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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Is it better to have 2 less than great vehicles, or one decent vehicle? (Please read details.)

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (23293 points ) October 21st, 2010

My husband has two vehicles. A car that he drives daily, and a work truck that he uses to haul a trailer and equipment. Neither are in great shape. The car has no heat (we live in Ohio, and heat is kind of necessary with the coming season) and the truck has a leak in the radiator. These are the only problems that I’m aware of, but there may be more to it that I just don’t know about.
We absolutely can not afford to buy a new car or truck this year.
His proposal is to sell both vehicles, and hopefully buy a newer model truck. He believes that having one (slightly) better vehicle is better than having two not so great vehicles.
I’m inclined to disagree. I feel like he has a backup if one of his vehicles decides to kick the bucket. I also dislike the idea of him combining a personal vehicle and work vehicle into one. That puts a lot of mileage on a truck that we will most definitely be buying used. The cost of fuel also concerns me, when comparing driving a truck to driving a car on a daily basis.
Granted, if something were to happen to the singular truck… I do have a car and it is in great shape. Very reliable, so it isn’t like we would be left without a car at all.

So my question is this: Do you think it is better to get some work done on the two older vehicles and keep them, or is it better to sell both and buy a used truck in (hopefully) better condition than the two vehicles he already owns?
Can you explain why? I really am concerned about fuel efficiency and cost, but my husband says that I don’t really understand how it works (which is feasible). Can someone explain that to me?

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16 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it depends on how much it would cost to repair both vehicles and how much he thinks he can sell each one for (not to mention actually being able to sell both of them while they both have issues).

I personally like the idea of having a backup vehicle in case something happens to one of them.

As far as fuel efficiency goes, trucks tend to burn more gas than cars (depending on the vehicles themselves). If he switches from driving a car that gets decent gas mileage to a truck that has a low gas mileage, you will be paying more for gas.

marinelife's avatar

I think that with the maintenance cost of two vehicles, your husband is right. Sell both and then get a newer model in better shape. Toyota Tacoma gets pretty good gas mileage: around 20 MPG.

chyna's avatar

Also, compare the interest rates if you are going to have get a loan on the vehicle. If you can get a new truck for just a couple thousand more than a slightly used truck, the interest rate on the new will be lower.
I also think buying a newer vehicle would be the best route to go. How much are you going to have to put in both older vehicles right now, then another 2 weeks from now, then another month from now? You may be throwing more money than you thought into these vehicles.
Another thing, buying a new or even a used vehicle from a car lot gives you a warranty, so that would be a consideration.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

No loan. I would never agree to that at this point. We are still recovering from a long period last year where we were both laid off, and then my husband had surgery early this year. This isn’t really a year for us to be buying much of anything. Although I can see how it might be more cost effective in the long run, I simply can not make money appear that doesn’t exist. The new vehicle would have to be purchased with whatever profit he makes from the other two – and whatever little bit we pitch in out of pocket.
What you’re saying about the amount of money put into the older vehicles over time makes sense, though.

YoBob's avatar

As for me, I’m all for having a daily driver and a beater.

As for older vehicles in general. I would far rather put a couple of hundred bucks to repair and maintenance a couple of times a year than having a several hundred buck car payment to make each month.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

As @Seaofclouds pointed out, it’s impossible to determine without running the numbers.

Factors to consider are:
Current chronological age / mileage on / Blue Book value of the car and truck.
Cost of proposed repairs.
MPG estimates for the current vehicles (after repair).
MPG estimate for the proposed newer truck, as well as up front cost.
Cost of registration / insurance for his two vehicles, vs. cost of registration / insurance for the one replacement.
Daily commute in miles.

LuckyGuy's avatar

First, you already have a vehicle right? So the two you are talking about are driven by him 99.9% of the time. Right. If that is the case then it becomes a “Yes Dear” moment. Let him pick the poison since he has to drink it.

That said I am inclined to agree with you. Why?
1) Insurance on 3 vehicle with 2 drivers is almost the same for 2 or 3 cars. However. I assume both old vehicles do not have collision. If you buy a new car you will most likely add collision and that is expensive.
2) By having 2 vehicle you can optimize the ride for the job. If you need a people mover, take the car. If you need a mission vehicle, take the truck. They are not depreciating at all. Which brings me to…
3) The newer car will depreciate as soon as you write the check. The old car does not.

Good luck no matter what you decide.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@CyanoticWasp that’s true. I should sit down and scribble out some numbers.

@worriedguy yes, they are his vehicles. 99.9% of the time is pretty accurate. I have my own car, which is in great shape and very dependable. It actually is already a “yes dear” moment, I was just wanted to hear others weigh in on the two options out of curiosity now. He has already started showing the car to potential buyers.
I like your points. Probably because they lean towards my side of the argument, but nevermind that. ;)

Winters's avatar

Though having two vehicles may be better than just one, it may not be that bad of an idea. My Dad currently drives an Ford F250 (diesel) for both work and whatever, and he is able to get 28–31 mpg on the highway no problem. It also seats five fairly comfortably.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Promise you will never say “I told you so”.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@worriedguy I’ve always found that “I told you so” is one of those phrases better left unsaid… or said with a facial expression, at least. haha.

mrrich724's avatar

The problems you described are not expensive to fix. If he’s handy, he can replace a radiator on his own for just the cost of the part! (what $100?)

And it isn’t difficult to find the source of the heating problem.

If I can find a place to do good work at a decent price, and it is realistic that those are the only two problems, I’d go with fixing the issues and keeping my two cars.

Paradox's avatar

Personally I keep a small decent truck just for traveling purposes. I need something reliable to get to work since places of employment are a distance from me. I also keep a back-up beater truck that I use for hauling materials or a back-up to get get me by if I have to take my newer truck to the garage or be without it for a short time.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Get one reliable truck. Having spent a number of years with two unreliable ones after owning a great car then I’m with your husband on this. Car troubles SUCK.

rooeytoo's avatar

I hate when vehicles start nickel and diming, that can add up to some big bills. I vote for one reliable instead of 2 oldies. Shop carefully and you can find some good deals especially in this economic climate when many vehicles are being repossessed.

mrrich724's avatar

based on @rooeytoo ‘s comment, I’d say what you do when you have a car that may or may not be on that path to needing constant investment is this:

Decide up front, “This is how much I am willing to invest into fixing my car before it’s just not worth it anymore. Once I have to spend this much, it’s better to sell than continue to keep.”

Once you hit that number, you sell it. Otherwise, you are going to go in circles, like my buddy who now wants a nicer car than his brown box, but feels guilty b/c he’s spent so much in new parts it’s not “worth it.”

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