By on April 5, 2014

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20 lawnmowers.

20 internet connections

20 videos of The Lion King.

Oh, and 60+ vehicles on one street.

I recently delved deep into one of the more challenging ideas of the modern age: car sharing in suburbia. It’s an idea that many non-enthusiasts and city dwellers love. But is it a good idea for suburbanites and the rest of us?

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If we’re talking about the traditional form of commercialized car sharing, such as Zipcar and RelayRides, then the answers for right now are,= “No! Nein! Nyet!”.

Most of these services cost anywhere from $30 To $100 a day, and at least $10 an hour. For most folks who have to take their vehicles to the supermarkets, restaurants, friend’s houses and all the other places that make up the modern day ‘to-do’ list of suburban life, these services are just not economically viable.

The financial equation can be even worse for rural folk, and for auto enthusiasts in particular who happen to live in suburbia. The thought of giving up our rolling treasures to the pirates of bad driving is a big-time no-no nadir.

But that doesn’t mean car sharing can’t work if you have the right long-term relationships in place, and the right types of vehicles that complement each other for occasional use. Let me offer a real world example.c4

 

My neighbors who live diagonally from me have a small truck: a 1996 Toyota Tacoma with over 250k. They are retirees, and most of their daily transportation involves no more than one or two people. When they have visitors, they also have a 10 year old Cadillac Seville.

However, that Caddy just doesn’t offer enough seats for grandkids, parents and gransparents. Nor do the midsized cars that arrive on their driveway.

So what do they do?

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Well, I just happen to have a 2003 Chrysler Town & Country minivan these days. Seven seats. Dual sliding doors, and about 125,000 miles.  I have known my neighbors for a very long time, and we have both seen how we drive and maintain our vehicles. At the same time, even though I’m a car dealer, I can’t keep small trucks on my car lot. They are expensive to buy these days at the auctions, and the rare affordable one tends to sell quickly once it’s front-line ready.

As for minivans? They have become the modern day unsellable car in my world. So whenever he has a need for a minivan, which is about once every couple of months, I give him the keys to my ride. And whenever I need to move a lawnmower, a refrigerator, or just recently, a $20 bench press and weight set from the world famous Blue Chicken Auction, I borrow his small truck.

c1

We’re not the only folks who do this in my neck of the woods. The neighbors who live down the street from me have a full-sized van with plenty of towing capacity for their irrigation business. They also have a trailer for their equipment and a tow dolly. What they don’t have is space to house everything without parking on the street and encouraging the local code enforcement dimwits to get on their case.

So I offer them free storage at the back of one of my shops, use the tow dolly or trailer if there is ever a need, and the local suburban Gestapo has one less target for their punitive fines and harassment.

The van, trailer and dolly are also used in that rare event when a neighbor needs to move a riding lawnmower, or when a car is laid down on the side of the road. We get the keys and move the heavy things to wherever they need to go. No need for AAA or a U-haul.

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The goal of this light version of car sharing isn’t to share one vehicle 100% of the time. It is to satisfy that occasional 1% need. So that you don’t wind up wasting money on a one-size-fits-all, high-cost vehicle.

 

Is this a better idea for suburbanites? The article here summarizes a lot of the benefits and pitfalls. But as the old acronym goes, YMMV.

So what do you think? Can car sharing work in suburbia…and would you be willing to do it?

Note: You can reach Steve Lang directly at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com

 

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83 Comments on “Can Car Sharing Work In Suburbia?...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    You don’t need the right cars as much as you need the right people. Some places, some times, it will work.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And people are the worst thing on the planet. Plenty of proof of that all around.

      This concept of car sharing in Suburbia presupposes that people can be trusted to share and share alike, be considerate of others, clean up the shared cars after themselves and act like sentient human beings considerate of others.

      This I would like to see, since these qualities have never surfaced in the vast majority of human beings. Again, we cannot trust human beings to do the right things when it comes to sharing. The management effort to ensure compliance with even the most mundane of standards would be a never-ending full-time job for the haves.

      However, car sharing often does happen in the real world on a one-to-one basis. Quite a few friends and people I now have borrowed my truck and trailer(s) to do jobs or tasks for themselves because they did not own a truck or trailer themselves. There have been some irks on my part, but I knew ahead of time not to expect much from borrowers because they are not vested in whatever it is they borrow.

      But car sharing in Suburbia as a concept where the have-nots borrow rides from those who have, is not just farfetched, I believe it to be unworkable.

      Ever had a neighbor who borrowed something and never gave it back? This is the same thing, except on steroids.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        Yep. Concept good. People…not so much.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s like the 20 copies of The Lion King and other examples in the original post. It’s one step to realize that yes, 60 cars are overkill. It’s another step to realize that *everything* he listed could have been shared. Twenty households could easily share five lawnmowers, internet connections, and copies of movies, copyright restrictions aside.

    • 0 avatar

      LIBERALS trying to TAKE WHAT I WORKED FOR.
      REDISTRIBUTING MY CAR…
      “Urban Planning” is COMMUNISM at work.
      You’ll take my HEMI FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Great article, and I think you’ve put your finger on a need that isn’t being met by the current car sharing services.

    Around here, the car share cars are small cars such as the Car2Go Smarts, Prius, etc. But I’ve long thought that these services should offer full sized pickups for pick up of home improvement supplies, trips to the dump, etc. I don’t have a truck myself, but about 3 – 4 times a year I find it very useful to have access to one. Like you, I had a heighbour who had an old pickup that he was willing to share – but unfortunately (for me) he sold it. A car sharing service that offered trucks would be one way to fill my occasional need.

    The Town & Country in your article is another good example of a vehicle that is really useful occasionally, but might not be needed every day – although in the case of minivans, I suspect a conventional rental company might be better than a car share, since I suspect they might be useful for a few days at a time, such as for a road trip, or when out of town visitors arrive for a few days.

    • 0 avatar
      adam_b

      ZipCars in London offer VW Touran (MPV) and VW Transporters (van) as well as the standard hatchbacks.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        I already have a Forester and a Focus hatch in my personal fleet – but neither is an alternative to a pickup truck.

        I only need a truck a couple of times a year, so it doesn’t justify keeping one year round for myself.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Home Depot rents/shares trucks. And their trucks are located close enough to where many “need” to make a stop once they do have a truck, that some cross subsidies help bring the cost down. IOW, they’re tough competition.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    I agree that it is the type of vehicle and the persons, since the services needed don’t exist.

    I’d like the following service. I call up “Joe’s Truck Service”, and for $200, a beater pickup arrives at my door Friday night, and disappears Monday morning. Now no such service exists. Which is a bummer.

    But it also is why you do get the 1% use purchase vehicles: If I need to call “Joe’s Truck Rental” once a month for a pickup, the price premium and gas premium for a pickup is actually low enough that I could (almost) justify getting a pickup.

    And heck, I would use a conventional car rental (there is a Hertz and Enterprise in town), but they have remarkably lousy weekend hours.

    I think one enabler is a specific “share with friends” insurance policy rider: Making it clear (and clearly explained) what is the liability coverage when using a neighbor’s vehicle on an occasional basis and vice versa.

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      Not sure where you live but you can rent a 3500 pick up from a few national chains for about that.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        Third-party truck rental is inefficient. Rental companies may have leverage when negotiating acquisition costs of their vehicles, but they are inefficient providers of maintenance, parts replacement, parts repair, and insurance. Rental companies often have inefficient real-estate utilization, too.

        The rental companies can manipulate the value-proposition however they choose, at the end of the day, the customers are still being conned into covering the rental company’s costs. After delivery, destination, mileage, insurance, and rental; it’s rare to beat $100/day. If you tack on the penalties for missing closing time or return time, the costs become silly.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          General truck rental is also expensive, because the rental companies need to price for the wear and tear of their “worst” customers. Otherwise, even the pros would get a rental every time they needed to haul an entire bed full of lead up Mt Whitney on the hottest day of the year on a tight schedule.

          It’s a bit like trying to make a living renting Evos. Every other customer would have a racing schedule already lined up ahead of time…

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The system is good if used sparingly, but it really isn’t good to rely on others in lieu of owning a proper vehicle. “Why buy a truck, when I can leech of my neighbors?”

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      For many, owning a truck is a rarely-needed expense. But I have known people who went to Home Depot and rented Home Depot’s F350 Cargo truck for $19.95 per hour, even if they didn’t buy anything at Home Depot.

      Another example is a people carrier, like a minivan or Suburban. Making the case for buying one is hard to do if you can’t justify using it for anything other than tooling around in it by yourself.

      Living out in the boonies is one thing. But living in Suburbia is another. Many communities have rules, regulations and agreements about where you can park these extra vehicles and how old they can be. Some places might object to a 1988 Silverado parked on the street on in the driveway if everyone around the ‘hood is driving 2010 or newer vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Many U-haul dealers have F150s at 19.95 a day plus mileage, local use only. They are even equipped with a class III receiver, or at least the one I was behind the other day did.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Yeah, but that mileage is $1/mile. Adds up quick.

          Zipcar actually has a few pickup trucks around here — $13.50 an hour or $99 a day. That includes insurance, which can be a big deal; my car policy won’t cover anything with an open bed.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            $1/mile? Is it up to that much now?

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Not around here it is $.59 per mile but that does add up quick. If you need it for more than a day then they have other options like $285 per week with 750 included miles and $.29 per mile over that. Those rates also apply to their E250 cargo vans.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Scoutdude, not in my area. The U-Haul, Penske and Ryder rental outlets here have trucks used for moving household goods and furniture longer distances.

          But that is probably because we are situated on a huge military reservation and thousands upon thousands military and civilian employees move to/from this area every year, year after year.

          And here they charge a whole lot more that $19.95 a day (plus mileage) for the smallest moving truck.

          Last time I rented the largest U-Haul moving truck it cost me $39.95 per day plus mileage (one-way to Long Beach, CA), but that was years ago.

          There’s a price for everyone across the country.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    If you have good enough neighbors to loan hings back and forth this will happen automatically.

    If you have kids nearby, even better. I have the use of a 2013 GC whenever the need arises. And the lad has dozens of expensive tools/cabinets/cords/hoses that I “loaned” him but haven’t since needed.

    I don’t think it needs or permits of a formal structuring where a third party profits from arranging it among strangers. You’d have to take said party’s word on the nature of the borrower.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    this doesnt work for any car you care about

    my car is a 280kW 6 spd manual… it will kill someone who doesnt know what they’re doing especially in the wet

    no thanks

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      That doesn’t seem to be the kind of car wanted/needed for this kind of program anyway…the best types would be minivans and pickups (and possibly SUVs), mostly for cargo- or cargo-and-people-hauling.

      Although now that I think about it, our V10 F-350 (with a 5-speed plus Low, so six speeds?) could be modded/chipped to put out 280 kW (375 hp for my fellow Americans). And it’s certainly a practical vehicle in every sense of the word…regular cab/long bed and Indian-blanket seat covers; no cowboy Cadillac here.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Tony,
      How would you feel about moving to a neighborhood where all of your neighbors are my ex-wives? It rains a lot, but the car-sharing opportunities are frequent.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Hertz has an instant rental service with suburban locations. They may have found the sweet spot for the suburban service – they’ve placed pickup trucks at Lowes home centers. So, if I can’t fit something into the Prius, I just reserve the truck with my phone and use the yellow key fob transponder to open it.

    https://www.hertz.com/rentacar/productservice/index.jsp?targetPage=hertzondemand.jsp

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Doesn’t get any sweeter.

    • 0 avatar
      ghills

      Can you put prius as a headline in your comments so that I can ignore them more easily? Thank you!

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        I have much nicer cars. They don’t do home center duty. Yes, the Prius has crappy suspension, drives like it’s on valium, and has uncomfortable seats, but it’s cheap to run and keeps the wear and tear to a minimum on the more expensive hardware. There are better daily driver/winter cars out there and it will probably be replaced with a stripped down 2015 Mustang.

  • avatar
    7402

    We do this. It works, but the set of people I’m willing to share vehicles with is smaller than the number of fingers on one hand.

  • avatar
    Kaosaur

    This post and thread merely underscore the importance of community and demonstrate just how much that’s lost in our society. This read to me like something utopian and which I’ve never experienced in my life, urban or suburban.

    I wish this were common but sadly it’s not. I only kind of know my direct neighbors. A couple of houses down are some addicts and a few more houses out they don’t speak English. I’ve been living where I’m at for 3 years and I have _one_ friend that I can get to help me out if my car breaks down somewhere or I need to borrow a truck for a move…and that’s only because he used to be a roommate.

    It makes me sick sometimes how badly I wish I lived in a real ‘community’ and how I’ve never found it. It’s not just a matter of trust – the way people communicate and gather together is broken in most places.

    All of that said, I still wouldn’t let anyone else drive the RX-7 unless they have one also. Learned my lesson there. I’ve been thinking about buying an SUV/Crossover though and would probably be more agreeable to sharing that one with the right people.

    Steve, any houses on your street for sale? Lots of work for me in Atlanta and I know more folks there than here in South Carolina.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Agreed. If you have a real community, you don’t need a program. Social bonds and expectations shape people’s behavior. If you have a program but no real community…good luck. If you think programs build communities, you are another type of utopian.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Yep, it sucks to host a 3rd world invasion in the middle of a cultural collapse.

      And it’s your generation of Good People who are its saddest victims because you were raised to expect civility and responsibility of yourselves and others. Leaving you all but defenseless against Hope and Change.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        I’m not really put off by it, because honestly they’re great neighbors and they have their own community. The problem is that their community is somewhat exclusive and we also can’t communicate.

        Honestly the best time of my life was spent living in a close-knit Brazilian community. Great food, great parties, great people. Everyone could speak English though.

        I need to improve my Spanish and Russian.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Not meaning to offend/perpetuate cultural stereotypes here:

          I wonder if it was part of the whole Latin/South American/Mediterranean “Life’s a carnival!” mentality, as opposed to the British/Scandanavian/German ideal of “stiff upper lip, no fun allowed” that’s been so ingrained into us over the last 250+ years.

          We Minnesotans, being descended almost entirely from German and Scandinavian stock, look at “King of the Hill” with Hank, Boomhauer, Bill and Dale staring off into space, sipping cheap beer and sighing, “Yep,” and we think, “hey, that’s a party.”

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Note: the following comment and its proposals are not directed at you specifically, Kaosaur, but your words have inspired (triggered?) me to put down a few of my own.

      It just seems that since the postwar era, the idea of rugged frontier individualism (which is a great ideal, IMO) has been bastardized and forced down our throats not just as, “you can do anything you put your mind to,” but now as, “you can do do anything you put your mind to, and you’ve gotta do it yourself and not trust anyone else, because why the hell would anyone want to be nice to you.”

      So we sequester ourselves away in our locked-up houses (or, God forbid, gated communities), we put up 6-foot fences between ourselves and our neighbors, we tell our kids to play video games inside instead of meeting the new kid across the street, we take our high-windowed safetymobiles 5 blocks down to the chain supermarket because we don’t trust the “foreigners” running the community grocery 2 blocks away, and we try to fill the void of real-life human social interaction with online interaction–all with predictable results. Why else would it be that depression and anxiety are so much more prevalent?

      But all it takes to start repairing trust is reaching out. Knock on everyone’s doors and invite them to a potluck when (if ever) the weather gets nice. You might end up with only a handful, and it will be awkward at first, but you and the people around you will find you have more in common than you may have first realized.

      Trust me, it’ll work. This coming from a second-year English student (yeah, I know, reeeaal marketable degree) who finally started attending English club meetings several weeks ago–and, after actually socializing with my fellow writers, ended up as the president-elect.

      People are generally nice–or at least, they try to be. Give ‘em a chance.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        I generally agree with you, but it still depends where you are. You can only put up with invited guests stealing from you so much.

        Luckily it was only my stuff once and I got it back, but a roommate’s guest got drunk and rode off on my $2000 road bike on flat tires and an unlubed chain…then left it out in the rain overnight.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        The problem with that analysis, I think, is that you’re leaving out an important corollary to individualism — subsidiarity. We used to recognize that responsibility for our neighbors was an individual one, whether handled person to person or by local community organizations. Now, it’s someone else’s problem, and I think what you’re identifying is individualism ungrounded from responsibility.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        The productive individualist culture has been supplanted by the unproductive dependent convenience culture.

        Aspirational achievement (inconvenient) and aspirational relationships (inconvenient) have been replaced by aspirational consumption (convenient). Unfortunately, you can’t make an iPhone or Ford F-150 or a pair of ornate designer jeans; therefore, you are entirely dependent upon the soulless corporate machine for your “happiness”. Furthermore, many people buy aspirational things before they can afford them, which makes them slaves to their job and their creditors.

        The lifestyle of dependent consumerism is something individuals choose for themselves. Individuals are the only people who can save themselves from it. If people opt out, commercial industry will be reformed as well, since corporations will no longer peddle misery for profit.

        I’m not knocking the consumer economy, which is vital for economic development. But, if you live your life by productivity and relationship-building, your consumptive habits are very different, than if you live your life according to the aspirational convenience culture.

        /preach

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Preach on. I’d almost swear someone recorded my usual diatribe to #1 son. He and #1 DIL live to buy things.

          They have nice things but are never satisfied. Different cars every year, computers every 6 months, expensive watches every month…ad nauseum. It’s a disease.

          #2 son is so much like me that it’s scary. The more money he makes the fewer items he needs in his life. His basic personality was displayed at about age 8 when my wife told him he needed to go shopping for some new shirts. His answer was, “I have a shirt.”

          Peoples’ personalities never really change.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            It seems both your kids are enjoying their money, one by spending it and the other by not

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            The disease is called Hedonic Adaptation. People work hard to speed up acquisition of consumptive goals, but superfluous consumption is a cyclical behavior with no value outside of consumerism. Therefore, people adapt seamlessly to their “achievements”, without substantially higher happiness. Same cycle exists for other zero-sum behaviors like vanity, status, pleasure-seeking, superfluous leisure or luxury.

            Research indicates that Hedonic Adaptation can be cured by forcing yourself to establish altruistic social goals or self-improvement goals (e.g. mastering a language).

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            … or, money doesn’t buy happiness. Sometimes you’ve got to be near death before you figure that one out

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Gents,

            Thanks for your replies. This has obviously been a concern for me and my wife but the Hedonic Adaptation pattern is now so entrenched and stabilized in both son & dil’s lives that we’ve long since stopped hectoring. Kid them, sure, but it’s received good naturedly with the mutual understanding that our disapproval is not high on their list of problems to solve.

            And by the same token they are both much warmer, social and generally considerate of others than #2 son and his wife. Those two take after me so much (self-absorbed, bookish and stridently self-reliant) that I’m almost relieved the two couples are so different.

            I’m a lucky man.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      I read an astounding statistic somewhere that the average person in a certain large sunbelt city did not know the last name of one of his two next door neighbors. Then I realized that I didn’t know the name of one of my next door neighbors.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Kaosaur, if you’re ever serious about it, email me.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I used to live in Alpharetta, GA., a suburb of Atlanta. We used to do similar stuff all the time, and it usually ended up with a lot of beer being consumed. Plus, we had a pool where we all got to know each other and build trust. However, here’s the problem with you Mr. Lang:

    >>and the local suburban Gestapo has one less target for their punitive fines and harassment.

    If you don’t like the homeowners association rules, then you should get out. You can still share your minivan or pickup with your former neighbors.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Is there any redeeming quality to HOAs? Given the American emphasis of individualism over collectivism, I’d think it hard that they formed in the first place. Of course, TTAC may not be the most unbiased source…

      FWIW, if ever I lived in a place with HOA/draconian zoning laws, I’d do all I could to toe the line and break the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Sorry, guys, I’m growing native prairie grasses in my yard instead of that monochromatic carpet you call vegetation. Excuse me for not wanting to dump gallons of water and pounds of fertilizer down the drain just so it looks “neat.” It’s a yard, not a golf course.

      Now I’m starting to see why so many “city slickers” are buying acreages out in the country (on the asphalt roads only, of course)…

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        Everywhere where I live has a POA. There are no alternatives other than living in mobile homes.

        It’s why I rent and let the homeowner deal with them.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Yes, but what got them started in the first place? I literally have no metric here–I’ve lived in the same place my entire life, my father’s slept in the same room of the same house for all but the first two years of his marriage, and his father, save for a 2-year stint in the Guards, never lived farther than a mile from the place he was born.

          • 0 avatar
            Kaosaur

            A combination of Boomers’ greed and the exclusive use of debt as the instrument to finance home building for two generations. Everyone wanted to protect their investments – decency towards your fellow man be damned. Then everyone realized that you can use association rules to extract money from people.

            I’m one of those ‘city slickers’ who would rather live somewhere rural than suburban.

          • 0 avatar
            Japanese Buick

            There are different reasons for different HOAs. I live in a rural area on a private dirt road and our HOA exists to maintain the road. Yeah we have covenants and rules put in by the developer but we all (12 of us) just ignore them.

            But a lot of suburban and urban HOAs represent the privatization of government. Take Houston, often cited as an example of no-zoning success. It’s a success is because no zoning doesn’t mean no rules. And guess who fills the gap…

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            At a high level, regulation and money printing started them, like most/all evils.

            Regulations make it darned near impossible for regular people to just buy a quarter acre of plain dirt, and build/connect a house. You have to pay almost as much in all manners of compliance nonsense for one lot, as if you buy 400 of them, which has resulted in almost all newbuilds being done by developers in bed with regulators.

            And, to extract max money from their cheaply made, slapped together cookie cutters, developers put in place all manners of silly rules. That way they can ensure that the “community” looks pretty much like staged brochure shoot, to any prospective buyer.

            Following that, the drones that were suckered into paying too much, now uses this as an excuse to take over the “code compliance” duties once the developer is done. Since they want to protect what the hacks on TV calls, not a roof over their head, but their “real estate investment.”

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        My parents’ subdivision has a HOA that’s been a net positive — it largely exists to own and maintain shared access to an adjacent small lake, where they have a boat ramp and a dock. It’s been helpful for dealing with various local and state agencies over the years, as well as for dealing with the developer who still owns the unbuilt second phase and has tried to get out of his responsibilities for various things.

        They’ve actually reduced the restrictions on certain things over the years — e.g., eliminating a rule about outbuildings.

        That said, a HOA usually means homes constructed in the ’70s or later — and if and when I buy a single-family house, I think that will be a dealbreaker for me. I’m much more partial to older construction.

      • 0 avatar
        Rod Panhard

        As a matter of fact, Drzhivago, there are a LOT of redeeming qualities to a Homeowners Association. It’s very common, particularly in the Atlanta area, for HOAs to be the funding mechanism for a neighborhood pool, tennis courts and club house. The HOAs are also the funding mechanism for landscaping and upkeep of common areas. This includes entrances to subdivisions, islands located in cul de sacs and more.

        Added bonus is that if your subdivision has a pool and or courts, then there’s a good chance your community has a swim team for kids and tennis teams for kids and adults.

        And finally, not everybody wants to see abandoned cars in yards. In fact, very few people see the potential of having a 1976 Dodge Dart parked in the front yard. Consequently, for those who don’t see the value in that, which is like, oh, 237 homeowners out of the 238 homeowners in my old neighborhood, they’d like a little bit of protection. Oh, and the house down the street that’s been abandoned, howzabout a little protection from that?

        It’s rarely a “sellers” market in any neighborhood. Potential buyers are scared off by cars on blocks, obviously abandoned homes, etc. That’s what a homeowners association does. And when you’re buying a home in a nice part of town that has “Swim & Tennis,” that’s phrase is the clue that a homeowners association exists. If you don’t like it, move on. There are plenty of other homes to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Wrong assumption…

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/hammer-time-fascism-on-four-wheels/

      • 0 avatar
        Sobro

        From the above link:

        Steven Lang
        September 23rd, 2011 at 5:18 pm

        It wasn’t a neighbor. Heck I’ve bought cars for a ton of them and I’m on friendly terms with everyone here.

        It turned out to be a psycho… I’ll be covering that in the second article.

        Steven, I can’t find that second article. What happened with the psycho?

        As far as neighborly sharing goes, here we in west Nashville we lend rototillers and pressure washers but keep our cars to ourselves. But then on my block there are 4 pickups, three minivans, a backhoe, and plenty of beige appliances.

        • 0 avatar
          Steven Lang

          He got arrested for making several 911 calls and informing the operator that he was planning to blow the heads off the county police.

          The detective who was handlng the case called me and let me know about the unique exchange. Apparently he was a drunk and a mental case.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    I don’t let a lot of family people drive my car, so strangers would be out of the question. It is a very good concept and works well for you, moreso since you have known each other and their driving habits.

    For me usually I’ll reach out to a friend if I need to borrow a pickup or van. I’ll fill their tank in exchange and buy them a nice dinner and some drinks. Usually they don’t wan anything in return. In NYC having a friend that owns a truck is rare lol

    • 0 avatar
      Kaosaur

      My brother in Queens has owned a GMC Safari since about ’99 and I swear that’s the most useful vehicle for living in NYC (if you can get parts for it and when people aren’t breaking or crashing into it).

      I would totally consider getting a Ford Transit Connect if I moved back there.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    I’d also like to add in some places, for example NYC, you don’t really know your neighbors and they don’t want to know you hahah. At some of my older residences in NYC I was friends with my neighbors, but at my new place no friends. I still say hi and make general convo, but they usually don’t want to talk. Also a lot of peeps don’t even own a car lol

  • avatar
    Hillman

    I think the biggest problem with car sharing in suburbia is that you have the space for the most part to keep the extra car for next to nothing. If you don’t drive much and drop comprehensive coverage you can get your insurance for the extra car down to almost nothing. Add in a low tax rate since the car is worth only a few grand and you realize that there is little value of car sharing. That is assuming that you already have at least one car and the space/ it is legal to keep it.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice idea , I hope it works out .

    Because I always wash , vacuum and fill up any borrowed vehicle as well as replacing burnt out bulbs and topping up the fluid etc. , anywhere I go , folks offer me to borrow their vehicles , I rarely take them up on it but it’s nice to know some folks appreciate basic good manners .

    Other than SWMBO or my son , no one borrows my vehicles because I made my living fixing grenaded borrowed vehicles for 40 years , not once did the borrower who broke it , ever offer to pay for the repairs ~ not once , not ever .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Your community is not your physical neighborhood anymore, for the most part. It probably hasn’t been that way for a long time, in most places.

    I have a Cuban friend who told me about navigating the various ethnic neighborhoods in new york (Brooklyn I think?) when he was a boy. The Irish in particular used to attack the Cubans in his little slice of heaven, since the Cubans didn’t have the numbers to establish their own stronghold. Each “ethnic group” claimed its neighborhood, and bonded that way.

    All in all, I think I prefer not knowing my neighbors overly well. I would rather select my friends, without regard to geography or other factors such as what my friend contended with.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Car-sharing works well in limited circumstances, but it won’t change life in the burbs. Brass tacks, barter is inefficient in the macro sense. Car-sharing is limited to small networks of trusting individuals, which reduces the economic usefulness of barter compared to a macro tool, like an open market.

    Utilization of vehicles will not make a leap in efficiency, imo, until the manufacturers offer fleet services. I doubt fleet services will be forthcoming as long as profitability is bolstered by pickup sales. If drivers can commute in fuel-efficient vehicles, and then swap them for trucks on the weekend, where’s the incentive to buy a $60,000 King Ranch F-250?

    The manufacturers (Big 3 especially) are going to ride the pickup truck gravy-train until the middle-class is just an idea in 20th-century history books.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Majority folks in suburbia already have wheels. Where as inner city/vertical living with it’s closer proximity & congestion tends to make a daily driver less desireable. So no I don’t think car sharing would work out suburbia way.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    This pretty much seems like a normal thing to me. I lend my friends/family my extra cars when they are in need, they lend me a pickup or a minivan when I am in need. It does seem like a suburban version of Zipcar with minivans and pickups would be a useful thing if the price is right.

    I haven’t rented the Home Depot truck only because I had a utility trailer for many years until I wore it out, and now I have a friend with one I can borrow any time. Way better than a truck anyway, since the bed is a foot or two closer to the ground! I do rent U-Haul trailers occasionally for the really big IKEA runs – the utility trailers are not up for a 300 mile high-speed roundtrip. Though I suppose neither are some of the U-Hauls, but at least they are on the hook to bring you a replacement!

  • avatar
    olddavid

    We live in a very eclectic neighborhood that has been in transition (gentrifying) for about 10 years. The early adopters like us have enjoyed the best of all worlds – a very diversified population encompassing every type known. Whenever I mow our lawn I mow the houses on each side, too. That entitles us to honey from one neighbor and beer at the others bar that’s down the street. I change their oil and they allow me to use their tools and/or garages when my multiple “projects” spill over to bad weather. The newest house here is probably 75 years old, so we all have ongoing maintenance issues that require more than one or two people to fix. We all have keys to each others homes, and our Ranger is the go-to dump runner for all our co-conspirators. This kumbaya vibe didn’t happen overnight – we have cultivated it purposely with the greater good as over-riding ethos. It has even survived a wealthy newcomer who is slumming and the addition of a member of the local police force. I’m still waiting to drive the 360 daily driver of the one newbie, and use the firing range of the other. Meanwhile, we treat them both as hale fellows well met and hope they blend. If history is any guide, they will, because all we really want is peaceful co-existence and the comfortable and safe enjoyment of our lives. That is reasonable, isn’t it?

  • avatar
    CompWizrd

    The insurance risk prohibits me from even thinking of doing that. I don’t need a massive increase in my insurance because someone did something stupid in the car.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    We have shared our minivan with some missionary friends at church who are home on furlough. We didn’t know them before handing it over, but at this point the thing just sits in the garage for many weeks at a time. They already have a temporary car, but they’ve had a need to go two different directions on a few occasions and we just give it to them.

    On the other hand, like Kaosaur, we don’t really know our neighbors after living her 13 years. There are a few, sure, but most never leave their homes except in their own cars, using a garage door opener. (These same people don’t attend the annual block party.) Three of our 4 immediate neighbors are retired – a generation ahead of us.

    In our old neighborhood, we shared a lot with our neighbors (never cars, as I recall), but we had a free flow of children across yards, and use of each others’ garage tools whenever needed. I sorely miss that community spirit. For the churchgoers, this kind of community is best described in Acts 4:32-35, but rarely found today.

    Really, I think most people move to the suburbs to get away from close community, not to reinforce it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Your last sentence reminds me of a discussion I once had in a Japanese language class with about 2/3rds Asian students. The Japanese TAs, Taiwanese and Korean kids unanimously saw the fruition of a successful life as living large within a close community with all and sundry fully apprised of exactly how well they had done.

      We Americans were pretty much diametrically opposed to that in our firm desire to take our money, buy some land and get the hell away from everybody to the greatest extent possible. It was an interesting display of Confucian versus Western values.

  • avatar
    jjf

    The best vehicle I’ve ever owned is my beater truck. It is so forlorn looking that people think I’m homeless when I drive it. It is actually in decent shape mechanically and drives fine. It costs around $300/year to insure, $200/ year in maintenance, plus another $75 in tabs. As I bonus it passed it’s last smog test ever in my state (Washington) so I never have to deal with that again. I use it at least 10 times/year and feel I get my money’s worth. If a meteor were to strike it I would be sad, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    That being said I’ll lend it to anyone who asks, which isn’t that often. I barely talk to my neighbors, and they all have their own (better) trucks anyways.

    The key to a good community vehicle is 1.) low cost and 2.) detachment. I’ve been recently think how nice it would be to have a pool of older 3-7 year old vehicles to swap daily drivers every few months. I like variety, and it would be nice to drive a Miata for awhile and then switch to an F150. Heck I’d be happy with a pool of well worn beaters if they were reliable enough.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I live in the Outback in the Top End of the Northern Territory. I’m not a local, but locals refer to it as ‘God’s Country’.

    I really don’t think the community I live in could function without the ability of placing differences aside and sharing, not only cars.

    I even volunteer to run our outdoor Cinema, it’s apparently the only 3D outdoor Cinema in the southern hemisphere. Most everyone has a position where they volunteer some of their time as well as property to make the community function and work.

    This creates a great atmosphere to live and work in.

    Without the community bond that we have and the sharing I don’t think many isolated communities would survive.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Maybe it’s just because I live in Florida, but I don’t think I could trust anyone beyond my mother not to use a shared vehicle to commit sex crimes or run crystal meth.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    My thought is this: if you can beat Enterprise/Hertz/Alamo etc in both price and convenience it could work. So if I’m the old couple and I need the minivan I can head over to my local Enterprise about two miles away. Problem is, they are going to want $40/day, plus $12.99 for their insurance, plus their other hidden fees, plus sales tax, plus all of the other requite county bulls*** taxes that f***wad Onorato enacted when he was dictator of the month. All told I’m looking at between $60 and $70 out the door whether I’m going on a day trip or running my grandkids around. Find a way to cut it to $35 dollars plus sales tax only for the time I need (say an afternoon) and you’d earn me as a customer. Heck taxis to the airport plus tip are in this range anymore.

    Additional: this basic few hour model would have been gangbusters with the Ford Ranger and could still work well with Tacoma. How often of you heard of people needing a truck to move one thing and then talking up all of their buddies to borrow there’s. For $35-40 out the door you could have this truck for the two hours you need it.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Personally, I’m skeptical of the idea of sharing vehicles. The big issue being liability if something happens — “something” being a breakdown, a wreck, a scratch, etc. So, I wouldn’t be interested in borrowing someone else’s vehicle, or vice-versa. I am fortunate to have lived for the past 19 years in a neighborhood that has all the right ingredients for “neighborliness.” The houses are not on big lots; the street, though not a dead-end, doesn’t go anywhere, so lots of people walk in the street and kids play in the street. The houses, dating from around the turn of the previous century, mostly have front porches; and people use the porches. The result is that people see each other casually on a pretty regular basis, and there’s a neighborhood “club” that is a place for parties, for swimming (in a small pool) in the summer and so on.

    So I have shared tools with other people and so on; and, because I ran for the unique elected office of “advisory neighborhood commission” I have personally walked the streets of my neighborhood and introduced myself to those who live farther away from me.

    So, I live in a pretty “neighborly” place.

    My experience, both as a kid growing up in the 1950s and early 60s and as a an adult is that kids are the glue of neighborliness. Kids want to socialize with other kids; parents want that to happen. So, in the best of circumstances the adults share a common interest in looking out for the kids (even if they don’t have kids, or their kids have grown up). My favorite story illustrating this is what happened when my dad (who was in the Navy in the 1950s) got shipped to a small base in a city in SE Spain. There was no housing, so we lived in the city. We lived in an apartment building with 5 floors; each floor was an apartment (Big!). I was 9 years old. Within a day or two of our moving in, the French kid (a year or two younger than I) whose family lived two floors below, came up the elevator to our floor with some toy trucks. He wanted to play trucks. Of course he didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Spanish or French. But we shared a common language of little boys: playing with trucks. So that’s how it got started. He had an older sister, about 13. So, then I met her; and she was friends with the 11 year old Spanish girl who lived on the floor between us . . . and I met her. And then, we introduced my parents to the other three kids’ parents, who already were friends. My dad had taken a cram course in Spanish before being sent over; and the French folks spoke Spanish. Soon, everyone was big friends — the kids and the parents. We did holiday dinners, we did New Years’ parties. The four of us kids went all over, went to movies, went to the summer carnival on the water front & so on.

    And all because of the universal language of little boys: toy trucks!

    (And, yes, I eventually learned Spanish and could pass as a native; and my folks’ Spanish got better and better. I didn’t learn French until I was back in the U.S., in jr. high school.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Seems to me the market here might be limited, and the “I need a bigger car for a weekend” deal is covered by Enterprise.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would share my truck with someone that I know would take care of it. As a matter of fact I have on occasions let a neighbor use my truck. If I had a neighbor like Steve I would definitely share my truck. I have had a few bad experiences where someone returned my mini tiller broken and did not offer to pay for the repairs but mostly I have not had bad experiences. I would not lend anything to anyone who I did not know well.


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