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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Tjat on August 15, 2016, 11:55:55 AM

Title: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: Tjat on August 15, 2016, 11:55:55 AM
My wife and I currently have two cars: her a newish small crossover and for me a compact sedan (mazda 3). We have a 1 y.o and a second child coming in a few months. By April or so of next year, I'll be responsible for doing day-care drop off for both of them, which should be the only time I'll be driving them in my car. Unfortunately, I'm tall and cannot comfortably fit both car seats in the back of my car (and when not reclined, my head rests against the roof). At some point before then, I have been figuring on getting a replacement vehicle for the Mazda3 given the space issues. Today, my decision was expedited as I'm facing a $1500 repair bill (OT - I do not recommend Mid-2000 mazda 3's...). I just don't think it's worth fixing given I'll be replacing it with in 6 months.

To further complain, we occasionally go away for long weekends and with a stroller plus luggage, have to creatively pack our crossover. With the 2nd kid, we'll now have one of those double-stroller contraptions taking up a ton more space.

Summary of needs
1. Vehicle large enough to house 2 car seats and a tall driver.
2. With our my car, I drive very few miles (~3,000/yr), so I'm less concerned about gas mileage
3. Am perfectly comfortably buying a used car (2011ish), prefer to keep it under 15K
4. If it's not clear, I'm not a car guy and don't want to do my own maintenance.

I figure I have 3 main options
1. Buy a large enough used vehicle to house a tall driver and two carseats, most likely a sedan. I'll be able to err towards higher mileage and reduced features and efficiency since it's barely driven. This is the only function that's required. While a vehicle with more space would be nice, we likely won't need to pack both kids, luggage, and the gigantic stroller too frequently. When we travel more when they're older, we won't need the stroller.

2. Buy a larger vehicle like a highlander and keep the cross-over. This will require more of an up-front cost and increase operational costs. This option feels dumb

3. Combo-option:  Trade in both the Mazda and the cross over. Replace with the car described in option 1 and the Highlander. Day to Day, I'll have the highlander for my very short commute, while my wife would drive the presumably more efficient sedan for her longer driver. When needed, we'd have the larger car to carry the kids and all our junk.

So... what to you think MMMers?? Am I overlooking something that is blindingly obvious to the true mustachian? Should I consider other types of vehicles...minivans, wagons, etc?. Keep the mazda for a few more months? Buy an even older car? Or, is option 1 the closest I can get to a smart decision?
Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: lukebuz on August 15, 2016, 12:28:43 PM

Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: Slee_stack on August 15, 2016, 12:51:10 PM
Probably #1.

I'd be against #3 as you would be paying two sets of transaction costs (fees/taxes/registration/emissions/inspection/whatever).

Transaction costs suck.  Money instantly down the drain.

We own two wagons.  One small.  The other smaller.

Never had a minivan, but I wouldn't mind one if I really needed the space.

I personally detest SUVs and trucks.  Crossovers don't impress me much either, but if I had no other choice...

Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: RWD on August 15, 2016, 12:52:05 PM
What about a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or similar? These can be found for less than $10k for five-year old models.
Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: MrsDinero on August 15, 2016, 12:56:30 PM
If you plan on having more than 2 kids, I would probably go with a used minivan.

If you are planning to stick with 2 kids then I would go with option #1.

When we were looking at larger family cars we looked into the Highlander, but they are ridiculously large with terrible gas mileage.  I think a highlander is overkill for a family of 4.  We ended up going with a Honda CRV and it is great on weekend trips, but too big day-to-day.
Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: Jack on August 15, 2016, 01:21:50 PM
Fix the Mazda3 and switch cars with your wife (assuming she's shorter).
Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: Tjat on August 15, 2016, 02:27:55 PM
Fix the Mazda3 and switch cars with your wife (assuming she's shorter).

Valid suggestion, but it's definetely a "my car" "her car" household for better or worse, and she hates my it's a manual that she doesn't want to drive. She's a bit shorter, so in theory that could've worked. I had the car since well before we got married, so it'll be hard for her not to feel penalized somehow if I were to push this option her way.

Definitely leaning towards option 1. I like the Camry and Sonata. Will probably try the Accord as well

Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: RWD on August 15, 2016, 03:23:13 PM
Definitely leaning towards option 1. I like the Camry and Sonata. Will probably try the Accord as well

Keep in mind that the Sonata is likely a little smaller inside than the Camry and Accord (judging based on the 2011 models' leg room numbers). If you find the Sonata doesn't have the space you need you may want to look at the next step up, the Hyundai Azera, which is more comparable to the Camry/Accord. On the other hand, if you find the Sonata to be sufficient, you may want to also consider looking at the Toyota Corolla/Honda Civic.

I'm just going by numbers I can find online, though. You won't know for sure until you check them out in person.
Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: ChairmanKaga on August 18, 2016, 09:42:59 AM
Bearing in mind personal transportation is probably the single worst expense the majority of folks make - in your hearts we all know cars are dumb and an utter waste of wealth - I was in the exact same boat as you just a few years ago. We had a 2002 Camry with about 200k miles and a 2007 Fit with about 60k miles. The Fit was a base model, 5-speed manual, that my wife just couldn't drive. I tried teaching her stick but that little motor has no torque and was ridiculously easy to stall. She was scared of it. I also could NOT drive the thing safely with two rear-0facing car seats installed. It was just too small.

So we sold the Fit and got a solid deal on her mother's 2008 CRV with only about 40k miles. They'd towed it behind their motor home, which is why it was still so fresh (never mind the body damage from crashing it into walls and bollards while in tow).

A year after the Fit was sold the Camry developed a terminal emissions related problem that prevented it from passing inspection. We threw almost $2k trying to fix it but ended up trading it in on a 1-year old CPO Highlander.

So now we have a huge, thirsty, expensive, but comfortable, reliable, and safe Family car, and a large, thirsty, horribly uncomfortable, generally useless Me car. I regret the CRV every day.

My advice is to let the wife keep her car. Fine. It's in the past. I mean, unless you were enough into the black that you could sell it and get into something more economical and still be adequate for your needs, but that's remote... But get out there and try as many $5,000 econo BASE model sedans and hatchbacks as you can. If the Mazda3 is REALLY too small for you then you can probably rule out just about every compact or smaller. You're looking at sedans. Mid-size. Can't go wrong with a Camry (except we did, but whatever) or an Accord. The Chevy Malibu is surprising, though. Solid reliability if somewhat sketchy interior materials. But since you barely drive you should NOT care about "soft touch" trim. You want a radio and probably AC. Other options are just a waste of money. And you can get 6 or 7 year old Malibus with under 100k miles CHEAPLY, like right in that $5k zone

Use to review reliability reports from actual owners. They will actually analyze problem reports against total units sold, so you're not just seeing the good or the bad in exclusivity, but a quantitative result showing reported problems against all cars of that model. It;s pretty neat. also has a decent owner foru but you sort of have to take it with a grain of salt.

However, I'd REALLY look at your choices. Can you get by with one car? Can you work out a way to transport the kids that doesn't require ownership of two money pits? Cause that's what cars are. ANY CAR. Insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs. Even the most economical mouse car is going to cost you thousands of dollars a year that would be much better spent securing financial independence.

We did that and decided until our youngest is out of daycare it's just not an option, all factors honestly considered. But you can bet once that kid starts pre-K I will be selling the awful CRV and biking that easy 12 miles to work.

Good luck. And be honest with yourself!

Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: Tjat on August 18, 2016, 03:22:23 PM
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it and agree with all your points. Our story at least for now has a happy mustachian ending. the mechanical issue was a check engine light that the mechanic diagnosed as a severe emissions issue. He also heard a phantom sound that I couldn't hear and determined I had a suspension issue as well. Turns out, I just tightened the gas cap and the light turned off.... I don't really buy that there is an issue with the suspension.

So, I now have another 7 months before both kids are in daycare. Come then, my oldest would be almost 2 and could either be turned around for the 2 mile drive (leaving plenty of room in the Mazda) or they both can rear face and I can eat the steering wheel for the very short drive. Before some cyclist chimes in, it is logistically impossible to drop them off late enough and allow me to get to work on time.

Title: Re: Yet another 'find a car' thread
Post by: gooki on August 19, 2016, 02:50:29 AM
You get used to eating the steering wheel.