Author Topic: Does buying a new car make sense for me?  (Read 785 times)

yonahtrekker

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Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« on: May 06, 2020, 11:05:23 AM »
Iíve been doing a car-free experiment for over a year, though never thought itíd end up being a permanent lifestyle. I live near downtown in a largish city that I moved to for its combination of urban life and proximity to nature. I used to bike or take the bus to work, but under Covid conditions both modes of transport have become less appealing (biking means showering and changing in a cramped locker room upon arrival, the bus was often infuriating before the health concerns). In recent years, I also spent much of my vacation time overseas or visiting friends/family in other parts of the US by plane, neglecting the nature in my backyard, but current conditions look like most vacations will need to be road trips for a while. I also changed jobs right before the pandemic, from being 1 mile from home, which was a pleasant walk, to 4 miles--which requires wheels of some sort.

Although I'm WFH currently and there's no telling exactly when weíll be going back to the office, at some point Iím going to want a car that can get me to work (4 mile commute currently) and which can facilitate outdoor activities on the weekends and longer road trips (higher clearance for forest service type roads, decent cargo space for car camping, bringing a mountain bike/paddleboard, etc.) It would also be nice to have something thatís comfortable enough for 6-10 hour drives.

I used to have a Honda Fit which is a great city car, but it was not good for the mountains and could have done better with snow. Iíve narrowed down to the Subaru Crosstrek. Ideally Iíd like to buy a 2 to 4 year old, low mileage used Crosstrek, however it seems that depreciation for Subarus is very mild (and this is especially true of the base Crosstrek). Iím not sure I see much advantage to saving 4k when it means 60,000 miles. The base model is around 23k new. I have enough cash to buy it without touching my one year emergency fund. I wouldnít finance any portion unless the interest rate was less than my HY savings account rate. I am a little uncomfortable buying something so expensive when the economic conditions are so uncertain, but frankly unless I were to be walking distance to work again, a car seems like a necessity (moving closer isn't appealing as I have crazy cheap rent).

I wanted to get a reality check from Mustachians though to see if Iím making a big mistake or if there are other cars I should consider. Iím not great mechanically so I worry about buying a higher mileage car due to the likelihood of needing costly repairs from a professional. Ideally Iíd plan to drive this car into the ground or until ICEs are banned, whichever comes first.

nkt0

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2020, 11:09:56 AM »
Have you considered a used Honda Fit plus good, quality snow tires? Modern snow tires work like magic in winter conditions.

seemsright

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2020, 11:18:14 AM »
The fact that you can buy what you want with cash means yes. I do not care if this is a car, or a pair of underpants.

The joy of having money in the bank is choice. You GET to choose to use that money in any way you want to.

I do not care about cars. I buy new and then drive it to the ground. Someone else might think that is crazy. But I do not find joy in doing my own mechanical work I flat out hate it. Can I? Yes but no thanks. Nor do I want to spend time trying to find the used car I am looking for. Just no.

I much rather use my time doing and saving money where I have more joy in. I can spend 3 days making soup. Than try to save $10 changing my own oil. 

yonahtrekker

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2020, 11:21:37 AM »
Thanks for the replies. Very fair suggestion nkt0. I did in fact have good winter tires on my old Fit and I rarely had a problem in city snow conditions (mountain passes were a different story). The main reason for my not re-considering a Fit is the lack of clearance for the "fun" roads, limiting camping and trail options substantially. It's worth asking if that access is worthy of a 12-15k premium. Over a ten year period I think so, if my hobbies and geographic location don't change, which is not guaranteed I suppose.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 11:34:39 AM by yonahtrekker »

Optimiser

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2020, 11:53:14 AM »
How often to you plan on using a car outside of the city? Would it make sense to rent a capable SUV a few times a year or are you talking about going on an adventure every weekend?

Have you considered an ebike for your commute? That would allow you to commute in work clothes without needing to change and shower at work.

Whatever you decide, I wouldn't buy a car while you are still working from home unless you find a really good deal. There are a lot of articles about how manufacturers and dealers are in a really bad spot right now, and that is likely only going to get worse. There could be some great deals on new and used cars in a few months.

ebella

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2020, 12:23:26 PM »
I have a Subaru Outback LL Bean edition (so different year and model than the one you're looking at).  But it frustrates my husband (who mountain bikes at least once a week) to no end.  We got it used on Craigslist and paid cash and it's over 10 years old and 100,000 miles now but they are VERY expensive cars to maintain. 
First, the vertical engine placement makes it hard to do work on it yourself. 
Second, if it is AWD, it is typically best to replace all tires (or at least 2 on same axle) if one needs replacing to maintain balance.  We also recently paid $1000 last week to replace suspension and serpentine belt (power steering issues).
Third, my model, because its a V8 I think, requires 7 liters of oil and a special filter that can only be bought at Subaru dealers.  So general upkeep can be quite pricey.
Fourth, friend with other models tell me transmission will probably need replacing in not long.
I had no idea about theses things until after I got it and husband started doing using it to to commute more than 5 mi day (we were both bike/transit commuters before) and doing work on it.  I love the car but it's not most fuel efficient, I have skidded in very moderate snow with it, and I have friends who are more avid mountain bikers than we are who are fine putting 2 or more heavy mountain bikes on the back of a Honda fit and driving 4+ miles to ride/hike etc.
My point is: a Subaru is not necessary for the MTB/outsdoorsy life and can be quite expensive to maintain yourself.  It's certainly not most efficient for city living (we also live in a city) and commuting.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 12:25:39 PM by ebella »

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2020, 12:35:45 PM »
I do all of the things you mentioned with an 08 Honda Fit with winter tires on spare rims (Cooper Evolution with studs are amazing). Honestly it's better on ice than my '04 Tacoma 4x4 with older/more worn winter tires. At least until the snow is 4" deep, then the Fit starts to have issues.

So I'd frame the question as Does it make sense to spend $18k (our Fit is worth less than $5k) to have clearance for forest service roads? If you think "no that's crazy" then you might want to consider other older vehicles with more clearance.

FWIW MMM's position is similar:
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/15/getting-started-3-eliminate-short-termitis-the-bankruptcy-disease/


Honestly, I'd have a hard time recommending any friend who wasn't very close to FI & loved their work buy a vehicle new... Also after helping two different Friends' work on their Subaru I told my wife we would never own one. Who the hell designs a car that requires removing engine mounts to change a spark plug? Who buries the oil filter inside the exhaust manifold making it impossible to remove with standard tools?


ketchup

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2020, 01:17:43 PM »
How often to you plan on using a car outside of the city? Would it make sense to rent a capable SUV a few times a year or are you talking about going on an adventure every weekend?

Have you considered an ebike for your commute? That would allow you to commute in work clothes without needing to change and shower at work.

Whatever you decide, I wouldn't buy a car while you are still working from home unless you find a really good deal. There are a lot of articles about how manufacturers and dealers are in a really bad spot right now, and that is likely only going to get worse. There could be some great deals on new and used cars in a few months.
I agree with this 100%.  It seems completely bananas to spend 20k+ just to get the higher ground clearance for forest service roads, especially with only a four mile commute.  I don't know much about "forest service roads" but if they're anything like my mile-long shitty old driveway with lots of pot holes and perma-puddles, a normal car with ~6" ground clearance does just fine as long as you're slow and careful.  We have a 2010 Hyundai with 103k miles and a 2001 Volvo with 202k miles.

If it turns out you *really* need it to accommodate that, renting an SUV occasionally is a fantastic option.  Even if the rental is stupid expensive (~$100/day), it would take a lot of rentals to pay for a 20k car.

Ebike could be a great commuting option for four miles, too.

Iím not great mechanically so I worry about buying a higher mileage car due to the likelihood of needing costly repairs from a professional. Ideally Iíd plan to drive this car into the ground or until ICEs are banned, whichever comes first.
Buying a new/nearly-new car just *ensures* that you'll pay instead for all those possible costly repairs upfront in your purchase price. :)
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 01:19:27 PM by ketchup »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2020, 02:28:48 PM »
We have had a subaru outback for 12 years and we it. We can always get everywhere we wanted to, with stud free winter tires in winter.
We just purchased a lightly used Mitschubishi outlander plugin hybrid, which gives the option to drive al local trips on electricity.
We needed a car of that size and even got a roofbox for the mitshubishi. If you are alone and don't need massive room for gear, I would buy a smaller car. What about a used suzuki ignis with 4x4? Our second car used to be a suzuki ignis and it worked very well in winter on the really steep hill to our house. It also had decent clearance.

yonahtrekker

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2020, 05:08:39 PM »
Good thoughts all. I do think I need to weight the cost and benefit of FS road access and hold off to see whether better deals come along. The high maintenance costs are nothing to sneeze at either.

How often to you plan on using a car outside of the city? Would it make sense to rent a capable SUV a few times a year or are you talking about going on an adventure every weekend?

Have you considered an ebike for your commute? That would allow you to commute in work clothes without needing to change and shower at work.

Between May and September, I'd usually go somewhere every weekend. I did lots of car rentals last year, though I'm not too comfortable taking a rental on sketchy roads, I think I'd have to stick to paved. I like the ebikes idea, though I share a small apartment with a roommate who would veto having to store it in our common area.

Ecky

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2020, 06:10:35 PM »
My wife drives a 2007 Fit with 220k miles. We live in the mountains in Vermont, and I feel it handles the conditions very well, so long as it has the right tires.

She has commented she couldn't ever see driving an automatic in winter. In her words, the manual gives a lot more control, keeps her out of ditches and gets her out of situations an auto would be pulling power via traction control or just spinning the wheels.

yonahtrekker

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2020, 07:51:25 PM »
Oh yeah, it's manual only for me for that reason (and part of why Subaru is on my radar), as well as just being more fun to drive.

mountainmama

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2020, 08:57:44 PM »
I drive a Crosstrek and really like it. I got it because I loved my previous Subaru, which I drove into the ground, and because of the clearance. I drive a 40-mile commute (not very MMM, I know) and get 30+ mpg. 4 miles of it is on a dirt road that can get pretty rough and gets a lot of snow in winter. (It doesn't always get plowed... thanks, county.) I never do my own work on it, so I don't have experience with that. I also drive it regularly in snow to our local ski hill. Overall I'd recommend it.

However, if I could commute on an ebike, I'd choose that in a heartbeat!

AccidentialMustache

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Re: Does buying a new car make sense for me?
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2020, 09:47:48 PM »
Four miles is very ebikable. Back when we had things like in-person school and work, I ran a 5 mile one-way and on the (cargo) ebike it is easy to arrive not sweaty -- crank up the boost and/or use the throttle. If its cool you can work harder and not arrive gross. If its 90, you'll still usually be fine. Make the bike push you and the 20 mph breeze will do wonders.