New Or Used: Aus Freude Am Sparen

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used aus freude am sparen

Will writes:

I currently own two vehicles and am thinking of returning to just one, or maybe not. I own a 2005 BMW 330i sedan with 98k miles and a pristine 1986 Chevrolet Silverado 2WD short bed with 65k miles. I use the truck to work on the house I am renovating and keep the car…well, because I like it and it is more comfortable to commute to and from work.

I am making payments on both vehicles and while I could conceivably pay both off right now with little trouble, I wonder would it be a) cheaper to keep both with their associated maintenance costs, insurance, etc. or b) sell both vehicles and buy a late model car/truck/suv that is comfortable, relatively fuel efficient, generally reliable, has ABS and an airbag(s). I do a fair amount of highway driving but I need something that can haul some tools, old house paraphernalia, a dog, and a mountain bike. Also, I prefer to drive a manual, but it’s hard to find something useful with a manual.


Sajeev Answers:

The urge to sell both and buy an SVT Lightning or a Silverado SS is a lot to overcome. Ditto the knife-twisting need to tell the world how a late model minivan (not the overpriced Honda and Toyota variants) is perfect for your needs. And of course, late model Panther Love with a Class III hitch. But let’s be serious.

You want a cargo carrier with a BMW-worthy interior for long trips. Said hauler must be affordable and not a nightmare when servicing. The Dodge Magnum sports an interior too awful for public exposure, Subarus are more quirky than luxurious, so the Volvo V70 (2007-present?) fits the bill nicely. The turbo motor may drink premium too quickly for your tastes, so the I-6 is a competent alternative. Finding one with maintenance records is almost as important as knowing a good Volvo mechanic in your neck of the woods, lest the repair bills make you pine for your old Chevy.

So sell your cars, because trade-in will be murder. Start with the BMW and use the proceeds for the Volvo’s down payment. The Chevy is fully depreciated, fairly desirable and will have no problem fetching top dollar if it’s as clean as you state. So use that as your Volvo-hunter, provided a test drive validates my point. Best of luck.

Steve Answers:

Your question confuses the H-E- double hockey sticks out of me.

First you are making payments on two vehicles. One of which is apparently old enough to be eligible for the Hertz Presidential Club. I hope you meant 1996 for that pickup because otherwise I would strongly suggest a paddleboat as your next ride.

Now you tell us it would be easy for you to sell these two vehicles and buy something new. Do you only have a few payments left and want to just keep Jonesing that debtload of yours? Your ideas on this read like Nirvana lyrics. Random thoughts and fatalistic spending ideas just don’t work if your needs are simple. To put it in automotive terms, you’re trying to buy an I-drive of headaches when a few simple buttons would do.

Your real answer is… a trailer. In fact I just saw one in front of a nearby pawn shop that is only $300. Install a tow hitch from JC Whitney. Take a gander through Craigslist for a well-kept trailer. Then refer to the European guides for towing. Why? Because in Germany in particular, a BMW 3-Series sedan is often a family car. Trailers and caravans are quite common there since full-sized pickups in a land laden with small roads and $6 gas is what my German father would call ‘verschwenderisch’.

As for the dog, go get a thick blanket and tuck this covering in the back seats of the six year old Bimmer. Either that or secure a dog crate on the trailer. For a fraction of your current costs, you may now have an opportunity to enjoy the finer things of German culture. Great engineering. Fiscal pragmatism… and beer money.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to, and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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4 of 49 comments
  • Saponetta Saponetta on Jan 26, 2011

    Ohh I forgot, another TTAC cliche. All the commentors on TTAC are debt free (yea right). Seriously, 1.get out of your mother basement, and get in debt for your own home. 2.Trade the 1994 Grand Marquis that is so popular on this site in for a decent new car with note and meet a girl. (you can get that diesel wagon or 2000lbs rear driver with 220 hp you say you will buy the second some one builds it)

    • See 1 previous
    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jan 26, 2011

      LOL at 86er. +1 Debt free is nice if you can make it happen, but right now I'd be happy with car and home being the only debt. I'm not comfortable buying a $1500 TV on the credit card but borrowing money to buy cars and houses is pretty much a fact of life for most normal people. I'm very happy to have a credit union that will loan me a few thousand for major car repair if I need it, and at a very reasonable rate. If you can afford no debt, great, but don't judge others for having their own. (And I've got a nice girl + an exwife, and live 2000 miles away from my mother.)

  • Newfiecarguy Newfiecarguy on Jan 26, 2011

    +1 on the trailer. for home renos it is way better than a pickup. you can sit the trailer in the driveway all week and load it up with garbage from demo and then take it to the dump whenever you get time. I had 3 trucks before I got a minivan and a trailer and I would keep the trailer even if I got another pickup. Paid 300 bucks for the trailer used and I have more than gotten that back in beer and favours from loaning the trailer to friends.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.