Author Topic: Vehicle Advice  (Read 8749 times)

mandydean

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Vehicle Advice
« on: September 11, 2013, 02:12:49 PM »
I'm posting sort of on behalf of my husband, to solve a dilemma that has been plaguing him, though he is wary to admit it. We've only been followers of MMM for a month or so, although we've been on our own path to financial freedom for many years.

We've been married 6 years, 2 kids. We have no debt except our 10-year mortgage. Our current spending rate is probably 50% of income if you consider our mortgage principal, with the remainder going to retirement or giving (which is a primary goal for us).

Our current dilemma is our car situation. Right now we have a 2004 Toyota Sienna which I drive, and my husband has a 2004 Ford Ranger. He bought the Ranger used a few months ago, and unfortunately it has turned out to be a bit of a lemon. He bikes to work most of the time (12 miles each way.. pretty badass, in my opinion!), but occasionally his job requires him to travel long distances by vehicle, and right now he cannot trust his truck that far. Repairs on the truck aren't worth the value of the truck. He's hesitant to replace it though, because he feels like he just bought the truck and needs to just be content with it. He has always loved cars, so I think he's not quite sure if he's wanting to replace for the right reasons or the wrong reasons.

He's always wanted something like an older (early 2000s) 5-speed BMW or Volvo that gets good gas mileage and is reliable, and I think that would be a fair replacement - but I'm no car expert. He originally got a truck because we get occasional utility from it (usually from helping other people move, though), but it's not necessary. Would rather something that's enjoyable for him to own, but also a decent purchase. I don't think it's an option for him to keep the truck if he can't drive it for work - so far he has managed to combine travels with coworkers, but that may not always be a possibility. Can anyone advise on the situation? Is it Mustachian to replace the vehicle right now? If so, would something like a small BMW or Volvo ever make sense?
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 02:17:40 PM by mandydean »

bo_knows

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 02:19:05 PM »
You didn't mention whether you worked (and thus commuted with the Van) or were a stay-at-home-mom.

If you were a SAHM, how often does your husband actually need a car? Would it be possible to just let him have the van on those days? Would it only be 1-day intervals?

As far as the possibility of replacement: Would that car be solely for your husbands commuting/work?  Depending on who you ask, my last car purchase was not mustachian.  I bought a new Mini Cooper S (6-speed) and fully intend to drive it into the ground over 10-15 years.  Mini's are made by BMW now, and are quite fun to drive.  On the highway, even my turbo will get 37-40mpg.   If you don't need that car to have much utility outside of commuting, it's a fine car.   If you want to be able to haul both kids around and some luggage.... you might want to look for another choice  lol.


mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 02:22:41 PM »
Thanks for your reply - I'm a SAHM. His trips out of town are overnight (sometimes a few nights), 5-hours away, so not really something he could use my vehicle for. But other than that, he really only drives for work trips, and the days he doesn't commute or gets called in. He wouldn't need to drive the kids in his vehicle.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 02:43:48 PM »
What exactly are the issues with his vehicle? Is it something that can be fixed, or is it lots of little things that keep happening with it?

If it is a definite "fix this, no more problem" issue, then I'd fix it if it isn't over the value of the vehicle. If it is more expensive than the vehicle is worth, or constant stuff messing up that is also causing reliability issues, I'd be inclined to look around for a replacement (older model BMW or Volvo if that's what he really wants) make sure to go over it very carefully with a mechanic, and sell off the Ranger, and then drive the replacement into the ground.

Downsizing to a more fuel-efficient and more reliable vehicle isn't a bad move, regardless of when he purchased the previous one. As long as we're not talking about blowing a large amount of money on it, I'd probably do it. (but reliability is a very big deal to me)

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 03:09:55 PM »
An older Bimmer or Volvo will surely nickle and dime you to death... he might be romanticizing the issue. He needs something reliable... sometimes you have to cut the losses on a lemon and move on. Are there any other practical cars he use?

You said you have a Sienna. This means you really don't need a truck..the van can haul anything just as well. I would explore some some options out there..plenty of good reliability for 4-5k or less in a compact wagon/hatch/sedan.

mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2013, 08:03:17 AM »
What exactly are the issues with his vehicle? Is it something that can be fixed, or is it lots of little things that keep happening with it?

If it is a definite "fix this, no more problem" issue, then I'd fix it if it isn't over the value of the vehicle. If it is more expensive than the vehicle is worth, or constant stuff messing up that is also causing reliability issues, I'd be inclined to look around for a replacement (older model BMW or Volvo if that's what he really wants) make sure to go over it very carefully with a mechanic, and sell off the Ranger, and then drive the replacement into the ground.

Downsizing to a more fuel-efficient and more reliable vehicle isn't a bad move, regardless of when he purchased the previous one. As long as we're not talking about blowing a large amount of money on it, I'd probably do it. (but reliability is a very big deal to me)

With my limited car understanding, I don't entirely understand the details - something like it's not running all the fuel injectors.. along with several other issues. He's fixed the urgent issues to make the truck drivable around town. He's very knowledgeable and even able to do a lot of car work himself - so I know that if he says it's not worth fixing it, then it must be the case.

And yes - the Sienna has proven as useful as the truck for hauling things, with the exception of occasional yard refuse for the dump.

So a Volvo or BMW would be more reliable but still might be a romantic notion.. we both agree. The nickel-and-diming might be considered a bit of a hobby expense but - would love to know if anyone has any vehicle suggestions that are reliable and less costly than those.. but also good for people who love cars?

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 08:59:54 AM »
Sometimes owning a car for a hobby and expecting it to be reliable for long out of town commutes does not really go together. It's either or.

Maybe look at a nice Mazda3 wagon or Protege for something reliable?

worms

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2013, 12:24:25 AM »
I'm running a 2003 Volvo, do big mileages for work and so far it has been reliable and not overly expensive to run. Getting about 34 miles per gallon.

tonyevans

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2013, 08:38:59 AM »
Personally, I wouldn't look at what the repairs cost versus the value of the truck. I had an friend recently do this and it made no sense to me. A potential repair could have cost $2500 for an already paid for vehicle so he bought a new $28,000 one instead and financed it. I'd look at it as how do I get to the goal, which is a reliable vehicle. You're going to be spending money either way. If the repairs cost $2500, you're paying for reliability. If you buy a new-used vehicle, you're paying for reliability (maybe, since it could very well break too). What, then, is the total cost of that reliability?  With the truck, you know what you're dealing with, and as you've mentioned, he's already made some repairs, so again, you know what you've got. If the truck has major issues, it's going to be hard to sell. I can't imagine you'll come out ahead by buying something else and selling the truck. And, you'll certainly lose money if you fix it and then sell.

Also, parts and labor for a ranger are cheap compared to a beamer or volvo.





Jack

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2013, 09:02:03 AM »
I have a Ranger and am planning to buy a fun car (like a 5-speed BMW) in addition to it, so I'd be inclined to recommend that. However, that's because I'd use both of them much more than you seem to be planning to (my commute is not bikeable and I haul stuff in my truck pretty often)... plus my truck is a '96 and super cheap to insure, so having it sit around isn't costing me much. Otherwise, such a suggestion is pretty anti-mustachian.

Have you considered swapping the Ranger for a Volkswagen TDI? (Sort of) similar European driving feel as a BMW or Volvo, but cheaper to buy, (somewhat) cheaper to repair and much better fuel economy (optimized for long freeway trips, unlike a hybrid). I recommend a 2003 Jetta Wagon since it's got the cargo space to replace some of the uses of your truck, but a same-year Golf, Jetta sedan or Beetle would do fine too. If you like this idea, do some research on myturbodiesel.com and ask for advice on the TDIClub.com forums before you buy.


mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2013, 11:55:28 AM »
Good point. It's easy to think of a vehicle as an investment (why invest $4000 in repairs to a truck that won't sell for more than 2k), while forgetting that all vehicles are depreciating rapidly and forgetting how long we intend to own.

I think in our case, the repair costs and replacement costs aren't even close, though. The truck was bought this year for $2700, a 2003 ranger with very low miles but salvaged title (which can mean different things in our state but definitely is why we got a deal on it). Hubby thinks it would sell easily right now for $2000 without repairs - It's suitable for around town hauling and farm use but just not for highway. Even if it could be completely repaired (mechanic was not sure since it had overheated several times), we're guessing the costs would be at least double the sale value.

Personally, I wouldn't look at what the repairs cost versus the value of the truck. I had an friend recently do this and it made no sense to me. A potential repair could have cost $2500 for an already paid for vehicle so he bought a new $28,000 one instead and financed it. I'd look at it as how do I get to the goal, which is a reliable vehicle. You're going to be spending money either way. If the repairs cost $2500, you're paying for reliability. If you buy a new-used vehicle, you're paying for reliability (maybe, since it could very well break too). What, then, is the total cost of that reliability?  With the truck, you know what you're dealing with, and as you've mentioned, he's already made some repairs, so again, you know what you've got. If the truck has major issues, it's going to be hard to sell. I can't imagine you'll come out ahead by buying something else and selling the truck. And, you'll certainly lose money if you fix it and then sell.

Also, parts and labor for a ranger are cheap compared to a beamer or volvo.

mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2013, 11:57:51 AM »
A couple of thoughts:

1. It is handy for the second vehicle to be able to hold all members of the family in a pinch. My van's transmission went out when my fourth child was three weeks old. We did not all fit into the Camry for the 9 days we were w/o a vehicle. When it came time to replace Camry, we went with an option that fits us all. We've had it two years, and it has been needed in occasion as the van is in the shop for maintenance, etc.

2. Your hubby is interested in cars that will end up costing him a lot in maintenance. Hubby went with a Mercedes for his current car, and oil changes are $100, the battery was $300, etc. I would have love if he had kept to a more mid-level vehicle.

Thank you, we will consider both points. Right now we just have the 2 kids but do hope to grow our family. My husband is also looking at Mercedes (Mercedeses? Not sure how to make that one plural!). I had no idea oil changes were so costly! Is his a particularly unique one?

mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2013, 12:01:12 PM »
I have a Ranger and am planning to buy a fun car (like a 5-speed BMW) in addition to it, so I'd be inclined to recommend that. However, that's because I'd use both of them much more than you seem to be planning to (my commute is not bikeable and I haul stuff in my truck pretty often)... plus my truck is a '96 and super cheap to insure, so having it sit around isn't costing me much. Otherwise, such a suggestion is pretty anti-mustachian.

Have you considered swapping the Ranger for a Volkswagen TDI? (Sort of) similar European driving feel as a BMW or Volvo, but cheaper to buy, (somewhat) cheaper to repair and much better fuel economy (optimized for long freeway trips, unlike a hybrid). I recommend a 2003 Jetta Wagon since it's got the cargo space to replace some of the uses of your truck, but a same-year Golf, Jetta sedan or Beetle would do fine too. If you like this idea, do some research on myturbodiesel.com and ask for advice on the TDIClub.com forums before you buy.

Here's the part where I want to cry, because we sold my 2002 VW Jetta Wagon to get our van. It wasn't a TDI - those are really hard to come by around here, and are pricey to boot. It was an awesome car, though, about the most reliable thing we've ever owned. We both beat ourselves up often for not keeping that car and ridding ourselves of the truck.

I know he would love to find a Golf or Jetta TDI for a good price, if he could.

Jack

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2013, 02:35:48 PM »
I know he would love to find a Golf or Jetta TDI for a good price, if he could.

Aww, no love for the Beetle? That's what mine is....

All 2010-2011 Jetta Sportwagen TDI's. Those may be newer (and thus more expensive) than you're looking for right now but I'm sure if I was looking I'd find some older ones too.

There's a reason I recommended the 2003 model specifically: they get better fuel economy than the newer ones and have fewer engine issues. 1999.5-2002 are nominally the same but may not have benefited from certain part revisions (plus they're just older and therefore more worn), but they're still good choices too.

2004-2006 models are also a good choice (and are slightly more powerful in stock form), but occasionally have problems with excessive cam wear -- on those, service records showing proof that they were always filled with the correct VW-spec synthetic oil are important.

2009+ "clean diesels" are certainly clean, and they have less noise and vibration (almost like a gasoline car), but they also have noticeably lower fuel economy and there have been some significant issues with the high-pressure fuel pumps (as in, the fuel pump self-destructs and sprays metal shavings through the whole fuel system, requiring replacement of the entire engine). I don't own one so I haven't been following the issue closely, but it's enough to scare me off. You can read more about it here and here. From the second link: "NHTSA is estimating that 0.53% of 2009 models (1 in 200) and 0.11% of 2010 models (1 in 1,000) have experienced these failures. According to the report, the HPFP pump has now been redesigned three times! This issue has been escalated by NHTSA and may result in a recall."

One last tidbit if you think being eco-friendly is important: the older TDIs (up to model year 2006) run perfectly well on any blend of biodiesel, but the 2009+ models are are only warranted on 5% or less (and can only mechanically tolerate maybe up to around 10-20%).

mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2013, 03:14:47 PM »

There's a reason I recommended the 2003 model specifically: they get better fuel economy than the newer ones and have fewer engine issues. 1999.5-2002 are nominally the same but may not have benefited from certain part revisions (plus they're just older and therefore more worn), but they're still good choices too.

2004-2006 models are also a good choice (and are slightly more powerful in stock form), but occasionally have problems with excessive cam wear -- on those, service records showing proof that they were always filled with the correct VW-spec synthetic oil are important.

2009+ "clean diesels" are certainly clean, and they have less noise and vibration (almost like a gasoline car), but they also have noticeably lower fuel economy and there have been some significant issues with the high-pressure fuel pumps (as in, the fuel pump self-destructs and sprays metal shavings through the whole fuel system, requiring replacement of the entire engine). I don't own one so I haven't been following the issue closely, but it's enough to scare me off. You can read more about it here and here. From the second link: "NHTSA is estimating that 0.53% of 2009 models (1 in 200) and 0.11% of 2010 models (1 in 1,000) have experienced these failures. According to the report, the HPFP pump has now been redesigned three times! This issue has been escalated by NHTSA and may result in a recall."

One last tidbit if you think being eco-friendly is important: the older TDIs (up to model year 2006) run perfectly well on any blend of biodiesel, but the 2009+ models are are only warranted on 5% or less (and can only mechanically tolerate maybe up to around 10-20%).

Thanks - will add a 2003 VW TDI to our list of craiglist ad-watches... I really feel he needs to replace the truck. Just don't want to replace anything again for a long time after this!

Jack

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2013, 03:33:36 PM »

There's a reason I recommended the 2003 model specifically: they get better fuel economy than the newer ones and have fewer engine issues. 1999.5-2002 are nominally the same but may not have benefited from certain part revisions (plus they're just older and therefore more worn), but they're still good choices too.

2004-2006 models are also a good choice (and are slightly more powerful in stock form), but occasionally have problems with excessive cam wear -- on those, service records showing proof that they were always filled with the correct VW-spec synthetic oil are important.

2009+ "clean diesels" are certainly clean, and they have less noise and vibration (almost like a gasoline car), but they also have noticeably lower fuel economy and there have been some significant issues with the high-pressure fuel pumps (as in, the fuel pump self-destructs and sprays metal shavings through the whole fuel system, requiring replacement of the entire engine). I don't own one so I haven't been following the issue closely, but it's enough to scare me off. You can read more about it here and here. From the second link: "NHTSA is estimating that 0.53% of 2009 models (1 in 200) and 0.11% of 2010 models (1 in 1,000) have experienced these failures. According to the report, the HPFP pump has now been redesigned three times! This issue has been escalated by NHTSA and may result in a recall."

One last tidbit if you think being eco-friendly is important: the older TDIs (up to model year 2006) run perfectly well on any blend of biodiesel, but the 2009+ models are are only warranted on 5% or less (and can only mechanically tolerate maybe up to around 10-20%).

Thanks - will add a 2003 VW TDI to our list of craiglist ad-watches... I really feel he needs to replace the truck. Just don't want to replace anything again for a long time after this!

2003 is probably too specific; they're uncommon enough that you should be keeping an eye out for anything 1999.5-2006. You should merely prefer a 2003 if you have a choice (all other things being equal, including condition). It'd be a shame to miss out on a cherry 2002, for example...

unpolloloco

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2013, 12:00:56 AM »
Just to ask the question: why not swap cars when he needs a car for work?  You sacrifice a bit of utility, but can still get around, while he gets a car that can be trusted to hold up when he needs it?

mandydean

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2013, 02:14:39 PM »
Just to ask the question: why not swap cars when he needs a car for work?  You sacrifice a bit of utility, but can still get around, while he gets a car that can be trusted to hold up when he needs it?

His Ranger doesn't have a rear seat - so with both our kids still in car seats, we won't fit!

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2013, 11:48:15 AM »
A Benz has to be one of the least mustachian cars out there. Service and parts are through the roof. It's all about the status with those things.

Jack

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2013, 02:21:50 PM »
A Benz has to be one of the least mustachian cars out there. Service and parts are through the roof. It's all about the status with those things.

Except maybe if you're talking about a W123 (or maybe W124?) diesel and you do all the maintenance yourself...

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2013, 02:29:11 PM »
A Benz has to be one of the least mustachian cars out there. Service and parts are through the roof. It's all about the status with those things.

Except maybe if you're talking about a W123 (or maybe W124?) diesel and you do all the maintenance yourself...

Cost of parts has to be a killer.

Jack

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2013, 02:41:42 PM »
A Benz has to be one of the least mustachian cars out there. Service and parts are through the roof. It's all about the status with those things.

Except maybe if you're talking about a W123 (or maybe W124?) diesel and you do all the maintenance yourself...

Cost of parts has to be a killer.

Perhaps, but they have a reputation of being pretty bulletproof.

Spork

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2013, 02:49:33 PM »
If it's a Ford and "not running on all injectors" I'll bet you a beer it's one or more coil-on-plug.  Those things are notoriously awful.  Name brand replacements are $80 per cylinder.  Not-so-name brands are $20-50.

I don't know Rangers... and I don't know how hard they are to get to.  Some of the Ford trucks are awful.  Some are super easy -- and one bolt each.

A reputable mechanic can identify which ones are bad (if this is the case).  But if one is bad... they're probably all borderline.

prodarwin

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2013, 02:51:13 PM »
A Benz has to be one of the least mustachian cars out there. Service and parts are through the roof. It's all about the status with those things.

Except maybe if you're talking about a W123 (or maybe W124?) diesel and you do all the maintenance yourself...

Cost of parts has to be a killer.

Twice the cost of Civic parts.  That really isn't bad at all.


Jack

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Re: Vehicle Advice
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2013, 07:20:08 PM »
Twice the cost of Civic parts.  That really isn't bad at all.



Oooo... that's a cool chart! Apparently it gets generated using http://www.rockauto.com/repairindex/

My main takeaway is that parts for my 1996 Ranger 2.3L are super cheap.