New or Used: The Hammer and the Auger!

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used the hammer and the auger

Scott writes:

Good People of TTAC: for the past five years my wife and I have shared one car, a 4-cyl 1998 Accord LX. It’s treated us well. It has 122K on it, and it runs pretty well for an old car. Luckily our commuting situation is aligned perfectly to allow us to keep using just one car. It sure has saved us a lot of money.

What happened last winter has us pondering whether or not to replace the Accord or add another car.

We live just slightly north of Boston. Last year we had some snow storms and we got stuck in our driveway four times. We couldn’t get to work until much later in the day. The garage of our condo opens up to a windswept courtyard which makes for some deep snow drifts in a storm. Our trusty Accord while steady on hard packed snow, rides up on the drifts leaving us stuck until our place is plowed. (Our plow guy can’t assure us he’ll plow us before 8am)

I’m an independent technology consultant and needless to say this could be detrimental to my business. My wife works for a warm and fuzzy non-profit so there’s no shame in not showing up during a snow storm.

Her commute is 30 miles round trip. 3 days per week she drops me off at a client who happens to be on her way to work. The other days I take public transportation to my other clients. Occasionally something comes up for me and I drive her to work, and take the car.

Since she’s doing most of the driving, we considering a CR-V or a Subaru Forester as it seems we need some ground clearance. She’s a “Honda” girl, me, my past cars have been mostly Japanese-though I did make one expensive decision and drove (mostly to the repair shop) a 91 Mercedes 300E.

I’m thinking used, and sell the Accord. My wife is thinking new and keep the Accord. I hope to keep the cost around $25K or so. I’d be happy with an old Cherokee Sport with a stick but the wife won’t go for that.

What are your thoughts?

Steve answers:

Pay the guy a few hundred dollars to plow where it’s needed so that you don’t miss any work.

If that doesn’t work… pay some other guy a few hundred dollars.

This isn’t rocket science. You already have a great car that works perfectly well and should continue to give you many more years of good service.

So why spend $25,000 on a ‘new’ version of what you already have?

I’m sure you have invested in a set of snow tires at some point. You may want to get some snow chains as well for the one or two times you need it during the year. As for blowing $25k on something that already works 99+% of the time… don’t do it.

A good detail. New shocks or struts. Maybe opt for some top quality leather seats on Ebay or at a nearby auto recycling center. All of these things will help ward off the stupidity that is new car shopping; especially when you drive a perfectly nice car.

As a flatlander once told this Jersey Boy, “If yew need a hamma’ 99% of the time and an awga’ 1% of the time, then rant’ the damn awga’ and keep yaw damn hamma’!!!”

Don’t blow $25k on a new hammer. Just find someone who has the auger.

Sajeev answers:

Damn, son! You have such a sweet deal and you want to change it? Granted I’m of the “keeper culture” to the point of insanity, but you gotta keep that Accord until the rust tears it apart. That said, I am not against your wife’s idea of keeping it and getting another ride…even if it’s not your current money saving proposition.

It is hard to armchair these situations, let’s make it about your wife: what would she want to complement the Accord? Obviously another Honda isn’t the way to go, its time for a little diversity if you’re gonna spend that much coin! Maybe a base model Nissan Juke, a 4×4 Tacoma, RAV4, or something completely nuts like a RWD monster like a Mustang GT…or a hardtop Miata. Or go Panther with a police push bar, Bilzzak tires, and a big winch to pull you out of any snowstorm no matter how evil it may be. Women may not love Panthers, but they will appreciate their merits if presented correctly. (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Keep the Accord, get another car that will make the cost of ownership worth it to both of you.

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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3 of 47 comments
  • LessRantingPls LessRantingPls on Jan 15, 2012

    I think he needs to focus on the sad sack snowplow service. A snowplow driver with a prepaid contract has no reason to go out of his way to service that customer first-- he will go out and find people waving cash in his face from the ends of their driveways. The condo should make the contract read that the driveway must be cleared by a certain time. Alternatively make it clear that next year the contract will go to anyone else.

    • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Jan 15, 2012

      Excellent advice, based on my own experience with plow drivers in the area.

  • Itsgotvtak Itsgotvtak on Jan 19, 2012

    Keep the Accord, get a dedicated rim and snow tire package if you don't already have one and deal with the handful of days a year you're inconvenienced. A couple of years ago I convinced myself I needed a new car to replace my 99 Accord EX-L 5mt with 120k on the clock. While I do enjoy the TSX it really doesn't do much more than the car it replaced except take more money out of my pocket. Coilovers, swaybars, tires and pads have made it much more fun when I push it, but that's accounts for maybe 10% of the time? The 30k and change it cost me would have bought a lot of sport and refurbishment for the Accord.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • 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.
  • 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. 🙂