Author Topic: Car advice  (Read 4430 times)

blackfedora

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Car advice
« on: July 15, 2013, 09:52:51 AM »
I've been reading the various car-related blog posts, but they all assume that your car usage will be cut down to a minimum, and unfortunately that cannot be the case for my wife and I.

Now, before you get out your pitchforks and torches, I have cut down on my driving by working from home all but one day of the week, and I'm currently in the process of running a 1996 2-door coup into the ground (Lincoln mark VIII). Unfortunately, my wife works as an in-home therapist for kids with learning disabilities, and as such is forced to drive 3 to 4 hours every day. She enjoys a great deal of fulfillment from that job, so high mileage is just a reality that we have to deal with. She currently drives a Honda CRV which her parents have been leasing for her, but the lease is about to expire.

Also important to note: we're currently in the market for a house and plan to move in by the end of the year, so we'd like to have at least one vehicle capable of moving home supplies, furniture, etc. Here're my current thoughts; any constructive criticism is very much appreciated.

Vehicle for my wife:
3 to 4 hours of daily city driving pretty much necessitates a high efficiency vehicle, so we're leaning towards a used hybrid (probably a late 00's). This would also function as our road trip car.

Vehicle for me:
Since I've already essentially nullified by commute (and I'm hoping to move close enough to the office to bike to work the one day that I go in), fuel efficiency is not a huge factor, so I'm leaning towards getting a small truck. I know hatchbacks are the Mustachian way, but since I don't really care about about mpg for this vehicle I thought I'd get a vehicle that I know will transport anything I need it to. Basically, I'm hoping to never rent a vehicle or pay extra for delivery every again. Also, the wife and I enjoy a lot of gear intensive hobbies (scuba, rowing, sailing...), so it would be nice to have a "lug **** around" vehicle.

Obviously, my wife's situation makes her car purchase kind of a no-brainer, and there's already a ton of helpful information concerning used hybrids. However, I'm really unsure about getting a small truck for myself. I feel silly making such a large purchase when realistically I would only drive the thing a few times a month. Then again, trade in value of my coup is ~2.5k, so a 90's manual transmission truck shouldn't be a huge purchase.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2013, 11:45:11 AM »
I wouldn't get a used truck for a once-a-week commute just for the sake of making your one move easier, but if you are regularly transporting a boat, then it sounds like it makes sense. When you're hybrid shopping, take a gander at the trunk space in a Prius hatchback when you have the back seats down. There is a lot of room back there. It's not going to fit a boat, but it will fit a lot of gear.

blackfedora

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2013, 12:02:11 PM »
Thanks for the replies.

Kids are a possibility (we're looking at houses that have an extra bedroom just in case). However, we're both still in our early 20's so kids are almost a decade off. We might replace the truck with something a bit more family friendly if/when kids happen, but it's far enough in the future that I'm not worried about it.

I have been concerned about becoming "the friend with a truck"; that's part of what put me on the fence about trucks in the first place.

After the move my truck would only be used as a commuter vehicle on days when the weather was too terrible to bike; we're actively trying to ensure I can bike to work from the new house.

Basically I'm interested in a truck because in the coming years I know that numerous projects, purchases, and hobbies will be made easier by having a high cargo space vehicle capable of towing. I'm not sure it wouldn't be cheaper to just rent a truck on such occasions, but at the same time constantly renting a tow vehicle whenever I want to go sailing seems like a huge pain in the neck which will dissuade me from enjoying one of my favorite hobbies.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2013, 01:05:27 PM »
How often do you need to tow a boat now? How often do you estimate you will need the extra space?

Those are the questions I would roughly calculate, and compare to the extra costs of having the truck you want (higher MPGs, higher cost to buy (not sure if they're pricer than a more fuel efficient car?), higher maintenance? (again, not sure about that).

We wondered whether our Prius would be enough space for long road trips with a child and decided that our road trips are so infrequent that, if we truly ran out of space, we would rent a bigger car for the road trips and it would still cost less than if we drove that bigger car on a regular basis. But, we had a 10 miles daily RT commute at the time. Turns out, we never ran out of space, even with a ton of baby gear in the trunk.

blackfedora

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2013, 02:03:48 PM »
I'm hoping to need to tow a boat once or twice a month (a small sailboat is in the budget, but does not exist yet as I'm planning to build it myself and apartment complexes don't really lend themselves to boat construction).

Beyond that we'd use the truck to move home improvement supplies and furniture, but that's probably something we'd do 30 or 40 times during the whole life of the truck. (and honestly, 90% of those trips would probably be possible in a hatchback/minivan.)

Nearest boat launch can't be more than 5 miles away no matter which house we end up in. Actually, here's another thought... what's the maximum weight A bicyclist would want to tow? The boat I'm planning to build is around 120lbs with rigging (so maybe a little less than twice that with a steel trailer?) Seems like a bit too much, but I also live in flat as a pancake Charleston SC....

Redbeard

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2013, 02:46:52 PM »
Since it was previously mentioned, a minivan is actually a nice idea on several fronts: generally less expensive to register and insure, generally better gas mileage, not being known as "the guy with a truck", enclosed cargo area with the seats folded down/removed. You can also purchase a receiver and hitch for around $200, which would allow you to tow small trailers. I installed one myself (on a pickup) in a few hours, though I'd recommend getting a friend to help with the installation as it can be a bit awkward as a one-person job.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2013, 04:07:11 PM »
"I'm hoping to never rent a vehicle or pay extra for delivery every again"


That's a steep premium. My guess is that inexpensive insurance, even $300 a year, will more than outweigh any savings. How often to you pay for delivery of furniture or appliances? Once, maybe twice a year? How often do you really buy so much you'd need to rent a truck?

Throw in extra fuel costs for that once a week trip, license, registration and sales tax and I'm dubious you'd save much money. I would aim either to eliminate the 2nd car entirely or keep your beater.

daverobev

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2013, 06:23:34 PM »
Nearest boat launch can't be more than 5 miles away no matter which house we end up in. Actually, here's another thought... what's the maximum weight A bicyclist would want to tow? The boat I'm planning to build is around 120lbs with rigging (so maybe a little less than twice that with a steel trailer?) Seems like a bit too much, but I also live in flat as a pancake Charleston SC....

Have you heard of rickshaws?? You'd be fine pulling 120lbs, that's less than a person!! I'm sure you could work out a lighter trailer than that. You might have to get a lower gear ratio or something...

Anyway, a car with a hitch will almost certainly do you, I'd say. A small bed pickup doesn't fit all that much - an 8x4 trailer can take more. Not sure what 'small' is - but I've been looking at the payload capacities, and it looks like a base F150 is about 1700lbs in the bed, and a Ranger much less than that. My Crown Vic has a rating of 2000lbs but, in theory, is little different from the previous gen which could pull 5000lbs...

(As an aside, though, I'm very disappointed with the boot/trunk space in the CV - relative to a hatchback, the fact it doesn't have fold-down seats is just rubbish... I love my car though :) Mustachian? Maybe, maybe not, but it was $2.5k and I like it!)

Matte

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2013, 07:37:40 PM »
Just buy an old half ton truck, there cheap, if you get tired of it you'll get your money out if you maintain it.  For the most part there self serviceable and very well built.  Options, engine, gear ratio, make a difference on trucks as far as mpg. Really do your research and you should be happy and if not out a pile of money. 

blackfedora

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Re: Car advice
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 09:07:53 AM »
A crown vic was my highschool beater; loved that car.

OK guys, the more I look at it the sillier I feel for even considering a pick up, there's still a little research to do on insurance/registration, but now I'm thinking of either buying a hatchback/minivan, or doing away with a second car all together. Thanks for the comments!