Fianc?s Disagree


My fianc? and I have been disagreeing over this issue for far too long now, and I would LOVE to have it resolved! =)

The problem begins with the fact that I do not own my own car. To add to the dilemma, my family lives 2 hours from my home, and I generally like to visit them once or twice every month.

Now…since I do not own my own car, I think it should not be a problem for my fianc? (who is really wonderful in every other aspect) to let me use his car to visit them.

Of course, to him, it is a huge problem. He owns a 2002 Dodge Neon with a little under 90,000 miles on it. We’re both going to be in grad school (a.k.a. poverty) for the next 5 years or so, and he wants this car to last us for a long time. This means that he would rather not allow me to use his car for family visits. (Keep in mind that he is fine with driving to visit his parents from time to time who live 1.5 hours from us. He’s also cool with visiting friends who live about 45 minutes away. His justification? The car belongs to him.)

Honestly, I don’t think visiting my family once a month is asking too much, but I’m completely willing to be proven wrong. I won’t expect him to share with me if it really is bad for his car…but, honestly, do trips amounting to ~4 hours once a month really do that much damage? I also think his mentality is kind of messed up…we’re a partnership, and I know without a doubt that if I did have a car, I would let him use it whenever he wanted and to travel to wherever he would need to go. Now, this may be either because I’m an extremely generous individual =) or because I am ignorant regarding the effects of long-distance travel on a car. =)

It won’t damage the car (highway miles are the easiest miles you can put on a car), but if you rack up a ton of miles, it can affect the resale value. But, on the other hand, Neons are one of the fastest depreciating cars on the road and his will soon be worth practically nothing anyways, so putting on a few hundred extra miles a month is going to make next to no difference.

On the other hand, his “It’s his car” argument is unassaliable. Maybe if you can chip in for the mainenance it would help (the Neon will probably need a timing belt soon-- offering to pay for that should butter him up). If it’s really going to be that big of a deal, you could just get yourself a really cheap beater (like, I dunno, a 2000 Neon) and hope you can use his car as a backup.

Four hours once a month would not be a major wear factor on the vehicle at all. Your fiance is just being hard-headed about letting you use “his” vehicle because he is selfish in my opinion. Do you go with him on his parent’s visits? Will he be going with you when you visit your parent’s? This is one of those bumps in the road to matrimony that sometimes occurs. I hope you husband-to-be is a generous person in all other aspects of your life. We all have our idiosyncrasies so maybe this is his. He is wrong and you are right.

This is not a technical question, this is a relationship question.

Long distance driving is not much of a wear factor on a car. Most engine wear occurs within the first 5 minutes of startup. You will have regular wear and tear items to consider in the cost of driving i.e. tires, brakes, fuel filter, air filter, oil, oil filter, gasoline, etc. If you consider the mainenance costs of owning and driving a car there are fixed costs and per mile costs that have to be considered. So there will be additional expenses incurred to him by your driving his car. The car should still make it 5 more years without needing replacement or a major repair. Remember that in 5 more years the car will by 12 years old and have approximately 165,000 miles on it.

The more fundimental question is how is his attitude going to progress into the marriage. If he is unwilling to contribute his car to the shared assets, how is ‘mine’ going to ever become ‘ours’. At some point he will have to trust you to take care of the couples assets. Now is the time to test this out to see if you two are truely compatible.


One other thing that you didn’t mention which is nevertheless important-- is the car fully insured? It could be that the unspoken message here is that he’s worried you’ll crash it.

If it’s not fully insured (and it probably doesn’t make economic sense for this car-- did I mention it’s not worth very much?) and he doesn’t drive it much, letting you take it on these trips majorly increases the chances of it getting wrecked. Even a relatively minor collision will total this car (again, because it’s not worth much on paper), and so if his long term plans involve having this car and he can’t afford to replace it, I guess I can kind of see where he’s coming from. I still don’t necessarily agree, though.

I think you have more of a relationship problem than a transportation problem. Before we were married, I had a car and my wife-to-be did not. I took her to her parents’ place regularly with my car and stayed there for the weekend.

Since you are both poor, and will be for the next 5 years, I do share his concern that you might crash the car.

I take it that in the next 5 years you will both get a Master’s degree and a PhD. Since you don’t appear to have scholarships, it’s best to nurse the car carefully as long as you can and drink cheap beer.

Once you both graduate you can buy the car(s) of your choice.

I don’t think this should be considered a relationship problem at all. I wouldn’t let my fiance borrow my car for the same reasons others have stated above. The car is worth $500 on paper, but it is worth far more than that to me and i’ve put far more money into it as well, if it was in even a minor accident it would be totaled and I could be out a car (one I couldn’t afford to replace). I’m also in college (undergrad, not grad school) and the added stress of replacing a car I can’t afford on top of doing well in class is really something i’d like to avoid.

In absolutely no way whatsoever do I see this as him being selfish and it is completely reasonable.

It’s a relationship problem, rather than a problem that strangers can answer, because it comes down to them agreeing on priorities that have little to do with make/model/miles/etc. I don’t at all consider it his problem, she may well need to adjust her expectations. Expectations can be very troublesome in relationships.

Good point, I can agree with that.

I tend to agree with Researcher and Docnick. You are entering a partnership, and while not currently cemented by marriage, you certainly need to be sharing some assets like the car. You also need to know about the car insurance situation and contribute to it as well as help with some level of maintenance on the car. You both need to make this car last, but 200-400 additional miles per month should not be a big deal.

My wife and I went through a similar situation in college as undergrads. The old story that we had so little that we had to share was true in our case. To help protect our car as an important asset, I had affordable collision and comprehensive coverage on the car for us. My rates actually went down when we married, so our car insurance at the time is affordable. If the issue is insurance liability, a visit to the agent may be in order, to clarify things or get you as a named insured if needed on the policy.

Relationship-wise, he needs to be a bit more forthcoming about why he doesn’t want you to use the car. I did not loan my car to roommates or friends in college, but when my wife and I became a firm couple and then with marriage, the issue became moot. I would expect similar behavior from your fiance.

Economically, having two cars as a grad students is an expensive way to go, and should be avoided.

I Think You Have To Adjust Yourselves To Your Station In Life. I Will Also Add That Most Couples Argue Over Monetary Issues Probably More Than Anything Else.

Apparently it has come as a surprise to you that you are going to grad school because it looks like you will be strapped for cash and then the disagreements begin. This is not a good sign for your relationship that there are problems already.

My wife and I worked our ways through undergrad and grad school and each had our own cars (older cars) and never took out a loan for anything. We never disagreed over money issues.

We realized that we couldn’t just hop in the car to visit friends and family when we had the urge. It was pretty much restricted to major holidays and we usually rented a car between us to make the trip as our old cars were more for short hauls.

We were both thrifty, didn’t go to restaurants, made few trips, and even managed to save money while in college. Now we both are thrifty, save money, drive nicer cars, and go where we want when we want. You need to do whatever it takes to stop this disagreement about cars and money or you’re headed for a disaster.

I don’t know if you both work, part or full time, are paying cash for your education, or whatever, but I don’t think either of you are in a situation to be making many (any) out of town trips. You are transitioning to adulthood and its resposibilities. Get people to come visit you until you finish school and aren’t sending most of your hard earned cash to a university. I’m sure they’ll understand and think the better of you.
There are mortgage and credit crises in this country right now and some people are struggling. I hate to keep using this tired saying, but many people have Champagne tastes on a beer budget.

Limit any out of town trips, earn more money, save and then possibly consider a newer car or a second car.


I break it down this way. 4 hour drive probably a 200 mile trip, once or twice a month probably 18 times a year. Total = 3600 miles a year, not bad on paper. One oil change per year, max 10% of brake life, 5% of tire life etc.

Does this mean your fiance needs a car for the day or 2 you are gone and does not have one? Luckily my wife has a car and does not ask to borrow mine very often, (see how mine creeps in there!). I don’t like the way she drives, speeds up to get to stop signs and red lights faster, is constantly accelerating or braking, and I baby my car, and coast to red lights and stop lights. I know it probably does not make that much difference to my car, but cringe at the thought of her borrowing it for long trips. Luckily I got out of being the bad guy by not letting her use it on a snowy day she had to go to Chicago burbs as she wanted 4wd. Her van has front wheel drive and traction control and has been very good in the snow. I got to say as said in this forum so often, it is not how fast you can get going in the snow, but how fast you can stop.

So perhaps it is about wear and tear, perhaps he has a bit of possessiveness, perhaps he may not like how you drive the car, or perhaps whatever else you can read into it. One of the elemental points in a relationship is communication, his rationale seems to be something will break or wear out sooner, and yes it probably will and yes you will be blamed for it.

Another key element in relationships is compromise. You give up trips and he gives up the car and any blameing your trips for anything that goes wrong, as things are going to go wrong anyway and find the place you both can live with.

Both of you really hurt my argument that book smart does not equal “can’t do the job” To think that you may soon be in a position that gives you the power to decide the course of other peoples lives scares me.


Is this car a manual transmission (stick shift) car?
Do you know how to drive a manual tranny car?

I won’t get involved in this relationship problem at all but from a purely mechanical standpoint a 4 hour drive once or twice a month should not make much difference in this car; either from a mechanical standpoint or a financial one.

It’s an 8 year old Neon with 90k miles and they’re not worth much anyway; just slightly more than an 8 year old Neon with 150k miles.

The only critical thing I could see would be if this car was run out of oil or overheated (and you did not stop immediately). This could lead to the finger being pointed at you whether you’re actually guilty of the problem or not.

This isn’t a car question . . it’s a domestic issue that you two better work out before you get hitched. A relationship has no mine-yours . . . wait 'till you have kids, you’ll find out. What then . . no that’s my car, I can’t let you take the kids to school? Careful. Rocketman

Agree, I sense a lot of immaturity here. When you are engaged and in college on a shoe string, you don’t need to visit your parents very often; they should really visit you. If there is only one car between you two and you can’t afford a breakdown, be as careful with it as you can. How good a driver are you?

Prioritizing ability is a sign of maturity; you both seem to lack that ability. In my undergraduate years I had a scholarship, drove an old car and saw may parents at Christmas, in the spring, and on labor day. The summers I spent in the wilds constructiing pipelines.

In graduate school my future wife and I did not go “home” that often either. First things first!

OK. I won’t comment on how silly this all is. I promise.

But, you should look into the cost to rent a car for 24 hours or 48 hours and drive home in a shiny new looking machine. Research rates through or and then try a “name your price” bid for 30% less through I use these sites all the time for short time, higher mileage use. And then you owe him nothing, and you don’t wear out his beloved old beater Neon.

If he ever loaned you the car, how much gas was left in it when you returned it? Maybe if you promise to fill the tank when you return he might change his mind. Maybe if you pay for an oil change once a year would help, too.