Author Topic: Car Buying Options  (Read 634 times)

MustacheAnxiety

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Car Buying Options
« on: August 17, 2018, 01:46:15 PM »
I am considering a car change and would like your thoughts.

Stats:
 - 26 mile round trip commute to an office job
 - 7,200 miles per year on average
 - Live in Northern US with heavy snows in winter
 - No true need for SUV but I am used to having 4 wheel drive in the snow and use it to carry construction materials or craigslist purchases 6-8 times a year
 - I raise the occasional eyebrow of coworkers and bosses with my old semirusty car, but I mostly smile and think about how being FI is a lot more fun than a Maserati or a Porsche.
 - Second family car is a manual compact car that gets ~35mpg

Options in consideration in order of current preference:
1) Buy 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid (~33 mpg) 45K miles for $6.5K and sell Jeep for ~$2K
 - This will be easyish and seems like a deal to good to pass up.  The Escape deal is curtesy of a family member that would otherwise just do a trade-in. I know it has been well cared for, regular maintenance, including car washes, and spent its days in a heated garage.  The battery makes me a little nervous
2) Keep the 2002 Jeep (20 mpg) 140K miles and drive it until the engine or transmission goes
 - Pros: I am lazy and this vehicle has been pretty easy to maintain myself due to a large engine compartment and being familiar with its noises and needs. Cons: gas mileage, the abs light is on and I don't know how to fix it myself
3) Buy 5K small car and sell the Jeep
 - Pros: probably the most mustachian with the lower cost and better gas mileage Cons: concerned about buying a pile of issues from an unscrupulous seller, more work, might get lazy and keep the jeep for longer, would miss having an SUV (I may have some little man syndrome but it is nice to be able to see over people to the cars and lights ahead), would likely have more miles than the Escape.

What would you do and why?
 
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 02:42:12 PM by MustacheAnxiety »

Ecky

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Re: Car Buying Options
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2018, 02:13:28 PM »
Commuting in any SUV is a bad financial move. But you knew that. ;)

I live in the mountains in Vermont (3rd highest average snowfall, ~80 inches) and drive an 1800lb FWD car. I've never had any issues in the snow, either with traction or getting stuck. I have ~6 inches of ground clearance. YMMV, but people drive more Priuses around here than anything else, take that as you may.

When you say you carry construction materials, do you want/need the ability to carry a 4x8 sheet of something? That rules out most vehicles, and I don't think the hatch in your jeep is 48" wide (is it?) so you're probably not moving sheets of plywood with your current vehicle. What exactly are your needs with this?

By my standards, 140k miles is very low. My current Honda is near 300k and incredibly reliable - I've put around $300 in repairs that weren't tires and oil changes into it over the last 6 years. My girlfriend recently purchased a "low mileage" 200k Fit and has been averaging 44-48mpg in it, and I feel it's likely for her to get 50-100k more out of it before anything expensive needs replacement. YMMV

The Escape's battery is NiMH and I'd say you can expect to get ~15 years give or take 5 years out of it depending on your climate - hot climates will have batteries failing earlier. A replacement rebuilt pack is around $2,000. Your break-even point in fuel savings is ~5 years with the Escape if you need a new battery on day one.

~

What would I do? I bought a 70mpg Honda Insight, and would do it again in a heartbeat. When I need construction materials that don't fit in the hatch, I hook my trailer up to it.

RWD

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Re: Car Buying Options
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2018, 02:48:48 PM »
- I raise the occasional eyebrow of coworkers and bosses with my old semirusty car, but I mostly smile and think about how being FI is a lot more fun than a Maserati or a Porsche.
We should be FI before our Porsche is paid off.

Options in consideration in order of current preference:
1) Buy 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid (~33 mpg) 45K miles for $6.5K and sell Jeep for ~$2K
 - This will be easyish and seems like a deal to good to pass up.  The Escape deal is curtesy of a family member that would otherwise just do a trade-in. I know it has been well cared for, regular maintenance, including car washes, and spent its days in a heated garage.  The battery makes me a little nervous
2) Keep the 2002 Jeep (20 mpg) 140K miles and drive it until the engine or transmission goes
 - Pros: I am lazy and this vehicle has been pretty easy to maintain myself due to a large engine compartment and being familiar with its noises and needs. Cons: gas mileage, the abs light is on and I don't know how to fix it myself
3) Buy 5K small car and sell the Jeep
 - Pros: probably the most mustachian with the lower cost and better gas mileage Cons: concerned about buying a pile of issues from an unscrupulous seller, more work, might get lazy and keep the jeep for longer, would miss having an SUV (I may have some little man syndrome but it is nice to be able to see over people to the cars and lights ahead), would likely have more miles than the Escape.

What would you do and why?
Option 3, by far. I personally would hate driving an Escape or Jeep.

MustacheAnxiety

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Re: Car Buying Options
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2018, 05:18:33 PM »
Thanks for the advice.  I have never bought a car from a non-dealer stranger before, which is another reason option 3 is uncomfortable.  I am happy enough to drive a little car (or at least the lower prices at the pump would generate more happiness than the rare occasions when an SUV is sort of useful).

Any tips for negotiating with private party sellers? 
How much utility is there in having a mechanic look the car over and how much should I expect to pay for the service? 

We are reasonably mechanically inclined and do all our own maintenance and repairs as long as they are limited to removing a broken/worn out part and replacing it (no rebuilding engines or transmissions, yes to replacing breaks, ac clutch, radiator, oil changes, break lines).  But I don't know how good we would be at diagnosing issues on a short trip in a car we are not familiar with.

Also how super sketchy would it be to buy the hybrid SUV at trade-in cost and turn around and sell it after the winter is over and I find a good used tiny car?  Letting the Escape get traded in just feels like giving money away.

Ecky: Thanks for the thorough response.  I expect the Jeep would last another 5 years at least and generally expect it to age out from salty roads and my underwhelming car washing habits rather than mileage.  Construction materials are just for repairs of our house mostly lumber and pipe that sticks out the back window precariously and a whole bunch of mulch every year, we also made a roof rack to carry some ladders.  Certainly doable to borrow/rent for these occasions.  Drywall definitely did not fit (had to borrow a truck) and replacement plywood for the roof had to be delivered.

What year is your Insight?  If I decided to go for a compact hybrid, is the insight still your recommendation today?  What about an electric car or plug-in hybrid?  If I go option 3 we could spend quite a bit more, but we are aiming for maximum mustache.



Ecky

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Re: Car Buying Options
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2018, 07:20:09 PM »
My Insight is a 2000, and it's probably not my first recommendation, but it's the perfect car for me. Some points to know about them:

-They're 2 seaters.

-The automatic transmissions are garbage. Most made were manuals, which are bulletproof and get much better mileage.

-Most will be on their 2nd battery now, the first of which were likely replaced for free by Honda. Unlike other hybrids, the original Insight drives perfectly well with a failed or removed hybrid battery. Acceleration is significantly reduced and it's not as fun a car to drive but it won't ever leave you stranded.

-It's old enough that nearly all of the electronics are analog - the hybrid system is controlled by variable voltages and PWM signals, rather than CANBUS, so you can troubleshoot with a voltmeter if anything ever does go wrong.

-it's made entirely of aluminum, so it won't rust out. Only brake and clutch lines, and exhaust, are affected by salt.

-There are a handful of small issues that consistently happen to all of them: The driver window switch fails, but there's a 3d printed version which fixes the design flaw and costs around $2. The electric trunk button quits, due to a common very slow water leak above the passenger door causing corrosion on a connector, which is easily accessed. Solution is to clean the connector and seal the deal with a bead of caulk. Stuff like that.

~

Below $8000, for most friends and family I recommend a Prius or Honda Fit. Both are bulletproof. The Fit is bigger on the inside than outside, fun to drive, crazy reliable, and parts are cheap as dirt.. Taxi companies often use Priuses, if that says anything about their cost effectiveness. There are some articles out there talking about 600,000 mile Priuses which still run great.

If you want a plug-in, the Chevy Volt is a great choice. Their batteries have proven to last. Many with more than 200k miles report zero measurable battery degradation, and they can go 35-50 miles on a charge before switching to gasoline, at which point they're good for about 40mpg. They also have very useful hatches. You might also look at the C-Max and Fusion, though their long term reliability is less known to me.