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Shopping For A New Car Sucks

So my Jeep in in the shop again for repairs and I am looking at potential replacements online. 1st problem: My needs contradict each other. I like a small fuel-efficient manual transmission car for commuting, but I want to get a boat in the future. Boating apparently is an extraordinarily expensive hobby, once you factor in the tow vehicle, etc. However, I’d like to get out and enjoy the water a few times before the apocalypse comes. ( Every time I put the news on, it confirms my fears that the apocalypse is nigh, time is short, better do any fun stuff you want to do soon before its too late.)

My original plan was to buy a Honda Fit for commuting and a Toyota Tundra for a tow / camping vehicle. Being “Frugal”, I have to concede I don’t drive enough to justify “two” nice vehicles, one of which will be sitting on the driveway depreciating and deteriorating at any given time.

Today I was looking at Toyota Tundras on the Toyota website. Seemingly 648 different ways to configure a pickup truck and I cannot get the combination of features and color I want. Pssshhttt! And $40k+ price tag, once you figure in all the add ons: (You want tires on that truck?).

I guess everybody has their favorite truck. Consumer Reports ranks the Tundra head-and-shoulders above the rest for reliability. For $40k+ I expect and demand the best in reliability. My mechanic strongly recommends the Dodge Ram, but based on the fact that nobody in my family has ever had a good experience with a Chrysler product, I wouldn’t trust a Dodge, although I guess he would know something based on what comes through his shop.

A lot of people here seem to be impressed with the new Ford F-150’s with the aluminum content, but my view is: Let someone else be the guinea pig. If all those trucks start to break in half in 6 or 8 years, let it happen to somebody else, not me.

Another problem is that the auto sales industry is geared to cater to the most shallow and short-sighted amongst us. Nobody wants to give you a price, its always, “RENT( lease) one for $xxx/month.” or, $“X” amount cash back" or “call dealer for price”. Yeah. A rational and logical buyer is frustrated at every turn.

I guess I better buy something soon before automation / overcomplication takes over. I don’t like all this drive-by-wire, throttle-by-wire crap cars have nowadays. What happens when the computer shorts out and floors it? Isn’t that part of what caused those runaway Toyotas a few years ago? Didn’t one of the automakers recently have a recall regarding those accident-avoidance / automatic-braking systems where the car would automatically and without warning slam on the brakes because the sonar would mistake guardrails for an obstruction in the road? (I can’t pay attention to everything that happens, but I seem to recall hearing something about this in the news).

Other features I don’t want include built-in navigation / OnStar type systems (Big Brother tracking your every move), or the gotchas like free trials to Serious XM radio (stay in your pocket for 9.99 a month for life). Speaking of “life”, do the dealers in your area advertise these “Customer For Life” programs? Sounds like a prison sentence to me, (we’re gonna stay in your wallet, for the rest. . . of. . . your. . . LIFE! hahahahahaha!!!)

One more problem with used vehicles, especially Toyotas and Hondas, is they hold their value too well. If a 7 year old Fit with 75 - 90k miles costs $13 - $14k and a brand new one can be had for $19k (I’m talking on the road price), there’s really no reason to go used. It used to be you could get a 3 - 4 year old car with 40,000 - 60,000 miles for about 60% of the cost of a new one. I guess its obvious that its been a VERY LONG TIME since I went shopping for a vehicle. :frowning:

No wonder in the end I always end up plunking down another $500 - $1000 to keep my old beaters going. Even my mechanic is starting to laugh at me, "Yeah, you’ve put a lot of money in that little car of yours. . . . " He should be grateful: when I finally do buy something new, I won’t be at his shop every other month or so spending my hard-earned money, and, and, arrrrgh!

Oh crap I forgot to ask a question. Anybody else want to rant and rave?

1 Like

Oh wait, here’s a question. Do I really need 4 wheel drive for towing a boat ? My mechanic made good points about 2 wheel drive being lighter weight, more fuel efficient, fewer moving parts to break and require maintenance later. But I was thinking in terms of, the rear drive wheels could roll into moss / algae on a boat ramp and lose traction, then you would need the 4 wheel drive. I’d hate to spend all that extra money if I could make-do with out it.

Get a nice car for your daily driver, and buy a cheap used truck to haul the boat when the time comes. Used trucks are a dime a dozen. You might have to put a little work into them, but you’re right, there’s no sense dropping 40 grand to get something that you only need a few times a year.

I was in a similar quandry a couple years ago. I needed a truck to haul things, but I only need to haul things a couple times a month. It would have been absolutely stupid to get a new truck. I ended up dropping a grand on a 30 year old Mitsubishi pickup. It was running rich and its brakes barely worked, and it had a bunch of rust on the rocker panels, but I knew what the problems were.

Limped it home, replaced the entire ignition system for something absurd like 25 bucks from Rockauto, spent another 20 or so on new brake shoes/pads all around, replaced the flex lines and one hard line for another 40 or so (local parts) and bled 'em out. Drives beautifully and if I had a reasonably sized boat I could get it from home to the lake with the truck, no problem.

Then my SO, who could have gone into autobody work if she hadn’t gone for her PhD instead, came along with the bondo, took care of the rust, we spraypainted it (another $50) and until you get within 5 feet of it or so, it looks really nice.

And the best part is that it runs well now, and hauls everything I want it to haul, but it’s still an old piece of crap which means when severe weather is possible, I can drive it to work and not sweat whether or not my nice cars will get hailed on.

Old beater trucks are the best.

Have you tried renting a boat? Worked for us, took kids waterskiing several times, never had to buy/tow/store/insure/repair/etc/etc/etc…

And , shopping for a cell phone sucks…
Sooooo many loopholes, caveats, differences, similarities, pricing structures, plans, geeeez !

Wow, lots to think about, Ed.

Drive-by-wire, I hear ya but jammed/stuck throttle cables are pretty awful, too. I wouldn’t worry so much about it 'cause millions of cars for 12+ years (my 2004 truck) have had drive-by-wire throttles with no issues.

On-Star, Ford Sync, ect; If you don’t like Big Brother snooping, you better turn off your cell phone and pull out the battery, too. The GPS chip and the phone-link to the cell tower all rat out your location all the time.

Aluminum Ford truck; Al body, Steel Frame - unit-body cars have been made completely out of aluminum for over a decade (Jag, Audi) and most other cars have had some Al body panels (doors hoods, ect). None have broken in half.

As for commuter and tow vehicle; If the boat’s small enough, there are small SUV’s that can handle the task without gulping fuel on a commute. So how bigga boat ya got? Rent a truck when you go to the lake? Dunno.

As for the apocalypse; Can’t hazard a guess on that one, live everyday as if its your last and you’ll have far fewer regrets. Please have a deep breath and a less stressful day, Ed.

Wish I would’ve kept my old 1992 Chevy C1500 pickup truck. Had 160,000 miles on it and I sold it to a co-worker who does lawn maintenance on the side when I acquired my Jeep Grand Cherokee. He’s put another 60,000 miles on the Chevy with minimal problems while hauling around lawn mowers, mulch, bags of grass clippings, etc. and my Jeep has been one problem after another. Of course its a rusty old paint-peeling mess now (the Chevy), but it’ll getcha where ya wanna go, or so my co-worker tells me. He still brags about the deal he got. . .

I’m thinking I’ll need something reliable (i.e. newer) for towing. Its one thing to be broke down on the side of the road, its another thing to be broken down with a trailer on the side of the road. My original plan was to use the Grand Cherokee for towing (Chrysler even wants to install the tow bar for free as part of a recall) but it’s just too prone to breaking down.

Regarding renting a boat. I’ve looked into things like freedom boat club, carefree boat club, definitely something to consider. As far as renting a boat for a day, problem is I’m not really into making reservations - then the weather’s crappy on the day of the reservation and you can’t get your money back, etc.

Another option would be to go ahead and pay for a slip at a marina, some of them even offer out of water storage on big racks for the winter, winterizing services, etc (for a fee, of course) Probably cheaper, less hassle than a new truck, tho?

Somehow I fancy myself getting a waverunner and exploring different bodies of water, from the Strom Thurmond reservoir in South Carolina, Lake Gaston, Lake Anna, Lake Raystown, all the way up to the Finger Lakes in New York. . . but who am I kidding? With a job and family responsibilities, I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to get around to doing all of that. Kinda like when people fantasize about how they’re going to spend their PowerBall winnings.

I live near the polluted crown jewel of the east coast, the Chesapeake Bay. Realistically I could spend the next 2 decades exploring that, and all of its tributary rivers. Perhaps I’m dreaming too big for a guy on a budget, or just having a mid-life crisis. My mother died earlier this year, and I’m comforted by realizing she got to live out her dream retirement before she died. My father, also, got to achieve his dream of buying a motorhome and travelling cross-country during the time between his retirement and his death.

I feel like its time for me to start doing some of the things I want to do before I die. (Is that what folks refer to as a “bucket list”? I hate cliches.) But sometimes you don’t have as much time as you might think you have. A quick glance at the 6 o’ clock news re-inforces this uneasy view of life.

Until you know that boating is your passion, rent a boat like @texases suggests, or buy a boat and rent a truck for the days you go out. It’s cheaper than buying, maybe not in the long run, but until you know more you can easily buy too much.

Old beater trucks are great if you are “mechanically inclined”. If you are more “mechanically reclined” or “mechanically maligned”, not so great.

Someone who says they are frugal would not even be thinking about a boat that required a full size pickup to pull.

@Ed Frugal
"Oh crap I forgot to ask a question. Anybody else want to rant and rave?"

You know, I really wanted to Ed, but you pretty much covered it all. Thanks, I feel better, now. :wink:

@“ken green” ; regarding cell phone plans, I got that Cricket phone, unlimited everything, $35 a month with autopay inclusive of fees, phone itself cost $40. they haven’t double crossed me yet. 'Course I guess if you’ve got a family, multiple teenagers, etc it gets complicated. They say my “data” slows down after 1 gig, but I’ve never hit the limit.

@Mustangman ; yeah, I at least got a cell phone where I CAN remove the battery, but in reality I rarely bother. I know I can’t hold Big Brother off very well, but the curmudgeon in me doesn’t want to make it so easy for him.

I was thinking pickup truck as opposed to an SUV because of the potential of getting a slide-in truck camper in the future, or at least a cap and an air mattress and rig up a little air conditioner for the back, that way I could stay in State Parks and such more comfortably than tent camping. Hotels are SO EXPEN$IVE! Anything less than $80 a night seems to be populated with women dressed like prostitutes and hollow-eyed guys with their pants around their butts wandering around at all hours of the night. Whereas you can usually stay at a State Park and roast marshmallows over a nice campfire for about $20 - $30 a night.

If I lived everyday as if it were my last, I probably wouldn’t have a house, retirement savings, etc. today. I’d probably be sitting in an alley somewhere drinking cheap booze from a paper bag.

Anyway, thanks for the comments & thoughts everyone. Keep 'em coming! I’ve got to go to that “job” thing I have now, I’ll check back in tomorrow. (Too arduous a process to try to tap out a comment on the tiny touch screen buttons on my phone)

@“VOLVO V70” "Someone who says they are frugal would not even be thinking about a boat that required a full size pickup to pull. " True. Hence, my dilemma.

You’re making this needlessly complicated. Get the ideal daily driver you want, such as a Fit, and buy an older 2 wheel drive ruck to pull the boat. A friend of mine has just done that and has a Ford F-150 as the yow vehicle for his 5th wheel camper to go to the lake nd his daily driver is a Had Accord.

Hi wife has a business and uses a Honda minivan for that.

If you get both a Honda Fit and a pickup, you will not like the Fit at all. The fuel economy may be lousy with the Fit. Some of them are totally useless as cars.

@Ed Frugal
"(Too arduous a process to try to tap out a comment on the tiny touch screen buttons on my phone)"

It is for me, also. I have an android LG Enact phone with a little keyboard (with raised keys) that slides out, for that tactile approach. I wouldn’t send a message to anybody without that thing.

You could almost tow a wave runner with the Fit, unless it’s one of those giant ones they’ve come out with now.

A boat meant for the Chesapeake? Yeah, no, get a semi. :wink:

@pleasedodgevan2 ; your post is disconcerting. Fuel economy how lousy? My research leads me to expect low 30’s mpgs. Of course my old Festiva has spoiled me. Anything under 35 mpg I consider to be “poor” gas mileage. I test drove a Fit and found it to be quite powerful and peppy, of course that’s compared to a 93’ Festiva with over 200k on the odometer. And the standard Fit has more (functioning) features than my Jeep Grand Cherokee 1996.

Back in the old days, people just used a standard RWD car to pull a boat or in our case a 6 cyl station wagon. Now though most of the cars won’t tow probably due to the unibody and no frame. You might want to look at a mid size SUV with the towing capacity you need and many of them also get decent highway mileage.

Yeah better hurry though. I read this morning that now they are concerned about the evaporation rate of the lakes and rivers and not being replenished. So we’ll be frying or freezing and the lakes will all be dried up shortly. I kinda wonder though if its not a fall back cause in case the climate change thing doesn’t work out for them. Then of course we could be surprised by a volcano blowing a mountain up and triggering endless winter. Lots of things to worry about so just go fishing and have a beer while you can and spend some of that money.

I could be wrong, but I think Consumer Reports New Car Preview (about $10 at the local bookstore) includes trucks. Get one and test drive everything that looks interesting to you.

NOBODY can make this decision for you. Your only choice is to get some comparative info and choose. Everyone’s preferences are different.

As for the apocalypse, well, I always wanted waterfront property.

How about a Rav 4,with a hitch?Not a Toyota fan,but they seem to be a nice unit,I was going to say ECO Diesel Ram,but given my last experience with these products,I too,do not recommend them.A boat is an expensive venture,why not rent one to get your feet wet so to speak and please always wear your life jacket.You sound a bit restless,but if you get in the right circle you will get it figured out(you would be suprised were best friends may come from)I’m sort of in the same dilemma,my truck is getting very annoying and I really want something with better mileage,but inside of a week,I would be pining for a truck.I know they wont tow much,but I have my eye on the supposedly due for release,Diesel Korean Mini UTE(190 hp-300 LBS FT TORQUE,HIGH 30s mpg)for the use I intend it would be plenty,good luck.

Get a fully loaded F350 crew cab and a Rolls Royce. The apocalypse is just around the corner, and you won’t make more than a couple payments before we all evaporate.