Author Topic: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)  (Read 6762 times)

Tami1982

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Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« on: January 30, 2013, 09:35:15 PM »
Hey guys -

Here's the deal.  I own a 2002 Mazda 626 LX with 104,000 miles and I've yet to put out a single penny other than routine maintenance.   I purchased it used in 2003 with a windfall.  I planned on driving this car until it died a long, prolonged death.   However, there are a few things that have been repeatedly coming up in the last six months that are really making me want to get a different vehicle.

The first reason is major, and if some of you don't live an animalcentric lifestyle, may seem silly to you.  My dog goes with me everywhere.  I'm very actively hiking, kayaking, and other outdoorsy type things with my dog.  Yes, my dog kayaks:)  Having a sedan wasn't a horrible deal with one labrador.  Other than the seats getting dirty/wet all the time.  I have covers and blankets and many things down to try an keep the car clean to little avail.  What is now making it worse is that I take my best friends dogs with me all the time.  A golden, border collie, and a labrador in the back seat of my car is very difficult.   Plus, golden/border collie hair sticks to flipping everything.

In addition, putting the sports equipment and fitting things in the car with the dogs, and a possible copilot is consistently making making plans difficult. 

Next reason, I bought my own house this year and supplement my income as much as possible through flipping and selling of items.  Probably 9 months out of the year I make more doing that than I do working.  Since this has become such a large part of my life/income I have had multiple opportunities to make good money flipping free or low cost items but have been unable to do so because I cannot transport them.  I lose out on money making opportunities probably once a week, sometimes 5 times a week simply because I have no way to transport larger items.

In addition, I'm doing all kinds of work on the house and can't transport any of that either.  It's getting really tiring having to cajole people into helping me all the time.   

I've been interested for over a decade in the Honda Element because of the waterproof seats, suicide doors, and rubber floors.  It seems like the ultimate dog car, plus with the removable seats I can fit quite a bit of stuff in there too - whether it be to sell or for outdoor sports.  I've been doing research though and they are more than I want to spend.  I just can't stomach $12,000 for a 7 year old car.  So I've been looking (after reading an MMM Post) at the Ford Focus Wagon.  Doesn't have the cool cleanability factor of the Element, but has the big back area I'd like for the dogs/sports equipment, plus the ability to fit a few people and, according to MMM, ability to transport large items.  It also gets 35 mpg, vs my current 20mpg, vs the Element's 18mpg.  I am seeing a ton of these vehicles on the market and they are listing for $4,000 give or take.  But they all seem to have pretty high mileage.  I'm seeing 130,000 - 160,000 and that worries me.  I've still got 5-7 years in my car before I hit that.

My preference would be to get a loan for it (WAIT!) and then pay it off immediately after I sell my car.   I can't be without a vehicle and don't want to be snowed by trade in value. I will have enough from my school $$ and the sale of the car to pay off a car up to $5,000 this March. 

I appreciate any and all comments.  Or, if someone would like to show how generous they can be in FI and give me an Element, my labrador would thank you:)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 09:41:33 PM by Tami1982 »

Deano

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 09:48:27 PM »
You make a good case for a different car, no doubt.

I have a Pontiac Vibe, love it. Great car and I chose it over the Focus. I could be wrong but I think it might even be a bit roomier. I use mine like a truck....everything goes in there. Just a thought.

The Element is completely ideal for you, but...expensive. A small pickup truck with a cap on it might be ideal as well?

N

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 09:53:20 PM »
I have a ford focus wagon, 2005 that we just bought for 3800$ and it gets 20 mpg. thats all city miles as we hardly ever get anywhere near a highway, LOL. oh, it has 140K mi on it too. so it seems consistent with what you are seeing, except for the mpg. which Ive tried to improve and nada.

Id say it has a fairly roomy hatchback trunk and it seats 4 comfortably, 5 if the three in back are very skinny or kids not in carseats. not a lot of legroom in the back seat though, fyi. Im sure it would be fine for dogs who dont have long legs :)

Mine does have leather seats, although the trunk is cloth.
Not familiar with your style car so cant compare, but thought Id share what I knew.

What about a home equity loan instead of the car loan? thats the springy debt thing MMM recommends, no?

N

Tami1982

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 10:08:16 PM »
You make a good case for a different car, no doubt.

The Element is completely ideal for you, but...expensive. A small pickup truck with a cap on it might be ideal as well?

Thank you deano!  I'm certainly trying. LOL  I know, it's the perfect car that I've lusted over for ten years.  WANT.  But something cheaper will do.  (I'm a little worried about getting labrador smell out of the mazda. Labs have an oilier coat than other dogs:/)    I've thought about trucks, but MMM seems to think they are impractical and I couldn't fit my bestie and her tot in there and I don't think I'd be comfortable putting the dogs back there.
Not familiar with your style car so cant compare, but thought Id share what I knew.
What about a home equity loan instead of the car loan? thats the springy debt thing MMM recommends, no?

N

It's a mid sized 4 door sedan.  Back seats are pretty small for adults & not much leg room.  Cloth interior - nothing too fancy:)   I'm not well versed on home equity loans - but my understanding is you have to have equity in the house to get one, right?  I just bought my house 6 months ago and while I've been lucky since it has appreciated since I bought it, I don't own 20% yet. According to my calculations: I own 8.5% right now, LOL.  It's tiny, only 520sq ft, but I don't need more than that.  Got free money for down payment.  Total purchase price was $67,000, but my mortgage is only $63,000 at 3.25% and it is showing worth $74,000 now.  One day it will be mine, ONE DAY!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2013, 05:41:02 AM »
Why not a minivan? Take out all the seats, and you have some serious cargo space. There are V6 options on some models if you will be carrying stuff in hilly places. I believe MMM drives a honda odyssey for his construction business.

Deano

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2013, 06:40:02 AM »
Large Pickups=foolish. Small Pickups=a good vehicle for the right situation. 4 cylinder Pickups are hard to find but they're gold when you get them.

With a cap on the dogs would be fine, you could lash the kayak etc to the roof with some simple bars across and some rope or whatever.

Togoshiman

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2013, 07:55:54 AM »
Kia Rondo, Mazda5, Scion Xd might also be contenders - big boxes on wheels.  Elements are cool as can be, but poor gas mileage and they seem to get stolen like crazy around here.  Still, it's not like you're not getting the value for the dollar - they are extremely reliable and it really does sound like the perfect vehicle for you.  I would go out on a limb and say if you can afford it, the Element really might be the right tool for the job.  I'm also tempted to say Volvo or Subaru wagon since they look so good with dogs in the back, but they are expensive, complicated vehicles. 

Question for you - is a standard wagon tall enough for you, a la the Focus wagon?  They're great cars (if a little tinny) but not particularly tall.  If you want to transport lots of materials of various sizes, wondering if you need a taller vehicle.

Too bad the Ford Transit Connect has not been on the market here long enough to get a nice used one.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 07:58:00 AM by Togoshiman »

Togoshiman

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 07:57:31 AM »
Almost forgot, older CR-V or Rav4 might work for you too.  Not personally a fan, but they seem designed to fill the needs you describe.

Lagom

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2013, 08:50:24 AM »
It sounds like startingfromthestart has a hatchback, not a wagon… I have a 2000 Ford Focus wagon, which was the first year they made that model, and while being anti-cool, I think it’s a great car. It was supposedly a lemon year but I have never had to do anything but routine maintenance except just last month when I had to replace the fuel pump and thermostat, neither of which was especially expensive. It currently has 178k miles on it and is still running strong. Personally, I get 27-28 mpg in mostly city driving, so I have no idea why starting’s numbers are so bad. I do use very rudimentary hypermilling techniques but I am pretty impatient, so that mostly means coasting to stops to avoid breaking as much as possible.

I would be very surprised if a Vibe had as much space as the Focus, just using the eyeball test and my personal experience, although I think they are great cars and may get one myself next time around as they are a bit more reliable and get better mpg numbers than the Focus. They’re also more expensive. In any case, I have packed absurd amounts of crap into my focus in the past, including trucking everything my wife and I owned (minus bulky furniture but including two cats that were kept in a giant dog crate behind the front seats) from California to Chicago when I moved a few years back. Today, I also have two large dogs and they can comfortably hang out in the cargo area (although they tend to jump into the back seat most of the time) with room to spare. It would be very easy for me to travel with both dogs, at least one passenger, and enough gear for a long weekend’s camping trip. I know this because I have done it many times!

thurston howell iv

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2013, 12:07:21 PM »
Why not a minivan? Take out all the seats, and you have some serious cargo space. There are V6 options on some models if you will be carrying stuff in hilly places. I believe MMM drives a honda odyssey for his construction business.

My thoughts exactly!  We have a wagon for our three big dogs and a large truck for hauling stuff. (Expedition)... These were acquired way before we found MMM- otherwise, we would have gotten a mini van also (Insurance is cheap too)!

Additionally, minivans seem to ride a little lower making it easy for ingress and egress of large dogs (especially older ones)

Tami1982

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2013, 03:31:51 PM »
Why not a minivan? Take out all the seats, and you have some serious cargo space. There are V6 options on some models if you will be carrying stuff in hilly places. I believe MMM drives a honda odyssey for his construction business.
I seriously considered a minivan and have been searching, but what is available in my area seems to be higher priced, with more miles, and gets much lower MPG than the Ford Focus Wagon.   I really like Siennas, but they are out of my price range. .

Large Pickups=foolish. Small Pickups=a good vehicle for the right situation. 4 cylinder Pickups are hard to find but they're gold when you get them.

With a cap on the dogs would be fine, you could lash the kayak etc to the roof with some simple bars across and some rope or whatever.

A small pick up won't work because there has to be a spot for the tiny tot:)  I strongly considered it last year before tot came along.
Still, it's not like you're not getting the value for the dollar - they are extremely reliable and it really does sound like the perfect vehicle for you.  I would go out on a limb and say if you can afford it, the Element really might be the right tool for the job. 

Question for you - is a standard wagon tall enough for you, a la the Focus wagon?  They're great cars (if a little tinny) but not particularly tall.  If you want to transport lots of materials of various sizes, wondering if you need a taller vehicle.

I wish I could.  If I can hold off another 18 months I could likely swing it, but in the mean time I'm losing money and not being as active as I'd like to be.    The wagon seemed to be okay height wise, but I'll strongly consider the possibility of height.  I'm thinking if I can fit stuff in 90% of the time, that's leaves me only asking for help 10% instead of 100% of the time like now.

Almost forgot, older CR-V or Rav4 might work for you too.  Not personally a fan, but they seem designed to fill the needs you describe.

I really liked my bestie's Rav4 - but it is too small.  She upsized to a Sequoia.  Three dogs, a baby, and three adults don't fit very well in the RAV4 and a few times when she tried to help me out with moving items she couldn't because of the way the seats folded - it's a silly design that and really limits the flexibility of the Rav4.

Additionally, minivans seem to ride a little lower making it easy for ingress and egress of large dogs (especially older ones)

I have considered that too and it's definitely a point in a minivan's favor, but it's hard to overcome the increased cost, high miles, and lower MPG I've seen. 

I've been considering the Element for over 10 years, seriously lusting after it for at least three, but it was out of my price range and I didn't want a car payment.  I'm growing so frustrated that I'm finally reaching the point where I want to do something about it, but the car still isn't quite where it needs to be for me to buy it.  If I can hold out another 18 months I can probably afford a 2005 one, but it does have lower gas mileage and I keep trying to figure out if I just want it because it's sexy.  Especially if the Ford Focus Wagon is half the price and will do all the same things.  Minus the awesome rubber floors, of course.  I just don't know if I can wait another 18 months of not getting out and being physical and having fun with my dog.  That's twenty years of his life almost!  I owe it to him, within reason of course, to make all his days on earth fun and awesome. ugh.  Brain pain.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 03:38:10 PM by Tami1982 »

Lagom

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2013, 07:08:12 PM »
Seriously, the Focus is the opposite of sexy, but it sounds to me like it meets your needs pretty well. Ridiculous cargo space for the class, decent gas mileage, OK reliability (excellent in my personal experience and cheap parts either way), a fair amount less expensive than the other options. As long as you can get over its 1999 soccer mom looks, I think you'll be happy with it. JMHO.

N

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2013, 12:06:40 AM »
not trying to hijack thread, but No, I do have a wagon.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/19911.shtml
should add, the trunk is roomy, but not extra tall. the whole car rides lower to the ground than my last which was the 2009 kia rondo. (which I loved but sold to get rid of the payment)


It sounds like startingfromthestart has a hatchback, not a wagon… I have a 2000 Ford Focus wagon, which was the first year they made that model, and while being anti-cool, I think it’s a great car. It was supposedly a lemon year but I have never had to do anything but routine maintenance except just last month when I had to replace the fuel pump and thermostat, neither of which was especially expensive. It currently has 178k miles on it and is still running strong. Personally, I get 27-28 mpg in mostly city driving, so I have no idea why starting’s numbers are so bad. I do use very rudimentary hypermilling techniques but I am pretty impatient, so that mostly means coasting to stops to avoid breaking as much as possible.

I would be very surprised if a Vibe had as much space as the Focus, just using the eyeball test and my personal experience, although I think they are great cars and may get one myself next time around as they are a bit more reliable and get better mpg numbers than the Focus. They’re also more expensive. In any case, I have packed absurd amounts of crap into my focus in the past, including trucking everything my wife and I owned (minus bulky furniture but including two cats that were kept in a giant dog crate behind the front seats) from California to Chicago when I moved a few years back. Today, I also have two large dogs and they can comfortably hang out in the cargo area (although they tend to jump into the back seat most of the time) with room to spare. It would be very easy for me to travel with both dogs, at least one passenger, and enough gear for a long weekend’s camping trip. I know this because I have done it many times!

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 07:13:19 AM »
Tami, based on everything you've said, particularly with regard to finances, get the focus wagon (not hatch, wagon) - they are awesome cars actually (and I have an irrational dislike of Big 3).  One of my family members had one and it consistently amazed me how nice it was to drive, what great fuel economy it got, how roomy and useful it was, etc.  No, it's not fast or sexy.  It's not a luxury or sports car.  But even with carpets, you can just get it shampooed once a year much cheaper than the extra thousands you'd spend on an Element.  And it sounds like you could afford it right now, which is more important to you and your pets than anything else.  I would do that and invest in a roof rack or hitch with trailer for the times you really need to haul tons of stuff.  And a dog screen for the way back.  And good snow tires if you are in snow country.

The thing about 'want' cars is there is always another one someday (when we're FI).  Good luck!

Lagom

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2013, 07:33:42 AM »
not trying to hijack thread, but No, I do have a wagon.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/noframes/19911.shtml
should add, the trunk is roomy, but not extra tall. the whole car rides lower to the ground than my last which was the 2009 kia rondo. (which I loved but sold to get rid of the payment)


It sounds like startingfromthestart has a hatchback, not a wagon… I have a 2000 Ford Focus wagon, which was the first year they made that model, and while being anti-cool, I think it’s a great car. It was supposedly a lemon year but I have never had to do anything but routine maintenance except just last month when I had to replace the fuel pump and thermostat, neither of which was especially expensive. It currently has 178k miles on it and is still running strong. Personally, I get 27-28 mpg in mostly city driving, so I have no idea why starting’s numbers are so bad. I do use very rudimentary hypermilling techniques but I am pretty impatient, so that mostly means coasting to stops to avoid breaking as much as possible.

I would be very surprised if a Vibe had as much space as the Focus, just using the eyeball test and my personal experience, although I think they are great cars and may get one myself next time around as they are a bit more reliable and get better mpg numbers than the Focus. They’re also more expensive. In any case, I have packed absurd amounts of crap into my focus in the past, including trucking everything my wife and I owned (minus bulky furniture but including two cats that were kept in a giant dog crate behind the front seats) from California to Chicago when I moved a few years back. Today, I also have two large dogs and they can comfortably hang out in the cargo area (although they tend to jump into the back seat most of the time) with room to spare. It would be very easy for me to travel with both dogs, at least one passenger, and enough gear for a long weekend’s camping trip. I know this because I have done it many times!

My mistake. You are right that it's not very tall, but that only comes into play if you are trying to move furniture. Gear for trips can be stored in abundance, as can a lot of other practical things like various construction materials. For what it is (a wagon on a sedan base), it's amazingly versitile.

I'm very surprised at your poor gas mileage though. Like I said, I get 7-8 mpg better in city driving without really trying. Maybe you have a different model with a less efficient engine? I don't really know much about what options are out there, I've had this car for so long!

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2013, 08:21:04 AM »
Well I always promote Foci, but also I'd add Ford Escapes in there too. I drive an 02 Focus ZX5 (5 door hatch, little less room than the wagon) and the wife has an 09 Escape FWD. Both are stick. The Focus gets 29 MPG, all highway, and the Escape has more power, is quicker, and gets 27.5 MPG (mostly highway, and a fair amount at 75 MPH). I give the boxy, heavier, roomier Escape more credit than the Focus. Also the Escape has straight up sides. We use it to transport rescue animals and can fit two large kennels in it. Seats fold down flat for a pretty long load floor (6 ft?).

Another alternative, but only if you do a lot of highway driving, is a turbodiesel Jetta wagon. But those aren't the cheapest to maintain.. it's a trade off to get 45+ MPG.

The cheapest alternative for you though might be to get a small folding trailer for those Home Depot runs. Trailer hitch setups run $200 or so, and the folding trailers (5x8) can be had at Harbor Freight on sale for around $300. So for around $500 you have more capacity than the average truck (because most of them now seem to be shortbeds). This doesn't help with the dogs but it sounds like thats more convenience than anything.

Tami1982

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2013, 10:44:09 AM »
The thing about 'want' cars is there is always another one someday (when we're FI).  Good luck!
So true!!
. We use it to transport rescue animals and can fit two large kennels in it. Seats fold down flat for a pretty long load floor (6 ft?).
I haven't been able to see if kennels fit or not yet - will have to give it a shot. 

I need to get in one and see what the fit of stuff will be like. 

A local dealer here has quite a few of them in my price range.  http://www.vistaautosales.com/inventory.aspx?keyword=focus  I think I'm going to have to go swing by and check it out.   They also have my car listed on their lot (exact model with more miles) for $4,899.  If I could get $3,500 or more trade in maybe I can avoid having to sell it on my own and can just use the cash + trade in to buy it outright.  I don't want to get hosed on the trade in, but I also don't want the hassle of selling the car if it's not a big monetary difference.

Jack

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2013, 10:51:59 AM »
Another alternative, but only if you do a lot of highway driving, is a turbodiesel Jetta wagon. But those aren't the cheapest to maintain.. it's a trade off to get 45+ MPG.

If you want to go for this option (which, as the owner of a turbodiesel Beetle myself, I recommend), join www.tdiclub.com and get lots of advice first.

Lagom

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Re: Car questions: Probably going to lead to a face punch:)
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2013, 11:58:32 AM »
The thing about 'want' cars is there is always another one someday (when we're FI).  Good luck!
So true!!
. We use it to transport rescue animals and can fit two large kennels in it. Seats fold down flat for a pretty long load floor (6 ft?).
I haven't been able to see if kennels fit or not yet - will have to give it a shot. 

I need to get in one and see what the fit of stuff will be like. 

A local dealer here has quite a few of them in my price range.  http://www.vistaautosales.com/inventory.aspx?keyword=focus  I think I'm going to have to go swing by and check it out.   They also have my car listed on their lot (exact model with more miles) for $4,899.  If I could get $3,500 or more trade in maybe I can avoid having to sell it on my own and can just use the cash + trade in to buy it outright.  I don't want to get hosed on the trade in, but I also don't want the hassle of selling the car if it's not a big monetary difference.

I can confirm one large dog crate would fit, set up, and that two could easily fit if they were collapsed. I have never tried to set up two dog crates in the back. I think you could probably finagle it, but it would not be easy or convenient.