600
Labor 1,700
Rotor disc (x2) 1,800
Brake pads 2,800
Front wheel bearing (x2) 1,300
Bearing seal (x4) 960
Trunk light bulb 30
Oil pan drain plug 80
Labor 1,530
2008 total: 20,200
Running total: 147,420

2008: It’s time for another timing belt service. Brake rotors are worn and have deep grooves too. The drain plug finally breaks.

2009
Odometer reading: 165,700km
Resale value: P127,140
Window regulator 2,500
Thermostat 900
Labor 250
2009 total: 3,650
Running total 151,070

2009: I bite the bullet and buy a brand-new window regulator assembly. The makeshift Banawe sidewalk repairs  don’t cut it anymore. Thank goodness I catch an overheating problem early and manage to pull over and cool the engine down. The culprit? A stuck thermostat.

2010
Odometer reading: 180,202km
Resale value: P117,000
Rack end (x2) 1,560
Brake pads (replacement) 2,900
Labor 700
2010 total: 5,860
Running total: 156,930

2010: Nothing much to report here.

 

2011
Odometer reading: 189,800km
Resale value: P107,580
Air Filter 300
Spark plug oil seal (x4) 1,800
Axle boots 250
Tie rod boot 250
Repack CV joint 450
Wash over (with body repair) 65,000
Reupholster interior 10,000
Hood (surplus) 2,800
Bumper (surplus) 1,500
Grille (surplus) 1,000
Rear door (surplus) 1,500
2011 total: 84,850
Running total: 241,780

2011: It’s time to get a complete wash-over. I decide to do this after I figure in a road mishap in Baguio and need to get the front-end repaired. I’ve also been driving around with a surplus rear door because a friend of mine bumped me. I get good at hunting for surplus body panels in Banawe, and I score some good deals.

The shop where I have the paint and body work done is pricey, but I trust the owner. I’ve learned through the years that you indeed get what you pay for. And to celebrate my having quit smoking for a year, I have the entire interior redone. Goodbye cigarette burn marks and smoky smell, hello fresh interior. This was a milestone for me. Total spent this year is P83,350. But my car looks so fresh and clean, just like it did when it left the factory. I’m very pleased. Now at this point, people would have let go of their rides already, but I’m still proudly driving Yvonne. I get nods of approval from fellow enthusiasts. I’m loving my simple car even more now. She wouldn’t be out of place when displayed in a car show. But she's meant to be driven. 

2012
Odometer reading: 195,000km
Resale value: P97,800
Starter solenoid switch 1,800
Refurbish starter 1,900
2012 total: 3,700
Running total: 245,480

2012: Brand-new starter solenoids are readily available at another auto supply I found that stocks up on Mitsubishi parts. My Banawe and Roosevelt network is growing and I know where to get the best prices for the parts Yvonne needs.

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2013
Odometer reading: 203,000km
Resale value: P88,020
Cost
Motolite Enduro 2,900
Transmission support (surplus) 1,100
Pressure Plate (rep) 1,700
Clutch disc (rep) 1,300
Release bearing (rep) 650
Brake pads (Bendix) 850
Labor 2,200
Reface rotors 1,100
Engine support (surplus) 1,100
Engine support press job 500
Set of tires (Bridgestone 205/50 R16) 18,460
2013 total: 31,860
Running total: 277,340

2013: Yvonne reaches the 200,000km milestone this year. Trips to the surplus parts shops are becoming a fun exercise, and I’m learning more and more about how to save money on repairs. I want to replace all of the suspension components at the rear because a mystery clunking noise is driving me crazy. Turns out, my rear bumper wasn’t fastened on its bracket properly. Still, I’m okay with having fresh assist links. They were already worn out. 

2014
Odometer reading: 207,000km
Resale value: P83,130
Timing Belt 1,800
Accesories belt 450
Alternator belt 850
Water pump 1,700
Oil seals (x2) 360
Bushings (x4) 1,000
Upper assist link (x2) 3,300
Lower assist link (x2) 3,300
Labor 4,000
Shock absorber (rear x2) 3,800
Labor 600
2014 total: 21,160
Running total 298,500

2014: After a while, timing belt service seems to arrive much sooner than expected.

2015
Odometer reading: 223,000km
Resale value: P78,240
Gauge cluster (surplus) 2,800
Radiator (OE surplus) 2,000
Seatbelts (OE surplus) 1,500
2015 total: 6,300
Running total 304,800

2015: I don’t to drive Yvonne as much as I used to because of the arrival of the Miata, but that doesn't mean I neglect my first love. If anything, I want to fix her up even more. A good friend introduces me to an online seller dedicated to selling hard-to-find Mitsubishi parts. Right on time, too, because the tachometer and fuel-level indicator on the gauge cluster has failed. I get a gauge cluster with red needles, something I’ve always wanted, and seatbelts from an Evo IV.

2016
Odometer reading: 229,460km
Resale value: P73,350
AC cleaning repair (rep. drier, expansion valve) 9,500
Mags repair 1,050
2016 total: 10,550
Running total: 315,350

2016: In the interest of saving money, I only replace what I think are the worn-out air-conditioner components. I’m still using the same compressor, which was rebuilt back in 2006. I’m surprised it hasn’t failed yet. The advice of the mechanic to shut it off when I take the engine beyond 2,000rpm is sound.

2017
Odometer reading: 234,402km
Resale value: P68,460
2017 total: 0
Running total: 315,350

2017: I can't believe no repairs are required this year.

2018
Odometer reading: 237,000km
Resale value: P63,570
Grille clips 200
Wheel bearing (front x2) 1,500
Bearing seals (x4) 1,200
Lock actuator 300
Brake pads 900
Window switch (surplus) 800
Rear wheel bearing 1,700
2018 total: 6,600
Running total: 321,950


2018: A rear wheel bearing begins to make noise at speed, so I change bearings at all four corners for my own peace of mind. Surplus shop to the rescue for a fried power window switch and lock actuator. 

FIXED EXPENSES
Oil changes (237,000km / 5,000km x P2,500) est. 118,000
Registration (21years x P4,000) est. 84,000
Battery (21 years / 2years x P3,000) est. 31,500
Total fixed expenses: 233,500
TOTAL COST AT 21 YEARS 555,450
(Running total + fixed expenses)

And there you have it. To keep my car in tip-top shape and on the road for 21 years, I’ve shelled out P555,450. Money well spent? It depends on who you ask. It’s a very personal thing. 

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I take pride in keeping Yvonne in such good condition through the years. When I park her, I still always lovingly look back as I walk away. After two decades I’m still infatuated. The time, effort, and money spent is so worth it for me. Love knows no bounds, I guess. And did I forget to mention that apart from that one time I burned out the clutch, she has never broken down and left me stranded. If you take care of your ride, it will take care of you.

Thankfully, I never had to open up and rebuild the engine because I always monitor under-hood temperatures and never suffered a catastrophic overheat. And no matter how strapped for cash I was, I never skipped an oil change. I only recently removed the valve cover, and there was no gunk or buildup whatsoever on the camshafts. Driving Yvonne long distances helped in prolonging engine life, too. Blasting up Kennon Road is a great workout I suppose. You really shouldn’t baby your car too much if you want her to last a long a time. Reaching the upper end of the tach every so often is good for a motor, and for your personal well-being, too.

Yvonne’s resale value is less than P70,000 now, so it makes no sense to even part with her. I will only feel sad if we do. She’s still quick, efficient, reliable, and has working air-conditioning. The memories we’ve shared are priceless as well. Driving her makes me smile.

The next brand-new car will be for the wife. Let me keep my old cars. I’m happy with them.    



 

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