Author Topic: When should we replace our car?  (Read 1555 times)

astralweeks

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When should we replace our car?
« on: April 25, 2018, 02:17:45 PM »
I've read a lot of "fix your car or get a new one" blogs on the internet.  There's probably more useful stuff in these forums, but I can never get the search function to work for some reason.  So here's my scenario:

Honda Civic 2004, 2-door, manual, 150K miles, runs great.  Slightly musty smell from door leak during heavy rains, but otherwise nothing.  Put $2.5K into misc repairs in 2015, including clutch and tires.
Car use:  less than 6000 miles per year currently, will go down even more once we move and I take the train to work.
Husband: works from home, prefers walking.
Me: soon to be commuting by train.
Will be driving 1-2x/week max (Costco/big grocery runs/fun activities/doctor's appts not near the train), plus day trips, long driving trips to see friends 2x/year.
Car's trade-in value ~$1000-1200(?)  (probably more to sell to a private party, but honestly not sure I have the energy to go through Craigslist to do it)
Child no. 1 due in September. 

We're about to close on our first home(condo), so I'm thinking about what to do with our money (in addition to investing/paying student loans) now that we're not saving everything for a downpayment.  I had the face-punch-worthy idea that we should just get a new car now so we'd have something "reliable" that also had 4 doors (for ease of child seat maneuvering) -- why not do it and put 50% down (or more) before we have to start paying for childcare in a year?  (If we were to get a car, it'd be probably a certified used Honda Fit or Prius C -- some subcompact hatchback with good mileage; certified because my husband would prefer new (since it worked out so well with this car, 14 years later), but would settle for certified. Let's guess out of pocket expense with taxes would be $17,000, which is less than he paid in 2004, come to think about it.)

I *think* I'm over the illusion that we should upgrade the car now especially now I realized that I could instead use an $8K downpayment to pay off my 6.55% interest student loans in one fell swoop but I'm curious how you all would handle it.  When do you decide to upgrade your car? Should you wait till you save enough to pay for the car in cash?  Do you put half down and do super low financing for the rest? Does a new baby factor into the decision?  Is there any real airbag/safety feature that would justify this kind of expense (or is that all marketing/fear mongering?)  Is there some simple math that helps you know when to pull the plug?   Would you put another $2000 into the car to fix it when there's a major repair because it's a Honda and could easily go for another 50,000 miles?   

Thanks!

frugalfoothills

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2018, 02:26:22 PM »
I drove my 2000 Honda Accord for 13 years. Ended up selling it when it needed about $3k worth of work that I wasn't willing to put into it... the guy I sold it to used to work on Hondas and fixed it up for about $500. Running great now. Should've kept that car and just paid him to fix it for me!

Let me ask this... why do you think it's unreliable? Or less reliable than another, newer car? Just it's age? It doesn't seem like it's giving you any problems, and it sounds like the last money you've put into that car was $2.5k in 2015, which got you (at least) an additional 3 years worth of driving out of it. Doing the math, $2.5k for 3 years worth of driving is $69 a month. That's pretty cheap transportation.

For me, I decided I was going to keep it until something happened and I got a bill too big for me to want to fix. The $3.5k bill was the final straw (it was going to need brakes in a year or so, too), so I made the decision then. It was a "cross that bridge when I get to it" strategy, and it worked great... got me a few extra years of cheap driving that way. I'd suggest the same. Drive it until it gives you an actual reason not to drive it anymore.

astralweeks

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2018, 02:50:58 PM »
Quote
Let me ask this... why do you think it's unreliable? Or less reliable than another, newer car? Just it's age? It doesn't seem like it's giving you any problems, and it sounds like the last money you've put into that car was $2.5k in 2015, which got you (at least) an additional 3 years worth of driving out of it. Doing the math, $2.5k for 3 years worth of driving is $69 a month. That's pretty cheap transportation

I agree!  I put "reliable" in scare quotes, because the non-face-punch-worthy part of myself recognizes that this car is doing great, and that any new car could also break down on the highway during a blizzard.  I guess I meant that there's some point at which one draws the line and says that a car that's 3 years old would have fewer surprises than one that's 17 (or whatever).  I'm not sure when that happens, and maybe that's an illusion entirely.

frugalfoothills, thanks for sharing your scenario (sold it at the first major repair, wish you'd looked into fixing it) -- that's exactly the kind of thing I need to hear right now.

tomorrowsomewherenew

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2018, 08:08:59 AM »
I would keep the car. It sounds like your car is OK for now, and that you won't be using it much. I'd work on paying off the student loans.

Carrie

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2018, 08:54:04 AM »
Keep the car, or trade with a friend to get a four door variety. At this point you drive so little (and could probably lump errands together to drive even less) that an equally used car would work great. (This is assuming that you just can't handle the inconvenience of a two door with a baby. I have no idea about that!)

If you upgrade to something else I would stick with used and pay cash.  Not having car payments is awesome! Cheaper insurance, car tags, etc., is also nice.

shelbyautumn

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2018, 09:20:31 AM »
Congrats on the home and the baby!

I (personally) would keep the car until your baby is at least a couple months old. Then you might have recovered from the initial shock of having a baby and can see if getting the car seat in and out of a 2 door car is liveable or not. For my step-mom when she had my little brother, it wasn't something she was willing to deal with. She was also driving me to and from school every day, plus SAHM duties, so she was putting him in and out MULTIPLE times every day. I get why that would be annoying. You might be able to live with doing it a few times a week.

I certainly wouldn't judge you for getting a new (to you) car with four doors, but I would at least see if it's that's big of an inconvenience for you.




Optimiser

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2018, 09:43:31 AM »
With how little you drive, a 2 door might me an acceptable inconvenience. (Now that I think about it, I had a 2 door Civic for the first few years of my oldest daughter's life. If you do decide to replace the car with something that has 4 doors, I wouldn't go with anything much newer or fancier. We have a 4-door 2003 Civic with slightly lower miles than yours and are expecting our 3rd kid this summer. It has been working great for us so far.

In my area you can find 100,000 mile Priuses (Prii?) for around $5000 which might be a good option for you.

Also, don't trade the car in. It doesn't take that much energy to sell it on Craigslist and you'd probably get at least $1000 more than trading it in. That's a pretty good tax-free bonus for doing a few hours of work.

Trying2bFrugal

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2018, 10:44:41 AM »
If you drive less, made up on getting different car, get an crv or Rav4 or Mazda 5 pre certified. I dont see a reason to get a small car once you decided to have kids.
Next thing you would see another kid, dogs, camping, stuff..
You could get 2015 model with low mileage under your budget. Once you are on used market, you would find great deals.

Optimiser

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 02:28:06 PM »
If you drive less, made up on getting different car, get an crv or Rav4 or Mazda 5 pre certified. I dont see a reason to get a small car once you decided to have kids.
Next thing you would see another kid, dogs, camping, stuff..
You could get 2015 model with low mileage under your budget. Once you are on used market, you would find great deals.

I do.
Low purchase price, low insurance cost, fuel efficient, cheaper brakes and tires, easy to park, fun to drive, lower environmental impact...

Quote from: Mr. Money Mustache
...the Small category is the only one a sane person could rationally consider except in the case of very large families, physical disabilities, or business use such as construction or delivery.
Source: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/

See also:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/12/08/turning-a-little-car-into-a-big-one/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/20/toyota-prius-ass-kicker-or-trouble-maker/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/19/how-to-come-out-way-ahead-when-buying-a-used-car/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/28/new-cars-and-auto-financing-stupid-or-sensible/

Trying2bFrugal

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2018, 02:22:13 PM »

Quote
If you drive less, made up on getting different car, get an crv or Rav4 or Mazda 5 pre certified. I dont see a reason to get a small car once you decided to have kids.
Next thing you would see another kid, dogs, camping, stuff..
You could get 2015 model with low mileage under your budget. Once you are on used market, you would find great deals.]

I do.
Low purchase price, low insurance cost, fuel efficient, cheaper brakes and tires, easy to park, fun to drive, lower environmental impact...



Well if OP have less distance to drive, all the points you mentioned have negligible cost differences when you compare a car like civic to CRV.

A few friends of mine irrespective of telling them got a precertified civic and now having second kid and couldn't fit their strollers, no space for dog or the fifth person finally selling his car and getting town and country (I again told him not to go for that mistake, but get just a crv but it's just my opinion) he is no frugal guy and have enough money from his ancestors. But did say that he should have listened. You would appreciate the ease of in and out of vehicles especially with strollers and short trips.

Ftao93

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Re: When should we replace our car?
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2018, 03:20:00 PM »
I'd keep it for now. I had a 91 civic that I drove into the ground.  i downright neglected it, and drove the proverbial tits off of it.   Sold it to my mechanic, who refurbished it and gave it to his ex as a beater transport.

We paid cash for an '01 corolla, and I recently started paying on a used CRV.  We plan to drive both until they are rusty nubs.  I fought hard to not even have a 2nd car, since we also have 2 wheeled vehicles that now get a lot less use (but at least are paid off, and couldn't get the value back if we sold them).   The reality of commuting just made it so, but I just tell myself it's not forever.  Maybe down the road we just sell off the corolla for cheap and keep the CRV.

Never had kids, so I can't speak to the pains of the car seat, but at 150k, if you've already done a huge maintenance, it should be good to go for another 70k miles easy.   If you're not driving that much, that's a long time.