Author Topic: Keep the Van... or get a Car?  (Read 1855 times)


  • Bristles
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Keep the Van... or get a Car?
« on: December 30, 2013, 11:09:15 PM »
Hi all,

I'm going to graduate in May and have a job lined up that will be quite a long distance (think flying) from family and most friends. Once I'm there, I have every intention of living at a duplex/triplex/quad and biking to work, and I have no intentions of driving very much. I might go on a few occasional big grocery runs and trips to Home Depot and stuff (more on that below). As far as luxury travel, I might head to other cities for concerts and stuff every few weeks, but I'll probably be able to ride along with friends in smaller cars, in those cases.

Here's my dilemma.

One of our family cars is an 03 van with about 80k on it. The only real problem is that the headlights are dim, but that's just a $15 fix that I haven't gotten around to doing yet. Its combined mileage via the EPA is 19, which sucks, but here's why I'm thinking of taking it with me.

I won't be driving it very often at all,
And I may well need a lot of space for home improvement projects and stuff. I don't have much experience with this kind of stuff, but I'm studying hard and I will get some experience with it in the summer, before I head off to the job.

I could:
Keep the van
Trade the van in (and get maybe $4k for it) and get a somewhat smaller but more gas friendly vehicle
Get a cheap scooter/motorbike (I'm licensed) for those rare occasions when I need to be able to move long distances without any other things or people

Right now, I'm leaning heavily towards just keeping the van. The thing is, if and when I do want to see a concert or head to another city and I can't get someone else to go with me or use public transport, I'll be spending a pretty penny on gas!

I could trade the van in, but I'd probably have to spend another few thou in order to get something with less space. If I was starting without the van, I'd probably just spend $6k or something and get a newer, high MPG vehicle with somewhat less space... but I've already got the van, so why bother spending a few thousand bucks in order to save not that much money on gas, considering how little I plan to drive?

I could get a scooter or motorbike, but I really don't see myself using it that often. When am I going to go somewhere all by myself, and not bring anything bulky back with me? This is probably the worst option, as it'll tempt me to make long trips when I might otherwise think twice about it.

What are your opinions? Is my thought process sound? Is there anything I haven't considered?
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 11:14:33 PM by GrayGhost »

Frankies Girl

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Re: Keep the Van... or get a Car?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2013, 12:58:38 AM »

If you're actually going to only be driving it occasionally, then I kind of lean towards keeping it and making sure to drop down the coverage to liability and make sure to discuss with the insurance company that it is not a daily driver.

But the most frugal thing would be not to have any vehicle at all and not have the insurance costs or gas to pay if you have and are capable of biking most places (bike trailers can haul a good amount of groceries). If you need a vehicle to haul stuff, there's always borrowing a friend's or renting a truck from someplace like Home Depot for a one shot deal.

In the event you can't get a ride to a concert? I'd kind of not want to go to one by myself personally, but then that's me... and I'd use that lack of transpo as a sign that I should just skip it and save my money.


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Re: Keep the Van... or get a Car?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 07:32:07 AM »
With such low mileage and low worth, I'd keep it. It would take years of driving to make up the gas savings if you'd need to spend a few thousand out of pocket to replace it.

Depending on where the new move is to, see if there's a pay-per-mile insurance company serving your area. Be disciplined about only driving it when absolutely necessary. Keep in mind, then, unless you want to stabilize gas all the time, you'll only want to buy a 1/4 tank at a time to avoid fuel spoilage.