Monday, 10 November 2014

The Seduction of The Second Car

One too many sets of keys for our family.
If you haven’t been following along, we were gifted a car from our in-laws and we’ve been having a frustrating time selling our regular car.

Here’s the update to the frustrating bits: the car is now the proud owner of a new alternator and parking brake cable. It failed the e-test because there weren’t enough kilometers to flush the system, or something like that, after the last servicing, so that still needs to be done. We’re still on a temporary registration because it needs to be e-tested before it can get registered. The repair bills are now over $2,000.

This weekend we had another person come out to see the car. It was a relief to have a potential sale because I’ve been getting more nervous that we’ll end up keeping both cars. We only need one car in our family, but the slow seduction of our second car can be very appealing sometimes.




The Second Car Adds Convenience to Family Multitasking


We were able to get along just fine with one car. Now that we have two, It’s getting easier to come up with excuses to use both cars.

This weekend, for instance, we took advantage of our two car situation. We had some home reno stuff to do that would be too noisy and dangerous for our Little Miss to be around. So, we decided one of us would take her over to the grandparents’ house for Sunday Supper early and the other would stay behind to get the work done.

As a one car family we might have taken the Little Miss out of the house for a walk or made use of our transferable bus pass. But having the second car available means we won’t have to rush to get everything done on the walk and we won’t have to rely on weekend public transit.

It seems more convenient, right?


A Second Car Doesn't Cost Us Much Extra Each Month


It wouldn’t take much to make room for the standard, predictable costs of a second car in our budget. We don’t have a car payment for either car, so there’s not that big regular bill to pay. Here’s an off the cuff calculation for the carrying costs of a second car.
  • Insurance for two cars is about $25 more per month than we were paying for just one car.
  • Vehicle registration here runs about $80 per year.
  • It’d need a $50 oil change every three months. (yes, I’m sad that we pay for oil changes.)
So, the total cost to have a spare car sitting in our driveway for a year is only about $580 or $48 per month.

Plus you can argue that if we actually drove it, there would be minimal extra wear and tear and gas costs because we’d be driving the same amount, so the costs would just be split between the two cars.

So what’s the big deal?


We Won’t Get Very Much Money for Our Car Any Way


We had planned to run our car into the ground, so we hadn’t been very interested in keeping the car in a visually stunning state. It’s now 8 years old now with about 150,000 km. on it with some minor imperfections…

It’s got some rust in the wheel wells and on the trunk light and some dents from being hit by a school bus and my a friend’s car both while our car was parked.

… There’s a scrape from a run-in I had with a pillar in the IKEA parking garage from me trying to rush home to replace the floor lamp our Little Miss had smashed right before our open house was set to start.

It being 8 years old, there’s not much value left. Plus, we figured that no one wants to buy a dented car, so we priced it low to sell it fast. Now that we’ve had over $2,000 in repair bills (the in-laws had put the same amount into the car they gifted us) it feels like we’ll barely break even.

If we won’t make money, why bother selling?


So Why Am I So Afraid of Becoming a Two Car Family?


It’s TOO Convenient, and Might Become Necessary


The second car has already started to work itself in our lives. As we started using both cars more and more over time, I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to adjust back down to being a one car family.

Right now we’ve only paid for one of the cars. But, when one dies, we’d might end up being so reliant on having two that we end up needing to replace it.

Keeping two cars would mean we would end up shopping for cars twice as often. Just like I believe grocery shopping too often can cost you money, I think buying cars too often can cost you too.

We quickly became used to our “new” car’s features. How did we survive winter before we had heated leather seats? How did we juggle loading a toddler and groceries into the car before we had remote keyless entry? How could we possibly get Little Miss into her car seat without all the extra room in the back seat?

The car we loved, that was a huge upgrade for us at the time just doesn’t feel as great anymore. If we replaced it, there’d probably be a longer list of “features we can’t live without” to consider.

If we had one car and replaced it every 10 years, we’d go shopping on average every 10 years. If we had two cars, we’d go shopping on average every 5 years. Shopping twice as often would speed up the “upgrading” cycle.


Cars Don’t Just Need Maintenance Based on Distance Driven


It would be easy to say that repairs and maintenance for cars is based on KM driven and that splitting your driving between two cars instead of one shouldn’t increase your maintenance costs. But I don’t think that tells the whole story.

Cars age. Seals crack. Especially in a harsh climate like our and especially if the car isn’t driven often.

For us, twice the cars means twice the stuff that can go wrong. We know that realistically keeping the second car would increase our maintenance costs.


We’ll End Up Only Get Scrap Value for a Car We Could Have Sold for Something


We’ve already made the decision to fix our car instead of scrapping it. We can’t take those repairs back. So, what we’ve spent so far shouldn’t be a part of our decision making process.

Here’s the decision to be made. We can either:

A. Sell the car and pocket a few thousand dollars; or,

B. Keep the car that we don’t need, pay the carrying costs for a second car, and only get a couple hundred bucks scrap for it the next time something breaks.

Now which do you think is the better deal?


Conclusion


The longer we have two cars in the driveway, the more alluring the idea of becoming a two car family seems. Immediately, it doesn't affect the budget in any meaningful way and provides a lot more convenience. But, it's a convenience that we don't need and extra costs we could avoid.

At this point, I think it’s best for our family to stick to its guns, sell the second car, and pocket whatever we can from the deal.


What About You?


Do you have more cars than licenses in your home?

Is your current car more luxurious than your last?

If you have a car that rarely gets driven, how do you keep it in good shape?



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