TTAC Commentator talkstoanimals writes:
Much to my dismay, in less than a year my job will move from downtown Washington, DC to suburban Maryland. This means I will be forced to drive to work every day rather than being able to rely on the Metro system for the work commute. Currently, my main ride is a 2011 BMW 135i with the M Sport package and some Dinan tweaks. However, since it does occasionally snow and sleet around here, and since I’m unwilling to sell the 135 or swap the summer treads for all season rubber (I regularly flog the car out in the twisties of VA/WV and prefer the feel of summers out there), I’m presented with a twist on the new or used question. Should I:
1. Invest in a set of winter tires, perhaps in a minus 1 size on dedicated wheels? This would require that I rent storage for the wheels/tires not in use or move out of my apartment to someplace with dirty item storage space. I could maybe beg a friend with a garage to loan me a dark corner, but it would make me feel guilty.
2. Buy some sort of cheap – $3500 to $5000ish – but reliable winter car? I wouldn’t mind having a second vehicle for hauling stuff around – maybe a small pickup or a wagon/SUV. Also, since most of my social life still revolves around downtown, I wouldn’t mind having something I could park on the street without a care whether it gets doored, dinged or scraped.
If the answer is two, what car or truck should I look for? The only caveat is that, after the fiasco with my 2010 lemon-lawed Mustang [can’t find the link to the Piston Slap on the issue], I won’t buy a FoMoCo product. (Sorry, Sajeev. But Ford ticked me off so much in negotiations over the Mustang that I refuse to give them my money anymore, even in used car form. I don’t want them making a nickel off of me on parts or anything else.) The ideal would be something small enough for city life, durable, utile and easy to insure.
I remember your quandary quite well. Shocking as it may sound, who cares if you love or hate FoMoCo? Not me! My shameless promotion of Panther Love is shallow, laser targeted in scope. I never was a big fan of coloring outside the lines, if you know what I mean.
I feel bad that you had to Lemon Law your ride, but at least you learned plenty in the process. With any luck, we can smooth things over with your current quandary. I wouldn’t entertain the idea of a “winter beater” because I’d keep winter tires in just about any of my friend’s places. As I note the irony of buying winter stuff for Houston, think about the costs associated with multiple car ownership: insurance, wear/tear items and unexpected major repairs. Of course, your BMW is probably under warranty, and you can often buy a $5000 sled that needs very little in upkeep. If you keep the miles down. But that 5 large buys a lot of storage and plenty of social libations in the DC area.
More to the point, how long to you expect to live as you currently live? From your last two rides and career info given here, you sound like a single guy who’s, um, living life to its fullest. Which usually doesn’t last forever. Especially with BMW’s rather awesome cost-value proposition after the warranty runs out. I’d mark time by getting some winter rubber on spare wheels, and judging by what I see on Tirerack.com, the snow-friendly rubber is quite easy to get.
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.