The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: albireo13 on April 30, 2016, 06:08:14 AM

Title: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: albireo13 on April 30, 2016, 06:08:14 AM
I am facing a small dilemma ... this coming year we are downsizing and planning to get an RV trailer for travel and vacationing.
Problem is we have 2 sedans.  Our plan is to give our high mileage, reliable Accord to my son (turning 19) for his first car and then I purchase another.

For towing an RV I will need a beefy SUV or pickup, probably a 1-ton pickup.  For my job, I commute 50 mi/day so a small sedan makes sense.
I've been driving an older Accord and it has been a good car.  My dilemma is this:

1. get a sedan for commuting, and a used pickup for towing and other use.  Thus we'd have 3 vehicles.  My wife needs her car for work since her schedule is totally different from mine.


2. just get the pickup/SUV and use that for commuting as well as towing.

plan #1 is un-MMM since I'm keeping 3 vehicles.  I don't like the idea, and cost, of maintaining, insuring, and keeping 3 vehicles.
plan #2 is un-MMM since I'd be driving a gas-inefficient clown truck to work every day.
Even though I'd burn more gas, plan #2 would be less expensive in the long run.

Thoughts?   I keeping going back and forth on this.
Either way I go, I will feel unworthy.
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: alsoknownasDean on April 30, 2016, 06:27:20 AM
Yeah I'd go for the small commuter car and used pickup. That said, are you able to take public transport to work?
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: Syonyk on April 30, 2016, 03:49:37 PM
You don't want to commute 50 miles to work in a one ton pickup on a regular basis, especially not if you're getting a slightly older one.  The ride when empty ranges from "annoying" to "brutal."  And you can get an older one, in great shape, with all the towing gizmos, for a fraction the cost of a newer one.

If you can find the right one, the 1994.5-1997 or 1998-2002 F350s with the 7.3 are a great diesel platform for towing, and you don't have to mess about with the newer emissions control stuff.
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: MattC on April 30, 2016, 08:36:03 PM
A couple of things I think of regarding your dilemma:

1.  Exactly how much weight will you be towing?  If you can make a pop-up work, that could be towed by a Toyota Matrix or similar vehicle, especially if it's manual transmission.  If you're looking at 5,000 lbs, maybe you could get away with something Toyota Rav4 or Nissan xterra or Honda Pilot sized.  Related to this, how many days/miles a year is the hauling necessary?   
2.  Would a motor home style be cheaper?  Would renting a motor home for the time you want one be cheaper? 
3.  Would abandoning this whole dilemma and just staying in hotels/motels/airbnb be cheaper?  My observation is that many RV owners have not only the hassle of owning, storing and towing/driving an RV, but end up spending more per night than they could have spent to just stay somewhere.  Compare the costs of RV+truck for the year to the costs of a commuter car for the year+lodging.   
4.  Is the hauler+commuter really more expensive than the hauler only option?  My way of looking at it is that with a hauler + commuter you could get away with (for the sake of argument) a $3k commuter and a $3k cheap truck, whereas you might want at least a $6k truck to daily drive 50mi/day.  With hauler only you're burning more gas, depreciating just as much, and probably spending more on repairs, and only spending less on insurance and registration.     

Maybe you've thought of all this already, but this is my $0.02 based on what you wrote. 
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: Syonyk on May 01, 2016, 06:12:11 AM
You don't want to tow regularly at the upper limit of a vehicle's tow rating.

And I don't know where you're getting 5k lbs on a RAV4. They're rated for 1500.

The Xterrra and Pilot can be configured for 5k, but see above. Plus usually putting a few people, stuff, and a trailer on them grossly exceeds max vehicle weigh - which is unsafe, hard on the vehicle, and your insurance company can tell you to take a hike if you get into an accident in that state.
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: albireo13 on May 01, 2016, 06:30:22 AM
We are thinking of a camper trailer in the < 20ft range.  Just starting to research models.  My plan is to try it out by renting a camper first, for a few trips before looking to buy.  Still, I'll need something to haul it.  My wife does NOT want a pop-up.
We plan to do more USA traveling .. seeing the country and the parks.

Getting a cheap, $3K truck for cross-country travelling is asking for trouble. Unless, you get a lucky find, you are guaranteed a breakdown.
So, getting a commuter + a truck will be pricey. Count also the extra registration, inspections, insurance, repairs and maintenance.

Maybe the best thing is to wait until I retire and then get the truck.  That way I won't be doing the daily commute nonsense with the truck.
Living with just the 2 vehicles would be easier.
I expect to retire within 3 years.

  Still, I hate pushing everything off until I retire.  I would like to do a little bit of living before that.

Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: dess1313 on May 01, 2016, 09:45:40 AM
SUV's won't be able to tow much at all.  they're not rated for more than your usual pop up or 10ft bubble.  if you want more comfort than that you'd need a truck.  There are some minimalist trailers but it sounds like you want more than that

have you considered those rent a RV things? rent the RV, do your trip, hand it back in afterwards.  no extra vehicle needed.  give you a chance to try the ideas out without the price outlay of buying every thing now.  Then when you retire you look for something then.

Other option is buying a RV, so the extra vehicle is not needed.  you could also tow your car behind so you would have a vehicle to get around with

Also, buying a 3k truck, may not be the best thing for a long driving, hauling vehicle.  i would NOT use it as a daily commuter, but you'd have to look at maybe a 8k-15k range to get a heavy duty truck, that would be reliable for your sort of commuting you want to do.  we have had trucks, and having a light engine trying to pull a trailer up a hill just does not work.  We got lucky and found a friend selling a 8yr old gently used heavy duty GMC truck that we picked up.  works fantastic and has the engine that you should be towing with
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: Fishinshawn on May 01, 2016, 11:16:52 AM
The new ultra light trailers are capable of being towed by just about anything, certainly a half ton truck or SUV.  I would seriously sit down and see how often you plan on using it say 4 trips a year? Then factor int he cost of the purchase of the truck, registration, insurance, repair, gas etc. then I would call and find out how much it would cost to rent an RV/motorhome for those 4 trips per year and see which option comes out cheapest. I would almost bet renting the motorhome occasionally would be cheaper then buying the truck and paying for the associated costs plus buying a travel trailer and all the costs associated with it.

On a side note I talk to my neighbors pretty regularly on my strolls around the neighborhood. One of them bought a boat 2 years ago, shortly after buying the boat he decided he needed a 4wd because his 2wd truck spunout and got stuck at the boat ramp.  So then he bought the 4wd truck. At first he used the boat pretty regularly every weekend he was loading up and heading out.  Then after it sat for a winter he ended up having to pay to have a bunch of stuff fixed because boats don't like to not be used for extended periods, then he lost a u-joint in front drive shaft of his 4x4, then he just sort of got bored with the boat after a year and now it just sits with a tarp over it, while he makes payments on it and gets out maybe 1x or 2x a year it seems.

Another neighbor directly across the street is retired and has a motorhome. A big fancy palace on wheels really, it might truly be nicer inside than most of the houses on our block. He has got giant lazy boy chairs in it, heating, AC, flat screen TV's, thing is like living in a palace.  I don't know how much he paid for it but I can only guess it was a lot. He bought it because he and his wife were going to be going to AZ in the winter to get away from the coastal rain and wind. Now it sits mostly, they go to AZ for about a month and then return home. 

It just seems to be the way things go for these big purchases. People buy them thinking they will use the hell out of them and reality strikes after awhile and they don't use them and end up stuck with huge payments on something they use infrequently at best. Just something to think about.
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: MrsPete on May 01, 2016, 01:03:28 PM
How often do you expect to pull the trailer?  If the answer is 2-3 times a year, could you rent something that'd do the pulling?  Renting for a couple weeks a year would be cheaper than maintaining a vehicle 365 days a year. 

We're doing that ourselves.  I drive the car I want, which is a small economy car, but occasionally we need something larger -- say, for vacation when we're taking the cousins, or for moving our kids to/from college.  When we bought this small car (8 years ago) we agreed that we'd buy what we wanted and rent when we needed; we've rented perhaps once a year in that time. 
Title: Re: car/truck purchase and the MMM ethic?
Post by: Syonyk on May 01, 2016, 01:32:40 PM
Who will rent a truck for towing?

Most rental places will have no part of that.