Author Topic: Yet another car question!  (Read 3691 times)

zachstauffer

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Yet another car question!
« on: November 12, 2015, 10:57:39 AM »
Hey everyone,

This might seem like such a trivial situation, but I'm really torn on what to do. I'd appreciate any advice you can give.

First, some background:
I'm a 23 year old software engineer who is already maxing out my 401k and HSA. I'm living in a pretty rural area and, for that reason, I have a 45 minute, 40 mile commute to work every day (that's 400 miles a week! Ugh). Due to some family things, moving closer to work is not a feasible option at this time. I recently bought a 2009 Honda Fit with 44k miles for ~$10k and traded in my Jeep. A few months ago, I came across a '95 Honda Civic with only 40k miles for just $600 -- it just needed a new head gasket. So in order to learn more about fixing cars, I bought it and did the work myself with my dad's help, which was a very rewarding experience. Now I've been using it as a daily driver (DD) and am putting all my commuting miles on it in an attempt to extend the life of my Fit. It already has some rust so winter driving would not bother me in the slightest. This seemed like a very Mustachian to do.

Now, the question:
I think I want a Mazda Miata... Not a new one, but an older one that I can drive in the summer with the top down and tinker with. This is probably not very Mustachian, but man, would it be fun. It could also be another rewarding experience. I've been looking at some late 90's Miatas for somewhere around $3000-$4000. I'd sell the Civic and make my Fit my DD again. I think I could maybe sell my Civic for ~$2000.

So I ask, what are some pros and cons to this suggested approach (with the Miata)? Is my current approach (with the Civic DD) truly as good of an idea as it seems? My fear is that I'm overlooking details in my excitement. Here is how I see it now:

Keep the Civic:
+ Put excessive miles on old, cheap car
+ Good for winter driving
+ Have a beater car (which can be fun)

- Maybe not as Mustachian as it seems
- Not as much fun
- Civic has not proven it's reliability yet (it still a 20 year old car that might have sit for awhile)


Get the Miata:
+ Have a possibly more reliable DD (the Fit)
+ Much more fun
+ Cheaper insurance! (Oddly enough)

- Spend another $1-2k
- Probably not Mustachian :(


Thanks again everyone! These might seem so trivial but I really am torn on it. Just trying to get some advice.

Jeddy

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2015, 11:05:25 AM »
If you can afford it and it doesn't cause any hardship or cause you to alter your contributions to retirement/paying off debt, then I see no reason against it.

With that said - in my state, you register (and inspect) your car yearly, whether you drive it for just a few months (summer driver/toy/etc.) or all year. There's no prorated registration fee - just keep those in mind. A Miata can certainly be driven year round, but if the goal is for it to be a summer car with the top down and you're in a state that sees cold and possibly snow, that is going to eliminate a few months of being able to drive it.

If it's something you're jonesing to do and it doesn't alter your retirement contributions and/or debt repayments, I say have at it.

powersuitrecall

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 11:26:16 AM »
If you can accept the costs associated with owning 2 cars, the miata is one hell of a good choice as your "fun" car.  I owned a 1999 for a couple of years and it was by far the best ownership experience of my life.  They hold their value extremely well - I sold it for the same price as I paid for it!  Maintenance was a cinch too.  What a solid, fun car to drive.

zachstauffer

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 11:43:32 AM »
Maintenance would probably even out. I suppose the Civic is likely to require more maintenance than the Fit as a DD... But I there's no way of knowing for sure. I do believe the insurance is cheaper for Miatas, however. Registration would be the same for both. Are there any other costs I might be forgetting? 

Edit: The fact that they hold their value is also reassuring. Cars are one of the few investments that depreciate. So worst case scenario, I keep it until it's a "classic" and sell it for a decent chunk of money.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2015, 11:45:21 AM by zachstauffer »

Jack

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 11:51:49 AM »
I recommend Option 3: Sell the Fit, buy the Miata, and keep daily-driving the Civic with the Miata as a backup.

zachstauffer

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 12:05:24 PM »
I recommend Option 3: Sell the Fit, buy the Miata, and keep daily-driving the Civic with the Miata as a backup.

I definitely thought about that. I just am not too sure the Civic will last for as long as I need it to... I suppose I could get another beater when that time comes, though...

Ah, so many decisions!!

humbleMouse

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 12:09:55 PM »
I like option 3 as well.  What's the worst case scenario if you sell the fit?  Car breaks down on the side of the road and you have to work from home for a couple days or drive your miata to work?  You are a software dev, not like you have to be in the office or things blow up.


I recommend Option 3: Sell the Fit, buy the Miata, and keep daily-driving the Civic with the Miata as a backup.

I definitely thought about that. I just am not too sure the Civic will last for as long as I need it to... I suppose I could get another beater when that time comes, though...

Ah, so many decisions!!

Jack

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2015, 12:29:54 PM »
I recommend Option 3: Sell the Fit, buy the Miata, and keep daily-driving the Civic with the Miata as a backup.

I definitely thought about that. I just am not too sure the Civic will last for as long as I need it to... I suppose I could get another beater when that time comes, though...

Ah, so many decisions!!

There's nothing wrong with daily-driving a Miata if it comes to that. (That's what I do -- my Miata is a '90 with 88K miles on it -- although "daily" is a stretch since I bike-commute now.)

zachstauffer

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2015, 02:08:54 PM »
My only concern would be driving the Miata in snow. RWD is not the best choice. Everyone has been super helpful, though. So thanks again!

JLee

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2015, 02:16:50 PM »
Miatas are absurdly inexpensive (and easy) to work on. They're also a lot of fun to drive.  I support this plan.

DeltaBond

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2015, 02:18:46 PM »
Kudos to you on replacing a head gasket yourself!!  I have helped my husband do this job on two vehicles and it IS rewarding to do it yourself, it makes all the other maintenance seem well within reach.

I'll keep my advice simple... I just traded a new car for a 2003, and I would not feel comfortable doing that without a back up.  Old cars are a great way to save money, but I like to have a back up.  My back up car is an '83 Mercedes diesel that I got for $1000 and am in the process of painting it and making it look all spiffy, my husband did a little bit of maintenance, and its a great car.  I'd say, if you want an additional car that you pay cash for, and you have a back up car, then you're going to be happy with it.

zachstauffer

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2015, 03:20:37 PM »
Hey DeltaBond! I saw your thread and was going to comment when I had more time. Thanks for your advice!

Option 3 (that was mentioned above) seems like the most "Mustachian" approach, but it feels risky... that is, having an unproven '95 DD and a Miata to fall back on. RWD will not suit for Pennsylvania winters. I also lose a lot of cargo capacity by removing a hatchback and adding a 2-seater :-/

I think what it's gonna come down to is whether I can sell the Civic for a decent amount. Enough to offset the Miata purchase.

JLee

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2015, 03:26:42 PM »
Hey DeltaBond! I saw your thread and was going to comment when I had more time. Thanks for your advice!

Option 3 (that was mentioned above) seems like the most "Mustachian" approach, but it feels risky... that is, having an unproven '95 DD and a Miata to fall back on. RWD will not suit for Pennsylvania winters. I also lose a lot of cargo capacity by removing a hatchback and adding a 2-seater :-/

I think what it's gonna come down to is whether I can sell the Civic for a decent amount. Enough to offset the Miata purchase.

How often are you driving in unplowed snow? With a good set of snow tires and some weight in the back, the Miata will probably do just fine.

norabird

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2015, 03:29:59 PM »
I love miatas! Secretly, I want one. I have convinced my BF that he wants one, so if it ever happens, I can blame him.

Since the Civic works, and you know you can fix certain mechanical issues/probably find another deal on a beater, why not sell the fit? you aren't using it and they hold value well.

Jack

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2015, 04:29:52 PM »
Option 3 (that was mentioned above) seems like the most "Mustachian" approach, but it feels risky... that is, having an unproven '95 DD and a Miata to fall back on. RWD will not suit for Pennsylvania winters. I also lose a lot of cargo capacity by removing a hatchback and adding a 2-seater :-/

My Miata has a trailer hitch, and came with a 4' utility trailer. I wouldn't want to haul much weight with it, but I'm sure it could carry at least as much as a Fit. (The previous owner used it to carry his set of racing wheels to autocross events. I might do so in the future too, if it turns out to be cheaper than simply driving on 200-treadwear tires all the time.)

Anyway, I think you're just being complainypants now. "Feeling" risky isn't good enough; you should quantify it:

First of all, the Civic's reliability is only unproven now. As you continue driving it, you'll find out how reliable (or not) it is. So wait until spring to sell the Fit and that issue will no longer be relevant.

Second, the probability you getting screwed over by that decision, P, can be calculated as follows:

let Pc = probability of the Civic breaking down
let Pw = probability of that happening during winter
let Pm = probability of the Miata failing to cope with those winter conditions
let Pf = probability of the Fit failing to cope with the same conditions (because if the conditions are bad enough that no car can deal with them, you can't hold the Miata responsible)

P = (Pc * Pw * Pm) - Pf

I'm pretty sure that's going to end up being a very small number.

For what it's worth, I own three cars (for a two-person household). The newest of them was built in 1998 (the others are a '96 and a '90), and their reliability has turned out to be much more proportional to their odometer reading than to their age. (The Miata, with about 130K fewer miles than either of the other two, is by far the most reliable.) I would expect your 40k-mile Civic to be excellent, give or take vacuum hoses and other rubber bits.

zachstauffer

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Re: Yet another car question!
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2015, 12:40:19 PM »
Thanks again for all your replies! I've decided on keeping the Fit. I'm going to list the Civic and see how much I can get for it. Then, (hopefully) I can find a Miata in my price range. Fingers crossed!