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Cars: Of Multiple Options, Lemons and Common Sense
Old 01-22-2014, 02:25 PM   #1
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Cars: Of Multiple Options, Lemons and Common Sense

I would appreciate everybody's input on something that's been keeping me awake for the last 3 days. I will keep it nice and short:

Car situation.

Me: the frugal type. Frequent these pages and swear by the advise and wisdom offered here. Could not care less about cars at this point in my life. Marketing doesn't work on me. I just want something CHEAP, reliable, CHEAP, good on gas, and, yes, CHEAP. NEVER had a car payment in my life. Always bought used and paid cash. Never regretted the decision.

My wife: not as frugal, but not the average shopaholic, either. Irrational when it comes to car decisions. Not mechanically inclined at all (neither am I, for that reason). Her decision making, thought-process when it comes to choosing transportation goes something like this "I just want a red Mini Cooper".

Folks, I've tried. No point in arguing nor telling me why the Mini Cooper is such a bad idea. Trust me, I tried.

In fact, we both KNOW.

We currently own two cars. Again, both fully paid for and purchased used. Cash only.

• 1999 Acura TL. Purchased used almost 10 years ago. Has been a great, reliable, affordable and overall great purchase that I do not regret. If I do the math (purchase price, repairs and expenses throughout the year), the monthly total comes down to less than $130 (not counting whatever amount I could get if I sell it, also not counting insurance). Still runs.

• 2009 Mini Cooper (hardtop): This is why I said "I know" that the Mini is not a good idea. In short: we got a lemon. Purchased from first owner, and it's been problematic ever since. Last couple of repair bills totaled almost $1K, and that's just for this month. GREAT mileage, but other than that I do not like the car. Crap built-quality, ergonomically a nightmare, and a terrible, bumpy ride.

Here's where things get more interesting:

I work from home, and my wife now takes the train to work (distance from home to train station: 5 miles) so we have been toying with the idea of switching to a single-car. I take her to the train station every day. I keep the car during the day, but I would probably never need it. We are both on board there. I can't wait to make it happen. We would save at least $1100/year in insurance cost alone, not to mention fees, gas, potential repairs, etc. We are in South FL, so insurance here is VERY expensive. My Acura mostly sits outside nowadays. I barely drive it. In fact, I do keep a record of the mileage, and I barely drove 4K miles in the last 2 years!

We are selling the Mini Cooper to Carmax for $9K. We are loosing money on it, but it's the best offer we could get and at this point we just want to get rid of it.

We would then need a new car. Problem being: my wife REALLY wants a Mini Cooper. But I am not touching an used one ever again. However, they have a lease deal where the total amount ends up coming to $11K for 3 years, with maintenance included. I discussed, researched and obsessed over the fine print. Basically, we spend $11K and we are worry-free for 3 years and my wife gets her dream car. I stress: WORRY-FREE. Even oil changes are included. Keep in mind: an oil change for a Mini varies from $85 to $130 locally, and that is NOT at the dealer. Trust me, I know.

BUT I never leased in my life, and, of course, once the 3 years are up we lost $11K (more than what I paid for my Acura, which is still running and mine after almost 10 years!) and we are left with nothing. One benefit of the lease: I could write off part of it as a business expense, since I am self-employed.

However, my Acura TL is old. 150K miles, but, as anybody who has a Honda will tell you, these cars can go to 200K miles easily. It runs fine, though, and I have been using it more and more lately just to test the waters, so to speak, but it needs work (regular maintenance: new tires, new brakes, tune-up, maybe a new timing belt, etc.) I estimate $2K in repairs/maintenance, and we should have a car for another 2 years.

Options:

1) Lease a Mini Cooper. I been negotiating the terms all week, and I got them down to where I think they would make sense for us. Bottom line: $300 down (that's three HUNDRED), $299/month for 36 months. Total out-of-pocket with the kitchen sink included: $10,674 worry-free dollars. Maintenance included.

2) Keep the $9K from the Mini we are selling and use $2K towards fixing up the Acura. Should run fine for another 2 years. HUGE CON: unhappy wife. I think you know what that means. I also do not think saving $11K is worth an unhappy wife.

3) Get the $9K, keep the Acura, wait a few months, maybe one year, save some more money (I am not touching our savings nor investments for a car, nor will I sacrifice money from the amount that goes towards savings monthly), and then buy a USED car, probably Japanese, for about $15K, and drive that for another 10 years. Sell the Acura. SEMI-HUGE CON: Wife still unhappy. No Mini Cooper.

What would you do?

This wasn't that short after all!
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:32 PM   #2
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You need a happy wife. Lease the Mini, sell the Acura. Stay with one car.

Or, if you can't stand driving the Mini, keep the Acura too and put the $2K into it.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:34 PM   #3
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Wow. Okay, so you are buying peace in the household for $11k.
I have no idea if that is a good value or not.

In my house, not so much, but then again, I don't want a Mini Cooper.
I read this book a few years ago under the former title, Spousonomics.
It's Not You, It's the Dishes (originally published as Spousonomics): How to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship: Paula Szuchman, Jenny Anderson: 9780385343954: Amazon.com: Books

Maybe worth a read, just to figure out the value proposition of the $11k.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:37 PM   #4
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What would you do?
I think I'd show her this most recent Consumer Reports list :

Quote:
Worst of the worst

These models... have multiple years of much-worse-than-average reliability among 2002 to 2011 models.

Audi Q5 (V6)
Ford Thunderbird
BMW 535i
GMC Acadia
BMW X5 (6-cyl.)
Jaguar S-Type, XF
Cadillac STS
Kia Sedona
Chevrolet Aveo
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Chevrolet Blazer
Mini Cooper Clubman S
Mini Cooper Hatchback S

Chevrolet Uplander
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Pontiac Montana, Montana SV6
Chrysler Town & Country
Saturn Outlook
Chrysler PT Cruiser (turbo)
Saturn Relay
Dodge Caravan
Volkswagen New Beetle convertible
Dodge Grand Caravan
Then I'd tell her she's welcome to buy the Mini Cooper if she can come up with the money - but not before I moved my pillow and some blankets out to the couch...
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:46 PM   #5
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If Consumer Reports isn't enough, I'd look at auto safety ratings. Very small cars are the least safe for the driver.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:49 PM   #6
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If Consumer Reports isn't enough, I'd look at auto safety ratings. Very small cars are the least safe for the driver.
Thank you all for the feedback. Consumer Reports IS right. Trust me, I know. But this would be irrelevant in our case. Again, we would be leasing it and taking advantage of their "maintenance-free" plan. We don't even have to pay for oil changes and tire rotations. So if the car fails in any way, we take it back, they fix it, we get a loaner for the day, and we pay nothing.

However, safety-wise the car is solid. It's actually a lot safer than it looks like and has numerous air-bags throughout the entire cabin.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:51 PM   #7
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I would probably get the Mini Cooper for peace in the house, keep the Acura as a back up with an agreement with your wife that you get to pick the next car as it will be your turn then.
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Old 01-22-2014, 02:59 PM   #8
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Since you are going to share that one car, it seems only fair to choose a car you both like.

So if it were me, I'd stand my ground against the Mini. I'd sell the Mini and the Acura and buy a new car we could both agree on.
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:00 PM   #9
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Thank you all for the feedback. Consumer Reports IS right. Trust me, I know. But this would be irrelevant in our case. Again, we would be leasing it and taking advantage of their "maintenance-free" plan. We don't even have to pay for oil changes and tire rotations. So if the car fails in any way, we take it back, they fix it, we get a loaner for the day, and we pay nothing.
When (notice I didn't say "if") you agree to lease the car, do so with the clear understanding your wife will be the one who has to "take it back" and get the loaner for the day. Seems only fair, right?
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:01 PM   #10
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If it were only a money issue I would say she's working let her pick her own car. 11K isn't worth getting divorced over.

But we try to pick cars that are top safety picks from the IIHS. I would frame it from the point of view that you love her, are concerned about her safety, and want you both to be driving in a top safety pick car -

Safety ratings
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:35 PM   #11
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Lease the Mini Cooper - it is $10 a day. You can't win this one, so consider it a cheap loss.
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:45 PM   #12
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Lease the Mini Cooper - it is $10 a day. You can't win this one, so consider it a cheap loss.
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Lease the Mini Cooper - it is $10 a day. You can't win this one, so consider it a cheap loss.
+1. I don't think it is worth a battle--it is going to cost about the same no matter what car the op buys. His dw obviously likes Mini Coopers and had the old one not been a lemon as described by the op, maybe he would too.

There doesn't seem to be a different car the op would get right now in the sell the Acura and get a Mini scenario.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:03 PM   #13
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How about a red Mini Cooper from Carmax?

No, not the same one that you sold to them but another one?

Mini's usually aren't lemons but who knows how well that original owner took car of the car.

Otherwise, 3 years from now, your DW is gonna tell you that you should have got a red mini

Oh..one time I looked at a mini but sat in one during an auto show and got pretty claustrophobic and any desire for a mini left.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:23 PM   #14
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Hmmm.... which is cheaper, leasing a Mini Cooper or divorce?

Okay, perhaps it doesn't get that serious but if you're otherwise happy with her I would say hold your nose and lease the car. If you're lucky it'll break down multiple times leaving her stranded, she'll have to walk down dark streets in the rain for five miles and she'll never want to even look at another Mini Cooper.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:59 PM   #15
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Can you do a shorter lease of the Mini instead?

Why not let DW handle it. She wants the Mini. She's working.

Sell the lemon Mini and let her get what she wants and live with its warts. Like others have said when it comes time for the Mini to go to the repair shop, let DW take care of that as well.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:01 PM   #16
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Hmmm.... which is cheaper, leasing a Mini Cooper or divorce?

Okay, perhaps it doesn't get that serious but if you're otherwise happy with her I would say hold your nose and lease the car. If you're lucky it'll break down multiple times leaving her stranded, she'll have to walk down dark streets in the rain for five miles and she'll never want to even look at another Mini Cooper.
Great point. If your DW isn't happy, nobody else is.
Are you sure your existing Mini-C can't qualify for a lemon law? Might recoup some expenses, get rid of the Mini-C, allow DW to see for herself, what she wants. Of couse maybe a unicorn will appear and all is well.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:04 PM   #17
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Oh boy! After that MiniCooper that's so much trouble, your wife still wants another one.

I do not know what to say other than to offer my condolences. But, still, let her have her MiniCooper, although she does not drive it but you are the one who takes her to/from the train station everyday. It's not worth the fight, like many earlier posters have said.

Man, I am glad both of us do not care about cars.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:15 PM   #18
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Yeah, lease the Mini, problem solved. Breakdowns covered by leasing co.
If a little hornet's nest poking would add to the experience, require that she take it to the shop and taxi back if it breaks [no scratch that].

Alt: Start pointing out Audi TT's whenever you see one.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:17 PM   #19
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Man, I am glad both of us do not care about cars.
Me too! DW just wants a reliable car. She doesn't care how old it is. We buy new (our history with used is not good) and keep it until either maintenance costs, reliability or parts availability become issues.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:28 PM   #20
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I'm stuck on why leasing is the better option - whatever car you get.

You'll have spent 10,674 (your figure) over 3 years... and have to give the car back. If you go over the allotted mileage then it's even more pricey. Is it worth spending 3600 per year and have nothing to show after 3 years?
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