Author Topic: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?  (Read 2995 times)

jdcurry

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Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« on: December 15, 2014, 10:41:44 AM »
What if you stupidly bought cars that get poor mileage years back and recognize that this was a mistake, but now being more environmentally and fiscally conscious you also want to use products for as long as possible?  Sure, I'd love to get better mileage, but there's a lot of energy required to create a vehicle as well.  Just like I don't want a yearly phone upgrade because my current one is good enough, I also want to space out my auto upgrades as long as possible.

Here's my car situation.  I bought a 1995 Ford Windstar in 2002 with about 90K miles for $4K.  Today it has 175K miles.  It gets about 19 mpg (not bad relatively speaking).  It did get a new transmission in 2003.  Otherwise it's been pretty good to me.  It has new tires and brakes right now.  KBB says it's worth $1500.  I bought it thinking I would have maybe 4 kids, but I ended up with only 2, so it's not necessary that I drive a car this large.  I put about 6K miles/yr on it (this has come down through the years).  Work is relatively close (12 mile daily commute round trip).  I do bike when I can.

My wife drives a 2005 Honda Accord V6 that we bought in 08 for $13K.  It also has 175K miles.  It has also had the transmission replaced.  My wife does not work, but we home school and that means she drives a bit more than me.  Not terrible.  10K miles per year.  It also has new brakes and tires.  It gets about 25 mpg.  KBB says it's worth $5600.  With the exception of the transmission problem it's been a very reliable car for us and retains a high quality feel.  We are happy with it in that regard.

I have been tracking my expenses carefully this year, and I found that my total maintenance/repair costs for the two cars has averaged $209/mo.  Insurance is $140/mo (full coverage on the Honda, liability only on the Ford).

How do you evaluate this so as to consider mileage, upgrade cost, and environmental impact of the upgrade?  There's no reason we can't get by with smaller cars getting more like 35 mpg each, but on the other hand changing realistically means newer and that's contrary to my desire to resist the constant upgrade mentality that is so common.  Naturally my next cars will have to be newer.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2014, 11:23:54 AM »
Lets say you switch to a Honda, like your wife. By your numbers you should be using 316 gallons/year (6000/19). With the Honda mileage you would use 171 gallons, saving 144 gallons/year. The 144 gallons is your damage to the environment. That's the simple argument. If you can justify that then proceed to the next argument.

Future Lazy

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Re: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2014, 11:28:35 AM »
Is there some reason you can't completely dump the gas guzzler all together? Sounds like SAHM and home schooling would make things extremely flexible, and being dropped off/picked up worked in as part of the regular errands might be cheaper, in the long run, esp as the older gas guzzler wears out further or otherwise requires repairs.

Is it too far to bike to work?
What does public transportation look like in your city? Can you easily walk/bus to work this way?
Have you considered carpooling?

I personally added the original purchase price of my car with the total cost of all the maintenance I've ever paid for on it, and divided that by the total number of miles driven over the ownership of the vehicle, which came out to about $0.26 mi to drive around. Plus gas (expensive estimation), it's $0.42 mi. That makes my commute about $11.67/day

I have a spreadsheet worksheet under construction here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jzGt-QxiO5iYiFw5PkoX-UVOnr6pj64zDqDhAJRRNNI/edit?usp=sharing

Some of the tax bits and work hours to pay for commute parts are still under construction and the calculations aren't correct.. But as far as the maintenance + gas to mile calculations, it's accurate. Feel free to make yourself a copy and play around if you want.

nereo

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Re: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2014, 11:34:54 AM »
Quote
How do you evaluate this so as to consider mileage, upgrade cost, and environmental impact of the upgrade?  There's no reason we can't get by with smaller cars getting more like 35 mpg each, but on the other hand changing realistically means newer and that's contrary to my desire to resist the constant upgrade mentality that is so common.  Naturally my next cars will have to be newer.

I'm worried that you are following a bit of 'false logic' here.  For starters, I am assuming that you would be purchasing a used car (your previous cars have been purchased used, and you clearly aren't chasing the most shiny vehicle, and you are a fairly low-milage driver).  Likewise, your current vehicle won't immediately be dismantled and put into a landfill - someone else will drive it and hopefully care for it as much as you did.  Consequentially, I wouldn't worry about the environmental impact of giving up your current vehicle.
Otherwise, I'd use Prairie Practicality's calculations.  You know that switching will save you money in fuel each year (which is savings to the environment).  It's impossible to know what a future buyer of your vehicle will use it for, but as long as it continues to be used it keeps another new vehicle from being purchased. 

Forcus

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Re: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2014, 12:17:04 PM »
There's no reason we can't get by with smaller cars getting more like 35 mpg each, but on the other hand changing realistically means newer and that's contrary to my desire to resist the constant upgrade mentality that is so common.  Naturally my next cars will have to be newer.

One comment about this. CAFE for better or worse is forcing auto makers to up their game. While you could get cars that got 40 MPG+ 15 years ago, they were generally crap boxes. I personally would not stuff my family in a Metro no matter what the benefits.

What I'm saying is "high mpg" a few years ago is becoming normal. New family sedans are approaching 40 mpg. A few smaller cars are approaching 50 mpg without any hybridization (Ford Fiesta Eco for one). All while having better structures and airbags and such.

I'd seriously consider something newer even if it is traditionally somewhat anti-MMM in thinking. For example, I am seriously considering a 2012 Cruze Eco at the local dealer for $9999 with around 60k miles. This is a turbo 1.4L 4 cylinder with a 6 speed manual that was rated at 42 MPG on the highway but with a chip tune some people are seeing 50 mpg+. I own my 02 Focus outright and my head says hey, keep your paid for car that's only worth $1700. But it gets 20 mpg less highway than the Cruze and doing the math it's near break even over 36 months. Safer, quicker, better MPG.

I do like keeping old reliable stuff but the financials on newer stuff keep getting better and better.

Bob W

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Re: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2014, 12:47:04 PM »
I think you're exaggerating a bit on the gas guzzler title.  19 MPG is not great but it isn't like some pickups at 10. 

My thinking is that if you do replace the guzzler go for a 10 year old Toyota with like 130K that gets 30 mpg for around 5 K.

The math may be difficult because of unknowns for repairs. 

My other thought is that you should always use the highest MPG car for the longest hwy trips. 

And your insurance seems a bit high.  Have you bid that out recently.

If you do decide to go with the high MPG option just remember it won't cost you much if you want to keep the van for idle insurance.   You could get you one of those Toyota Yaris' that MMM enjoys (45 mpg?) and save enough on gas to cover the additional outlay, while keeping your van for work projects and when you have group.

jdcurry

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Re: Does keeping the gas guzzler make sense?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2014, 07:58:13 PM »
Thanks everyone for your thoughtful replies.

PP, thanks for putting it in such simple terms, I wasn't seeing it in that way though after reading what you wrote suddenly it seems obvious that I should have.

KaylaEM, going to one car is not an option with home schooling because my kids are involved in home schooling groups, one of which is in the opposite direction from my work.  There would be other substantial inconveniences.  We get by if one car is down for repairs, but it's definitely a headache.  I do bike sometimes, but not often enough.  I'm near Detroit.  Take a guess at what public transport is like in this area dominated by the auto industry.  A total catastrophe.  Will check your spread sheet.

Nereo you make a valid point.  This sort of did occur to me, but I think a part of me sort of thinks that every upgrade contributes to the waste.  So for instance if you upgrade your phone is it really not a big problem because someone else will use your older phone, assuming you sell it?  Maybe that's true too.

Forcus, I think you make a great point here.  Cars really are dangerous generally speaking.  All the more reason to drive them as little as possible.  But there is a lot of value in the safety improvements that have come along in recent years.  I don't have a problem with a newer car really assuming it's used up completely.  50 mpg would be amazing.

Bob W, you're right, I need to look at my insurance.  I've been with them for years.  In fact I did do a comparison just last week and the quote indicated right about the same as I'm currently paying and this sort of deterred me, but I need to look at others.

The general consensus seems to be that I should consider it and evaluate it based on the mileage savings.  I think I will look into it further.