Need advice on trading in car for one with lower gas consumption (LONG!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 10-10-2011, 04:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi All,

Dh and I are in a bind financially, and need to make some big changes to find our way out of debt. One of our options is to sell our 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe with 95000 kms (in excellent condition and with 55000 km in extended warranty still available) and buying something smaller and more efficient on gas. We live about a half hour away from downtown (and love our area) but are beyond the transit system, so 2 cars are a must for us. Thankfully DH has a company vehicle that has deductions from his pay but at a very reasonable amount, and includes everything. I use the Santa Fe almost exclusively and love it and wouldn't change it at all unless I thought it made sense $$ wise.

I'm about to have baby #2 (in 6 weeks or so) and DS is 4. We definitely want a 4-door vehicle with a hatchback to make stroller and baby gear easier to take along. I'll be home for almost a year on maternity leave and will be driving less and use DH's work car whenever I can (with free gas).

There are lots of options of cars smaller and better on gas to choose from locally (Dodge Caliber, Pontiac Vibe, Mazda 5, Toyota Matrix...) but many are about the same in trade-in value as the Santa Fe, which is much more comfortable and roomy (and we'd never outgrow - baby #2 will be our last). Our Santa Fe is also good in snow, and with the extended warranty we bought has more warranty left than almost anything we could trade for.

Question #1: what's the best way to estimate real gas savings between different cars? Making a change seems like a better idea if we can free up more than just $20/month...

Question #2: how do I get my head around the 'value' of the Santa Fe now ($15000 Cdn or so, maybe a bit more but not more than $18000 likely) vs what it's worth to me? (Pretty much what we paid for it - $25000 Cdn 2 yrs ago). Complicated by the fact that we used our line of credit to buy the Santa Fe and with new items added in still have the full balance owing (part of our problem, of course) but to me it still feels worth the price. So a trade-in is acknowledging (admitting?) The mess we've gotten into owing more on a car than what it's worth. But since the SF is regularly higher priced than what we're looking at, might have better resale value later on?

Question #3: how do I weigh the value of our extended warranty (and lower repair costs over the next 2 yrs at our current mileage rate) vs lower gas prices on a car with little or no warranty left. Do the two cancel each other out?

Wow - sorry that was so long. Thanks to anyone reading this far with any ideas/ advice to share!

Karen

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#2 of 16 Old 10-10-2011, 08:22 AM
 
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Those are all good questions.

 

The easiest one is gas costs. On average, how many km do you drive per month? Let's assume 1000 km/month (which is a lot).

 

Do you know what your fuel economy is now? I looked up 2008 Santa Fe, and found 14 to 10 L/100km. I don't know if you would find anything much better than 8 L/100 km that would suit your family size. So if your improved efficiency is 6 L/100 km, and you drive 1000 km/month, you'll save 60 L of gas. Multiply that by the price of gas to estimate savings. Obviously the less you drive, the less you save (in difference - driving less saves more overall).

 

Another thing to consider is insurance cost. Older vehicles are generally less to insure, but find out what the exact cost would be for a specific vehicle before you buy. Increased insurance costs could offset your gas savings.

 

With two young kids, reliability is important. Only you can decide just how important.

 

If you want to really save money on your vehicle, you need to sell this relatively new one and buy a much older one - more in the "less than $10K" range, and the less expensive, the better. If you can get a decent price for the Santa Fe, you can pay down your line of credit with the difference between what you get for it and what you spend on new. You'll still end up paying on the line of credit, but get it paid off sooner.

 

You need to also seriously look at why you are adding to the line of credit - something else in your budget needs work.

 

Good luck.


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#3 of 16 Old 10-10-2011, 12:34 PM
 
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OK- I get in theory why this would work- but in reality it almost never makes it worth it.  You know the santa fe- you know what you have had done on it and what and when it need something else.  On some other random car you won't know that.  At least you have your 'extended warantee' on this one (although those are rarely a savings).

 

Say you sell what you have and you still owe 7K.  And you buy a 10K car.  You now owe 17K on it.  Or you buy a 2K car and owe 9K on it.

 

I think you could save more money by cutting down on driving and other things than trying to nickle and dime yourself on this car. 

 

As far as gas savings go (I don't do cdn and L).  I get 17m/g.  I also drive 1000 m/month.  So that is 1000/17 or 58 gallons of gas/month.  If I bought something that got 25m/g that woul save me about 18 gallons of gas/month.  At $3.25/gallon that is only $58.50/month in savings.  I actually drive a paid for 2004 Tahoe.  It would obviously not be very prudent for me to buy something else to try to save $58.50/month. 

 

If you are really just trying to justify a different car- don't do it. 


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#4 of 16 Old 10-10-2011, 01:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

If you want to really save money on your vehicle, you need to sell this relatively new one and buy a much older one - more in the "less than $10K" range, and the less expensive, the better. If you can get a decent price for the Santa Fe, you can pay down your line of credit with the difference between what you get for it and what you spend on new. You'll still end up paying on the line of credit, but get it paid off sooner.

 

You need to also seriously look at why you are adding to the line of credit - something else in your budget needs work.

 

 

That.  Exactly.

 

But in order to give some educated advice, we need to know how much you could sell the car for (not trade - you will lose lots more money if you trade it to a dealer compared what you could get if you sold it yourself) vs what you owe on it.  I know you said you have as much now on the LOC as you did a few years ago when you bought the car, but how much of that is the car and how much are the other things you bought? 

 


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#5 of 16 Old 10-12-2011, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I wrote this great long reply last night that vanished before it was posted - so I'll try again.

From what I've read, our Santa Fe gets 11.4 L/100 km for city driving (not 4WD). Our mileage since having the car works out to an average of 1577 km/month (though this can be reduced by driving DH's work car more for evening and weekend outings and while I'm on maternity leave). At our current gas price of $1.24/L, this would average to $223.20 Cdn/ month for gas, which sounds about right.

An '08 Pontiac Vibe gets 8.26 L/100 km, for an average of $160.35/mo or a savings of $62/ month. Others we're considering are very similar in gas consumption (all the same size vehicles).

I expect that we might be able to sell the Santa Fe for $18K or so, and might buy something in the $10-$12K range, plus 15% tax (I know, yikes), so we'd have a few thousand to put directly on the line of credit, but not likely more than $5K.

I don't know how much of the Line of credit balance is made up of the Santa Fe. I've been assuming that the full $25K is still there since the overall balance hasn't gone down, but of course payments were made (and not always the minimum) but then new charges added, so the car as an item is no longer identifiable. Best case scenario is still owing $20K?

Some advantages I can think of in keeping the Santa Fe: large, comfortable vehicle, easy to get kids in and out of, we have new winter tires for it plus 2+ yrs of warranty left (maybe more if we drive less), less hassle not having to sell and buy and pay for reg'n to switch over. If we take care of the Santa Fe and agree to drive it for 10+ yrs or literally into the ground, I think we'll get our money's worth in the long run and it won't feel too small when the kids are older and bigger. It's also good in snow, even if not 4WD.

Some advantages to selling: knowing I'd have better fuel efficiency and saving $50-60/month, net amount from sale to put on LofC, feeling like we've made sacrifices to try to manage our debt (this is a big one). Not sure that feeling like you're doing something productive/ smart is enough of a reason though. Especially worried about buying something 2007 or 2008 that has little or no warranty and not being in a financial position to make unexpected repairs.

And we are definitely looking at all of our $$ issues and plan to get a grip on the credit cards/ LofC debt (to stop using them) and are even considering selling our house if it makes sense. Going to meet with a few banks, a real estate agent and financial planner soon to get some much needed advice. But with baby #2 due in under 6 weeks, the timing's a bit tight for big changes to happen right away, I'm afraid.

So these are my current thoughts. Again thanks if you've read this far and have anything else to add!

Karen

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#6 of 16 Old 10-13-2011, 06:12 AM
 
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We have a Dodge Caliber and a Chevy Equinox(comparable size/gas mileage to the Santa Fe). Dh drives round trip an hour for work, the difference is about $60USD less per month when he drives the Caliber. I would not want the Caliber to be our only car though. He drives the Caliber for the gas mileage in the warm weather, but the Equinox is so much better in the snow. I just feel much safer in the awd suv for the bad weather. I like the Caliber, especially since it's a crossover and has good cargo space, but the Equinox is way more comfortable, roomier, and quieter to ride in.

 

If you could find a great deal on an older Santa Fe then maybe I would go for that, but I think usually the difference between the sale price of your current one and purchase of the new (used) one will really turn out to be any large savings. I too would be worried about repairs on a used car. If your current Santa Fe isn't giving you any problems I would stick with that.


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#7 of 16 Old 10-13-2011, 06:46 AM
 
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I think you'd be better off keeping the Santa Fe. It's reliable, and you are unlikely to sell it for what you owe on it.

 

Can I be perfectly honest here? It sounds to me like you're looking for an easy fix to your financial situation: "If I just spent less on gas, and paid down the LOC a bit, we'd be OK". It sounds like the underlying thought is "If I make this change, I don't have to do anything else - anything that might be more of a sacrifice".

 

My advice is to look at your spending with a magnifying glass. Track every single dollar you spend for the next two months - especially little things. You might be shocked to see how much you really spend on treats, eating out, movies, clothes - when you put everything on paper and add it up, you might see some areas that are obvious places to make cuts - and might not even hurt too much.

 

You've already made the decision to stop using the LOC and credit cards - good for you! Now challenge yourself to put as much as you can toward that LOC. Remember that almost half (if not more) of your LOC payment is going toward interest! The more you can pay it down, the less it will cost you in the long run. I don't know what your terms are, but when I had a LOC years ago, it was essentially a 10-year repayment - and that is a LONG time to be paying on a vehicle (most car loans are 5 years or less). Depending on your interest rate, the difference (on a $25K loan) could be $3500 to $4300 over the life of the loan. An extra $200/month would cut your repayment period from 10 years to 5 years.

 

Good luck - and if you want to post your spending, we can help you look for ways to cut.


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#8 of 16 Old 10-13-2011, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks again for the replies - I really appreciate them all!

One reason I'm leaning towards selling the Santa Fe is it's essentially my car, and selling it for something better on gas is one way that I can cut costs. I'm already packing my lunch nearly everyday and am a super bargain shopper in terms of buying all used maternity clothes for myself and at least 95% of my son's clothes, toys, shoes, etc. I also re-sell often so we don't have too much stored up $$ in things. In my opinion, there aren't many other ways for me to save - I don't have expensive habits (like smoking, hair colouring, nails, etc) and get all my books from the library. My DH, on the other hand, has loads to cut out (in my opinion) and frankly has been quite spoiled in the entertainment dept for years. He's going to notice a huge change going forward, so it seemed like the Santa Fe was a luxury I don't need (while I do need a vehicle) and if I can save $60/month I probably should (and maybe we'll find something else with an extended warranty as well?).

Another factor is the possibility of switching to a Mazda 5 which has additional seating in back (better suited for children in booster seats but possible for the odd ride with my twin sister who's single and goes with us in the Santa Fe currently, since we have only one car seat right now). I found one rate for a Mazda 5 at 9.6L/100 km, which isn't as low as a Vibe or Caliber but still better than a SF, though the price is more comparable as well (not much savings for the Line of Credit).
Guess we have more thinking to do on this one...

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#9 of 16 Old 10-13-2011, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Me again.

Forget the Mazda 5 idea - that's the kind of thinking that got us in this mess (at least partly) - always looking to upgrade... We're not in a financial position to put the needs of others ahead of our own. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Also thought to mention that the Santa Fe is essentially my commuting vehicle, and we drive DH's work car exclusively when we're together, since we don't pay for the gas. He drives a Chevy HHR (station wagon) which isn't nearly as comfortable or roomy as the SF but we still took it on vacation this summer for a week's camping with gear 5 hrs away each way. Just because of the gas costs. So my car, except when I'm on mat leave coming up, is just to get me to work and back, while also dropping off DS at the sitter's and picking up. Doesn't need to be roomy, fancy or snazzy. Does need to be generally reliable and of course safe and hopefully economical. I used to drive a 2001 Civic sedan which we sold to my sister when we got the SF (should've kept it - it's still running) and managed in the snow quite well. And even though we don't have an emergency fund for car repairs (yet) my in-law's or my mom could help us out in a pinch which we could repay over time. I'd be happy with something with some warranty left but a good exam by our service shop should at least make the current condition of a used car more familiar to us.

So that's my scoop, again smile.gif

Karen


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#10 of 16 Old 10-13-2011, 05:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And one more thought - maybe we'll 'park' this idea for the winter and stick with the Santa Fe because we have new snow tires for it. Would cost $400 or so plus 15% tax for snow tires on another car, and we wouldn't recoup that in gas savings for quite a while with my driving cut way back while on mat leave (only working for 3 more weeks). Will give us time to work through our mortgage options, get through Christmas with no new car-related costs and we can re-assess in the Spring.


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#11 of 16 Old 10-14-2011, 06:29 AM
 
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That sounds like a reasonable plan, Karen. I think you'd find that the expense/hassle of selling your car and buying a new one (by the time you figure in sales tax, insurance, advertising) would cut into your $60/month gas savings in a big way.

 

Our mechanic charges $100 to check out a used vehicle for us - worth every penny, but if he finds significant problems and we don't buy the vehicle, we're out $100. One doesn't have to do that too many times to end up in a pretty big hole.


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#12 of 16 Old 10-14-2011, 02:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowaorganic View Post

OK- I get in theory why this would work- but in reality it almost never makes it worth it.  You know the santa fe- you know what you have had done on it and what and when it need something else.  On some other random car you won't know that.  At least you have your 'extended warantee' on this one (although those are rarely a savings).

 

I think you could save more money by cutting down on driving and other things than trying to nickle and dime yourself on this car. 

 

I disagree. However, a more drastic change than the OP proposed would be necessary to make it really worthwhile. I got out of the car loan cycle - and paid off all my consumer credit debt - by doing exactly that. 

 

My #1 rule of buying used cars: GET IT INSPECTED. Before you purchase. By a mechanic you trust. Once we think we like a car enough to make an offer (and we always buy and sell privately, never through dealerships), we drop about $125 on a thorough inspection to make sure there aren't any hidden, expensive issues to surprise us in the near future. We also leverage our offer with the information we learn - such as, "The water pump and timing belt need to be replaced, and that will cost us $300 to fix. It also needs new spark plugs and will need new tires in the next few months. How's (asking price less $800) sound?"
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

If you want to really save money on your vehicle, you need to sell this relatively new one and buy a much older one - more in the "less than $10K" range, and the less expensive, the better.



This. ^^

 

I sold a car I owed $7k on, for about $8k, and bought a $2k car with the proceeds and some savings. Drove that car for four years with minimal repairs (until it was totaled), then bought a $5k car (cash). I've been driving that car ('98 Honda Civic with 170k miles, now) for five years and have put MAYBE $1k of repairs into it, including the aforementioned water pump and timing belt and a new pair of tires. xD (Getting ready to buy again... will be looking in the $5-7k range this time, cash again.) Don't assume that older cars are money pits! The mileage, the lower insurance, and the lack of a car payment is hugely freeing financially.

 

Don't make the mistake of thinking warranties are there to save YOU money! There's a reason businesses sell them, and it's not because they're particularly kind-hearted. ;)

 

ETA: If you're going to be on leave for a year, and not working at all, why couldn't you get by with just DH's work car for a few months or more? It would make errand-running less convenient, but do you really think it wouldn't work at all?


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#13 of 16 Old 10-15-2011, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DH's work car is used by him all day, every weekday (he's in sales). I have no option to use it between 9-5 weekdays and live past the transit system and can walk to a playground and the corner store (on the gravel side of the small highway) and that's about it (aside from just walking around our residential neighbourhood). I can definitely cut back on my driving while on leave combining trips to the city (for the doctor, for ex) with other chores/ visits instead of going in everyday. But can only use DH's car in the evening and on weekends unless he's on vacation or it's a holiday.

With our location, it's not feasible for me to even walk two children along the side of the highway to DS's preschool two mornings per week - especially not in the winter when there's no shoulder on the road clear enough to walk on. We love where we live but it's not pedestrian friendly.

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#14 of 16 Old 10-25-2011, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here's a new wrinkle as of today... DH's company is changing their car policy - so instead of getting the car at no cost with only small deductions from his pay every two weeks ($65 or so), he'll get a car allowance of $300ish per month and $0.18/km driven.

So we're going to need to get a 2nd car... Sounds like this is taking effect by August or so. I figure we'll have to seriously consider selling the santa fe and getting two older, cheaper cars in its place... Oh my. Lots to think about, again.


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#15 of 16 Old 12-22-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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I really want to tell you that it makes dollar sense to trade the gas guzzler for a more gas-frugal car - but when I did the math, the result firmly pointed the other way at today's gas prices.  The reason is that, all things considered, gas is still really cheap, and buying / leasing a new car is expensive.  There are calculators for estimating what Edmund's call the True Cost to Own a car (TCO);  it was interesting to see in a row just what expenses go into buying and maintaining a car.  There are also strategies to keep your next car cheaper, e.g. opting for a smaller engine (most cars sold in North America are way over-powered), or owning a small car and renting a large van for the two weeks that the family is in town.  So do the math, making sure to be complete on all the expenses.  You can't put a dollar value on the sentimental aspect of your conveyance;  heaven knows I'm still driving a relative gas guzzler because I'm inordinately attached to it....

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#16 of 16 Old 12-23-2011, 05:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd_deadhead View Post

I think you'd be better off keeping the Santa Fe. It's reliable, and you are unlikely to sell it for what you owe on it.

 

Can I be perfectly honest here? It sounds to me like you're looking for an easy fix to your financial situation: "If I just spent less on gas, and paid down the LOC a bit, we'd be OK". It sounds like the underlying thought is "If I make this change, I don't have to do anything else - anything that might be more of a sacrifice".

 

My advice is to look at your spending with a magnifying glass. Track every single dollar you spend for the next two months - especially little things. You might be shocked to see how much you really spend on treats, eating out, movies, clothes - when you put everything on paper and add it up, you might see some areas that are obvious places to make cuts - and might not even hurt too much.

 

You've already made the decision to stop using the LOC and credit cards - good for you! Now challenge yourself to put as much as you can toward that LOC. Remember that almost half (if not more) of your LOC payment is going toward interest! The more you can pay it down, the less it will cost you in the long run. I don't know what your terms are, but when I had a LOC years ago, it was essentially a 10-year repayment - and that is a LONG time to be paying on a vehicle (most car loans are 5 years or less). Depending on your interest rate, the difference (on a $25K loan) could be $3500 to $4300 over the life of the loan. An extra $200/month would cut your repayment period from 10 years to 5 years.

 

Good luck - and if you want to post your spending, we can help you look for ways to cut.


I agree with this.  I'd keep the Santa Fe. 

 


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