Author Topic: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!  (Read 1667 times)

CBnCO

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Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« on: January 30, 2017, 12:15:35 PM »
We are selling our expensive in town, near bus stops, near bike lanes, house and trading down/up to a mountain cabin (several hundred thousand $'s cheaper) and given its more remote location thought we should become a two car household for convenience and safety. We've only had one vehicle for the past four years and, despite a small amount of inconvenience, its worked out very well and it pains me to go back to two cars; but, we are saving so much on housing that it's worth it. So....

We will be living where it snows quite a bit in the winter (200+ inches) and so definitely want AWD or 4WD to accompany the SUV we already have. We are currently deciding between another SUV and a crew cab pickup. The SUV being more practical for family & dog hauling and the truck would come in handy for the few times we need to haul bigger items. I just started looking and was amazed at how expensive pick-up trucks were, so maybe leaning back toward the SUV. That said, my real question to the board is about used vehicle buying strategy; is there an established MMM strategy for how old and mileage when looking to buy used? How long are gas engines lasting these days and how many miles are too many to buy into? Hell, I am cheap and want to buy something for $5K or less; but, could spending $10-15K be better if I could get newer/lower mileage? My baseline assumption will be that I won't be able to differentiate on service history; but, will absolutely get any vehicle professionally inspected. So, do you buy a 2007 with 130K miles for $5K or a 2011 with 75K miles for $12K, etc???

Let me know what you think and what else I should consider?

kimmarg

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Re: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2017, 12:19:19 PM »
thought we should become a two car household for convenience and safety. We've only had one vehicle for the past four years and, despite a small amount of inconvenience, its worked out very well and it pains me to go back to two cars;

Let's stop this discussion right there. WHY do you NEED 2 cars? For example did one of you who used to take the bus to work now need to drive? Are you driving opposite ways? Why not try it out for a while with one car and see how it goes? If you don't literally NEED 2 cars the second you move to get to two different jobs far away I would wait a few months and see how much you need it. It also would give you a better idea of what kind of vehicle you want (do you curse not having a truck every week? Do you now need to carpool a ton of munchkin to soccer pratice over a mountain pass?)

CBnCO

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Re: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 02:50:09 PM »
thought we should become a two car household for convenience and safety. We've only had one vehicle for the past four years and, despite a small amount of inconvenience, its worked out very well and it pains me to go back to two cars;

Let's stop this discussion right there. WHY do you NEED 2 cars? For example did one of you who used to take the bus to work now need to drive? Are you driving opposite ways? Why not try it out for a while with one car and see how it goes? If you don't literally NEED 2 cars the second you move to get to two different jobs far away I would wait a few months and see how much you need it. It also would give you a better idea of what kind of vehicle you want (do you curse not having a truck every week? Do you now need to carpool a ton of munchkin to soccer pratice over a mountain pass?)

Great response! To be fair, I hate the thought of going back to two cars; but, there is zero public transport service where we will live and we do have a young daughter. Frankly, my first concern was safety; I would hate to be away with the only car and then have an emergency happen. But, most everything we will need on a day to day basis is within a 5-10 mile radius and; thus, my idea that a cheap, higher mileage car might fit the bill (we both work from home). It would be used occasionally; but, rarely for anything more than a 10-15 mile round trip. On occasion, one of us might spend an overnight a couple of hours away in the city, which would leave the other somewhat stranded during that period.

You do have a point in that the times before we've spent extended periods at the cabin, we've only occasionally had a conflict where we thought about a second vehicle. I've read all the articles and done the calculations and the cost of automobiles is, indeed, ridiculous. Perhaps we will rethink the entire purchase; but, I'm still a bit curious how the MMM crowd goes about rationalizing vehicle purchases. I agree that using the car as little as possible reduces the variable expenses and I'm just trying to get something economical to fill in the times we "need" a second vehicle while at the same time trying to get a vehicle type that adds some utility. Thanks!

ketchup

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Re: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2017, 03:25:30 PM »
If it's essentially a "failover" vehicle you're looking for, the oldest/cheapest one you can tolerate is probably the way to go.  Just be sure to drive it once a month or so to keep from anything really stupid from happening.  Old cars aren't 100% reliable of course, but with very low use, that matters less.

I agree with the first response though: make sure you actually need a second vehicle before you even look.  If there was a true emergency and the only vehicle was elsewhere, what options are there?  Could you call a taxi (even if being remote meant it cost you something outrageous like $250 you'd probably come out ahead)?

Apart from true emergencies, being homebound for a few days while one partner is away would be fine as long as you can plan for it in advance (GF and I do this all the time; she travels a lot for work and we have one car).  Even if not, rental cars are shockingly reasonable ($15/day if you know what you're doing, at least near me) if you wanted to get one to be on standby for times like that.

Define why you want the second vehicle, figure out how to plug those needs elsewhere if possible, and try to figure out how often a true emergency (whatever that means to you) actually occurs.

Rural

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Re: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2017, 04:18:20 PM »

 We're in a situation where a second vehicle is an absolute necessity as in, no ambulance could reach us in a real emergency. So I do understand that sometimes that second vehicle is a need, not a want.


I'll posit, though, that you are in a very good position here to spend time  finding an incredible bargain, and that's what I would suggest you do. You also can get away with an old beater, no problem.  I'll second that reminder above to be sure you drive it at least once a month.


 It's a good idea to price out how much it would cost to rent a car on a few occasions, but if you're looking for a back-up plan to get to the ER in a hurry, it doesn't help to plan for a rental. For us, it's 45 miles each way to anywhere to rent a car, so we've disregarded that option.   It's also worth looking into whether a taxi service would come out to where you are and what that would cost.


But once you have these answers, if the answer is that there are no options, you really probably do need another vehicle. What you don't have to do is have it tomorrow,  and that puts you at a real advantage in shopping for and purchasing a used car or truck.

kimmarg

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Re: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2017, 05:57:10 PM »
Frankly, my first concern was safety; I would hate to be away with the only car and then have an emergency happen.

Good, you know your main concern! Now consider ways to address it without a second car. Someone else on this thread noted that they live in a very rural location where ambulances can't get. Perhaps this will be true for you, but  from the fact that you now have public transport I'm guessing you're moving from the Front Range to something that feels rural to you now, but may not once you get there. (also everything you need within 5-10 miles? Can't be that rural). I would figure out what your emergency worst option plan is (taxi? rental car?) and put aside cold hard cash in the house for it as soon as you get there. That way you can feel ok knowing your family is safe if you're out with the car. As others have mentioned a beater in-town car is probably what you want but once again I'd encourage you to wait it out a few months. Once you become a part of the community you may feel much less like you need a second car. For example could your new neighbor down the road give you a lift to the doctor in a pinch? May sound out of your comfort zone now but after living there a few months and having a few bbq's and getting to know each other it might feel natural.

MattC

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Re: Buying A Second Car - How Mustachian Is That!
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2017, 05:48:41 AM »
It sounds like to me your ideal vehicle solution is to keep your SUV (good in the snow + fits everything) and make your second car be something like a Honda Fit/Toyota Yaris/Toyota Prius/Scion Xa/Xd etc. in the $3k-5k price range (more economical).  And you should put as many  of your miles on the car as you can; save the SUV for the "emergency" vehicle and family trips to save on gas/depreciation.  Get studded snow tires for the car so that it is good for 95-99% of your commute days where you are.  On the 1-5% of bad snow days, take the SUV and suck it up that you'll have to beat feet home in an "emergency".   

You may want a small trailer to pull behind the SUV for those few truck-like things you want to do per year.  I assume it would have no trouble pulling a couple thousand pounds of wood, etc.   

If you really feel like you can't live without AWD for your second car (I'm skeptical; doubly skeptical if you never driven a car with studded snows), the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe or Honda CRV or something like might be options.