I’m having a car crisis. I need your help to push me over the edge to get rid of my 7 passenger SUV! Financially, it seems to makes sense… but for some reason, I am just having trouble pulling the trigger.
Here’s the details:
Currently Right now, I have a Mazda CX9. Seats 7 passengers, which is great when both my parents are in town at the same time, and we ALL want to go somewhere. But, I would say that that equates to about 12 days a year max. The other 353 days a year, it is usually just me in the car commuting to work. Originally we bought this car as a weekend hauler for the family – dogs included. Back then, Mr. SSC and I were commuting together in his more fuel efficient car, but, last year he switched jobs, and we can no longer carpool, so I use this behemoth SUV to drive roughly 50 miles a day.
We are thinking of replacing it with a Mazda CX5 – so essentially the same car but smaller and more fuel efficient. This one fits 5 passengers, and is still a SUV (we still need to fit 2 kids, 2 large dogs). Yeah, maybe we don’t ‘need’ and SUV, but we like having one for hauling strollers, bikes and dogs around. Plus – the back of an SUV is great for quick roadside changes of dirty diapers! Way cleaner than a store bathroom. My only issue is that it takes a bit of wiggling for me to fit my hips between the two car seats in the back… but then again, this is only something I have to do, say 20 times a year. And it would not be comfortable for more than 30 minutes, unless we un-latch the car seats and strap them in with seatbelts instead of the Latch system.
I’ve done a little snooping around at dealers, and found a great deal. With my trade-in, we are getting the CX5 for a net cost of $8000, probably closer to $7200 because my current car needs new tires, and those will cost a pretty penny. With the new car I should get about 10 mpg more. So, since I drive ~1000 miles/month, and at $2/gallon, I should save $36/month on gas. Supposedly, car insurance for the new car will be 4% less, or about $34 less per year. So that all adds up to about $400/year. Not too impressive for downsizing.
I did some more research online to try and factor in maintenance costs, and according to Edmunds.com. My old car costs $.62/mile to own and operate, and the smaller SUV would cost $0.42. (this includes other items like maintenance, depreciation, insurance, etc.) Looking at it this way, the newer car would save us approximately $2400/year. Which means it would pay off in 3 years. Another added benefit is that the newer car would still have a warranty on it and it seems to get significantly higher safety ratings.
What should I do? It seems like downsizing will give us the best deal in the long run. I think part of me is scared of downsizing and regretting it. Also, I hate the idea of shelling out the $7200 for the new car. I know many people out there count cars as an asset with a value, but in my mind a car is a tool with a limited lifespan.
I know many of you have probably done some vehicle downsizing as you immerse yourself in the FI lifestyle – was it difficult for you to make the decision? Did you ever regret it? Should I buy the smaller, newer SUV?
Stay tuned… I’m either buying the new car on Friday, or sticking with my current car and buying new tires on Friday- what will it be?
*oh and I should add, that if we do want to use the 3rd row seats, it requires that I climb in thru the trunk, which embarrasses Mr SSC because it truly looks like a clown car
*UPDATE: So, I have searched for newish used cars also. And despite living in one of the biggest cities in the US, the cheapest used car with less miles than my CX9 was a 2014 for only ~$3000 less than a brand spankin’ new 2016. And we want a 2014 or newer with this model, because it was completely redesigned that year for improved efficiency. I keep thinking that a car with a fresh warranty and no previous owners has got to be worth the $3000 price difference.
*UPDATE 2: We are now leaning to not getting a new car. Gas prices are just so low, it doesn’t seem like it really makes a huge difference and is worth taking on the extra car loan amount. Downsizing is great, but I guess sometimes it just doesn’t make sense… below is a chart that explains the numbers I just looked up (from Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book) to try and make a quantitative decision. A $500 difference isn’t worth the hassle!