When I moved to Colorado I told myself I would not get a new vehicle until I got stuck twice. Then I said not until I max out my IRA in whatever year it happened to be. Then I said not until I get my pilot’s license. Then I said not until I can pay for the car in cash, because I have never had an auto loan and I don’t want to have one. Then I said not until my startup closes a round B of funding. The point is, there is a never ending list of other financial priorities that are important. Vehicles are depreciating assets. The money put into them is not returned, unless you drive for Uber or Lyft or plow snow or something like that. However, a vehicle, like a plane, is a time machine. It can transport you and your stuff from one place to another in a much shorter time than if you bicycled or walked.
Saturday I got my car stuck, and then seven hours later driving through a snow drift on a dirt road I tore two plastic under body panels. In both situations the most modest four wheel drive SUV would not have had a problem. On my drive out of the mountains my brakes started really squealing, which was nearly a $700 repair at the local Honda dealership (I wanted to get the right parts for my somewhat unusual car).
|New duct tape on this side and a bent panel on other side.|
My opinion is you should buy a vehicle for the 98% of normal driving that you do, and then rent or carpool for that 2% of driving that is different from your normal routine. I’m not sure how best to define the 2%, is it 2% of days that you encounter a particular situation, or is it 2% of miles driven? Either way, I drove about 250 miles this weekend and 12 of those (about 5%) were on dirt with snow on top, and another 10 (4%) were on very snow covered paved roads where I slid around more that I would prefer. Also, this is the second day in December I have encountered these kind of conditions, and going by the 2% of days I only get seven days a year to encounter these conditions. And there are essentially five months of winter road weather ahead, meaning probably 15 days I encounter snowy dirt roads and another 15 days of simply snowy paved roads, and that’s not counting the dirt roads I drive on in the summer.
In other words, my super efficient car, just isn’t cutting it 98% of the time. It’s just so efficient in every manner, insurance, fuel mileage, oil changes, spare parts, and parking that getting something else is definitely going to up my spending on transportation, which I don’t want to do. Plus, I’m a bit of an environmentalist and in part for me that means driving a vehicle into the ground and getting the full value out of it. While there does need to be a demand for new vehicles and things in general to have an economy, we can help reduce our environmental impact by using things longer instead of simply throwing them out at the first sign of wear. There is a finite supply of iron, chromium, lithium, and every element on this planet. They are all big supplies, but they are not unlimited. We can’t consume large quantities forever. (I realize I just addressed reduce and reuse, but didn’t mention recycle, even though recycling is a dramatic improvement to the exploitation of land for mining. In particular lead, aluminum, steel, copper, nickel, and zinc are all recycled at a rate greater than 50%.)
There are two general ways to approach getting a new vehicle, as a replacement all around vehicle, or as a second vehicle that is only used for the special occasions, which in this case would be going to the mountains or driving through snow storms. I’m open to either. Since insurance is so cheap on my insight, and it gets great mileage, I’ll probably keep it as a commuter car for during the week. The thing is, if I get a nice vehicle, something I like a lot more, then I’ll get rid of the Insight and just drive the one vehicle all the time.
So, recommend a vehicle for me.
- All wheel drive (four wheel drive with locking differentials is a plus)
- Minimum 6 inches of ground clearance (more is generally good)
- At least 10 mpg
- Minimum top speed of 55 mph
- Cash budget of $5,000 (credit budget of $30,000, but you need to really sell me on it because a Vans RV-4 airplane is only $45,000)
- Road legal