Author Topic: Car Advice  (Read 1810 times)

EngineeringFI

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Car Advice
« on: October 13, 2017, 10:33:09 PM »
Looking for a little bit of car advice from the folks here. After reading the MMM blog posts about his Nissan leaf, I'm feeling my car is a bit ostentatious and wondering if maybe I should switch to something more mustachian...

It's a 2010 Acura TSX that I bought used in 2013 from a dealer (paid cash, it had been leased previously) with around 50,000 miles on it. To be honest, I love driving it and it's been a great car. The only work other than regular maintenance that it has ever needed is a front shock replaced, but that was covered under warranty and didn't cost me a penny. I've passed the 70,000 mile mark now but the car still runs great.

Now the downside, it's the version with the 290 hp V6 engine that runs on premium gas and although I do my best to conserve fuel, I only get about 24 mpg. All of my regular driving is stop and go; here in Tucson we have a stop light every 100 ft... Yes, I'm aware I can also fill it up with regular, but when I've tested this before the reduction in gas mileage (computer adjusts timing for lower octane fuel) made it actually more expensive to fill up with regular. I only drive about 100 miles a week, with occasional road trips for bike races or vacations, but last year my spending on gas was about $800.

I've been considering swapping the Acura out for a used hybrid and am particularly interested in the Prius C, maybe one from 2012-2015. I love the 52 mpg city spec (on regular gas!) and I love hatchbacks from a practicality standpoint. My bike would probably fit better in the back of a hatchback. After selling my TSX, I think it would take $2-3k to cover the cost of the Prius C, and the hope would be that I would make that money back eventually in lower fuel costs (5-7 ROI estimate, maybe sooner if gas prices increase) and possibly lower maintenance costs.

Swapping a great car just to save $400/yr on gas isn't super convincing to me, so I thought I would put it out to the forum: keep the Acura or swap for a hybrid? Any Prius C owners out there that would like to share their experiences?

ketchup

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 10:58:33 PM »
Iíve driven a family memberís Prius C and itís not quite as useful hatchback-wise as you might think. The back is pretty narrow. You can compensate for it, but itís not always simple. Iíd definitely recommend physically trying to fit your bike into one before you decide to go that route.

Itís a good car though, fantastic gas mileage (I got about 55-70MPG in city driving with it, about 40-45MPG  on the highway) and very low maintenance (no timing belt or belts/chains of any kind). Itís certainly not as exciting to drive as your Acura, but you know that already.

EngineeringFI

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 11:04:44 PM »
Iíve driven a family memberís Prius C and itís not quite as useful hatchback-wise as you might think. The back is pretty narrow. You can compensate for it, but itís not always simple. Iíd definitely recommend physically trying to fit your bike into one before you decide to go that route.

Itís a good car though, fantastic gas mileage (I got about 55-70MPG in city driving with it, about 40-45MPG  on the highway) and very low maintenance (no timing belt or belts/chains of any kind). Itís certainly not as exciting to drive as your Acura, but you know that already.

That's great advice. The carmax here has a couple on their lot, I could take my bike with me to a test drive and see if it fits easily.

You bring up some good points about maintenance. The Acura will need a timing belt in another 2 years, but from what I saw online that is actually cheaper than I expected (~$700). And yes the Acura can be exciting, but I really like it more because it feels "effortless". That car just glides around town with minimal input on the accelerator, it never breaks a sweat!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 04:58:49 AM »
Try a C-Max (Energi if you have a spot to plug in) - the driving experience is much more pleasant than a Prius.

chasesfish

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 06:13:18 AM »
I'd sell the car if I'm in your position.  That's a lot of $ to have tied up in an asset you're only putting 6,000 - 7,000/year on.

Everyone will have an opinion on what to buy/replace it with.  If I'm in your position and the size of the TSX is nice, I'd just trade it down for an '08 - '10 Civic and pocket the $1500 or so plus regular gas savings.

sokoloff

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 07:11:10 AM »
I'd keep the Acura.

From a time perspective, you can avoid spending time on car shopping, fantasizing, comparing, etc if you just keep the "great car" that you "love driving". Your car is worth ~$10K and you paid cash for it, you know it, you only drive about 5K miles/year. I'd just keep the car you have and keep driving it, spending no more time on car shopping for a while.

By the time you figure your time (used car shopping is inefficient and a big time sink, IME), the transaction costs (taxes, plates, etc), you're going to have a hole to fill in before the newer Prius starts paying back.

I doubt many normal people really think of a 7 year semi-sports sedan as ostentatious. Would you feel the same way if you were looking for a 2005 Prius? It's a comparable car from a practicality perspective, but lacks some of the "newer and shinier" draw that might be pulling you towards the more expensive and newer Prius. You could also put money in your pocket by making that downgrade, yet you're looking newer and more expensive, not older and less expensive. (I'm only trying to challenge your thinking to get you to examine you motivations; I'm not nit-picking on the "one true Mustachian way" or anything.)

If you want to save money and would be paying cash for your next car, consider dropping collision and "other than collision physical damage" (aka "comprehensive") insurance on your car. (Keep liability, of course.)

EngineeringFI

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2017, 07:58:06 AM »
I'd keep the Acura.

From a time perspective, you can avoid spending time on car shopping, fantasizing, comparing, etc if you just keep the "great car" that you "love driving". Your car is worth ~$10K and you paid cash for it, you know it, you only drive about 5K miles/year. I'd just keep the car you have and keep driving it, spending no more time on car shopping for a while.

By the time you figure your time (used car shopping is inefficient and a big time sink, IME), the transaction costs (taxes, plates, etc), you're going to have a hole to fill in before the newer Prius starts paying back.

I doubt many normal people really think of a 7 year semi-sports sedan as ostentatious. Would you feel the same way if you were looking for a 2005 Prius? It's a comparable car from a practicality perspective, but lacks some of the "newer and shinier" draw that might be pulling you towards the more expensive and newer Prius. You could also put money in your pocket by making that downgrade, yet you're looking newer and more expensive, not older and less expensive. (I'm only trying to challenge your thinking to get you to examine you motivations; I'm not nit-picking on the "one true Mustachian way" or anything.)

If you want to save money and would be paying cash for your next car, consider dropping collision and "other than collision physical damage" (aka "comprehensive") insurance on your car. (Keep liability, of course.)

Really good points, the time investment is certainly something I've considered. With regards to how I arrived at a "newer more expensive option" it was after reading articles on hybrids with the lowest cost of ownership, but I agree with your point that I should investigate older less expensive options. And maybe at the very heart of this I just have the desire to buy something new and I'm trying to justify it through improved gas mileage, this will need some self examination...

I moved the TSX to just liability about a week ago. It was kind of a forehead slapping moment since I've had plenty of cash to replace it for quite awhile.

dang1

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2017, 12:03:19 PM »
get rid of the Acura. You might even get a better insurance rate by staying away from a "luxury" marque.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2017, 12:35:20 PM »
Good job moving to the liability insurance.

I am in a similar position (2010 VW CC, another semi-ostentatious seden), paid off years ago.  Switched to liability only.  Still driving it. It was a mistake to buy new.  I tell myself keeping it is less of one, but here are the details you can judge for yourself.  I go back and forth over whether to keep it, or get a cheap old Prius for savings.

Like you, I keep costs low by keeping mileage low, though not as low as yours.  I would save more on gas (8,000-10,000 mi/yr).  I think my car depreciates more too.  On the countervailing side, in addition to loving how it rides (quiet cabin! feels great!), it has incredibly high safety performance in NTSA statistics (11 deaths per 100 million miles, vs a typical car's 28 and a comparable Prius's 16).

Were I buying my own car now, I'd get a used Prius instead.  But the cost difference is low, and based on past performance, the car switching process would cost me money as well as time.  My plan is to drive it until a natural stopping point (car wreck, engine dies, etc).  I suspect the value path for you is similar. 

Don't buy a new car.  Even the "nearly new" feeling of the modern Prius probably isn't worth it.  Roll with the affordable luxury you have, or buy an older-and-cheaper Prius to maximize the modest savings.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 12:37:43 PM by Bicycle_B »

EngineeringFI

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Re: Car Advice
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2017, 01:22:51 PM »
Good job moving to the liability insurance.

I am in a similar position (2010 VW CC, another semi-ostentatious seden), paid off years ago.  Switched to liability only.  Still driving it. It was a mistake to buy new.  I tell myself keeping it is less of one, but here are the details you can judge for yourself.  I go back and forth over whether to keep it, or get a cheap old Prius for savings.

Like you, I keep costs low by keeping mileage low, though not as low as yours.  I would save more on gas (8,000-10,000 mi/yr).  I think my car depreciates more too.  On the countervailing side, in addition to loving how it rides (quiet cabin! feels great!), it has incredibly high safety performance in NTSA statistics (11 deaths per 100 million miles, vs a typical car's 28 and a comparable Prius's 16).

Were I buying my own car now, I'd get a used Prius instead.  But the cost difference is low, and based on past performance, the car switching process would cost me money as well as time.  My plan is to drive it until a natural stopping point (car wreck, engine dies, etc).  I suspect the value path for you is similar. 

Don't buy a new car.  Even the "nearly new" feeling of the modern Prius probably isn't worth it.  Roll with the affordable luxury you have, or buy an older-and-cheaper Prius to maximize the modest savings.

Oh I'd personally never buy a new car, I'm fine letting someone else pay for the steep part of the depreciation curve, My TSX was 3 years old when I bought it, and since the previous owner had leased it, the dealership had the complete maintenance history on the car. Side note, when I told the dealership I was just going to write them a check, the lady in finance had no idea how to handle the transaction lol. The Prius C model years I was looking at are 2012-2014, and at least one used car lot here has several, it's tough finding them on craigslist though.

With regards to insurance, I pay $477 for a full year of liability through Amica (homeowners policy is also with them) so I don't expect huge savings in insurance costs by moving to a Prius either. The major savings here really only come from gas spending if I move to something of equal value, or potential investment gains if I move to something cheaper and invest the difference.