Author Topic: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless  (Read 886 times)

kittenbear

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Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« on: August 13, 2018, 12:07:46 PM »
Hello Mustachians!

My husband and I live in Chicago, and have both been car-free since we graduated from college many moons ago.  We are planning on adopting an infant in the next year -- a topic which I'd love to get Mustachian feedback on, but for another time -- and our lifestyle will need to change with the addition of a tiny person: we will need to buy a car.

Because we live in the city, we need something compact, but we also need a lot of storage capacity.  Fuel efficiency is great, but we will both continue to use public transit to get to work everyday, so our car will primarily be for trips to Home Depot, seeing family, etc -- so fuel efficiency is not as important as it might be.  We are planning on a used car because of course, plus it will be parked on the street for most of the year, and will certainly get dinged up/scratched.

We are considering a used Prius that's a few years old -- which seems to meet all the criteria above.  I am deathly afraid of getting ripped off by a used car salesperson so my questions for this group are:

1. Anyone have experience or thoughts about buying through a rental car agency (Enterprise/Hertz) or Carmax?  The prices are slightly higher than local companies, but there is the peace of mind that the car has had regular maintenance and comes with a warranty

2. Am I correct to be afraid of the small used car companies nearby?  Will they try to sell me a piece of junk for way too much money?

3. Is there a different car that we should be considering besides a Prius, that combines a small frame with lots of storage, fuel efficiency, reliability/safety, and ease of transporting small children?

This group is amazing -- thank you so much for your thoughts in advance!

Beth

onlykelsey

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Re: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2018, 12:11:17 PM »
Hello Mustachians!

My husband and I live in Chicago, and have both been car-free since we graduated from college many moons ago.  We are planning on adopting an infant in the next year -- a topic which I'd love to get Mustachian feedback on, but for another time -- and our lifestyle will need to change with the addition of a tiny person: we will need to buy a car.

Because we live in the city, we need something compact, but we also need a lot of storage capacity.  Fuel efficiency is great, but we will both continue to use public transit to get to work everyday, so our car will primarily be for trips to Home Depot, seeing family, etc -- so fuel efficiency is not as important as it might be.  We are planning on a used car because of course, plus it will be parked on the street for most of the year, and will certainly get dinged up/scratched.

We are considering a used Prius that's a few years old -- which seems to meet all the criteria above.  I am deathly afraid of getting ripped off by a used car salesperson so my questions for this group are:

1. Anyone have experience or thoughts about buying through a rental car agency (Enterprise/Hertz) or Carmax?  The prices are slightly higher than local companies, but there is the peace of mind that the car has had regular maintenance and comes with a warranty

2. Am I correct to be afraid of the small used car companies nearby?  Will they try to sell me a piece of junk for way too much money?

3. Is there a different car that we should be considering besides a Prius, that combines a small frame with lots of storage, fuel efficiency, reliability/safety, and ease of transporting small children?

This group is amazing -- thank you so much for your thoughts in advance!

Beth

I had a Honda Fit before I moved to NYC and it was AMAZING.  I'd go for a hatchback like the Honda Fit if your concern is mostly moving stuff and occasional driving. 

Hirondelle

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Re: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2018, 12:32:11 PM »
So my first question here; what exactly will change once you get a baby that really requires you to have a car? What trips are you taking now without a car that you won't be able to do anymore once there's a baby?

It sounds like the car will only be used for occasional trips - wouldn't it make more sense to just rent one whenever needed?

FIRE@50

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Re: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2018, 12:35:33 PM »
Carmax provides a relatively hassle-free car buying experience. I would not buy a prior rental car.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2018, 12:38:20 PM »
So my first question here; what exactly will change once you get a baby that really requires you to have a car? What trips are you taking now without a car that you won't be able to do anymore once there's a baby?

It sounds like the car will only be used for occasional trips - wouldn't it make more sense to just rent one whenever needed?

Just what I was thinking.

kittenbear

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Re: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2018, 01:15:59 PM »
So my first question here; what exactly will change once you get a baby that really requires you to have a car? What trips are you taking now without a car that you won't be able to do anymore once there's a baby?

It sounds like the car will only be used for occasional trips - wouldn't it make more sense to just rent one whenever needed?

Just what I was thinking.

Good questions that I didn't full explain.  We are currently using Zipcar/Getaround pretty frequently, but once we add a carseat and  need to take semi-frequent trips to see grandparents, doctors, etc, I think it will become more of a hassle than it's worth.  Our nearest carshare option is 3 blocks away and is frequently unavailable.  Waiting around for an Uber/Lyft plus trying to properly install a carseat if we have a sick baby isn't something I think we'll be willing or able to do.  So I guess the desire for a car is more a desire for the predictability of knowing that a safe car will be available when we need it, as long as we need it, and without walking a baby several blocks in the snow/heat to pick it up.

onlykelsey

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Re: Buying a car after 11 years of being carless
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2018, 01:32:35 PM »
So my first question here; what exactly will change once you get a baby that really requires you to have a car? What trips are you taking now without a car that you won't be able to do anymore once there's a baby?

It sounds like the car will only be used for occasional trips - wouldn't it make more sense to just rent one whenever needed?

Just what I was thinking.

Good questions that I didn't full explain.  We are currently using Zipcar/Getaround pretty frequently, but once we add a carseat and  need to take semi-frequent trips to see grandparents, doctors, etc, I think it will become more of a hassle than it's worth.  Our nearest carshare option is 3 blocks away and is frequently unavailable.  Waiting around for an Uber/Lyft plus trying to properly install a carseat if we have a sick baby isn't something I think we'll be willing or able to do.  So I guess the desire for a car is more a desire for the predictability of knowing that a safe car will be available when we need it, as long as we need it, and without walking a baby several blocks in the snow/heat to pick it up.

As a recent mom in Manhattan, a couple recommendations:
  • look at uber family and whatever the lyft equivalent is.  See if you can find out what carseats they include, and what the pricing/availability is in your neighborhood.
  • I see parents on our listserve arranging informal carsharing arrangements.  Befriend other parents (this is maybe the most important thing I learned about being a parent in the city, and it goes beyond car sharing).
  • bucket car seats are actually quite easy to install rear facing.  I think it's actually harder when they outgrow them (my son is 18 months old), but bucket seats are very easy to install.  Maybe you can at least put off the car purchase for a bit.
  • Obviously you have no idea what your baby will be like but mine loved being on long walks.  So even though our doctor was about 25-30 minutes walking, I did that anyway.  Yours may be the same.  Mine also had no (special) immune issues, and I had him on public transit pretty young.  Not sure what your risk tolerance is, but my kid seemed to love the motion/sounds of subways and buses.