Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taking the plunge??

So our car has pretty much died on us. We've debated for the past week or two over what to do. It's still driveable (at low speeds), but not guaranteed to last much longer. And the cost of repairs and maintenance will most definitely be more than the value of the car, if not twice the value of the car. So...on to a new car! Woohoo!

That brings us to many questions. This next car will probably last us 5 years or so like the last one did, so what are our car needs for the next 5 years? Right now, we have one child with a honkin' big car seat. We could potentially have another child in a year or so (don't worry, no big announcements forthcoming!), so that means a four-door sedan would fit our needs, as long as it has plenty of room in the back. BUT...let's say we go crazy and opt for Baby #3 two years after #2. That means that in 3 years we'll need a new car again. Plus, even just two kids with honkin' big carseats means not much room for anything else. Think Christmas. Long trip, lots of luggage, and lots of loot coming home with us! :) Or think, "Sure, I can pick you up at the airport! Just let me find a babysitter for my kiddos so there's enough room in the car...." So...that leads us to the SUV/van category of vehicles.

We have pretty tight parameters for the mileage we'd like, the age of the car, and most importantly, the price. This is good and bad. Good because it narrows down my search to about 50 vehicles in a 50-mile radius, which is a pretty short list considering where I live. Bad because those 50 vehicles are eerily like the car sitting in my driveway right now--they do their job, but I can expect some scoffing at the mechanic any time I go. In short, they're cheap cars. But, in short, that's what we can afford. And our Hyundai has worked very well for us the last 5 years.

So we've got a list that can easily be culled through--cut the manual transmission, no cars with really bad ratings, ixnay the one with a "salvage title".... That leaves us with a couple Kia Sedonas, a Dodge Caravan, a few Chrysler Town & Countries.... Are you seeing a pattern here? They're all vans! Hm....

I've been thinking long and hard about The Van. Vans get better gas mileage than SUVs, they're generally less expensive, they drive smoother, they have family-friendly features like power sliding doors (which I completely see the usefulness of now), and they have third-row seating, which SUVs don't offer until you look at the larger ones, which are outside of my price parameter. So yes, a van is a good thing. But it's a van, and every normal person in my generation shudders at the thought of being That Mom with The Van. I think it reminds us too much of our own mothers, whom we love dearly but don't want to relate to quite that much. We don't want to admit that we are going down That Road. We didn't choose the romantic path that led us to hostels in Italy and running with the bulls in Spain. We chose the minivan path.

So, as it is now past midnight and I have cars and prices and dealerships and miles per gallon jumbling up in my head, I'll sleep on it, pray about it, and see how I feel tomorrow. I remind myself that we're looking for a 5-year car, not a 25-year car. As much as we rely on our vehicles, it's not like buying a house. It might be a chance to find something fun and unexpected (which, I agree, is most certainly not a van)! We'll see what happens, and I just might get to show you what we picked by this time next week!


  1. Great post! Quite creatively written! Anxious to see what you choose! And yes, the van years are necessary, but remember they are limited!

  2. I drove quite a few Town & Countries during my time as a book seller and quite enjoyed them...besides the van factor. And who knows, in five years OR BEFORE you could see yourself able to get a car that you like and you can easily purchase.

  3. Hmmm what a dilemma! Well I did have a thought along the lines of Leanna, if you got a four door sedan, by the time of baby #3, you would maybe in the position to upgrade then. Or give it to Jon and replace his for a bigger one. Good luck!

  4. Well, as much as the van thing makes me cringe, too, I do see their value. The automatic door thing is cool, very helpful! It seems the SUV is the soccer mom vehicle of choice these days, but you have to go bigger to get the space of a van, and that always means more money and worse gas mileage. Dilemma, indeed. Can't wait to see what you end up with.

    On a separate note, I remember shopping with you for your little hyundai in Waco. Such memories! I will never forget the guy who said well, we have this car for $18K when you came in and clearly said you wanted to spend around $6K.

  5. @Karen: Yeah...carsalesmen...sheesh. This time we are going to pay cash, so we have a very set amount of what we can pay, and salesman are always more interested in what the monthly payment is. Hopefully cash will help us lower the price while we're dealing. We'll see!

  6. Good post...especially the part about Italy and running with the bulls in Spain. Now that we have a dog, we might have to get a bigger mini-van scooter : )

  7. We went through this, and I can tell you that I feel your pain! I have a minivan now, but only because we needed something cheap that I could drive to school and back. That being said, our Nissan Sentra fits all three of our kids' car seats in the back and there is plenty of trunk space, plus kick-butt gas mileage (around 31 mpg). Our PT Cruiser fit all of us with plenty of storage, but I think they make those out of Saran Wrap, so I wouldn't recommend it. :)