Dear Tom and Ray:
I am fast approaching my midlife crisis and want to buy a Jeep. I have wanted one for decades, but I am very cautious and always purchased autos with high reliability ratings. I don't want to completely throw caution to the wind, so I really want to know how old of a Jeep (Wrangler/Rubicon) I can get and still have the reliability factor? — Rita
Ray: Rita, Rita, Rita. You're completely misunderstanding the whole concept of a midlife crisis.
Tom: It's supposed to be when you do something stupid, like buy an old Jeep. It's about doing something you've always wanted to do but been heretofore restrained by your good common sense!
Ray: So, buying an impractical car is exactly what you need to do. The whole idea is to see what you've been missing all these years.
Tom: So if you've been lusting after Jeeps for decades while living in your practical world of ultra-reliable Hondas and Toyotas, you need to buy one of those Jeeps and see how the world looks when your head is bouncing against a canvas roof.
Ray: My guess is that, since you appear to be a logical, intelligent person, you'll love the Jeep for about three weeks. Then you'll get tired of the noise, the barbaric ride and the lousy handling. But that's fine. A midlife crisis is about exploring your own personality and why you've always made certain reasonable choices. And in most cases, it's about realizing that those choices were pretty good all along!
Tom: And that's fine! What's the worst thing that happens? You buy a Jeep, you have fun with it, you get sick of it, you sell it and you buy something else. That in itself may be liberating, Rita.
Ray: Maybe what you need to learn in midlife is that making a small mistake is not the end of the world. Unless you flip your Jeep over, in which case, it is.
Tom: So be careful out there, and try not to make any mistakes that are irreversible, like investing your life savings in corndog futures. But on small, insignificant things like cars, go ahead and have a little fun.
(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)