Author Topic: Spend more cash to downsize car?  (Read 2042 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Spend more cash to downsize car?
« on: April 18, 2015, 01:35:25 PM »
Hi All, I think the answer to my scenario is a pretty obvious 'NO reason to change anything', but wanted to solicit some outside thought.

We (family of four) currently own a 2004 Honda Odyssey minivan. It's completely paid for. Has 140k miles. Well maintained mechanically, no major expected maintenance ahead of us. Little dirty on the inside (kids), but nothing that can't be cleaned up spotless when the need arises.

Frankly, the size of the vehicle is what bothers me. We don't drive a ton or have daily commutes. We very rarely drive with more than the four of us. We don't buy so much stuff at the store or move furniture around so frequently that we have any need for the cavernous space it provides.

However, if I was to move to a "right-sized" vehicle like a Honda Fit (the sort of thing we'd typically consider Mustachian), I would want to jump down in miles and up in model year, to at least a 2010, under 75k miles. This would cost minimum $9k cash based on my searches. Our minivan could sell separately for $3k,

So the net uplift to get into a smaller car is $6k. The difference in MPG is optimistically but possibly +20. $6000 / ($3/gal) = 2000 gal to breakeven. at +20mpg, thats 40k miles. Again, we don't drive much.

So I think the logical conclusion is to drive this minivan into the ground, rather than increase our cost basis just for the sake of being size-conscious.

Any others thoughts out there I should consider?


  • Stubble
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    • Humble FI
Re: Spend more cash to downsize car?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2015, 12:43:39 AM »
Few other things to consider:
+ What about insurance costs for the new car?
+ What about the repair frequency for the old car for the past year or two.
+ What is the state of the paint? Mine was bad and I had to face pressure from family to replace it.
   A repaint job for $360 and people somehow forget it is an old car...looks do count you know :-)
+ Make sure that the long term record of the honda fit is good.
+ Make sure the family is in on the decision....cya you know :-)

My rules are:
+ 2/3 major repairs, time to replace it.
+ Spend $1000 on repairs => use the car for one more year
+ Insurance is liability only...because insurance company will pay the lesser of the KBB value and vehicle repair, why pay comprehensive?
+ Safety issue && kids travel in it => replace it.

Hope that helps.


  • Stubble
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Re: Spend more cash to downsize car?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2015, 01:27:09 AM »
Yes, keep it, if you need a car. Why spend more on something you anyway drive rarely? The advice of humblefi focuses on "why to get a better car", but you didn't say you think you need a better car, just that this one has too much space. Downsizing a fully paid low cost car can probably wait.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Spend more cash to downsize car?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2015, 09:01:35 AM »
Do you own any other vehicles or is the van the only one?

If it's worth about $3K now, it's nearing the bottom for its value. You know the history of its maintenance etc and believe it's in good shape mechanically.

I vote for keeping it. You said a couple times that you don't drive much, so the relative MPG doesn't really matter.

Personally, I think having a utility type vehicle or trailer is quite useful - hauling house or yard stuff, camping, bicycles, kids and their friends, dogs, etc.

One consideration is whether your Odyssey was in the years where transmission problems were common.  Google for more info.