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New family car or drive it til it dies

It’s me again Margaret… I have not decided what to do about my cars so I will ask about my problem, again…

I have been back and forth with myself about what to do with my car situation. I currently own a 2003 Acura MDX with 108K and a 1995 Honda Civic with 104K.

I routinely drive around four children ages 10 and under during the week, I do need the third row seat at times for another child or two, I commute 25 miles each windy two lane hilly direction to work five days a week, and haul my dirty mountain bike, dog and self all over God’s creation on the weekends. I drove 45K last year and I don’t expect to drive any less any time soon. The longest I have ever kept a vehicle previously was 2 1/2 years.

I have just put 1700 into the Acura for timing belt/water pump/ struts/ shocks/ other stuff. I need to put in another 500-1000 in PAINT JOB due to rust (Acura says not under their warranty). And I have my concerns about the transmission (I have an extended warranty that will cover that for another 10K I think)

The honda needs a new exhaust system, the airbag light is on, and I love it but it is just not safe enough for the kids.


1. Newer sedan as daily driver, get rid of the civic, keep MDX for winter driving (then what to get?)

2. Get rid of both and get new/ newer AWD to drive all the time.

3. Drive the MDX (18 and less mpg) until it dies, but that may cause me to make a rash decision on a next vehicle when it goes kaplooey, which could be in the middle of nowhere in the winter with the kids…

I have looked at oodles of options. Subarus, Hondas, Toyotas, Fords, Hyundais,… I need to have a DVD player in at least one car for my own sanity. I can always have an after market put it but it would be nice to have one in already.

any input is MUCH appreciated.

Oops- I meant to put this in the general discussions board… Sorry!

Sell both and get 1 new one.

Margaret, I can’t figure out how you use the two cars. You say the sedan is a daily driver, does that mean you use it to commute to work? How much do you drive the MDX? Is it used to drive the kids but on just short trips and errands?

Which vehicle is more important to you, the sedan, or the SUV? Why is AWD a big deal? Could you do just as well with snow tires on all four wheels on a front wheel drive car?

If you put the most miles on the sedan I’d say replace the civic with a good fuel efficient small or mid-size car. If your primary use is for a kid hauler I’d suggest a new mini-van, ie Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, or whatever brand you like. The mini-vans come with all the DVD entertainment stuff to keep the kids happy. With snow tires these vans go anywhere there is a normal road, for off road then you’d need the SUV.

When you look at the cost of car payments the repairs on your current cars doesn’t look so bad. A new exhaust system is expensive but no reason to bail out on the civic. Safety is your call, but I don’t see the older civics as unsafe in general. Kids go in the back seats with seat belts and that is usually most likely place to survive in a bad accident.

Maintaining and insuring 2 cars is costly. Perhaps you can spend a bit more on gas and save on less insurance and figure out how to make one car meet all your needs.

Trade the MDX for a new one. You should have done it before the timing belt but that will be a plus. You’ll have a good car for when hauling kids or when weather is bad. Keep the Honda and put that on the road for commuting. You can get another 100K plus out of it and it will save the other one.

Originally the civic was my commuter, but now I drop off and pick up the kids after work- so it has had very little use.
I have to drive through the snow in the winter, I have had better luck with an AWD when driving before the roads (or my driveway) are plowed. I do actually take it off road through our farm pretty frequently, but it is more the deep snow I am worried about.
I am worried that a minivan will not handle well for the little roads I drive. I had one several years ago (toyota sienna) and I did not like the way it felt in the turns (I am just not a mini van person right now either).

have had better luck with an AWD when driving before the roads (or my driveway) are plowed.

AWD will certainly help you get through the snow and ice.  However are you using WINTER tyres?  If not you are missing out on safety.  AWD does not help keep you on the road (it will help get you out of the ditch however) nor does it shorten your stopping distance.   Winter tyres help keep you on the road and decrease stopping distance as well as helping get you out of the ditch.  

My point is that if you have not tried winter tyres (NOT All season tyres) you may find that many other cars will meet your needs and you will not need to pay the extra cost and bother of AWD.

Trade both and get a Honda Pilot. It’s the same as the MDX underneath but costs less. You’ll have three rows of seating when you need it and plenty of seat-down room for the bike and the dog on weekends.

The fuel economy isn’t that of a Civic, but the cost of owning and maintaining one vehicle is substantially less than owning and maintaining two, so it will more than even out.

Fuel mileage is just one piece of the puzzle.

With and without studs, yes. When I have had FWD cars in the past, I always have them (and headphones to drown out the noise). My MDX (knock on wood) has done very well in the snow without them (I had intended to buy them, but forgot each time until the end of winter and did not bother).

Sell or trade both and get a newer sedan.

Some very safe and decent reliability AWD sedeans are the Ford Taurus/Ford 500(2005-present) or Subaru Legacy/Outback. Both have top tier safety ratings as the Ford is built on Volvo platform and Subaru is simply top tier in crash safety.

I know Ford is not the greatest on MPG but beyond comfortable. The Subaru overall MPG is on par or bests current generation Accord/Camry but tighter quarters. The Subaru will be substainially enlarged for 2010(very soon) and gain MPG due to weight reduction and somehow keeping price in low $20’s.

I don’t care what anyone else posts AWD is superior in pre plowed conditions and does help you along on the road and stay in better control if coupled to great in snow all-seasons(research key) or winter(not snow) tires.

212 Thousand Miles Combined And Less Than 7 Years Old?

Let’s see, new exhaust system, air bag light on, safety issues, MPG not so hot, $$$ rust/paint work, struts, shocks, transmission going? Unbelievable.

These vehicles have not been good to you. Besides MPG and safety issues, your list well exceeds any and all repairs that we have put into any vehicles we’ve owned in the last 20 years in 200,000+ miles per vehicle or a combination! I’d be “once bitten, twice shy”. Were these cars purchased used?

I would ordinarily advise driving until the wheels came off (That’s what we do.), but not with these cars. Dump them and try something different.

Since you haul the kids around a lot, I’d suggest a minivan. You could probably buy a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan for a song now. I believe they come in AWD and optional rear DVD setup

I second the ‘get a new Pilot’ vote. Normally I’d say sell the Civic, keep the MDX, but you’re needing full reliability. You’ll get a bit more room in the Pilot, along with a lower cost. Alternative? A Ford Flex would be even roomier. Highlander, not so much.

What about a Chevy Tahoe hybrid or GMC 1500 hybrid? The 2WD version gets 21/22 MPG (city/highway) and the 4WD gets 20/20. That’s at least a 15% improvement in mileage over your MDX. Of course, it costs $50,000, but you didn’t specify a cost requirement. An MDX would be about $6000 less, so it might be worth considering.