Author Topic: New(old) car purchase dilemma.  (Read 1037 times)

sbleekerii

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New(old) car purchase dilemma.
« on: May 13, 2018, 11:59:00 PM »
So I'm 21 and halfway through engineering school, and have decided I need a better commuter car than my 2003 Ford Explorer for my daily round trip of 40 miles. I was pretty set on buying a 2nd Gen Prius for around $4k at around 175k miles because they tend to run to 400-500k but I discovered a few scion xa in my area going tor around $2k at around 130k miles.

I currently work as a land surveyor and am currently projected to amass 7k-10k over the course of the summer and currently have 24k in student loans. I have two years left and I would like to start paying off my loans so that I am as free of debt as possible once I graduate. Potentially saving 2k on a commuter/work car would help quite a bit. However, I'm having a hard time figuring out the long-term reliability of the xa and I don't want to buy the cheaper car just to eclipse the prius price in repairs.

I currently have roughly 2k to my name with a net worth of -24k, should I save up and buy an old prius? Or should I pull the trigger on an old Scion XA?

sokoloff

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Re: New(old) car purchase dilemma.
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2018, 03:22:37 AM »
If you drive that much, it seems like the Prius would save you $200 or so in fuel alone for the summer over the Scion (and probably more over the Explorer) and if you're going to stay in that field, pay attention to the gas mileage. If you're getting paid the GSA ("IRS") rate for miles for work, you can probably make some money on the Prius. (You'll probably make a small amount with any older, good mileage car.)

I don't know anything about the Scion long term reliability, but the Prius long-term reliability is excellent as you observe.
In your shoes, I'd lean towards the Prius.

nereo

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Re: New(old) car purchase dilemma.
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2018, 06:02:25 AM »
While I can't put specific numbers to it, my sense would be that the xa for $2k (half) the price and ~65k fewer miles.  Yes, the priuses (Prii?) can often run well past 300k properly cared for, but on the same note the xa should go well past 200k with similar care.  Both cars have CV joins, ICE, etc. which will need periodic maintenance and replacement -- the fewer miles on the xa means it should have fewer of these repairs sooner.

Your daily round trip of 40 miles = ~10,000/year, add errands and driving vacations and you're probably at the national average of ~12k-15.  Assuming the higher, the xa should last you  another 5+ years. Ergo, depreciation (if we assume its sold for scrap) would be less than $1/day.The prius will save you $200 in fuel, but over that same time period will likely cost a bit more in depreciation.  DOubly so if it means holding on to an extra $2k in loans and loan payments during that timeframe.

Final question - do you have to drive on a lot of unpaved roads for this job?  When I was fresh out of college I drove a jetta and had a job working at two remote field stations.  I loved how the vw's fuel economy but it was an example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish; the damage I did on that car (mostly suspension issues) negated any fuel savings I made.

sbleekerii

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Re: New(old) car purchase dilemma.
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2018, 07:36:53 AM »
Fortunately, I never actually need to go off roading in my vehicle. The few times where I actually did go off road on a job site were completely optional and could have been avoided with a tiny extra bit of walking which I really would have been better for me and the explorer anyway.

Additionally, I don't get paid any rate for driving since I work for my self-employed father so I'd have to eat pretty much all of the car related expenses. While it's possible I may end up with a lemon, I've also seen that a well maintained Prius can actually run for upwards of 400k miles as I have said before. I guess it's safe to assume that I'm going to get at least another 100k miles out of these cars, but would a potential extra 100k(double the distance) out of the Prius make it worth double the price?

nereo

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Re: New(old) car purchase dilemma.
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2018, 08:33:29 AM »
Fortunately, I never actually need to go off roading in my vehicle. The few times where I actually did go off road on a job site were completely optional and could have been avoided with a tiny extra bit of walking which I really would have been better for me and the explorer anyway.

Additionally, I don't get paid any rate for driving since I work for my self-employed father so I'd have to eat pretty much all of the car related expenses. While it's possible I may end up with a lemon, I've also seen that a well maintained Prius can actually run for upwards of 400k miles as I have said before. I guess it's safe to assume that I'm going to get at least another 100k miles out of these cars, but would a potential extra 100k(double the distance) out of the Prius make it worth double the price?

You are already looking at this the right way, buying a fuel efficient, high mileage car while you pay down debt.  So whichever you choose will be a pretty good choice, and eons better than leasing a new vehicle.

That said, I don't think the extra 100k for the prius would make it work double the price, as I indicated above.
a few things to consider:

  • putting an extra $2k towards loans will save you interest.  If it's 6.x% that's $120ish per year, which negates most of the fuel savings you get from the prius
Bonus, the faster you pay off this debt the faster you can start accumulating money. 

  • even though the prius may last longer, you'll probably have more mechanical repairs on a 200k prius vs. a 130k xa.
  • both cars could last you 5+ years.  In 5 years I imagine both cars will have little resale value, as they'll be at/over 200k.  The prius will be 15-20 years old and the xa over 12 years.
  • in 5 years i expect there will be a ton of EVs - which basically last as long or longer than the prius - on the market.  This is largely speculative but I think as EV range and recharging times keep improving the current crop of cars won't have good resale when, in 2022 there might exist EVs with 200+ mile ranges and ~5 minute charging times. Might not happen that fast but many in the industry see those kinds of advancements.

sbleekerii

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Re: New(old) car purchase dilemma.
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2018, 11:45:03 AM »
Alright thanks for the help, probably going to go with the XA.