Author Topic: Six Cars in Seven Years!  (Read 3634 times)


  • Bristles
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  • Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Six Cars in Seven Years!
« on: December 08, 2013, 01:51:29 PM »
Yes, it's just as ridiculous as the title would have you believe.  Please hold all face punching until the end of the story.

In 2006, I owned a 95 Chevy pickup that was long paid for and inexpensive to maintain.  However, my sweet side (think frosted mini wheats) overruled my wheat side and off to the dealership I went.  First, I wanted a shiny new Chevy pickup.  Nope, not a small one mind you, but a 3/4-ton-chassis-diesel-fuel-operated behemoth.  And did I want this truck to pull livestock, build houses, or rival freight trains.  Nope again...I needed this truck for my rigorous five mile commute.  Somehow, my sensible side won this battle but ended up losing the war when I drove off with a 2004 (used at least) Tahoe.  But I must've paid in cash or at least put money down, right?  Nope...financed it all over five years.

After changing jobs (requiring a move across VA), I held on to the Tahoe until my fiance convinced me that it, having less than 100k miles, was going to break down and I needed to get a newer vehicle.  Surely I told her that this was preposterous and that, at the very least, I should finish paying off the Tahoe before I go out and get a new vehicle.  Off to the dealership I went when what should appear before my eyes?!  A shiny new 2009 Chevy pickup...with lots of dealer installed options...and it was on the showroom floor?!  Well this time I had a trade in and that would at least knock down the purchase price....orrrrrr it would add $4000 in negative equity to the already ridiculously overpriced truck.  And if financing the entire purchase again (this time for six years!) wasn't bad enough, I had to buy the fiance a brand new Coach purse so she'd 'let me' buy the truck.

Just another two short years later and I found myself moving further from my job so my wife could be closer to hers.  At least that part slightly made sense since she worked five days a week and I only worked ten days a month.  Well after a month of commuting in a truck that got thirteen (yes 13) miles to the gallon, it was time for another vehicle!  Now it was time to trade into a car that got good mileage and was inexpensive...maybe even used!  Nope, brand new SUV (2012 Honda Pilot), financed for five years, with that same $4000 in negative equity lingering around like last night's cooking smells. 

After divorcing, and moving back closer to my job, I kept the Pilot.  In fact, it was such a great car (no sarcasm, I really liked it), that when the dealership called me a year or so later (March of 2013) because they "wanted my quality used vehicle for a prospective customer" and subsequently "wanted to put me into a new 2013 with more options for a lower payment," I went in!!!  Several hours later, off I went with the promised 2013 Pilot, with the promised more options and the promised lower payment...for a brand new five year finance term AND $1250 of negative equity rolled right in!

Cut to November of 2013.  After all these terrible decisions, will vehicle six finally be something sensible?  All joking aside, yes.  Because of some realizations on my part and a lot of motivation from this community, I elected to trade in my 2013 Pilot (nearly $1000/month to operate) for a 2010 Civic with 73k miles on it.  Yes, I still financed it and yes, there was negative equity involved.  Plus, it is a smaller vehicle, less versatile, and doesn't have the four wheel drive that is handy to have but rarely used.  But my payment was halved and my fuel mileage doubled.  My insurance and taxes went down and my monthly cost to operate is now about $550/month.  Honestly, all things being equal, I'm super happy I made the switch.  Even today, as a wintry mix fell on Northern Virginia, I came to realize that, if I don't drive like an asshat, I can get around just fine with front wheel drive!

If you are on the fence about trading down cars because you feel like you're stuck in a newer car and will have negative equity, look at the bigger picture of cost to operate and cost to own.  Also, really look at the kind of car you drive and the mileage you get.  Do you really need that diesel truck for your commute on dry (ok sometimes wet) pavement?  Is that Ford Extortion really necessary for a couple rugrats and their stuff?  Once you decide what kind of car you need versus what looks cool or is fun to drive, then look at what you'll have at the end of your finance term. has an estimated depreciation calculator and can give you an idea of what kind of value you're looking at.  No we don't buy cars as investments and we all know they will depreciate but that 2010 Civic will lose value a lot slower than any of the previous four vehicles I "owned."

One other thing i'll add is this:  the decision to trade down has had a very positive impact on me.  It has caused me to look very closely at other things I spend money on and realize that there are many areas in which I can be more spendthrift.  I waxed and waned for several months before taking the plunge and I urge you to think about this as a possibility.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of Six Cars in Seven Years!  Commence with the face punching!


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Six Cars in Seven Years!
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2013, 02:55:45 PM »
Question: was the fiancee of car #4 the wife of #5?

Your real problem is that you didn't trade down far enough, to say a 1998 Civic.  There's still time to make it SEVEN cars in seven years :-)


  • Bristles
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Re: Six Cars in Seven Years!
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2013, 03:36:32 PM »
Question: was the fiancee of car #4 the wife of #5?

Your real problem is that you didn't trade down far enough, to say a 1998 Civic.  There's still time to make it SEVEN cars in seven years :-)

Yes, fiancee, wife, ex-wife.  Good times!

I considered that as an option (buying a $1000-$2000 Civic and selling the Pilot privately) but didn't have the cash on hand to buy and didn't want to spend any amount of time with two vehicles.  Conversely, I would've had a hard time financing the negative equity on car 5 (Pilot ver 2). 

Seven in seven does have a nice ring to it!


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Six Cars in Seven Years!
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2013, 08:55:01 PM »
Hmmm . . . it occurs to me that my husband, my two teens and I (all licensed drivers) have lived a combined 132 years, and we have -- combined -- owned eight cars, three of which are still in our possession. 


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Six Cars in Seven Years!
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 10:52:27 PM »
In the last 27 years (my entire car-owning lifetime) I've owned three cars, and I bought the third one only because the second one was totaled by a crazy driver.  Otherwise I'd still be on my second.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Six Cars in Seven Years!
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 04:56:38 AM »
I once went through five cars in five days on my first college spring break.
1) crashed mine (geriatric coming the other direction pulled a left turn in front of us)
2) insurance company gave me a new Subaru wagon with 100 miles on the odometer.  Engine blew apart on highway near Three Rivers, Texas where a friendly service station mechanic diagnosed "she's all wallered out"
3) insurance brought us a clapped out Chevy Corsica. Got it stuck in the sand on South Padre Island around midnight.  Paid $50 for a tow.
4) insurance swapped Chevy for a cheaper Nissan Sentra as per their rules.   Kissed a curb on a wet Houston turn which broke the front axle and mangled the fender and passenger door.
5) rental car place swapped the  Sentra for a Grand Am featuring a faulty shifter which looked like it was in Drive when it was actually in 2nd gear.  Drove it at high speed late at night on swamp roads near Lafayette and overheated the engine.   Luckily, it cooled down and we go it running again. No further dramas.

At least none of this cost me a great deal.  I managed to get my car (my first!) repaired and drove it until it was about 17 years old when someone demolished it while it was parked in front of my house. 

Bought seven cars after that first one.  Car 2 was a frivolous but cheap mistake (used VW Corrado), car 3 a cool old indulgence ('76 Cadillac) which I sold for 3x what I paid, car 4 a Jeep which we kept 10 years.  Cars 5 and 6 were vulgar luxo-hot-rods (Lexus and MB).  Wised up and got a used Subaru after that - good mileage and resale.  Don't own a car now.


  • Stubble
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Re: Six Cars in Seven Years!
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2013, 10:28:29 AM »
According to one source, the average car loan in the US is 64 months and the average payment is $452.  The interest costs alone on that are enough to buy a decent used car.   Are you ever going to get a car loan again?

Plan A:

Congratulate self for waking up.

Punch self in ball sack. 

Buy a 2000 dollar beater.

Run it 1 year while you save another 3 grand (less than 300/month). 

Sell beater for 2K. Buy 5K beater. 

Want a better car?  Repeat steps 4,5.